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I'm not a medical professional but it's clear that my mother's headed down that path. She gets very angry if anyone, in any way, suggests she might be elderly. The couple times I have suggested maybe she might not be acting rationally or that it would be good to plan for aging she gets very, very agitated and is in complete denial, "I am not old." "I am not crazy!" "I am not losing my mind!" "I do not forget things!" She lives with my dad who is more friendly but has always been utterly passive and is now disabled with memory issues of his own.


Is there any point to getting her to a psychiatrist or neurologist for a dementia diagnosis? She will be very, very angry at both the doctor and me. Already there is a total lack of trust when it comes to family, though she is all too happy to trust friendly strangers and keeps falling for scams, so it's not like I'd be losing that.

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Also, there are medications she may be needing that she won’t have access to without a diagnosis.
Is she getting any medical care now? Her regular doctor should be noticing the symptoms and giving advice on her mental state.
Does she have other physical problems that she is in denial about?
She may be hiding those as well in an effort to not appear to be “old. “
Everyone should be seeing a doctor for checkups.
Good luck.
Charlotte
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Reply to CharK60
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For some people, they may not want to know, but, most of the time, a diagnosis of dementia, as well as WHAT IS CAUSING the dementia, is good information to have. For example, is it Alzheimers, Vascular, Lewy Bodies. etc.? The patient often is not interested in a diagnosis and even resists one, if given, so, it's mainly for the family and the doctor's knowledge, so they can help the patient.

That info could be used to explain a person's behavior and enable the doctor to know what medication might help. Some conditions are not amenable to medications for dementia and you wouldn't want to have those conditions and take the wrong med.

Also, with dementia, the patient may qualify for certain programs, facilities or other services, that a person without dementia wouldn't.

The information would help with the courts if the patient is living alone and unsafely. It could help convince the court to appoint them a guardian.

And, it's good to know the cause for sure, because the patient may have a vitamin deficiency, UTI, brain tumor or pressure, or some other condition that could be treated. That's why I took my LO to her primary and then to a neurologist. I wanted to rule out things like brain tumors.

I would let the fact that your LO might get upset dissuade you. Sometimes, they have to be taken care of, even if they are not on board with it. Especially, if she is the caretaker of her husband, who has more advanced dementia. I'd see to it that he is safe as well.
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jjmummert Oct 26, 2018
I arranged for my mom's primary dr to refer mom to a neuropsychologist for assessment. That way I could play dumb when she asked about the appointment. " I'm not sure, but your dr wants you to havd this appointment. I hear it's a routine thing for many folks over 70."
Mom had the assessment...was furious with the results for about a week or so, and then forgot about the whole thing. I had a detailed report with official diagnosis that helped with placement to a memory care assisted living community as well as future medical appointments. In the past 2 months shd has had falls, pneumonia, and a broken shoulder. She is too risky for assisted living and is now in a well staffed, new skilled nursing community where the food is wonderful and she will receive physical, speech, and occupational therapies.
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I'm sorry, but from what you described, I think your mother is beyond dementia. The forgetfulness coupled with her growing lack of trust of family and gravitation to strangers along with her elevated agitation are all signs of Alzheimer's. Does she go to the doctor regularly? These behaviors should be addressed. Also, there is a stigma attached to mental cognitive issues and aging among people your mom's age. Just look at the way it is depicted in old movies; she is afraid of becoming that and being subjected to the horrors of what nursing homes used to be.
Years of arguments questioning mom's behavior prompted me to get her assessed (it's how they hide the symptoms, I've read). She hid it so well, I thought it was dementia, until it suddenly accelerated. Now that I know, I take her comments and outbursts less personally and my side of conversations take an easier path to avoid some of the conflict. It's hard "knowing", but she is actually a little calmer now; so am I. She's late stage now, . . . just a waiting game at this point.
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bokbokbok Oct 31, 2018
I hadn't thought about Alzheimer's but her sister has been diagnosed. My mom, of course, says her own sister is faking it and acting that way to get attention.
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The point of getting your mother in front of an older age psychiatrist, for choice, if you've got one handy, is that these people know their territory. They are *used* equally to people who come to them seeking answers, and people who flatly refuse to accept there is even a question. It will be an opportunity for you to find out where you stand and what your options are from here; and if your mother doesn't want to hear about it then nobody will force her to.

