How do you tell your mother you think she's getting Alzheimer's?

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Her memory problems are getting worse but every time I've brought up to her getting evaluated she gets very angry and stubborn and shuts down the discussion immediately - this is with me just saying I'm concerned about her memory and not mentioning the A-word. She keeps pretending it is part of normal aging and is no big deal, normal memory slips but it is not.

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I can understand why she doesn't want to be diagnosed. Sometimes we can know something is wrong, but until we are diagnosed, we can act like we're okay. If something can't be cured I would rather just go along in denial as long as I could. Besides, I wouldn't anyone to think I was crazy until it was time to.
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When my mom was in stages 1- 3 of Alzheimer's, I didn't know it because we lived 500 miles away from each other. When I visited her one Christmas, I SAW she had problems. (They're real good at disguising it on the phone. Chit chat is still easy for an Alz. victim at this stage.) When I watched her take a vitamin for a headache, confuse the anti-anxiety pill with an antihistamine, unable to write a check or pay bills, I brought up the subject. She had to admit that she made the errors. I insisted on her getting tested and we made an appt. for a couple of weeks later. She actually kept the appt. and called me crying with the results. I moved her closer to me in a senior non-assisted residence (meals, housekeeping and transportation provided) in Feb. 2014. She started taking Aricept but I truly couldn't see any slowing of the disease. I had to move her into a locked memory care facility in October 2015. She is now in stage 5-6. The progression from stage 3 (mild) to stage 5-6 (moderately severe) was 2 years.
Call her doctor's office and give them a heads' up, then have him make an appt. with a geriatric neurologist for evaluation. Good luck, this is one of the hard parts.
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She won't believe you and she won't remember what you said. I have told Mom many times that parts of her brain are gone, but she keeps looping back into the same questions, looks at the medical reports, thinks the doctors are wrong or not telling the truth. Guide her as patiently as you can and repeat, repeat, repeat.
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You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink!
Get her to the Dr and onto the meds if you can but in the meantime it is important to make sure she is safe. Get an electric kettle that turns itself off when it has boiled. Same with a toaster oven, the timer will turn it off if she forgets. Can't do much about the stovetop but encourage the use of the microwave. Make sure all smoke detectors are working and near the stove.
Call or visit daily even for a few minutes. Make a fancy list of phone number and post it by her phone. if there are young grand children this is something they could do and decorate,
Get her a life alert or similar panic button. She probably won't use it unless she gets a real scare. (At 74 I don't) but try and take my cell when I go out. I also do wear a medic alert bracelet and keep a list of contacts and medications in my purse at all times. I have fallen a lot but my bones are strong so far only scrapes and nasty bruises. As I said in a previous post old nurses are stubborn creatures even if we know better.
Don't push or panic her, she is well aware of her condition and will admit it in time and seek help if she wants it
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The doctor should direct you to a specialist, the GPs really do not do well diagnosing in my experience, and this referral does not need to be a big deal at all just tell periodic special tests that we all must have, like bloodwork, etc.
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Thanks Christina, I like that about the butterfly. My mother is one stubborn butterfly though! I just wish she could start early on the Alzheimer's drugs that slow the progression so she could have more time being herself.
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I am thinking of that saying about butterflies: when you chase them, they fly away. If you turn away and let them alone, they will often light on your shoulder.
Relax about pushing her to admit it and let her come to her own conclusion. You will not be far away, and she can retain her autonomy for as long as possible, along with her pride. I wish you both abundant Grace :) xo
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Thanks Eyerishlass, I do think starting with the GP makes since - if the evaluation could be snuck up on her and not seem like family was forcing her to do it I think it would be easier for everyone.

And thanks Madeaa too, you do make a good point - about a specialist too, if the GP can't do the above it may come to that and then it won't be low key at all!
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GP may not see it at all, have him refer her to a specialist, Geriatrician.
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I would bet that your mom has noticed the changes in herself as well and that's why she's so touchy on the subject. Before you tell her you think she has Alzheimer's, seeing a Dr. first would be a better idea. Does she see her primary care Dr. on a regular basis? He can do an evaluation then and you wouldn't have to make a whole separate appointment solely to discuss your mom's memory, which could be very threatening to her. Before a regularly scheduled appointment call the Dr.'s office and tell them that you'd like to have your mom's memory evaluated and tell them her symptoms.

I remember taking my grandma in for such an evaluation and it was pitiful but the Dr. was great and didn't make a big deal out of the evaluation, he just kind of threw it in there before my grandma knew what was happening. All she said later was, "Those were weird questions the Dr. asked me." And that was it. The entire family was terrified of this evaluation and of grandma's reaction to it and it was a piece of cake.
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