How long does it take for dementia symptoms to show and what are they?

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Mom is starting to show the common forgetfulness and not wanting to eat.

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I appreciate all of the messages. It helps to be more informed. Mom is 87 and the thing is that I am not sure what part of her tells the truth and which part just wants the attention. She has always been able to manipulate me to some degree. At times she looks and acts perfect when she gets her way. Her only health issues are hypertension, depression since late 70's and IBS Syndrome but because she is also a hypochondriac she always thinks everything is wrong and she claims all these different illnesses. She is always in and out of the ER because as I stated I am not sure what is real and what is not. This situation is causing lots of stress in my life. She has lived with us for the past 16 years and I want to do the best I can as an only child. I am blessed that my husband helps with her medications and exercises. He is hands on but also feels unappreciated and frustrated with her ways. Any suggestions?
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May be your mother is a great exception, and she has another type of dementia and not Alzheimer. When my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer, I went to the largest bib and I have read at least 25 books abut this disease. In any of those books, they speak of an average between 12 and 15 years, with exceptions of max. 20 years. Alzheimer can only be verified when the patient is dead and during autopsy the brains are examined. I've seen photgraphs of damaged brains, and what you can see is that great part of the brains have simply disappeared. That is also the reason why progresively many daily matters disappear, such as washing themselves, putting their clothes on, brushing teeth, combing hair aso. Later on they loose speach and do not recognize their family any longer. I remember one day I visited him, that he was telling the nurse - who said that he was a lucky man as I visited him so regularly - that I was his sister, and not his wife. I can guarantee you that his did hurt. Moreover, I must say that he was a lonely child and had never a sister.
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My mother has had dementia since 1972. I first noticed it when she was driving down the street and all of a sudden she decided she didn't want to drive anymore. She left the car, didn't shut the car door, left the car running and just walked away. I noticed it because I had just glanced out the window and saw the car that way. We live in a small town. I ran out there and drove the car home. It was about a block away from our home. She didn't remember doing it. In 1972.
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My husband was only around 50 years when I noticed various changes. First of all he was forgetting lots of things. When asking him to do something, either he did something else, or just stood there, staring. As he had leukemia a couple a years before, the doctors all said that he was depressed, obsessed by fear of getting the cancer again, etc.. However the situation aggravated, and after a series of tests, the specialist said : show obvious signs of Alzheimer's dementia". So, that was that. We were 5 year later, and now finally we got a diagnosis. When it develops slowly, it can take many years before you effectively get a clear picture of what is going on and that it is Alzheimer. Furthermore, each person develops in a different way. My husband became very silent, and wandering around the whole day, and playing continuously with a small piece of paper or a handkerchief. On the contrary, I have known a lady who was happy and laughing the whole day. Once she was sitting in an armchair, watching the tele, she did not move an inch. Before his illness, my husband was very sweet and patient. At a certain moment (abt 6/7 years after the disease commence) he was nervous, angry and aggressive. Also around that period, I noticed that his situation was stable for months and months. And then all of a sudden he abruptly became worse. And then again a period of relative stability. So, one can not foresee what the near future will bring. The question most people ask is : how long will it take before he / she ..... Well also here, there is no answer. My husband was about 13 years with Alzheimer, when all of a sudden he passed away. I had visited him on wednesday afternoon / evening together with our daughter and her 2 girls. Although we knew that he was in an advanced stage, no one could foresee that on friday evening he would pass away in a matter of 45 minutes. I remember the phonecall of the nurse, telling me that he was getting worse rapidly. I cld not believe her. Then I realized that I was not at home (abt 10 mins from the nursing home) but that we were just about to leave the restaurant with a female friend, so We rapidly asked for the bill and upon walking to my car I took my phone to advise the nurse that I wld at least need abt 30 mins. to get there. Then there was a long silence. Then I asked : Did you understand me ? and she replied : there is no need to hurry madame, he has just passed away 5 mins. ago. How was this possible ?? I only can admit that it is a terrible disease, and the last decades more and more younger people get affected with it, whereas before it was purely a disease for elderly people. Hope this info is a little bit of help to you. Anyway, I wish you strength, and take pleasure in every moment that she is still "good". Nicole
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If this is sudden, she should be taken to the ER and checked for stroke.
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Your profile says that Mom has depression. Depression can interfere with appetite and also can present with some dementia-type symptoms.

How long as it been since your mom has seen the doctor treating her depression? How long since her meds have been evaluated? I think I would start with talking to that doctor about what you are observing.

As for a timeline, dementia shows up on its own schedule. Sometimes it is abrupt and sudden, sometimes it develops slowly over several years before you can recognize it and look back and see traces of it in the past, and any variation between abrupt and very gradual is possible.
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We need more information. How old is your mother? How long has she been forgetting, or is the forgetting just routine things that we all experience, like forgetting where we put our glasses or car keys? Is the not wanting to eat because she's not hungry or not like what is being served? Problem with her teeth, maybe they hurt when she eats so she rather skip meals where the food isn't soft? Maybe her stomach is upset and eating makes it worse?
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