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I have gone to caregiver support groups where both caregivers and social workers have told me not to bother. The reason for her dementia is not important since there is nothing that can be done. Other than her forgetfulness, she is in good health. She only takes vitamins. No other medication.

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You don't need a REASON for her dementia. You might want to rule out other causes of memory loss: brain tumor, normal pressure hydrocephalus, vitamin deficiency and other treatable causes.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Dementia isn't an inevitable part of aging.
My mom's mental and physical health changed very abruptly in her early 90's and I was left trying to make sense of it all on my own, that's how I found AgingCare. I never did get any help from any of mom's doctors; her GP had previously sent us to a neurologist who was only focused on stroke prevention, despite brain scans neither of them ever discussed any potential for dementia. The ER docs couldn't see beyond her age and more or less told me she was end of life and the nurse who was in charge of her home care told me the same, nevertheless she lived years beyond that point. I'm pretty sure a diagnosis wouldn't have changed anything but it certainly would have helped ME to understand and make plans.
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Rabanette Feb 6, 2020
I just Googled it.

"Dementia mostly affects older people, and the risk of dementia increases with increasing age. ... Nearly 1 in 4 people aged 85-89 have dementia. It is rare for someone under 65 to have dementia, but it does occur at younger ages and we call this 'younger onset dementia'."

With dementia effecting the elderly at almost 25% of the population, doesn't it seem that it IS an inevitable part of aging?
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Just had my step mother diagnosed including a MRI. The only reason we did it was because my brother & I are going for guardianship. The Neurologist was a waste of time, such silly questions, the MRI did determine that she Front Temporal Dementia.

If it were not for the guardianship we wouldn't have done this. There is no cure, nothing to help her.
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disgustedtoo Feb 6, 2020
There are reasons for pursuing these kinds of tests, but in general are of no help really. Often from the symptoms and/or early progression they (or we) might be able to determine what type it is. The only use there is to be more prepared because different types lead to different symptoms, progressions. Plain old vanilla dementia is very different from Frontal Temporal and Lewy Body. Also, some medications are contraindicated in some forms of dementia.

If anything is tested, it should be non-dementia tests to rule out other medical issues, such as UTIs, which can cause dementia-like symptoms and are most often treatable!

I wouldn't go to a neurologist just to determine the type, unless regular testing can't determine if it is something like Frontal Temporal, Lewy Body OR as in your case you need it for guardianship or perhaps some medication is needed to help calm a person who has hallucinations, sun-downing, etc and it is bad enough that it needs some control. Otherwise, it is what it is, testing won't change anything, but getting informed about dementia, the various types, what you might expect and a sample progression WILL help those caring for or advocating for a LO will be better prepared to do what needs to be done! Keep in mind that each person's journey is unique - they have similar symptoms and progressions, but progress at their own rate and experience things differently.
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I suggest it IS important to see a specialist to have dementia diagnosed, and the earlier the better. In fact any cognitive issues should be investigated early. It provides a base line from which to measure deterioration, it gives both carers and care receivers a window to plan for the difficult and rocky road ahead. The earlier dementia or MCI is diagnosed the earlier counter measures can be introduced to try to stave off progress of the disease. There is very little available to help at this stage but research is going in the right direction and it is best to be open to trying new approaches as they come along than still be in the is she/isnt he suffering from dementia phase.
I suggest learning the reason for dementia IS just as important, equally so if there is, or is not, any family history. It allows other family members to come to terms with the possibility/likelihood of them contracting the disease, not to mention planning their own futures, and taking advantage of every research development as it comes along.
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thepianist Feb 6, 2020
A diagnosis might be important in a younger person, but this woman is 95. Let her be. Yes, knowing your family's health history is important. But what is more important is this woman's comfort. I would not put here through any testing that might be either physically or emotionally distressing for her. There are probably many other family members whose cognitive health can provide clues to the likely issues other family members might have down the line.
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I would first discount a UTI, which is treatable and can cause confusion and other behavior symptoms (and is very very common in the elderly with no other symptoms). I think knowing what exactly she has *may* help in knowing the trajectory of her illness, and may help in knowing what to expect and understand her changes better. But you need to balance this knowledge out with the rigors and expense of the testing. There's no right or wrong answer here. May you have peace in your decisions.
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Reply to Geaton777
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I agree with other posters about not taking your mom to a neurologist. What are you going to do with that info? She’s 95! It is expected that most ppl at her age would be forgetful. Heck, I am only 50 and I have memory issues. 😎

