My mother has some form of dementia, where do we start?

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My mom has been living by herself many states away and we're moving her home. Over the last few years we've noticed she's been progressively getting forgetful but things have really progressed. Her neighbors have been in contact with my brother and me and based on what we're learning I'm doubtful she'll be able to continue to live on her own. Her home is sold and her belongings will be loaded up soon, but we don't have a place for her to move to as of yet. I'm thinking we'll need to store her belongings until we figure out a long-term solution for her and that is where my questions begin. I figure we need to find her doctors and get her assessed first. Second we then need to find the appropriate type of home for her, whatever that might be. Third it would seem we also need to understand what kind of resources there might be for her, i.e. government, etc. She does not have a lot of money and lives pretty much off social security. This is all new to me and I'd like to find a single point of contact who is trustworthy that can guide me through this process. Does anyone have recommendations? I'm not sure if I should go through an elder care attorney or a government agency. I'm concerned the former will have his or her interests first while the latter I worry about competence. Thank you for any input anyone can provide.

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As for finding her a Dr.. when my folks moved in I asked MY dr if he would see them as first line.. he is a gerentologist and he has been great. It may be a good way to get her started, and then they can give referrals as needed.
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Thanklessjob: Yes, I got that that the daughter's going to do the finding, but the way it was worded sounded like her mother was out on the street after selling her house! And on the topic of your mom, that is exactly why I phoned my late mother every day-moreso for a wellness check. But talking to her on the telephone-phew! That was a nightmare in and of itself, because she would constantly talk over me. I said "mom, how about if you talk and then I talk because it doesn't work if we both talk at the same time?" Nope! Oh well, how I wish I could communicate now like that, although I have received "messages" from heaven. Pennies from heaven is just not a song! Amazing! Best wishes!
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There should have been better contact from the adult children with the mother. HOWEVER, that said, my mom lived 550 miles away from me. I talked to her every night. I just thought she had a lousy memory. When I went to visit at Christmas 2013, oh my Lord, I discovered my mother had dementia!! It was obvious face to face. They can fake it and do "chit-chat" real well because it doesn't require cognitive skill. I was fooled.
Maybe mdmess couldn't tell over the phone the degree of impairment her mom has.

mdmess, this journey has started out backwards. Usually, all this information has been collected, then research has been conducted and THEN the house sells and the move to assisted living or memory care is a smooth transition. Your road will be bumpier because you did not do your homework before you needed to act. I'm not shaking a stern finger....I did the same thing. I thought my mom had "more time" before the dementia progressed, therefore giving ME more time to check out where she would end up. She took a fast turn down dementia lane. It was "do something within the next 2 weeks " time.
You will need Power of Attorney for health care and finances. If she will sign you on her bank accounts, even better. Do it soon before her mind is so far gone the bank would refuse. You need to establish doctors in the area that she'll be living. You will be taking her to the appointments and you need to understand her ailments. Have her examined by a geriatric neurologist for dementia. Whether you pick a board and care home (cheapest alternative), a nursing home, an assisted living facility or memory care (most expensive), you should get a list (mine was available as a senior directory at the library), look over the possibilities, then go without her to check them out. If they pass your approval, then take her. Ask her old doctor what type of facility (s)he would recommend. Get her signed up in your county for whatever services she would be eligible for. Look for a senior listing under county social services (Google it).

