My mother-in-law doing strange things, is it borderline Alzheimer's? - AgingCare.com

My mother-in-law doing strange things, is it borderline Alzheimer's?

Follow
Share

I am struggling with how to communicate to my partner about his mom possibly having Alz. We have tried talking about it before but i can tell its sensitive and he kind of makes excuses for her behavior as normal because she is airy fairy. His Dad also suffers heart disease so he does not want to burden him with mom's possible mental deterioration. I think it's something to be discussed because ultimately, I can see we will be the ones to care for her. I see the behavior as a red flag to something serious and it appears to be getting worse or I am noticing it more and more. She is sweet and caring however she is doing odd things and making really poor decisions. She is roughly 63. She pipes in during conversations that often doesn't make sense to what we are talking about. She handed my two year old niece a pair of scissors and didn't realize that was wrong until my brother in law said so. She laughed like it was no big deal. We have found chapstick in the freezer (she said was for "germs") and she made a very large purchase with her retirement money as an investment (a mobile home that was moldy and uninhabitable) that to us, was completely of unsound mind. The whole family tried to tell her not to buy it but she did anyway. As an outsider, I don't see that she is capable of making sound decisions and she appears to do the opposite of what is right. I want to stay out of it and let them decide what is best for her but the trouble for me is she desperately wants to take care of our 16 month old baby boy. She keeps asking and I brush it off. She recently found out that my mom and step mom have been watching him and now she wont stop asking and doesn't understand why she can't take care of him. She used to run a daycare 30 years ago and brings this up often. I am worried about her cognitive abilities and i feel very uneasy of the thought of her watching my son. I personally think she should get Alz testing but its been a difficult thing to discuss with my partner. I feel like I am the only one concerned about her behavior and I am also worried that if we don't try and find out soon, we will be dealing with a bigger health issue down the road which will ultimately become our job to care for and this really scares me. He thinks I am being unfair to suggest she may need testing and that i am over reacting. He thinks I should give her a chance at watching him and that his dad will be there to "supervise'. I am really stuck and don't know what to do and this is causing stress on our relationship. He thinks I am keeping our son from his family however that is not the case. They never come to visit us. They are 30 mins away. His mom doesn't work and still drives. We go over there about once of twice a month which is as much as we have always visited over the last 10 years. How can I convince an Alz test? I hope i am wrong but is it not worth it to find out? How did you start the process? Many thanks :)

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
10

Answers

Show:
Getting the info about her behavior to her doctor is a good idea. I just don't know how you can do it, since, your partner and his dad aren't on board and you are not technically related to her. Still, you can try. A doctor should be able to run test, refer to neurologist, do mini evaluation in the office, etc. If she has diabetes, she should be getting regular medical visits.

If she has poorly controlled diabetes and/or hypertension, that can cause Vascular Dementia. My cousin was diagnosed with VD at age 62. And her condition happened pretty fast and was rather pronounced.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Farmgirl101, there isn't such a thing as "borderline dementia." I think you just mean early stage dementia. She either has it or she doesn't. If she does it will definitely get worse. Early onset dementia (before age 65) is not common but not impossible, either.

As others have said, the behavior changes you've noticed could have several causes, including some combination of high blood sugar, certain vitamin deficiencies, infections, reaction to drugs, as well as dementia. The goal of a thorough checkup would not simply be to determine if she has dementia, but more broadly to find the causes for this behavior.

If it is dementia, that is not curable. But knowing what it is can be extremely helpful to her family and eventual caregivers. And if it is a reversible condition, wouldn't it be wonderful to discover that and treat it?

I don't know your family dynamics, but it is probably not your place to make decisions about your partner's mother's healthcare. Make your observations and suggestions and then drop it, at least until another behavior change.

In the absence of a diagnosis, make your decisions based on observable actions. It would be ludicrous to ask MIL to make investments for you with your money. Even her sons have to see that! And it would be dangerous to leave your child with her even for a short time. These things are true whether she has dementia or high blood sugar or vitamin B deficiencies, etc. A diagnosis would be very helpful, but you don't need an official diagnosis to determine that she is not competent to do certain things.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Farmgirl if your MIL has uncontrolled diabetes, that could possibly explain some of her odd behaviors. If her sugar is way out of whack, that can lead to bad behavior. And she's also under a lot of stress in caring for her husband, which can make everything much worse.

