My dad (71) lost his long-term partner last month after years of failing health issues (diabetes, ESRD, multiple amputations). He was her caregiver nonstop and I know that it has been years of compounded stress for him. He still works full-time and is active in his community and with friends. It has only been a month since she passed but I find that he is repeating stories to me or asking the same questions that he did last week. Am I being paranoid about dementia or is his brain foggy from years of stress and grief?

For context, I am an only child who lives out of state so I don’t see my dad that often. Also, my mom passed last year from Parkinson’s so I do find that I’m extra anxious/paranoid about a similar situation with my dad.

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Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to JoAnn29

Grief is physical. It messes you up in ways a person can’t comprehend unless they experience it.

Also, grief dehydrates people because when you don’t feel like eating you also usually don’t feel like drinking anything either.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Southernwaver

I know from personal experience that the grief from losing a spouse is very intense.
The first two years are brutal.
Just stay in touch, that's all you can do.
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Reply to Dawn88

brooklynkitty: It most likely is grief related. However, if it continues, he could see his physician.
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Reply to Llamalover47

I believe it may be grief related. Just keep in touch with him often and have someone you trust to look in on him from time to time.

Our close friend lost his wife of over 40 years and experienced forgetfulness and repeating questions. He was 65 then and is now 82. It took approximately 2 years for his brain fog to clear up as he adjusted to life without his wife. The constant forgetfulness and repeating the same questions over and over caused some people to think it might be dementia but it wasn't. It was grief.

Our sister-in-law, same thing. She lost her husband of 51 years in 2021 and she went through the same thing as our friend. She's 81 and is still experiencing some of those forgetful issues and repeating questions but it's not as frequently now. Our nephew also thought she might be heading into dementia but we assured him it was grief. She lives 4 hours away from us so we check in often by phone. Plus she has an active life with friends that keeps her going. She's gotten much better.

My mom is 86 and we lost my dad in January. They were married 67 years. So far she's managing well. She's just quiet and sleeps a lot. She's actually not as bad with the forgetfulness and repeated questions as the other two above. Grief is different for everyone.
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Reply to MrsKitcat
MiaMoor May 19, 2024
Dear MrsKitcat,

I hope that you are right about your mum, however please bear in mind that sleeping a lot can also be a sign of dementia.

My mum has vascular dementia and, if it were an Olympic sport, could sleep for Great Britain! She has been sleeping much of the day since she had a major stroke that caused brain damage 13 years ago.
She has days when she doesn't sleep as much, but these aren't that frequent. Mum gets up at a reasonable time and doesn't go back to bed, but falls asleep in her chair. She still sleeps through the night.

One typical symptom that she rarely does is repeat questions, or repeat herself in any way. Because she's "quiet and sleeps a lot". Nevertheless, her cognitive decline is continuing.

I know that your mum is grieving, but it would help her mental, emotional and cognitive health to be involved with social activities - seeing friends and family, joining an elderly centre for activities and a chat, etc. The more she uses her brain and social skills, the better.

Wishing you and yours all the best.
I had a similar situation with my mom when my dad passed. Monitor things and watch for other signs. He lost a part of himself, and it's one of the biggest stresses anyone can experience. Observe when you're with him in person. Listen carefully and watch what he does. For now there is shock and grief. I knew something was really wrong after about a year when I noted that all my phone conversations with mom were exactly the same on her end, word for word. If I tried to change the subject, she would pause and then go right back to the "script" that was in her brain. Over time it became more obvious that she was making poor decisions. Be watchful of his behavior, but for now allow him a little time to grieve.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Missymiss

He probably has lots of grief-related issues going on. He may be or become depressed. If you are able, encourage him to just go for his annual Medicare wellness check. They will automatically give him a memory test. It may give insights, and also provide a baseline to measure against in a year. Keep your eye out for low-level depression and loneliness. IMO it's good he's still working and engaging with others.

My Mom (94) felt depressed rescently and asked to try something. PCP started her on the minimum dosage of Lexapro. It has helped her noticeably and she says it's helping.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Geaton777

So sorry for your father’s loss and the loss of your mom.

My mom also had Parkinson’s disease. She died in 2021. It’s extremely difficult to see our mother’s declining with this awful disease.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

I've heard many people describe having had memory glitches, lack of concentration, many symptoms of 'brain fog' when dealing with grief.

Personally I don't think my culture is comfortable talking about or acknowledging grief well.

I went to a Orthodox funeral once as a young person. I was shocked to witness the deep grief being expressed, everyone dressed head to toe in black, the men openly crying, the woman wailing. The Mother lay on the floor at one stage.

This differed to the only other service I had seen. A respectful & quiet event. A quiet acceptance of loss with a few silent tears.

A known measure is 12 months. That at least 12 months will pass before adjustment happens. It can take a long long time for a mind to adjust & a heart to heal. ❤️
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Beatty

He May have PTSD from all the caregiving and maybe In shock His partner died . A lot of caregivers run On Fumes - adrenaline and Cortisol and Not enough sleep . Give him another year to recover .
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to KNance72

I think that this is grieving and anxiety and stress due to his severe loss just from what you say, but without a visit to spend some time with him I don't know how you can be somewhat certain. So sorry he has had this loss.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to AlvaDeer

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