It may also be a step towards getting the legal authority you may need to protect and support both of your parents in future. Go for it. You've nothing to lose.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Is there someone besides family she does trust? In my husband's case, he refused to see his primary physician to get a diagnosis, but he had regular appointments with his heart doctor, and he did trust and like him. I wrote a letter explaining the circumstances and gave it to the doctor's nurse when I took my husband for his check up. I told him I had made an appointment with my husband's primary doctor, but that he would not listen to me. I also included some of the symptoms which were worrying me about his behavior. His heart doctor convinced my husband that he needed to have a check up, and we therefore got the diagnosis of dementia, and he was told to stop driving and give up his driver's license. As for the medications, they really did not slow down the disease itself, but perhaps some help for your mother's anxiety could be prescribed. So often family are the last people our loved ones with dementia want to trust, when they need our help so very much, so any outside help you can get, take advantage of it. Hope this helps. HettaK96
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I think a diagnosis is very important. I'm dealing with this with my mother and took her to a neurologist. While it was definitely diagnosed thru MRI & tests, the dr was able to prescribe medication that helps some and support for me. Its sad, there to see your parent decline, knowing there is no cure. But there is a lot of comfort in knowing i am doing everything i can to make it easier for her.
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Reply to VickieByrd23
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Yes, and no. The diagnosis helps you prepare what lies ahead, and start planning on her wandering and trying to escape out of the house and falling in the middle of the street. Get financial affairs in order and anticipate full-time care or putting them in a nursing home. I have been dealing with my mom's Alzheimer's for nearly ten years now and the last four were severe. She is total care now. I have to do everything for her including toilet her.
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robinr Oct 26, 2018
That's true..but not to frighten everyone dealing with the early stages...the worst doesn't always happen...not everyone is going to wander or attempt to escape.  I don't know how you do it cetude...but my heart is with you.  My relationship with my mother has not ever been very good and to provide personal care...toileting...I know we all do what we have to, but she would be so rejecting of me I think, well, we'll deal with it if/when we have to.
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I agree with everything already said -- you folks are the best! -- and I would add: what if it's something simple that can be addressed? One commenter mentioned brain tumor, but there's also: urinary or other infection; post-shingles, post-polio, or even post-herpes brain issues; and the simplest of all -- vitamin deficiency!

A competent screening exam and some more-than-routine bloodwork would go a long way toward finding out if this is treatable or permanent.
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robinr Oct 26, 2018
True, but not likely I would imagine.  When you've lived with the signs for so long, you kind of get to know...it's just the one episode that puts you over the edge and then you step back and reconsider ALL of the behaviors observed and realize how slowly it has developed...
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Yes- if anything...the neuropsychological exam (which is like 2-3 hours long) gets a feel for what the “normal” behavioral patterns are, then measures the decline, and suggests therapies to address the areas of concern. If there’s something that can be done to calm down the yelling/arguments, anxiety, irrational behaviors, or something to strengthen limbs, or slow memory deterioration, it’s worth it. While I guess it doesn’t matter what it’s officially called (dementia, MCI etc) what matters is how it’s treated.
The goal of the test is not to “diagnose a problem” but to provide treatments to help the symptoms that are problematic.
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Reply to Dadsakid
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Some here have said they told a LO they had to go to the doctor because insurance required it. Medicare does ask you get a yearly check up, so could use that too.

Mom needs a full check up. Its probably a Dementia but could be other things too. A UTI, she could be diabetic, etc.
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