My 83-year-old mom still lives by herself at home and lies a lot. How can I find out of she has dementia? - AgingCare.com

My 83-year-old mom still lives by herself at home and lies a lot. How can I find out of she has dementia?

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I found this site while searching for answers to find out if my mother has dementia. She is making up stories about my siblings which we have verified are only partially true and some stories totally fabricated. How can I find out if she has dementia? She is still able to drive, get her own groceries and cook for herself.

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My mom with vascular dementia, was the same way. She would tell me they hadn’t brought her lunch or dinner at the nursing home. She said she knew that they took the uneaten food off the trays and fed it to other residents...on and on. Because I knew she had dementia, I took all she said with a grain of salt. Get a diagnoses and make sure all of you are on the same page. That way everyone knows Mom has become a little storyteller.
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Thank you so much for the great advice.
I clean moms home every 2 weeks and have 2 younger siblings that take turns showing up on their days off on the weeks when I can't. I take care of a 69 yr old husband w.pancreatic cancer 24/7 so tough for me to leave-he's not on hospice yet. Once you are on hospice you can't get any more CT scans so he refuses hospice care for now. Getting any kind of POA from my mother is gonna be tough as she is very wary of having her car or independence taken away. My goal is to have her live w.me so I can take care of her someday but she prefers to live in her own home an hour away. She was a nurse for 40 years and knows all about ALF's, nursing homes and hospice. She has a brain tumor, congestive heart failure and only 1 kidney that is slowly failing but amazingly goes to play scrabble once a week. Yes it could be enjoys creating drama.
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It's good that you are picking up on smaller things. In the early stages of my LO's dementia, I didn't know what was wrong. I just thought it was her being selfish, mean, untruthful, etc. Later, we saw how it progressed. Still, other medical problems would need to be explored and ruled out by her doctor. Does she have any other symptoms?

I might try to go for a visit and stay a couple of days in her house. I'd just say I wanted to visit and enjoy the company. This way you get to see just how well she can function in the home. Don't be distracted by things that she says she can do. They may not be accurate in that.

She may be driving, but, doing it poorly or getting lost. My LO told me that she hated driving, since all the road were different. (I now know that it was dementia and not the roads that were different.) She may be shopping, but, buying odd things, like 40 room fresheners. She may may appear clean, but, not really be bathing. I'd check her fridge for spoiled or outdated food, check to see if bills are really paid. (My LO was overpaying, due to forgetting. I later found returned checks, because she had sent payment for magazine subscriptions many years in advance and they couldn't keep the money.) Check that her meds are actually being taken. AND if possible, chat with her neighbors and/or friends from church or social groups. These people often see odd signs and don't know what to do with the information.

I hope that someone has Durable POA and Healthcare POA. If so, they can go with her to a doctor appointment. I'd send the doctor a letter in advance reporting what you have learned. They may do an office mini mental eval AND do other tests like for UTI or other infections, vitamin deficiency, etc. They may rule out other medical problems to figure out what is going on with her.

It's good that the adult children realize something is not right an not let her allegations disrupt the family.
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a1aweb, here is a good article about elders and making up stories: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/how-to-handle-alzheimers-disease-lying-144204.htm

The family has to decide if Mom is expanding on these family issues or making things up to get attention [not uncommon] or if she is starting to get dementia. Since she is still able to drive, get groceries, cook, and basically take care of herself, sounds like she wants attention. To her nothing better then seeing her children squabble among each other, like a soap opera.

Blackhole above has a good point, Mom could be misrepresenting how well she is caring for herself. How often do you and your siblings visit with Mom?
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What’s your siblings’ take on Mom’s unique perceptions? And is Mom lying to them about you?

Sorry to pile on, but Mom is probably also misrepresenting: How well she eats. How well she manages laundry/household chores/expired food/etc. Her driving abilities. Her money management.

During my elder-care stint, it took a while for me to understand the dichotomy between what my mother wanted me to believe.... and what was really going on. My mother was always quirky and undisciplined; always clung to priorities that didn’t match the norm.

As my “WTF?” sensor kept going off, my well- meaning friends kept saying “The older they get, the more they ‘become themselves.’ “ Hmmmm. Yes, but......

I’m not a good source for what your next steps should be. Others on this forum can chime in with that. I will leave you with this: If you think something is amiss, there is.
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You'd likely want to start with her primary care physician. Dementia, no matter what form, is often diagnosed by ruling out other conditions.   The PCP could refer out to specialists for further testing with neurology or a geriatric practitioner.

Do you have a health-care POA/proxy that would allow you to contact her physician to discuss your concerns and potentially start the process to determine if there is mild cognitive impairment or dementia, or another health condition happening at this time?
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