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My mother 72 yrs old has been experiencing some confusion and I am wondering if this is any symptoms of dementia.
She lives alone by herself and does manage home doing things like cooking, laundry, household chores etc. She eats a healthy diet and does not suffer from any kind of disease and is physically active. She also socialize and have group of friends she hangs out with every evening.
However, of late there were couple of incidents that took me by surprise. First, she initially lost her way to her old home (where she used to live for 10 years) but later recalled. Second, on couple occasions she has confused me to be with her though I live abroad.
I do not see any memory loss though except for normal forgetfulness.
I tried checking the symptoms of dementia but did not find a close match to the symptoms I just mentioned.
So my question is if this is some kind of dementia? Or I should wait for some more time before seeking medical advice. The thing is she got offended when I asked her to seek medical advice for confusion.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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Thank you for all the feedback! I will share the experience my mother undergoes.
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A dog might be wonderful for her. Let her take care of it to the extent she can. Realize, though, that she may not be able to be responsible for it completely and what she can do may lessen over time. So be sure that you are willing to care for a dog before you take that step.

I can relate to the "broken GPS." My Mom lives with my sister in St. Francis. Last month I was taking her home (an hour from my house) and when we came to the sign "St. Francis" she said, "Oh, I know someone who lives here. I wonder who that is?" I laughed and said, "You live here, Mom." "I do? Do I have a house?" she was puzzled. I reminded her that she had an apartment in Beth and Tom's house. They live upstairs and she lives down. "Oh, yeah! I remember now!" Yup, location can become a big mystery with dementia.
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My mum has vascular dementia and still her memory is fine but the first signs for me were a deep depression and bad mood swings then not washing memory wasnt the start but vascular can mimic depression. after a long battle with her doc I demanded a brain scan and that confirmed my fears!
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The dog will prevent depression, which makes dementia worse. If you can stand it, yes, get her a dog.
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If it doesn't improve her brain function directly, it could improve her quality of life! Have yo uhad any chance to get her to a medical eval to be sure nothing more reversible is going on?
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I brought my mother home and she has been staying with me for over 3 months now. I witnessed some incidents that kind of suggest that she does have some mental issue (probably early signs of dementia)

I will list some of them
- Once she wanted to make a phone call to my sister. She keeps the list of phone numbers in a telephone diary. What she did was just wrote my sister's number down on a piece of paper and comes back telling me that she called my sister but she isn't answering the call.
- As I mentioned in my earlier post, her GPS has become corrupt. She never gets the place right now. We visited Portland, OR and she thought we were still in Charlotte
- Her learning capabilities and cognition also seems to be declining. She takes days before she learns something new.

Besides there are On and off memory lapses and she has become very quiet especially with new people she meets.

I am gradually starting to suspect that she does have early signs of dementia even though the diagnosis she went through 6 months ago didn't clearly determine that she has dementia. Any thoughts?

I was reading an article that pets (dogs) can help stimulate brain of older and/or dementing people. Is pet going to make a difference (slow the progression) or improve her brain health? She does love to own a dog and gets excited when I talk about it.
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Aricept is not an over the counter drug and would be prescribed by the geriatric specialist if he felt that it would help with a diagnosis of dementia.
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Aricept is a prescription drug, one of only a few that seem effective for dementia. As I understand it, it may improve mental function, but does not postpone death. Others on this site report that it helps some people and does not help others. If a doctor recommends it, it is certainly worth a try.
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One more question...Would Aricept help in my mother's case? Or is it still worth a try? I believe it is an OTC drug.
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Thank you all for some great comments.

My mother had not been on any medication ever until recently after she was diagnosed with Anemia. However I wouldn't call them medication technically, they are just vitamin supplements. And as I said earlier all her physical reports came out perfect.

I see some comments on inflammation. Probably I should take a closer look at it. I totally agree that the focus should be on diet and quality of life. My mother carries a very positive outlook towards life, so I am sure she won't object to any reasonable advise.
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Jeannegibbs - Thank you for the info. The neurologist does think LBD most likely at this point because of some of the physical symptoms, so I am glad to hear Aricept has been effective for that type.
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Upstream, when my mom was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment the doctor ordered Aricept for her and just suggested we watch to see if it made a difference. The pills made Mom nauseated (almost ALL medications do) and she stopped taking it.

Aricept was the first medication given to my husband when he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. There was an improvement and he continued to take that drug for 9 years. We discontinued it when he went on hospice, but then added it back in when it was apparent it was still working! Aricept is known to be more effective for LBD than for Alzheimer's.

In your Dad's shoes I would try the drug and have a family member observe closely for a few months to see if it has an impact. Since the type of dementia is unknown at this point, it is (in my opinion) certainly worth a try.

And, by the way, I relate to the relief at having a diagnosis. It is a blow, it is staggering and mind-boggling, but it is also an explanation of what is wrong and an opportunity to have a treatment plan. So, yes, a certain degree of relief is not unusual.
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My dad is undergoing testing and neurologist believes he is in early stages of some type of dementia. The doctor has provided us information regarding Aricept (Donepezil) and suggests we think it over. Have not gotten a script yet. I would love to hear about others' experiences with the drug!

