How do I know if it's depression or worsening dementia?

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My mom has been in a nursing home for over eighteen months for signs of early dementia. She had a bit of a crisis at some point and was moved to another part of the nursing home, while she was put on risperdal. She generally hated the new place. Suddenlty she needed to use a wheelchair, her speech was slurred, and they eased off on the medication. She then got panic attacks, started wandering and was delusional (people at night coming to beat her up with a stick). They moved her back to the first building and she seemed happy at first then got angry and threatened staff. She keeps wandering - oh, and she loves lifting papers and small objects from whatever room she happens to be in, so that can get her in trouble. They have adjusted her treatment again, but the doctor now tells me that she is mostly suffering from depression and speaks of her condition as partly reversible with the adequate medication. I just want to know if this makes any sense to any of you - to me the dementia is just getting worse, and I would like to know what to prepare for. Thanks for reading.

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Jocelyne, thank you for your kind words but I did not feel guilty because of your first message. I am very suspicious of medications in general and I am really glad to know that there may be a way without them. In any case Mom seems to be doing much better with the new treatment. She is still able to throw tantrums (which will hopefully be more manageable), but she is much more composed and now expresses herself clearly. She is fully aware that she is losing her memory - she told me yesterday that she wished that she could save it all somewhere. I do believe that it would not work out if she were home with me, but it never hurts to be reminded of it...
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Dear Sendme2help,

It turned out not to be an infection...just runny bowels....he is fine now...(other than the Alzheimer, which is enough to handle)....Thanks, marymember
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I wondered if my reply wouldn't cause a tad of guilt... I am sorry for that. My main point was that taking her off the meds made all the difference in the world. I would never suggest anyone who has a destructive relationship with their parent, to take care of them and allow their souls to be chipped away day after day. No, you are no doubt doing what is best for you both. If she were to chip away at you day by day, there would be nothing left to give her. You are no doubt being responsible for yourself and I applaud you. If she chooses to remain combative, you have to draw the line. No one would be a nice daughter who would be getting afflicted everyday all for the sake of caregiving. A caregiver must take care of themselves equally as they take care of their charge. God bless you...
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Thanks for all the replies - I now have a better understanding of what is going on. They are trying to find a comprehensive treatment for her that would take care of several symptoms, while to me some of these symptoms (such as anxiety) are traits of her personality which have been there all her life.
Jocelyne it is great that you are taking such good care of your mother - I often think that my mother's life would be very different if I took her with me, and I feel guilty about not doing so. However every time I spent a few days with her we would always end up bickering savagely - I felt constantly taunted and hurt. I am not a nice daughter.
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All I can say is when I took my mom off of dementia AND anti-depression medicine, her life came back - spunk and all. But, I do have her at home, and that may be another reason she recovered so well.
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Start a log/journal, simply put of her symptoms, behaviors, time of day when you see her. What you describe may come and go, improve or decline over time. It is not always a steady decline; or a drastic decline, depending on the diagnosis. Keep asking the doctor, sometimes a second opinion can help.
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Geriatric psychiatrists?
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Why is it that Alzheimer people get so many urinary tract infections? My husband drinks lots of water, eats well, but I can tell he has an infection due to blood stains on underwear. He takes an antibiotic and alternates it with sulfa. But it seems the infection is back. marymember
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My mom was given risperdal and ended up acting out on her aggressive paranoid behaviors which got her in big trouble. She's never been in trouble before! Come to find out risperdal has a black box warning in patients with dementia! It's the biggest FDA warning that should be on the damn label! I got her a new doctor a geriatric psyc who was able to test her and told me there is no doubt the riperdak gave my mouth a breakdown and she has now been diagnosed with early onset dementia. My mother refused a new medication but I got a health care proxy and I give her the medication in her pill box. My father states she is taking her medication. It's all been frustrating and very saddening for me when I go to their home and check in. She has VNA once per week. Medicare wont pay for medication administration! The namenda xr has recently been started but she is already more redurectable
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IT Is can be dangerous especially in men. Its hard to diagnosis in the elderly since symptoms are different than in younger people. Throw in Dementia and ALZ it's really hard. A urine test has to be done. My Mom has a history.
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