Is it dementia or anxiety/depression? - AgingCare.com

Is it dementia or anxiety/depression?

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My mother n law has always had anxiety and depression. She was treated by a psychiatrist and therapist for many years. We removed her from her home b/c she was a hoarder and the conditions were unsanitary. Her mother died from alzheimer's. Over the past 2 years we've seen a sharp decline in her ability to engage with people, participate in activities, etc... We are not sure how much is forgetfulness vs. dissociative. She falls asleep right after eating which tells me some of it might be related to blood-sugar. We are at a loss as to how to help b/c she refuses to go anywhere, engage in social activities, and tells us and the doctor that she's "fine." She is angry if I show up at her doctor appts and will not tell us anything but "I'm fine" when we ask about the appts.

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TriciaU I have the same problem with my mother's doctor - he did the same, a short mental test, then said, "wow you did better than most people 20 years younger". Personally I think he's a chicken and doesn't want to be the "bad guy". Great, so I will get that designation. My mother says her doctor is her friend (ergo no access for me). I feel for you, walking a fine line to take care of them without angering them and starting down a really awful path. Good luck!
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I feel your pain. My MIL eventually overdid her coumadin and fell, hit her head and only then would accept help. It's like an addiction, you can't help her until she lets you.
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pstiegman, your answer was totally not helpful. I can not allow her to go to the doc alone because the doc is then getting no information about her. For example, my mother in law was taking 2 blood pressure meds and wasn't telling the doc and wouldn't listen to me that one was stopped. Your suggestion is to just let her go on taking a double dose of meds so she doesn't get mad at me?! As for her daughter--she lives an hour and a half away. We moved my mil 5 min from us to take care of her. This is my role b/c we made it our repsonsiblity and my husband just can't take off work for every little thing. These blogs can be helpful but people should be careful what you presume.
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If she doesn't want you at MD appointments, the MD can sense it and won't work with you. I had the same problem; I stopped going. She knows she's losing it, eventually she will accept help, but likely insist it comes from her children. Stay in the background but monitor things and keep her son up to date.
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Hello TriciaU,

Our writer published an article that may be helpful to you regarding dementia and depression. I am attaching the link below.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/dementia-depression-link-158881.htm

Warm regards,
Melissa R.
The AgingCare.com Team
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Some more information: My mother n law is now 70yo....She was on a slew of drugs 5 years ago--we didn't know this. She was over prescribed a ton of meds from a psychiatrist and started hearing xmas music and falling in the middle of summer --this was 5 years ago while on STdisabilty b/c she was not able to function at work... we always knew her house was falling apart but she kept the front room neat and only let us in that far. she landed in the hospital and that's when we went through the home and decided to move her out and in with us...3 months later she went into her own apt 5 minutes from us. the house was cleaned out and sold. In the past few years we have seen a sharp decline. always a quiet "I'm fine" person but now just "the lights on and nobody's home." I have all the paper work with the doc's office. I speak with them freely. My husband has Power of Attny. She will not tell me when her appts occur--I call and ask when she scheduled it for and then show up and surprise her---if I insist on picking her up she will just get agitated and angry. A woman from church is nice enough to take her and then I go in the doc's office with her and take her home. She HATES this. The doc did a "memory test" --asked a few questions. He ultimately said "She is happy and well taken care of." Gee thanks. I tried to sign her up for a local Dem/Althz study/clinic and as soon as I put "depression & anxiety" on the 10 page application--they said "oh, no she is likely not good for our clinic since we don't know if her symptoms are related to that."

She has a thyroid condition so I took her to an endocrinologist (sp) who said that as long as she is taking her meds...these symptoms shouldn't occur due to that... She was taking arisept (sp) awhile back but then decided on her own that she didn't need it. :-(

She's been divorced for 30 years. She says she loves coming to our house to see the kids and be with everyone but then sits for 8 hours not speaking or interacting with anyone other than to say hi, bye, how is everyone. She obsessively has to watch the tv but then can't repeat anything that she is watching. I don't interrupt her at the doc's...I want him to see that she can't answer his questions. I have a call into the doc to discuss what needs to happen next...
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Depression and illness in older adults and the elderly
Depression in older adults and the elderly is often linked to physical illness, which can increase the risk for depression. Chronic pain and physical disability can understandably get you down. Symptoms of depression can also occur as part of medical problems such as dementia or as a side effect of prescription drugs.

Medical conditions can cause depression in the elderly
It’s important to be aware that medical problems can cause depression in older adults and the elderly, either directly or as a psychological reaction to the illness. Any chronic medical condition, particularly if it is painful, disabling, or life-threatening, can lead to depression or make depression symptoms worse.
These include:

Parkinson’s disease
stroke
heart disease
cancer
diabetes
thyroid disorders
Vitamin B12 deficiency
dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
lupus
multiple sclerosis
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You make no mention of a spouse, so I can only assume that he is no longer among us. How long has he been gone? Anxiety, depression and dementia seem to all go hand in hand making it hard to tell which is happening. How was your relationship with her before this withdrawl? Did she get along with you? It maybe that she is showing signs of dementia, which should not be all that surprising given her mental stability. With the lack of activity they do tend to tire easily. I think that you should maybe get POA for her so you are able to get more tests done on her as well as blood work. Best wishes
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Many dementias, particularly FTD dementias, first present as behavioral problems. My husband was diagnosed with depression and anxiety 15 years ago and was treated for this until he was diagnosed with dementia 5 years ago. Looking back, I feel the the depression and anxiety were the first symptoms of what turned out ot be dementia. (He also developed Parkinsons-like gait difficulties before the memory problems became obvious.) It is often hard to tell when dementia begins but sometimes, looking back, you are able to make sense of things that weren't that obvious at the time.
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Removed her from her home to where? Who takes her to doctor's appointments?
Who is we? If she has had long-term issues with depression, aging will actually amplify them, and medications may need to be changed. Look over all her test results and ask questions. Do not interrupt her conversation with the MD or answer for her (sooo many family members do that and it drives the doctors nuts). If a detail was missed ask " What about xxxx?" and take lots of notes.
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