Just because you started out backwards doesn't mean you can't finish facing forward.
Good luck. You're taking on a project much bigger than you can imagine.
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Llama lover,
I think she meant that the daughter will need to find (or search, locate, etc.) doctors where she WILL be living.
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mdmess: Also, even though my late mother lived in Massachusetts and I live in Maryland, for the last 5 years of her life, I spoke to her every day=365X5 equals 1,825 telephone calls AT MINIMUM because sometimes I spoke to her more than once a day.
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mdmess: How or why did your mother sell her own house without having something else lined up as to where she thought she was going to live? If her neighbors hadn't contacted you, then what would have happened? She'd just be out on the street with her belongings? That's the picture you write. Also, I'm not understanding at all why you say "you have to FIND her doctors?" As her daughter, you should already know who her PC doctor is. You should have been WELL UP TO SPEED ON THAT ALL ALONG. GOOD GRIEF! My mother demanded to live alone many states away from me, but I was in constant communication with her PC doctor, her retinologist, her dermatologist, her podiatrist, her cardiologist, etc. all along. And then you go on to say that you're completing the sale. Something seems amiss.
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I also recommend contacting your council on aging and finding a well regarded senior services organization that contracts with your state for social work and services. Make sure that it is a nonprofit organization. They'll know the ins and outs of what services are provided in your state. We at first used a private pay case manager recommended by my mother's doctor. That was a fiasco at $50/hour. $1000 later I still didn't know what my mother was eligible for. We were lucky to connect with a very good senior services organization that serves my mother's area after that. One thing that I think that doctors that specialize in geriatric medicine don't consider is the patient's financial well being, or that of the supporting family, when they make a referral to a caseworker (at my mother's doctor didn't). That was an expensive and stressful mistake. I also concur with others that it may be best to have your mother live with you temporarily so that you can witness her behavior and state of mind. It will be helpful in determining what is best for her. I wish you well starting this journey.
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mdmess: Wow, are you sure your screen name is not Llamalover47? Because your situation is identical to what I just went through with my mother late 2013 into 2014! She was living alone and proud of it (much to our worries and planned attempts to change this situation) many states away. It may come down to either living with one of you or living in an SNH. With us, it came down to God's timing, because her 2 adult children (me, who had moved in 6 months prior and my brother who had only arrived for a short stint-she suffered a stroke). She deceased. I wish you so much luck and more with your dear mom! ((( Hugs )))!!!!
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I agree very much with Finleycats answer about contacting your local Agency on Aging, if one exists in your area. They can be really helpful directing you to what resources are available in your community.They should be able to let you know the range of senior citizen housing to assisted living to nursing home facilities that exist nearby, and what the care capabilities of each are. If not available, contact your local human services agency and get to know the person in charge of senior citizen assistance.
In my experience (I cared for my mother from mild dementia onset to moderate to severe dementia and eventually her death several years ago), it is best to have a talk with your mom and ask her what she thinks. My mother, though her memory was impaired, was quite aware that she needed help. She was able to tour several facilities with me and pick a senior housing place where she thought she'd be most comfortable, and was able to live there for a good number of years till her dementia worsened and we eventually moved her to an assisted living facility. We made mistakes along the way, but I was always glad we respected Mom enough to ask her opinion and try to honor her choices as much as we could. It was nice for her, having the more independent life of the senior housing before she needed more care such as given in the assisted living homes. There, she met many people more disabled than her, but in the senior housing facility she was able to have more friends who could get out and do more things and it kept her feeling more "normal" and part of her community.
Not everyone is aware of their own needs and capabilities though, so you do need to observe her to find this out. If you want to move her in with you, that's one way. But in my area, we have wonderful senior citizen facilities where individuals can live independently, in their own apartments, while having support of an onsite person (not a nurse but someone who can assist when needed) and other government agency support services (meals-on-wheels, home health care etc.). When she is close to you geographically, you will be able to stop in on her frequently while also giving her the independence she may desire (that was a big thing with my mom, that she wouldn't "burden" her children by living with them). Sadly, there probably will be no one point of contact to guide you,but you'll learn along the way and the Aging agency is a good place to start. What I learned is that I was that point of contact for my mother, her advocate and caregiver and friend/daughter/confidante and consoler. Enjoy this time with your mother, and be kind to yourself if you don't do everything right. I learned to appreciate the new way her mind worked and just get into it with her, even if it involved repetition and meanderings that didn't always make a lot of sense to me. I loved to laugh with her so I tried to find lots of ways to keep her joyful. The one regret that I have is that I didn't spend more time with my mother, even when she was severely incapacitated with her dementia, because I miss her smile, and those hugs, which never disappeared throughout!
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Have the doctor order a CAT scan of your mothers brain. My father had dementia that started out slowly and then progressed rapidly. It ended up that he had had a mini stroke which kept slowly bleeding in his brain which caused his short term memory loss. He had no symptoms of a stroke. Get the CAT scan done to rule out stroke. Then get in touch with your local Office Of The Aging. They have a ton of information and resources and they will help you fill out paperwork if needed.
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