How do I know if mom has dementia? My therapist thinks she does because of her outbursts and memory lapses.

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My mom is 81 yrs old and has no short term memory. I will tell her how to do something and 5 minutes later she forgets. She manages her own meds and is able to stick to a routine and has a good mind, slometimes I think it's better than mine. lol..

I see a therapist because of her personality disorder and her abuse but he thinks she has dementia based on what I've shared with him. Does abusive behavior and poor memory indicate dementia?

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Top Answer
Poor memory sure indicates dementia! My husband can't remember what day it is, and might ask 5 or 6 times in the morning. He's a smart guy, but he can't learn new things easily, sometimes not at all.

If she has always been a "challenge," her abusive behavior may not mean anything, but if it's a new pattern, it could be a sign that all is not well in the brain. If she can tell that her memory is getting worse, she can be afraid. She might be lashing out from fear. The part of her brain that kept her from saying mean things may no longer work.

There are a number of different kinds of dementia, and a doctor can tell the difference by behavior, or by which symptom shows up first. Start keeping a list or log book of her behavior, and send the doctor a copy before her next appointment. Also, tell us more about what's going on. We've heard - and experienced everything. Good luck!
Do not let the fact that your mother manages her meds beautifully fool you. Managing meds is something your mother has been doing for a long time. It is an established long term routine, which dementia afflicted folks can handle. But what would happen if she got a new med, or had to take them at a different time of day? How is she at learning a new routine or task? The best thing you can do is to get her assessed by a neurologist. I would not rely on a regular family doctor or internist for this sort of thing. In my experience they tend to take one minute asking really, really basic questions that would only trip up a more advanced case of dementia.
Sure sounds like she has dementia...
Is your mother's doctor a geriatric specialist? If so, there are a couple of tests that are routinely used. The first one is short -- remembering three objects and drawing a clock set at a certain time. For many people, this is a test they can pass easily, even if they have significant dementia. The second test is a bit longer and includes counting backwards, spatial and time orientation, and remembering more objects. This test takes about 15 minutes and is much better at showing dementia. There is a much longer test that requires a day that is even better. I personally wouldn't want to take this test. It would wear me out.

I have a feeling the people who are around a person with dementia know it long before anyone else. We know how the person acted before dementia, and we see the confusion, loss of ability to think logically and perform tasks, and the frequent lapses of memory. I have a feeling that if we think our loved one has dementia, they probably do. Being around the person is pretty much the same as giving them a super long test.

Abusive behavior can be part of dementia, but I have a feeling that if your mother has a personality disorder, the abuse may have been present earlier in her life. What type of personality disorder does she have?
Smitty, I just looked at the activity on your profile and see your mother is a passive aggressive NPD. That would explain the abusive behavior that may become worse if your mother does have dementia. I don't know this for sure, because some people with dementia can become nicer from what I've seen.
Neuro-psychiatric eval asap. It definitely sounds like some form of dementia. She may seem to be fine with her meds what you said in your earlier post she was on vicodin and fentanyl & the PRN didn't want to prescribe the pain meds for fear she would overdose. She ALREADY needs to have medication management. Her abusive nature will very strongly object to your assistance. If you don't already financial and medical POAs that flow through into incompetency, you will have to pursue a guardianship unless you can reason with her and get her cooperation. Please be aware that it is very difficult to reason with a dementia patient.
Have your mom see a geriatric doctor if she doesn't already. Or schedule an appt with a neurologist. As someone else already pointed out, there are some simple, non-invasive tests used to diagnose dementia. We have just gone through this with my dad. He has always been very difficult to live with as well as abusive. I'm sure he has some sort of undiag nosed personality disorder, but no one could have EVER even suggested that there was something wrong with him and that he should see a dr. So, we lived a hard life. Now he is 84, and mellowed some, but still difficult. This past winter we noticed some changes in his physical and mental condition. It was hard to tell if he was really just dad being dad or if it were something that should be checked in to. He had several hospitalizations for various physical ailments. We talked to the doctors and they told us that dementia can magnify previous behaviors...that is what we were seeing. To cut this long story short, he is now on some different meds which have really helped him and he is much easier to be around. He just told us he is happy with his life now. This man has never been easy or happy, so this has been a good thing for all of us!

Have your mom seen by a geriatric dr. Or neurologist. Good luck.
People with dementia can demonstrate aggressive behaviors because their brain is not making the correct chemical connections. Have her tested by a neurologist or neuropsychiatrist and be sure. Sounds like it to me.
smitty - familiarize yourself with dementia by reading a selection of posts on this site or go to too. I'm pretty sure no one here who reads your post would think that your mom did NOT have some form of dementia.

Once you have read enough or been exposed enough, you can almost diagnosis the dementia yourself, just buy the behavior, but you can't diagnose the cause.

Some forms have medical causes that can be corrected, so when you see the signs, it's really important to get the person into the doctor in case the memory loss or confusion can be reversed.

Waiting to figure it out could be a ticking time bomb for her, where what happened would not be able to be reversed if it goes on too long.

I asked our doc to give me a list of my husbands meds, what they are for, etc. If your mom has dementia, and it sounds as tho that could be the case - I would question her being able to manage her meds. The list also helps in the ER etc. should she need it.

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