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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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My mother is that way and she can fool the caregiver too. She lives at home with my dad who has health problems and is pretty much blind. he has been involved with a cult for the last 30 years and his ideas are way out there. Mom can hardly walk because of her knees, has fallen a couple of times and hurt herself. my dad refuses to let her have any kind of medication or see a doctor because he believes doctors are a scam but will take her to this what they call a blue room. they sit in a room with blue lights on for $60.00 three times a week. The blue room was started by the cult leader. they gave my mom some kind if shot. Dad won't tell me what it is. my mom has dementia and just does what dad tells her. I have to drive them ( not the blue room) everywhere and make dinner for them. it just drives me insane that he gets away with this.
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Great discussion. While my mom is in assisted living, I am the primary caregiver with siblings who have chosen not to be involved. I have dealt with many of the same issues with my mom and I too have resigned myself to the fact that she will not change, especially at 92. Her memory is such that she cannot retain most things longer than 1 day. She too makes up a stories when you reference an event that occurred within the day or week. I was told that her “recollections” are part of the memory loss. Long before (30 years) the memory loss set in, mom was good at “lying”. Took me a while to figure out that the lies were her way of manipulating us. I always felt guilty telling people that my mom lied, but it’s the truth! I too am working on moving on and dealing with the reality of it all without getting angry or hurt. Not easy.
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Blow off steam11............I wish I had a dollar everytime I said the same thing to myself "how can people believe hIm". I live in Oregon and despite having his pc care doc say he has alzheimers, there was a gold digger lady living in his senior center.....and....low and behold she turned him against me....his daughter. When she took him to the bank to withdraw 150,000 it went through fine - she did the talking and then when APS went out they believed dad. I had the photo of this event through white collar crime police but he is able to fool everyone. His talk has no content. She will deplete everything and totally evil. I hope your mother does not meet a man that could do the same thing. It is sooo amazing and so clear. Dad would call me up and say the toilet paper does not work, he could not use two buttons on the microwave and says the bank won't let him withdraw 20.00. Somehow it is my fault and she takes advantage of that. I empathize. Watch out for the predators..... It was heartbreaking to work so hard for dad, and she swoops in and takes all....she made him rewrite his trust and she only knew him about 1 month. Even watch out for attorneys since they get a huge fee and are not necessarily working for you. Sorry, it is so hard to be rejected and distrusted.
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Yep! Luv this discussion!!
I'm a work in progress toooo!
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Sounds like you're describing my 91 yr old father. The people who believe him are the old friends who call from out of state who catch him at a good time. He's always been a good liar and family knows this but his friends are convinced he's fine (mentally) and believe his stories. We're constantly having to reassure people that he's being treated great where he is and that no one is actually stealing his clothes or toothbrush. I'm hoping that most of them are starting to understand the situation.
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You are describing a Narcissists. It took me my whole life to figure it out. Always believing something was wrong with me. The scapegoat.. never do anything right like her. Look it up and you will be enlightened. Rule breaker, False Image Projection, Charmer, Grandiose Personality, Don't accept boundaries, blames anyone and everyone.
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Thank you so much for understanding. The more I read about other caregiver's experiences, the more I'm reassured. I've discovered Mom is fairly typical, even with her personality issues, and my doubts and frustrations are common, too. What's really starting to "sink in" is that Mom cannot change, and in order to move forward, I must. In the case of Mom "lying," her truth distortions have been part of her M.O. long before the dementia set in. It took me years to understand she lied in order to manipulate people or gain pity to support the "I'm a victim" narrative. But it all comes back to playing a pointless game of "Is it Mom's personality disorder or is it the dementia?" I'm done with that. Mom is caught up in a vortex of confusion. Her mind fills in the blanks with confabulations. It's what people with dementia do. It may happen to me one day, though I pray it doesn't. So I'm committed to change. I'll quit taking Mom's conduct personally and try, when we're together, to inhabit her world. I'll be kind not only to Mom but myself, protecting myself when I must. ("Mom, I'll come back/call back when you're feeling better.") It's very hard, but we're only human. So if I go on a rant again, please understand I'm a work in progress. I'll eventually get to the place I need to be.
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It sounds like Mom is very "normal" for a person with dementia. Paranoia that she is being stolen from, confabulation in order to participate in conversations, behavior to make herself look good, wild accusations, obsessive repetitions on some topics -- yup, this is what people with dementia do.

Some of the typical dementia behavior can really drive the caregiver or closest relatives nuts! When my sisters would visit and my husband was showtiming they had a hard time understanding why I was having such a challenge coping with his dementia. They believed me, but it would have been more convincing if they saw him at this worst instead of his company behavior. Yes, this is very frustrating! Vent away!

It may help you to take a slightly different perspective. Mom is not "lying like a rug." That implies a deliberate intention to deceive. Mom no longer can distinguish between reality and fiction. She needs an explanation of why her magazine is missing. Someone must have stolen it. That is an attempt to make sense of her very confusing world. It is not a deliberate attempt to get someone in trouble. The link between actions and consequences is very blurred for her.

She has a repetitious script for common conservation topics? Good for her! She has discovered a way to continue to participate in social activities, in spite of the damage in her brain.

She has her hair done every week? My mom did, too, right up until she died of dementia at age 94. It was very pleasant for her to get compliments from staff and other residents. And it was a way she could continue feeling like herself. She could no longer walk. Her days of nurturing were behind her. She didn't cook. She couldn't even dress herself. But one thing she could continue to do that linked her to her own past was get her hair done. Her kids gladly chipped in so she could afford it.

Yes, having a loved one with dementia is very frustrating!

Who is it that "believes" her outrageous claims? The cleaning staff? Another resident? Other relatives? Do they really believe her or just go along with her for the sake of keeping her calm? Does any of this matter? I guess it would if a relative believed you were stealing from her, but surely a conversation with that relative, perhaps with some literature about how common these accusations are, could clear that up.

Vent away! You have lots and lots of company!
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We must have the same mom... it's so frustrating. I hope someone has insight!
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