Is this early stage dementia or normal aging? - AgingCare.com

Is this early stage dementia or normal aging?

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First time visitor here, heartsick and exhausted. Background: Mom is 84 and lives with my husband, myself, and our college daughter (she's away at college most of the year.) Mom uses a walker after a bad car accident (passenger, my MIL was driving. Sigh.) and other than that gets around pretty well- does laundry, empties the dishwasher, goes up and down stairs to her bedroom, etc. We are a close family, I guess you could say. My dad died of cancer in 2003, my only sibling (brother) died at 18 in a car accident in 1989, and so I'm literally her only living family. We happily drive her to appointments, take her out to dinner, on vacations, concerts, everywhere. We don't leave her home unless she prefers that, and we do things as a family, from an ice cream outing to vacations. My husband and I and our daughter have actually NEVER been away without her, for fear of "leaving her out." Hubby and I never have friends over, because one time we did and mom retreated to the upstairs and sulked about "I"m left out. Nobody wants to talk to ME!" Which isn't the truth, but it's her perception of it. So we don't have friends over anymore. I feel like I've sacrificed most of my married life thus far, and that's ok. It is what it is. Lately, she's struggling to find the right word (usually nouns) more and more frequently, and seems really angry about everything. Very negative, (she wasn't ever a very negative person) and seemingly resentful of us. She gets angry when our dogs bark or are in her way (dogs are big part of our lives; we show and train competitively) and there is often no pleasing her. Daughter is home from college now, and she's said horrible things to her when hubby and I are at work: "I know you all hate me and just make my life difficult." (of course that's not the case; we're very positive and helpful to her) and "I'm so tired of everyone's stuff being in my way all the time!" (it's not; our home is pretty darn neat and uncluttered) and will say really vitriolic things about acquaintances and criticize everything. She ALWAYS has to be "right" about everything, and takes any disagreement or difference of opinion, no matter how politely expressed, as a personal affront. Really unpleasant. She's become a news channel junkie and rages on about politics, working it into every conversation in an angry tone. That's ALL that can be on the television in the evening. It's so tiresome. Lately I"m wondering if she's got some depression going on, and whether I should bring that subject up, but I fear the wrath she will unleash. Or, could this be symptomatic of some early stages of dementia? I get that she's had many losses in her life, and losing some of her independence and mobility is another loss. But I do wonder if some antidepressants would help with the persecution complex/anger issues. How do I bring that subject up? And am I entitled to speak with her doctor? My skin is thick, but it's getting harder to keep a stiff upper lip, and I worry about her. Thanks for any input. It was actually very cathartic to type this all out; I've never opened up to anyone about this and I'm starting to feel pretty down about it.

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"We don't leave her home unless she prefers that, and we do things as a family, from an ice cream outing to vacations. my dad dies in 2003...."I thought I was reading the story of myself....only that my mom is 90 now and after dementia progressed at 87-88 she completely refuses to take any of my advises and finally got herself to aspiration pneumonia, hospital and rehab facility....And now after so many years being with me i dont even know how to take her home, she needs 24/7.

What I may say that all antidepressants may help with aggression symptoms but they also negative for memory....But yes, for us they helped for some time, then when her memory start declining we stop them...
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Reply to poetry21
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Ugh, Andorra..... Sending you hugs right back! Sigh.
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Reply to TrainerMom
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Astrid,

I too am a progressive. My patient, not so much. She loves her Fox. She's always whining to me about how "the Dems are against everything," etc. It's hard to bite my tongue, but I do... usually.

When she can't do math (but insists she's right), when she calls the neighbor's golden a mutt (it isn't; they compete too), and when she tells me my dogs would be happier shaven, I... have trouble biting my tongue. With most everything else, I just agree. It's not worth arguing.

Sending you hugs.
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Reply to Andorra
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Lol Andorra! We are a family of progressives, and we watch MSNBC!

And Jeanne, I’d dearly love to be able to use some of those “fibs” to initiate some medical screenings, but Mom is a retired nurse practitioner so she’d never buy it.

Can’t thank you both enough for your thoughtful replies! I’m really surprised by how comforting it feels to be able to vent and be heard. XOXO
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Reply to TrainerMom
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Sounds like you need to turn off Fox! :-D Okay sort of kidding, but your description of your mom and the news reminds me of the woman I care for and the 18 hours a day of Fox she consumes, obviously making her an expert.

Everything Jeanne says about what this could be sounds very worth considering, as far as I'm concerned. Dementia and depression are very worth exploring. UTIs can cause a pretty dramatic shift in temperament. Also worth considering is the possibility of a physical pain issue she isn't articulating?

I don't have the thickest skin and am struggling with the nasty attitude of the woman I care for, especially recently. Since her daughter brought me in, not the son she's on such good terms with, and she's not on great terms with her daughter, I'm automatically not given credit for much I do, and criticized for things she wouldn't criticize me nearly so cruelly for, had her son been the one to bring me. (I try to not let it get to me by telling myself it's like the judge who puts up the structural nightmare of a dog rather than own lovely, balanced animal all because of who is on the OTHER end of the leash, and how this is no reflection on you at all LOL.)

Also I second what Jeanne says about making a list. Things happen here that are so odd I'm SURE I'll remember to mention or ask the doc, bu then another, then another bizzare thing happens and I forget. Day planners are super cheap right now... pick one up and scribble a couple notes every day...
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Reply to Andorra
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Oh, and welcome to the forum!
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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It is not normal aging.

What you describe sounds consistent with dementia. UTIs can cause personality changes. Depression can be expressed as lashing out in anger. Vitamin deficiencies can mimic dementia symptoms.

So I don't know what this is, but it is not "normal."

I'm not sure you need to bring up a specific possible diagnosis, but I sure hope you can get her evaluated medically. I won't say, for example, "Mom, I wonder if you might have depression. Let's get you to a doctor." Instead, "Mom, Medicare wants you to have a medical checkup before you reach 85, to establish baselines. I'll see when the clinic can give you an appointment." (These kinds of statements are called therapeutic fibs.)

Yes, you can talk to her doctor. The doctor may not be able to respond because of confidentiality laws, but there is no law against listening to you! If you can get an appointment for Mom, write a brief list of your concerns and get it to the doctor before the appointment. If you have trouble talking mom into an appointment, then I'd contact the doctor and ask for suggestions on how to arrange that. Sometimes clinics are willing to call the patient and suggest it is time for a pneumonia vaccine or tetanus booster or some other pretext for having her come in.

Let us know how this works out for your family.
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