How is it that Mom fools everyone but family? - AgingCare.com

How is it that Mom fools everyone but family?

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I know there's a vast range of how dementia patients present in their varying stages, but how can it be that Mom fools virtually everyone other than family members? Upon her initial diagnosis, she missed almost all of the mini mental exam, and yet she can carry on a remarkably fluid conversation, only stumbling a bit here and there. I think she relies on a repetitious script for the most common topics. I listen to her all the time and everything she says is regurgitated over and over. Emotionally she's a bit more stable now that she's on full-dose Aricept and Namenda, but every once in awhile she goes off on a topic, something she's really upset about and you wish she would just shut up about it! You might have to hear about it for weeks and then she'll drop it for awhile and then pick it back up again days or weeks later. Memory-wise she cannot retain information much longer than 24 hours, often less, but the next day if you reference some one who visited her the day before, she'll make up some BS story. .She is unbelievably paranoid. She's convinced that all conversations she's not included in are about her. No one is as they seem. They are all conspiring against her. Someone is leaving the lights/TV/whatever on. Someone stole her hearing aids. Someone has been in her room (at MC) and rummaging through her stuff, even though the room looks completely undisturbed. She thinks I am stealing from her, taking advantage of her, etc,: doesn't confront me directly about my "crimes" but tells fantastic stories to everyone else she sees (and many believe them!!!!) She can still use her telephone but screws it up from time to time. (The cleaning ladies bumped one of the buttons. It's never Mom's fault. Mom is still remarkably neat and tidy and usually dresses appropriately, although I cannot say the same about her conduct. At 90 she still insists on getting her hair "done" and wears makeup every day. Sometimes she says the most outrageous things and lies like a rug. How can people who have known her for years not see this! Sorry for rant. Just blowing off steam.

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Ouch, cwillie. So true.
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I think that sometimes people on the outside are not as fooled as we think they are. I have been in a group where everyone spouted polite garbage about how well someone was doing while family was present only to gossip about the opposite as soon as they had left.
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Amber, I understand your puzzlement over the "showtiming" acts. I don't think it takes any planning. It is just, "oh this person is someone I want to impress. I'll try really hard." And then they try for as long as they can. Typically this is only about as long as a doctor's visit or a visit by a favored person. They can't maintain the act indefinitely, the period they can do it gets shorter over time, and then goes away completely. In my experience this is a very tiring experience for them, and they may need a nap after an episode of showtiming. (Don't we all put on our best behavior for company? It comes naturally, I think.)

It is generally true that persons with dementia have an extremely hard time learning something new. If fact they often cannot to it at all. But that doesn't mean they've forgotten everything they knew in the past. I would certainly not try to teach a person with dementia how to play cribbage, with all its jargon and complicated score keeping. But my mother had played that game for 70+ years when she developed dementia and she could continue to play it very competently right up to the end.

Can people with dementia be manipulative? Well, manipulation is a complex skill and persons with dementia typically cannot learn new skills that complicated. But someone who has been manipulative all their lives and has those skills down pat may indeed be able to continue that behavior, much as my mother could continue playing cribbage.

As they say, If you've seen one case of dementia, you've seen one case of dementia.
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I'm sorry you feel this way. I've lived a long time with my husband with dementia. His own doctor continually said to take care of myself. Maybe you need to find someone to come sit with your mom for an hour or so to give you some release from the stress. Ask God to give you some direction on how to cope.
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If they have dementia, they're incapable of planning, right? What I don't understand is how can they turn the act on and off at will. That requires planning ahead, right? And how can they be selective as to who they'll perform for?
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Oh, yes, the actress mother! My mother was the same way and an LPN who did some pro bono work for us till I could get there from 400 miles actually said to me "from all accounts, people would think that there is nothing wrong with your mother because she's dressed nice and hair fixed nice." Of course, that was SO much not the truth.
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Yes, all this stuff is highly frustrating. I don't know that it nessecarily helps but people w dementia,alz, other mental illnesses are not actually lying or being deliberately hard to deal with. The truth is that the brain is not working properly and in such cases the person's brain struggles to make sense of what all is going on. Thus the confabulations. It amazes me as well how many people fall for the confabulations and in many cases believe that you the caregiver are the problem. It's enough to make a caregiver go bonkers. That is why caregivers need to have a strong support system of their own in order to deal with this stuff. So I say rant on.
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One thing is that nobody has mentioned. Sometimes if your parents have money there are agencies and attorney hovering around. My father met a woman who destroyed the family and with his 96 year old brain, she took him out to change his trust. She is 25 years younger. Be aware that the paranoia can find a sympathetic ear and that might not be good. The attorney agreed - because my dad was a good actor and she controls him. The elder care worker agreed because she gets over 100.00 per hour (previous caretaker was fired because she was not bringing in enough $). All I am saying is to be aware of everyone's motives. Dad might think he is the latest and greatest George Clooney and has his brain between his legs. He has a heart problem, shuffles, never takes a shower, and no comments of any substance. I had a POA for 16 years and got along great with dad - this mystery woman flew in and took it all away.
Once you have a POA you can check on the outgoing checks - I have a friend whose father used up 80,000 in donations.............watch out for that too.
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You'll soon not be too worried about what others think. They are blissfully not familiar with dementia. You have to allow your steady presence of caring for mom speak for itself. People will talk. Can't stop that and dementia folks give them plenty to laugh and gossip about. My aunt has always loved to shock and be the center of attention. Nothing new there but when I learned about confabulation it opened my eyes to what was going on with the wild stories. Somehow that stage has passed with me. It catches me off guard these days when I realize she's at it again with others. She censors herself pretty well with me. I think I'm cast as the fun police. Amazing what we deal with.
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The bad thing about this is that people might believe her and turn you in for 'stealing' her money. I had a relative who was convinced that the nursing staff was stealing food that people brought her. Luckily she gave her expensive jewelry to family members
( but then there were afraid that she would say that THEY stole it!)
Luckily my mom is not quite to this point yet - I know it drives caregivers crazy.
I does sound like your mom is a drama queen, like mine. (Nothing is ever HER fault, either.)
"Any attention is good attention." That's their motto.
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