One way to come at it is from a place of concern for your MIL. She's stressed and her own medical needs are important. What you can do is to send a note to the doctor (or take one and hand it to the receptionist if you take her to the visit) that outlines your concerns and her poor choices and odd behaviors. Doctors are used to getting information like that. Just say in what you write not to mention it directly. The doctor can then order tests or ask questions that might get more information. But not all docs are good docs, so he/she might not do anything with that information from you, but at least you've tried.

I agree with the other posters, I would NOT leave your child with her at all. Giving a 2-year old scissors and not understanding why that is wrong is not a good babysitter! Good luck and please let us know what happens.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Oh and my profile talks about my own Grandmother who is 84 and I worry that she has Alz too! This post however is about my mother in law who is 63. To clarify! :)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I appreciate all your responses, and so quickly! This is helpful :) I will try to talk to my partner about getting her a physical as I'm not sure the last time she saw a doctor. His father is going thru a lot of medical appointments and has been in and out of the hospital for his heart issues over the last 2 years. Mom is the main one caring for him so unfortunately her possible need for care is being overshadowed. About 4 years ago she was diagnosed with type 2 (?) diabetes. She struggles to manage this and eats a lot of chocolate without much care. A physical is probably a good place to start. Would this include some sort of cognitive testing? Can we ask for this when there is no power of attorney and they are still managing their own lives?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I just read things again after reading your profile. Is she 63 instead of 84? That makes a huge difference. Alzheimer's is uncommon in people 63 unless it runs in the family. I would encourage her to go to the doctor to find out what is going on.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

It's really sad and shocking how many family members are in denial when it comes to the way they respond to a family member's cognitive decline. I've decided to give books with letters of instruction to my family members. I mean, please.....when it's that obvious.

But, I agree with freqflyer, I would suggest that they have her get a physical from her primary and check for a UTI. That can be treated and if she doesn't have one, then it can be ruled out. Plus, they can check her medications, just to make sure she's okay otherwise. If it's dementia, eventually, they will see it and hopefully, she won't hurt anyone first. Her driving is a concern.

I would not leave my child in her presence unattended even for one minute. Don't feel bad for refusing it. I would have no regret about that. It's not about other's feelings. It's your child's welfare that is important here. For me that would be a deal breaker. Since child's father and his dad do NOT believe that grandmother is impaired, they would likely allow her to take the child into another room, maybe outside. They cannot be relied upon. Any adult using good judgment would not encourage you to do this. Consider that and sound firm.

And if there are weapons in the home, I would insist they be removed before I returned or took my child inside.

I wouldn't continue to mention getting her tested., but let them learn for themselves. Sometimes, denial is just too strong. I hope their stubborn ways don't cause her eventual harm.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

Absolutely not, this lady cannot care for your child. Do not give it a moments doubt that your observations are correct, and you may be the only one to notice.
There is no need for you to suffer trying to prove your observations to others, so just drop it and allw othrs to cognitively catch up with reality.

Not your job, not your role to push for tests. Backing off is hard, I know.
Two years later and I am wondering how my hubs mother hasn't been hauled off by APS. It is touch and go.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

One test your mother-in-law needs to have is for an urinary tract infection [UTI] as that can mimic dementia type behaviors. The test is easy, she pees in a cup. Usually an urgent care center can do that for you, or have her primary doctor do the test. This infection can be put under control with antibiotics depending on what type of infection.

At 63, your Mom is young to be having that type of memory issue, but not uncommon.

I also see from your profile that you are helping take care of your Grandmother. Adding your mother-in-law to the list would be very difficult, especially if you have a toddler.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

She is 84 years old, so there is a good chance that she has the beginnings of dementia. Many people over 85 do. I don't blame you for not wanting her to care for the baby. Many people that age would have difficulty caring for a baby very well, but they don't realize it. Your first obligation is to your child and not to your partner's mother.

I don't know if it would be particularly useful to press for tests, since there is presently no cure for Alzheimer's or most other dementias. If she does have dementia and goes deeper into it, everyone will recognize it soon. Buying the dilapidated trailer could be a good sign that something is up, so someone needs to be watching out for her finances. If you have the childcare covered, there is no point in having her do that. You and your partner can just visit frequently so she can see her grandson.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions