Mom panicked, what's going on? - AgingCare.com

Mom panicked, what's going on?

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My husband and I went out to take care of the garbage (we told Mom we were taking the garbage out) and we were outside maybe 10 minutes because we had a lot of stuff in the garage to get rid of. When we came inside Mom was in a panic, and yelled at us, asking where we'd been. She was shaking all over, said she been looking for us and was ready to find a weapon. We told her we had been taking the trash out, and she snapped, "Well you sure took a long time about it". Not like Mom at all. She's also shown some occasional memory issues - could this be a symptom of Alzheimer's or do you think I'm overreacting?

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JeanneGibbs I had to laugh about your aunt folding up the note and putting it in her purse. My mom would do something exactly like that. It's enough to make you tear out your hair!

I got my mom a new little clock with the day of the week on it, along with the time, date (10/10 format) and inside temperature. It's sitting right next to her chair. I have to constantly drill her about what day of the week it is and then remind her where she can look to find out, because she can't remember to look. I've had a few laughs when I've asked her the temperature in her apartment and she's said, "40 degrees." Whaaaaaa? LOL! It turn out that's the seconds ticking by. So we've had a good laugh about that. But she's lost enough cognitive ability to know that 40 degrees just wouldn't work for an inside temperature. It's both sad and funny.
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My sister had a white board and wrote notes like "Getting groceries. Home by 3:30" Mother seemed to be able to remember to check that board. I don't think Sis would have thought to write "taking out trash" for a 10-minute chore, nor did I write notes every time I went to the bathroom or into the kitchen. My aunt would ask 15 times on the way to the doctor "Where are we going?" My cousin tried writing a clear note at the beginning of the trip, "We are seeing the doctor in Milbank" but her mother would read it, fold in into a little square and squirrel it away into her purse, and two minutes later begin the questions. Sigh. Maybe a small whiteboard that couldn't be folded would have been better!

A system of leaving notes is definitely worth trying, and can very often be helpful.
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That's a good idea, blannie, about the notes. Both for Mom and the doctor. Thanks.
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If your mom can still read OK, I'd make a big note to put next to her (or in her lap) when you're going outside, saying where you're going. I have sticky notes all over my mom's small apartment to help her remember things that she can't remember. My mom (knock on wood) doesn't get panicky about things...but she has virtually no memory. It's a challenge!

And I have written notes to mom's doctor about her behaviors or medical problems and given it to the receptionist when we check in, so the doc will read it prior to our visit.
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Thank you, all of you. The idea to keep track of these things in a notebook is a good one. I'll do that. I'll also bring it up with her doctor. She has an appointment with her neurologist very soon.
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eguillot, wouldn't you panic if you were totally dependent on others for your meals and to get to the bathroom and for your pills, and then they disappeared and you had no idea when they were coming back? Well, no you wouldn't. You would reassure yourself that they would be back, they were reliable, and if necessary you could always call 911 to get help.

What if the people who disappeared were people you loved and felt protective of and responsible for? Then would you panic? (Anyone who has lived through the teen years of raising kids can probably relate to that question!) Probably not, especially if they told you where they were going and they hadn't been gone long.

Mother knows she depends on you, and she also feels motherly toward you. If you disappear "for a long time" without explanation naturally she feels panic. That 10 minutes seemed like a "long time" is a bit strange. But the really strange part is the "without explanation." She either forgot or didn't understand your explanation.

I think you are right about memory lapses. And this also seems to indicate a lack of reasoning ability and a loss of the sense of time, at least during the duration of the incident.

When my mom spent weekends with me she often got panicky when I was out of her sight. She'd holler my name and then say, accusingly, "where were you?!" and I'd reply innocently 'in the bathroom" or "getting laundry out of the drier." After a few of these episodes I'd tell her ever time I passed her chair, "I'm going to make my bed," "I'm going to the bathroom," "I'm going into my office for a book," and we'd treat it as a joke.

The panic of finding oneself alone and not being able to remember or reason about it is not unusual but it does indicate (I think) that something is not quite right. Keeping track in a notebook and letting her doctor know is a good idea.
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About 2.5 years ago this happened with my Mom. I had taken her hubby out for a walk just about 10 or 15 minutes, only about half way up the block. Mom had gone to bed for a nap. Or so we thought. She was just pouting, a lifetime practice of hers to get sympathy. When we got back she was panicked, didn't know where anybody was, had the phone in her hand to call someone, but didn't remember how to use it. That was the last time Mom was left alone.
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Hi eguillot, I'm relieved! :) Weapons complicate things. I think it would be good to talk to her doctor about her anxiety, and it's definitely possible to do it in such a way that you won't end up arguing with her in front of the doctor. Sometimes I'll talk directly to my mom or dad, with the doctor in the room, saying (for example) "Dad, last week you were very worried about [fill in the blank], remember?" That's pretty neutral and shouldn't sound accusatory, so she probably won't deny it unless she doesn't remember it at all. The other possibility is that if your mom has filled out a form allowing the doctor to share information with you, you could call the doctor's office and speak to a nurse about her behavior at home. The nurse can pass the information on to the doctor, and if the right forms are in place, the doctor can pass a message back to you. Best of luck to you.
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HelperMom - No, we have no weapons. She was looking for something like her cane or something she could grab to hit someone with. She ran all kinds of scenarios through her head of what could have happened to us, none of them good, all because we watch such "scary" shows as Bones and Castle and NCIS. I guess we're going to have to start with Sitcoms (which I hate). We already don't go to movies unless it's a comedy.
Is it a good idea to bring these issues up in front of her at the doctor? I have a feeling she will argue about her perception of events.
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Hi, just a thought, you mentioned that your mom was 'ready to find a weapon', are there weapons around that she could access? If so, that's a situation you might want to take care of sooner rather than later (with a safe and safety locks). As for the anxiety, depending on what's happening for her, it could be very normal and you could expect more of the same, or it could have been an anomaly. If she has short term memory loss, she could have completely forgotten that you told her you were going outside! It's so hard to get used to the fact that what you remember about a conversation is not what they remember (if they remember anything at all), and sometimes they remember something completely different than what actually happened. What I would suggest, since it sounds like this was an unusual occurrence, would be to start a journal of some kind and write down a short note whenever something like this happens. If she is having memory loss issues, you'll want to be able to say (for instance to medical professionals who might help evaluate her for memory loss conditions) when it was that you started having indications that things weren't normal. Best of luck, and I hope this was an abnormal situation and not an indicator of decline.
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