And yes, I agree with the last post, based on my dad's situation, focusing on general health and safety is important. I do not live with my dad but I am trying to get my parents to improve their diets and cut back on alcohol use. The doctor suggests my dad can do some exercises to strengthen his legs, which is of utmost importance at this time. He is aware of his pending diagnosis, but honestly I think he is almost relieved in a way, because he has been saying things were not right for over a year now, and I think we were all just in denial. For us, there would have been no way to not tell him what was going on. He is still pretty with it, although he keeps saying he has terminal cancer and we are all going to be sorry that we missed the signs for that. I don't know what that means...
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Does your mother have dementia? Is that food in the fridge too old to eat? Wait two weeks or two years, and you'll know the answer.

I just got a diagnosis for my husband, and I'm not sure how much it helped. He's on Aricept, and so far I don't notice a change.

Based on what you report, I think you should focus on the things you can change, like her general health, her safety, and the quality of her life. Taking care of those things will include making sure there are no reversible causes of dementia. She's a sensible woman - how can she object to that?

She may have the very beginnings of dementia, but progress very slowly. Don't panic, at least not yet.

I'm not sure how much help to expect from Aricept. What have others experienced?
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My mom had confusion and lapses in judegement well before serious memory loss, and she never lost most of her long term memories. She had vascular dementia, with poorly controlled diabetes, and had some brain atrophy on a CT after a fall probably in her late 50s or 60s before anything surfaced cognitively at all. Treating the anemia may be helpful, and also making sure of why she is anemic - could poor diet be an issue? Any source of inflammation or infection can cause both mild anemia and confusion and/or irritability, sometimes even a mild sundowner's in someone who does fine during daytimes. UTIs are particularly notorious for this. A review of all her current meds is especially important too. Some people have unusual cognitive effects of statins, for example and it may take a while to show up on a new or increased dose; the FDA now officially recognizes this though for a while there was a lot of denial in the medical community that it was even possible. Don't be too quick to jump on that bandwagon though, statins overall look like they reduce cognitive decline for the population as a whole. If her regular doctor does not seem to be on top of all this, try a geriatrician. I hope they can tune things up and give you all some good quality years to come.
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The first thing I would look at is what medications she is taking. It sounds like just age-related memory loss for now, she appears to be vibrant and active for a woman her age.
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On more thing, speak of yourself needing some help and maybe she'll welcome an opportunity to go with you and not you go with her.
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Since Alzheimer's is a type of dimentia, I would schedule an appointment with a geriatrician who specializes in the area of all common causes.
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She did have cognitive and memory tests and she did ok in those tests.

She does not seem to have memory issues besides normal forgetfulness that we all experience. And I say that since I talk to her everyday for reasonable amount of time. I ask her things that I am also involved in and she almost always gets it right.

I check with my siblings too who are in steady contact with her and they also do not see any memory lapses. So we know for the fact that she does not seem to have any memory problems yet.

I talked to one of her friends who she hangs out with everyday. She does notice the change, however not forgetfulness but confusion as I mentioned. Confusion about me sleeping at home, that she will not even lock the house door.

The fact that she lives alone, manages finance on her own, cooks daily, eats healthy diet, socializes, does all household chores, maintains lifestyle needed to live independently leaves us in totally perplexed state. What really is the problem? What is this confusion all about? If it is dementia or Alzheimer, why are the other symptoms absent or when do they surface? These are some of the questions we as a family trying to find answers. Any clue will be helpful to make a headway to get the second opinion with some other doctor.
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Unfortunately, there are no definitive tests that can say absolutely that this person has or does not have dementia, and what kind of dementia. Tests can help, but usually it is careful observation of behavior and symptoms along with tests that determines a diagnosis, and even then the diagnosis can only be confirmed by postmortem examination of the brain.

Did she have cognitive tests? Memory tests? (My mom could pass those long after it was clear to the people who knew her that she was having severe memory issues.)

You say she remembers all the details of what happened a few weeks ago, but you are 10,000 miles away, so do you always know whether the details she remembers are correct? People with dementia can make up very convincing stories when they forget the actual facts. They can also "showtime" and present very well in a doctor's office.

I like your description of the corrupt GPS. My mother visits me once a month, for a weekend, and she cannot remember how to get to her bedroom from the family room, or where the bathrooms are. She didn't have good directional instincts before dementia, so it isn't surprising that this is particularly weak now. My husband had extremely good directional abilities, even after dementia ... unless he was having a bad day. So Mom's "GPS" problems may be related to dementia, but it would be surprising to me if that were the only symptom.

I am glad to hear that she has a group of friends that she socializes with. Very healthy! Do you know any of these people well enough to contact? It would be helpful to have input from someone who sees her frequently. Has she changed recently? Does she seem forgetful? What kind of confusions does she exhibit among her friends?

