Hi all. Recently found out that a friend has been diagnosed with dementia & it’s at a stage where she has had to be placed in a memory care facility. Up until very recently, she was living alone and working as an independent insurance agent. I noticed a change in her last year, the first one was her memory. I would tell her something and then a day or 2 later, she would ask me about it and I’d just tell her again. It happened frequently. A few times, we had these conversations in the evening after she’d been at a social gathering & she would always mention drinking wine, and then a day Later, she’d asked me about whatever we’d discussed the night before but it was as if we’d never talked about! I thought perhaps she had drunk a little too much and just didn’t remember the conversation we had the night before & just answered her questions again. Then I noticed on Facebook, she was constantly replying to comments and like.....attacking people almost. Maybe attacking is the wrong word but someone would make a totally harmless comment on a local news story for example and she would reply to them in an accusatory way, as if the person were bashing someone or saying inappropriate things. Sometimes it seemed like she was trying to pick fights, when again the person hadn’t even addressed her and said something harmless. Her behavior was pretty irrational but I didn’t think much of It at the time. I can recall 2 incidents where she blamed other people entirely, she had to move her insurance office after her now former landlord allegedly increased the rent and she gave me some story about how it was all intentional and a way to get her out of there. She was made head admin of the local neighborhood watch group and after months of erratic behavior (lashing out at people and picking fights) the guy who started the group & who had stepped down for awhile, gave her the boot and she told me he was crazy, had PTSD and was having health issues & she painted him as the total bad guy. Were all these things signs of the dementia? The diagnosis came at a quite a shock to everyone who knows her, she’s always been a very active person sitting on local boards and communities, also part of a lot of local groups. I’m just wondering if we all some missed obvious signs. And should I contact her? I haven’t spoke to her in months. She kind of went MIA. She is also friends with my SIL who is also her hair dresser & they had a falling out this summer and my SIL ended up dismissing her as a client then in August she started calling my SIL trying to get an appointment and finally someone (we aren’t sure who she is) came in to the salon & explained that our friend has been diagnosed with dementia and is in a facility and my SIL agreed to do her hair again. I think she still has access to Facebook so would it be ok for me to send her a message and ask how she’s doing? I don’t know how advanced her dementia is. I don’t want to do anything to disrupt her.

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Your friend may have been able to cover up for a while. If in MC she is pretty much into her Dementia. I think a visit would be nice.
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Thank you so much for this information JeanneGibbs. So it sounds like the things I noticed were early dementia. My only concern about visiting her was that I don’t think she’s been in the facility that long-less than 2 months I believe and I wasn’t sure if she needed time to settle in and get used to things there before having friends visit. I hold no grudges, she never attacked or blamed me! She just tended to forget our conversations haha! I was concerned when she disappeared on me but she knew I was here if she needed me & I honestly assumed something was going on with her & she’d come to me when she needed me. What a horrible horrible disease! And thank you for answering my questions on the other thread about whether or not a person with dementia is aware of it and that something is going on with them. That was my biggest concern other than whether or not she is ok. I mean I know she’s “ok” in a sense & receiving the care she needs but I wanted to know if she was truly aware of what was going on with her and if she does know, is she handling it ok? I will find that out when I visit her. Anyway thank again :)
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It could be dementia. But there can be other causes such as, new medications, street drugs, low blood sugar, builded up of proteins (not the same kind that causes dementia), viruses (pretty common), bacterias (also common), injury to the head, mental health issues and drinking heavily for a long period.
Here are a few questions to think about:
How old is she?
Was she taking new medications?
Is there a family history of dementia or mental health issues?
Did she have blood work done?
Did she have a CT or MRI?

You may not think she would do street drugs, but you be surprise how many people do drugs and family and close friends don't know about it!

But like jeannegibbs stated, "dementia can affect anyone at anytime."

These are just my thoughts!

You should go see her, if I was her I would think I would want to see my friend.

Good Luck
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Yes, everything you've mentioned could be dementia symptoms. Some might also have been the result of too much alcohol. Or the result of not being able to tolerate as much alcohol as she used to, because of the brain damage of dementia.

I know the diagnosis can be a shock, but dementia can happen to ANYONE. Think of celebrities whose diagnoses have shocked us! But fine, productive, intelligent, compassionate, fair people can get this terrible disease. Paranoia, blaming others, lashing out -- all very common in early dementia.

I recommend wiping the slate clean and starting over with this friend. Don't hold grudges about things she probably couldn't help.

If it is feasible, visiting her in the care facility would be a great way to establish a fresh relationship. Then you would be able to gauge her communication skills at this point. You could decide if FB or emails or snail mail cards would be effective. The visit would not have to be long.

A person who gets dementia often loses contact with former friends and even sometimes family. This is extremely sad for the person, and also for their loved ones, who are trying to keep the person from feeling isolated and rejected. Absolutely contact her! Don't worry about "disrupting" her. Nothing you can do is going to make the dementia worse. It is possible that you could say something unwittingly that would upset her, but that would be temporary and would be far better than having her feel abandoned.
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