How fast can dementia progress?

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In a matter of months, my mom has gone from living at home showing signs of mild dementia to living in a nursing home to a doctor recommending we put her in hospice for advanced dementia. We had to put her in a nursing home because she was an invalid and my dad with Alzheimer's could not longer take care of her or himself.

Can dementia progress that rapidly?

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I just heard an unbelievable story of a man diagnosed with mild dementia and within 6 weeks he's bedridden. Just stares. To my thinking that sounds like an undiagnosed stroke. I've been watching my husband's dementia trying to progress further, but I keep my husband dressing himself, taking his own shower, asking him to get things from the refrigerator, etc. I keep him moving and thinking. He vacuumed his carpet and helped me change his sheets. He does the dishwasher. We go to the gym which is the most important.

Oh, he asks me to do this or that for him, but I don't. I've watched him put all his clothes on backwards, and I tell him we can't go out looking like that. For people with this horrible disease doing less for them is better. Keep them problem solving. Help them to fend for themselves so their brain keeps working. Our brains send out this electric current. The plaque buildup stops the current, exercise and continual problem solving makes the current go around the plaque to find another path. So far for us those other paths are lighting up. Do puzzles, doing anything to make them keep problem solving.
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All great answers.

It may also be, as in many cases, that your mom was already quite badly off but it was masked by having your father run interference and take over on all fronts. she also had the "help."

This is so common that sometimes family members who visit routinely do not realize how bad things have gotten.

Be grateful that she was home and "functional" for so long.

Good luck!
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Frontotemporal dementia lasts about 8 years and is incurable. The end stage is pretty awful. Look it up on PubMed. Maybe get your mom an MRI for a definitive diagnosis? It won't change the outcome, but it can help you understand and treatment your mother accordingly. Just a thought.
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Also read this book:

"Couldn't we talk about something more pleasant?" by Roz Chast.

I walked around with this book clutched to my chest for about five months when my mom was in the worst of it. The book is helpful and very funny. It describes this situation to a T.
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If possible, take her to a Neurologist. Also, she may be dehydrated or have a urinary tract infection.
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I'm wondering whether you mom is having a series of mini strokes which is causing rapid decline.
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Alan, with my Dad who was in his 90's, any time he had a fall, which was more than just a routine tumble, that his memory was slipping away a bit more. Any major falls where 911 was called, his memory slipped even quicker.

For my Mom, apparently she was falling but not telling me, only times I knew of a fall was when my Dad called me saying Mom fell and he can't get her up. Two falls two weeks apart, each time she hit her head hard, right after the second fall she went immediately into final stage dementia. Prior to the falls, her memory was doing good for someone also in their 90's. My parents were living on their own as Mom refused outside help.

So I believe any time there is a major health issue, be it a UTI, a bad cold, or anything else, that can take a toll on one's body and mind.
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Often in the early to mid stages not everyone can detect the declines - I believe others have called this "show timing" - basically when visiting or chatting, they can SEEM okay, maybe a little forgetful, but in reality they are worse off than they seem. My brothers (one is not local, called once/week) did not talk as much with our mother and so I could detect the changes long before they realized what was going on. Your dad may also have been protective of her.
In addition to ensuring no UTI - fluids... once, before the real signs showed up for our mother, I found her in a bad state, felt like garbage, somewhat disoriented, etc. Turns out her potassium levels were low, which DOES impact brain functioning! She spent a couple of days in the hospital and was back to her old negative self-important self in no time. However the signs were already there, I sensed them. The progression was somewhat quick to the next level, when it became more obvious to my brothers, but usually there are "plateaus". We did move her to memory care (not willingly), and though sometimes she can seem "lucid", other times not so much. Clearly short term memory is shot, but she seems to be doing well (still repetitively asks to go home).
I would suggest perhaps another opinion, preferably from a specialist in neurology or gerantology, not just a primary care doctor.
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@Rosemary44, good advice but difficult to follow sometimes. Thank you for putting it out there! When they stop being mobile, .......

My DH is 95 and if he isn't helped, nothing happens. But I do try to have him make as many decisions as possible.

@gladimhere - I think I'll put off the autopsy if that is the only way to diagnose dementia.

@mar126 - thank you for mentioning dehydration!  I am dealing with this possibility right now and it too causes confusion, weakness, lethargy.  DH's new Zero Gravity Chair is draining fluids from him and the Lasix is not helping.  So we do need to be watching for signs of dehydration.  I've recently cut back 1/2 of his Lasix and thinking that maybe he should just be taken off it at least for now.  It helps when you have a primary physician that will work with you.

Old Age ain't for sissies. I am 30 years his junior and we've been together 32 years now - it's difficult to watch when the end is near.
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The only way to diagnose type of dementia is on autopsy. There are patterns on an mri or ct scan but cannot be determined for certain. Dementia is primarily diagnosed by behaviors and symptoms that are exhibited.

If it is a stroke test will verify that. On hospice testing is usually eliminated. If not planning treatment, then why do the testing?
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