HOWEVER, you may want to get her to agree now to make you her PoA for financial and medical matters. Without that power, you will not be able to make decisions for her if she is incapacitated.
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Reply to Worriedspouse
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Their reason seems reasonable... until.
That is until you know that often times dementia is just a temporary symptom when an elderly person has a bladder infection. UTI’s manifest differently in older people than in younger people. No pain when urinating as when younger. My dad has moderate Alzheimer’s and I moved my mom and dad in with us about two years ago to lighten the load. When he takes a turn for the worse on memory, I know the UTI has returned. Tests are done to confirm, anabiotic’s are prescribed, and by the time the round of anabiotic’s are finished, my pop is back to his cheerful self and much of his memory has returned. I don’t think it’s fair to look at someone’s age to determine whether they should receive care or not. also, when he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia, he was put on medication and I was amazed at how much it helped! God‘s not done with your mama yet. The fact that she still has breath confirms this. We live in a culture where many have forgotten how to honor our elders. I know it’s frustrating and scary and tough to know what to do. I found that just to take one step at a time is best. Take your mom to the neurologist. The neurologist may forgo some of the tougher tests such as MRI’s and will simply prescribe some of the better medications that can help her memory. And take your mom to her physician or even urgent care and have them test for a bladder infection. You might just be pleasantly surprised, once she’s on medication how much better things will be. To answer your question more specifically… I don’t know that you really need to have an answer of why she has dementia so much as finding ways that you can help her to enjoy the days she has left to their fullest.
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Reply to SharonGrace
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I agree - to what end. Your mother is 95 and memory loss should be expected. Count your blessings and spend your time enjoying your mother instead of searching for reasons for the natural decline of aging.
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Reply to MAldridge
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First of all, how lucky for your mom (and you) that she has got to this age with minor health issues. That's huge!
While it's true that the reason for the dementia is not really important, there are reasons to track her memory loss.
I don't think she needs a neurologist, she needs a gerontologist. For the rest of her life, the gerontologist can help both of you to make sure she's in the best health overall health possible. Definitely limit the number of doctors she sees; a gerontologist is the right doctor for an elderly person.
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Reply to Rabanette
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i would definitely go to a neurologist there are medications that help a lot with the symptoms of dementia. Took my mom at 88 the testing was a simple question and answer process no stress involved mom actually had fun with it. Neurologist put her on namenda. Last summer primary care said at her age ‘95’ might as well take her off namenda not necessary anymore, she went down hill fast, after 6 weeks I put her back on namenda it took over a month but she is back up to her old self. I am not an advocate for drugs but when they can improve the quality of life as much as this one has for my mom I say definitely talk with neurologist and get their opinion. Age is just a number don’t let anyone tell you “well at her age”. My mother will be 96 this year and still enjoying life, yes she has severe dementia and some days are better then others but she is always happy and pain free so to me that’s what really matters. Have a blessed day and enjoy all the moments while you can.
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disgustedtoo Feb 6, 2020
Some meds work for some, not for others. Some meds help with certain types of dementia, but can be bad for others. If it works, great, but it doesn't always. Clearly it has helped your mother (and you), so I would continue as long as it is doing good.

We never did the "testing" and mom hasn't taken anything other than her usual BP meds, with the exception of antibiotics for a few UTIs and Lorazepam (anti-anxiety) for the first UTI as it caused MAJOR sun-downing. After UTI cured, no need for the Lorazepam.

The next 2 UTIs manifested as night time bed wetting. Go figure! Once treated, bed wetting stopped.

She started the early memory issues around age 90, moved to MC around age 93 and is now 96. Gradual recent memory losses along the way, now she's living life about 40 years ago. Otherwise, she's had no need for other medication. She still knows who I am, but asks about her mother and younger sister, both gone (mother around 40 years ago, refers to sister's grandchild, who is about 40 now, as "that baby" she's taking care of.) Mom is the last of her generation on both sides of the family. I swear she's going to outlive us all!
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