My very independent and self-reliant 97-yr-old widowed MIL started making weird statements and accusations back when she was in her 50's (which is when I married her son) . . . and she worked until she was 82! But what she was doing was a continuation of 'little things' she'd been doing all her life so we couldn't tell when or if the 'little things' started replacing reality. Like several simple decisions were based on "something a lady on the bus told me was a good idea."

Many years ago my husband and I had to move into her home (we converted the basement into an apartment) to take care of her two elderly older sisters who lived in the 2nd floor flat -- MIL lived on first floor. MIL was very jealous of the attention they were getting and was mean to everyone. Screamed at the parametics when they came to take one aunt (congestive heart failure) to the hospital. Would pop out into the stairwell hallway to demand where the other sister was going whenever she would try to leave the house. Snarled at us when we would go up to clean the apartments or deliver meals. Once the sisters had passed away (both in the early 90's) she became even meaner and more self-centered. She continually accused my husband and I of trying to steal her house from her (mostly to her other son), accused us of 'freeloading on her dime (usually in a public place) and over the years made a point of coming outside and screaming at us to stop cutting HER grass or shoveling snow from HER walkway, because, of course, this was HER house!!!. She ripped out the Christmas decorations across the front of the house one year the day after Christmas because "Christmas was over" . . .makes a point of trying to ruin every holiday she can, the list goes on.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is just more of what she has always been since I've known her and not take it to heart, but it is painful to see the affect it has on her son. She drove the other two children away with her meanness so even if they wanted to help it would be difficult. They are there for us if needed.

Fortunately at 97 she enjoys relatively good health and can take care of herself for the most part and her little dog. We both hold full-time jobs, maintain the house, pay the bills and make sure she has food/meals, gets to weekly hair appointments, etc. Her stove was shut off about 8 years ago because she kept forgetting how to use it properly and we were concerned that she would harm herself. I finally removed her ID and bank cards from her purse because she kept hiding them, usually about the time we'd need to go to the bank to cash her social security check which she also would hide at will. . .and last week I had to call the doctor to let him know she had decided she no longer would see him since she didn't have to take the pills he'd prescribed for her high blood pressure because HE had had told her she didn't have to if she felt ok. (She insists that I give her HER pills in a cup every morning or she starts slamming doors until I leave them on the stairs -- but she won't take them.)

Our "pulse points" are that she gets up every day, takes her pill cup from the stairwell where I leave it, feeds herself and her dog, dresses herself and has no tendencies to wander. On Saturdays I take her to the hairdresser, breakfast and grocery shopping. Other than that we leave her alone. She many times won't answer the door if I knock but I can hear her moving around, so that is intentional.

Is the dementia, or is this the action of a very very spoiled person? We can't tell!

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The forgetting how to use the stove is a definite sign of dementia. At her age, that's not surprising. It may develop quite slowly. It is clear that she will never cooperate in her own care. Someday something bad will happen to her, and she will end up dead or in a NH. There is nothing you can do about it.

To protect yourself, be sure to have a witness or two to what you do for her, and to what she refuses to let you do for her. It is sad to see someone with such good "health" genes waste them by being impossible to love. Maybe Jesus can love her.
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She sounds like a narcissist. Even if it is dementia she is who she is at this point in her life...
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many possibilities. heres the list per an old cartoon i drew about group therapy.
smokes dope
shot the pope
loose screws
off track
totally postal
maybe the list aint funny but the cartoon is. everybodys heads are shaped like nuts.
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It surely sounds as though it very well could be Dementia. There are testing processes that can provide answers, at a cost of course. Start by calling Dept. for the Aging in the state in which she resides; there should be a local office in the county. Studies show that Dementia is on the raise and there is no cure. It is estimated that Dementia will strike more then 40% of the 'Baby Boomers' as we age into our mid sixties and beyond; in rare case it's been found in some case of head trauma patients as young as twenty-five.

Teepa Snow MS, has been involved, as have many others, in studies and research in the field. Dementia is a genetic type. I say that because under the diagnoses of Dementia there are about ninety or so types of the ailment. So a through series of tests, by persons in the field, should be conducted to narrow down the contributing factor. In my Mother's case it is Vascular Dementia. Also worth mentioning persons with Dementia have been know to live from three to thirty years and beyond, which creates it's own set of challenges.
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If this were new behavior, I'd say that her behavior sounds consistent with dementia. If this is how she has been behaving forever, I'd say she's always had a screw or two loose.

It sounds like everyone is coping very well under the circumstances. It is sad that her mental condition has alienated her other children. I hope that your husband can understand that her behavior is not about him. He (and you) should feel proud of care the two of you have provided her in spite of what appears to be very selfish and strange behavior. And that some consolation that this can't go on indefinitely (although you may have a few more years.)

I personally don't think that knowing exactly what is causing this behavior would make any difference at this point. She is not likely to improve.
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