Mom (85) steadily progressing memory issues, becomes defensive when I try to discuss it. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Mom (85) steadily progressing memory issues, becomes defensive when I try to discuss it. Any advice?

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My 85-year-old mother has been having memory 'gaps' and being very suspicious for approximately two years, but it has gotten much worse. Someone came into her house and 'stole' all her muffin pans and casserole dishes, women at church are 'out to get' her husband, my step-dad, and she pulls the drapes tightly closed at 4pm because she 'doesn't want people to know our business.' I had her internist give her a neurological test 12 months ago, 6 months ago, and yesterday. Her score is 22 out of 30. (worse than 12 months ago, but same as 6 months ago). She flatly refuses to take Aricept nor have an MRI. She becomes VERY defensive when we talk about her 'memory' and snapped that she would like me to find anyone else who is 85 who doesn't have the same problem. She states the only reason she 'forgets' is that she is stressed out. I have tried to remove all the stressors from her life that I can (i.e., hiring a lady to clean the house, finding out about grocery delivery, etc.,) but she continues to say that she only forgets if she gets rushed and stressed. She recently 'forgot' to pay her car insurance, and states that charges mysteriously appear on her credit card. However, she cannot 'find' the statements when I tell her that we can go over these. She also does not want to let me start paying her bills for her (my suggestion). Any ideas how to proceed here?

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Thank goodness, I got her to get a living will, advance directive, and medical POA (me) 1 year ago at her lawyer's. There is also a clause for a durable living will (i.e., can handle property, bills, money, etc.) that if one doctor writes that she is incompetent to handle these herself, it automatically reverts to me. I saw her doctor yesterday and she agreed to write the letter. She also suggested a driving program at a local hospital for older persons where they evidently go and do some simple driving tasks, and the hospital makes a recommendation (doesn't come from me) i.e., your driving is fine - your are okay to continue just as you are, or you need to look at giving up your keys b/c you are not safe according to our driving evaluation,. My stepdad notices things, of course, but he is one of those persons who is going to be hands-off, like he is not a caring, compassionate person, so whatever happens, it is ME and all me, since I have no siblings. I also got my name added to her checking account, and I have all those new checks in my possession.
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I agree with geewiz. You can't explain and reason with dementia. You aren't likely to have her say, "Yes, I have dementia and I'm not functioning well. Please step in and take over my financial matters and healthcare decisions." They normally are in denial, don't believe you and will resist intervention. I hope she has signed authorization for you or someone to take care of matters. With that level of dementia, she isn't able to be responsible for paying bills or driving. It's very risky and you won't get far trying to convince her of this. Things have to be done anyway to protect her. If her husband is competent, he will have to step up or hand the authority over to someone else. It's difficult living with someone with dementia, especially if their behavior is bizarre. I would meet with the family to discuss plans on what has to happen. I wish you the best.
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Mimi, there is little sense in discussing all of this with your Mom. Everything you wrote is a sign of dementia. You can do quite a bit for her on your computer in terms of bill paying and financial stuff. But like Jeanne, I want to ask why she has a car or a credit card? What are her living arrangements? Is there a way to assure she takes whatever meds she may be on? How close do you live to her? There may be steps you can take now that will make this road easier to travel in the future. But time is short. Who has POA? Is there someone's name on Financial accounts? (My Mom added me to her checking and savings very close to the point when that would not have been possible. ) And while I had POA, it made paying her bills a LOT easier to just be able to sign the checks for her expenses. Good luck
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I think her defensiveness comes from fear. She probably realizes that her memory is slipping and it scares her.
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She clearly has some form of dementia and it may not make much difference to diagnose exactly what type it is, especially if it becomes another battle with Mom. My Dad refused to be tested so I quit fighting with him about it and just learned how to deal with it.

I would be concerned about financial and legal matters. Do you have POA? Does she have a will, end of life directives? As she gets worse is someone going to be empowered to pay the bills and make medical decisions?
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Is her husband healthy? Does he see these signs of declining? Do you get along with him? It seems to me that this is his business at least as much as it yours, and that the two of your together could do her more good than you alone can. So ... what is her husband's role in this?

I'm not sure this is a consolation, but Aricept does not cure dementia and it does not slow the progression down. It does help some people, and it is a shame you can't try it with mom and see if she is one of the ones it helps. But that is what it is.

Read up on dementia. Learn what is common, and how people deal with these symptoms.

For example, the "people are stealing my things" is extremely common in some types of dementia. And it often becomes a vicious cycle. People are stealing from me, so I'll hide my nice eyeglasses. Hey, my eyeglasses are gone! I told you people are stealing from me! Sigh. Many and many a pair of glasses or hearing aides has been thrown up with an "empty" box of tissues.

The paranoia is common, too, as is attempts at isolation. Inability to handle finances is often an early sign of dementia.

Whether she accepts that she has dementia or not, the goal is to minimize its impact on her life. OK, Mom, your memory is about as good as other people who are 85, but you know what? Those other 85-year-olds let someone help them! Getting a little help organizing your finances is better than having your insurance lapse!

(Doesn't sound to me like she should have a car to insure. People with dementia should not be driving.)

Again, where is here husband in this scene?
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