Thank you so much for coming back to update us. I sometimes wonder "whatever happened to ..." and it is good to get updates.
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Finally I had my mother do a complete diagnosis. All the physical medical tests came out normal except that she has low hemoglobin. The physician advised some medicines for it.

The MRI scan did show some shrinkage but doctors are not sure if that is because of Dementia.

Now I am totally confused. Her memory seems fine. She remembers almost all of the details of what happened weeks before, who said what and stuff like that.

She still has confusion about the place though. Even if she goes to some other city she thinks she is close to home. Basically I would say her GPS system has become corrupt and is behaving funky. I believe we will have to take a second opinion.

She also has a confusion about me. She thinks that I am at home even though I am more than 10,000 miles away from her. So much so that she stopped carrying her home keys thinking that I am sleeping inside.

Does anyone have experienced symptoms like these in dementia or Alzheimer patients?
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Our family member was diagnosed with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment). Which is listed on the 10 types of Dementia that aren't Alzheimer's and how they're diagnosed. I found this information on this web site. She also shows signs of other Dementia, seeing animals or other people that are not here, and walks with a shuffle. Have the Dr. recommend a good Neurologist that specializes in this area for your Mother. We just take it one day at a time. Good luck.
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Lori1943, after diagnosis is your mother taking any medications that are helpful?
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This sounds like early dementia, from my experience with my mother. When she thinks you are there with her, that's a delusion; and losing her way to a very familiar location is also a common indication. It took my family about a year to figure out that my mom was slowly going batty--and by the time we caught on, it was speeding up and then went downhill fast. It started with delusions--mild and brief, but odd. Then it was paranoia; people were stealing from her, etc. She would become furious when we would try to talk her out of her irrational ideas or suggest that we should take her to the doctor. We did not know at the time that basically they cannot be talked out of this stuff; it's very real to them. Is there a neighbor or someone else where she lives that knows her and can check this out for you? This sounds early stage, so maybe the Alz meds would help some. Very scary. Hugs and prayers.
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rural: So true!
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There is a current thread on statins and how some people lose ground cognitively on them. You might see the effect after several weeks, maybe after an increased dose. It is always worth reviewing the meds, both Rx and OTC in case here could be something reversible going on, and sometimes the memory drugs they have will actually help some at least in early stages though you have to watch out for side effects too. If there is an option to go to a neurologist or really good geriatrician with her give it a go.
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uh... "a 3- week vacation .... my 86-yr old" There's a wake up call if I ever heard one!
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I can think of a time when one might expect 24/7 care - from someone who caused you to be totally isolated. I can see that from my Dad's perspective when we tell him he can't drive. When we tell him he can't pick up the phone to yell at somebody he doesn't even know (because he may disagree with him about something). Is this rational? Sort of. So you do need help to figure out how to reason with him in this case. Because you are and have to be the bad guy once in a while. So get some help in making sure you don't lose all sense of perspective and unconsciously retaliate, but mostly because it will help you find some well deserved and much needed peace.
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I think you could argue the point only as it relates to you: 'I would feel better if we went to the doctor; it would make me worry less.' You could say that there are so many new drugs out now, and you want to know what might help with her memory if it gets worse. You might tell her they need a baseline of her condition so they have something for comparison as she ages. My friend's mother just had a brain scan and was told she does not have Alzheimer's, though she had some episodes like you described; this news removed a great worry for the family, as you can imagine. So there is good news to gain sometimes, as well.
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YES! Great information!
It is so important to document episodes, then present those to the Doc.

Redhead,
it sounds like you have a problem there..
esp. if you are resorting to putting your hands on Dad's neck in desperation--that is inappropriate.
His behaviors sound like they are beyond limits of your ability to deal with them--you either need in-home help, or place him in some level of facility.
You need to take care of your own stress levels, because it sounds like those are too much.
PLEASE, Redhead,
contact your local Area Agency on Aging, and ask what to do!!
They can direct you to verious services / posibilities.
An adult who has started pottying on the floor anywhere, muck less the kitchen or other rooms than the bathroom, has some problems going on, and you need help handling that, and figuring it out.

Elders may "act out", including pottying on furnishings and floors, but, that is related to mental/emotional issues they need help with--it is not so simple as "Dad's mad at me not being there and chose to do this to get back at me".
They can also make some really inappropriate statements, demands, etc.

It it UNrealistic of any elder to expect any adult child, or anyone, to sit with them 24/7, no matter what.
It is UNappropriate for an elder to become physically/emotionally abusive of their caregivers [and vice-versa].

An Elder who has been taking care of themselves,
then starts having lapses--getting lost, leaving pans cooking unattended, leaving water running, etc.
CAN have clear memories, yet, still do confused things.
It is usually their short-term, new memories that suffer first; old memories stay intact longer, usually.
Illnesses, Strokes and TIAs can cause problems, too.
ANY elder who has not been properly evaluated for mental and physical status, really needs to be, especially if they have been having behavior lapses [including verbal].

Giving a written list of what you have observed, and what you are concerned about, in your elder, to their Doctor, is an important step in learning what help you need, when, how soon.
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