My sister and mom's caregiver took care of her for a week while my husband and I went on a vacation with our sons and their families. It was wonderful, but we came home to a much changed mother. She is leaning severely to the left. She's having trouble walking. And she seemed to have no clue that I had gone away and was now back. Wow! This was not the situation when we left. I'm hoping that having me home will put things back on a more level situation. I thought that having me gone might make some sort of difference, but I never in my wildest dreams thought her decline would be so dramatic in a week's time. Comments?

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If you haven’t yet, contact her doctor. She may have had a small stroke. Did her caregivers mention anything to you that they noticed about her behavior? It could be it could also be a UTI or even an ear infection messing with her balance. Get her checked out ASAP.

Don’t feel guilty because you went on vacation and had a good time and came back to this. Chances are it would have happened even if you’d stayed. Alzheimer’s is a roller coaster disease. She may bounce back, and this may be the new norm for her. But do contact her doctor to have her checked out.
Helpful Answer (8)

How disheartening for you! Please don't blame this on your needed vacation. You did what you were entitled to do, and what you needed to do!

There are generally 3 possibilities when dementia symptoms worsen and the patient declines:

1) A drug reaction. If this is the case, the symptoms typically get better when the drug is adjusted. Was your mother on any new meds while you were gone?

2) An additional illness. UTIs are notorious for this, but any infection or illness can do it. For my husband the intensified dementia symptoms were an early warning that something else was going on in his body, and that could be a bad cold or constipation, etc. If this is the case the dementia will go back to baseline when the other illness clears up. Does you mother have any symptoms of an illness? Could she have a UTI? I wonder if she could have had a TIA? Did Sis or Caregiver notice any signs of illness? Just to be on the safe side, I think I'd get Mom medically checked.

3) The inevitable progress of the dementia. Sometimes the progress of AD is gradual. Sometimes it jerks along in fits and starts. If these new symptoms are the result of "normal" dementia decline, it would have happened whether you'd taken a vacation or not. And it is not likely to be reversible.

Whenever there is significant change in symptoms, it is generally a good idea to talk to the doctor who is managing the dementia.

Do NOT let this prevent you from taking future vacations or periods of respite. And keep firmly in mind that whatever the cause, this is Not Your Fault.
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My first thought was stroke. Try to get an appointment with her neurologist ASAP, PCP if that's not possible.
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