My mom was diagnosed with dementia 2 years ago, refuses to acknowledge it or go back for follow up. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My mom was diagnosed with dementia 2 years ago, refuses to acknowledge it or go back for follow up. Any advice?

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My mom was diagnosed 2 years ago after going to her GP because she thought she had bugs all over her. He sent her to neuro and diagnosis was made after testing. She refused treatment and has not been back to him or any other doctor. Lives independently and does fair. She shouldn't be driving, but gets angry when we suggest it. If we take the car away, she will just go buy a new one. She can fake sanity with strangers pretty well for a short time. She has always been a bully at heart, writing off anyone, including family members, who don't agree with her ways. I have been her puppet for my whole life. Once I married and found a mind of my own, she's been somewhat hateful to me but extremely hateful to my husband. Not to say she doesn't have some wonderful qualities, she does - but the overwhelming personality once you get to know her is mean/judgmental. She's fine with my siblings but can't be with me at all without criticizing me or my family. It's been a roller coaster my whole life, but somehow we do coexist for the most part.


My current dilemma is that last week, she found out that I had told 2 very close family members that she has dementia (although it's obvious, and both of them came to me with their concerns, which I simply confirmed). She was furious and stated that she no longer wants to see or hear from me. It stung, but in a way I feel relieved because the drama has just been crazy over the last several decades. Every decision has been made around her... my husband and kids are saints to have put up with it (and ME) for so long. She was a wonderful grandmother to my kids when they were little, but now thinks they have been poisoned against her by me and my husband. In reality, they are finally old enough to see her nonsense for what it is. She's fine with my siblings and what few friends she has left. Also has some decent relationships with her own siblings as long as they don't bring up her health. So, after our ugly conversation, she immediately called one of my siblings and had a wonderful and cheery conversation with him, when 5 minutes before, she was crying, yelling and saying that she "couldn't take it any more, and this would be our final goodbye and I would never see her again" among other rude and sarcastic things.


Is this just total manipulation??? Or has her dementia reached a new level where she doesn't even remember what she's said or how mean she has been? I'm really struggling, like I said, there is some relief because for the first time in 40 years, I don't feel like I am a slave to my own mother, emotionally speaking. But, on the other hand, this is a serious disease and I am not heartless, in fact I would be a great caretaker if I wasn't so darn mad at her for a lifetime of unfairness. I know she needs to see a doctor, but she refuses, and can't be forced to do anything. I'm so sorry for this long and rambling post - I've been holding this situation in for so long... and I know that many of you are at a much more advanced, serious stage so maybe I'm just whining - but I see my future (if she decides she wants me back in her life, or if I choose to help her once that time comes) in your posts and it scares me. How can I lovingly take care of my mom when that time comes when I have so much longstanding anger with her? It's just impossible to tell whether it's just typical manipulation or if she is deteriorating from the disease.

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These answers brought me to tears as they are just exactly what I need to hear. Thank you all so much for the encouragement and good advice!! It is so helpful to hear from others that have or are living this!!
@jeannegibbs.. no they did not! Both were coming from a place of sincere concern, but I wish they had left my name out of it.
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Reply to imagooddaughter
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Contact the DMV about your mother's health and driving. That puts other people at risk, and it worth sticking your nose in!

But for the most part, let her get on with her sibs and other children. You detach to save your sanity and reward your saintly family. But keep very firmly in mind that this state of affairs is Not Your Fault. Guilt has no role to play here.

If you were Mom's only advocate I'd advise a continuing presence, but since there are others in her life who can play that role I suggest you take your mother at her word and drop out of her life. (Don't be surprised if she finds another whipping boy among the people left in her life.) If she contacts you, fine, converse with her as long as she is civil. Don't demand or expect an apology but do not put up with her reverting to past behaviors.

One of my favorite books in the dementia realm is "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia," by psychotherapist Pauline Boss. In it she advises NOT to be a hands-on caregiver for someone who has abused you or is abusing you now. It is not good for either of you.

BTW, how did your mother find out what you told those close family members? Didn't they have the good sense to keep their mouths shut regarding it to her?
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ive read before you almost have to wait until something bad happens before anything can be done.
(no one really wants anything bad to happen)
I have no idea if she's really trying to manipulate you, but if she has dementia then you have to understand she can not remember what YOU SAY, or even what SHE HAS SAID.
my mom has moderate nearing severe Alzheimer's (in AL)
she can make a statement and then a minute later tell me "I said that?"

edit, she can still fool people

but sometimes when I think shes fooling people - ....any more its not that's she fooling them, because other people have to "act" like everythings ok. so they are just going thru the motions of being polite to her. as bad as my mom is, she has no idea how bad she is.

sorry to say it just gets worse. it affects every part of their life, driving, finances, paying bills, eating right. etc
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Reply to wally003
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She is your mother, yes. You love her, yes? But you cannot force her to do something she refuses to do. This reminds me of a little car my son had that ran on it’s own but kept hitting the wall and wouldn’t turn around. You mom has what we call “Showtimer’s”. She can convince strangers or casual acquaintances that she is perfectly fine. People with dementia also seem to pick one person as “the enemy” and that seems to be you. Mom, like mine, also seems to be a Drama Queen and that makes dealing with them even harder.

For whatever reason, be it her dementia or just plain snarkiness, she’s booted you out. As our wonderful sage, jeannegibbs, on this site advises, disengage. Do not try to insert yourself back in her life. You most likely have the qualities of a fine caregiver, but don’t kid yourself for one nanosecond that if you did indeed become her full time caregiver she or anything else would change, except your own mental health which would become severely at risk.

My mom always said “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, but in your case I doubt gallons of honey would work.
Keep tabs on Mom but don’t try to be an active participant in what she does or should do. Put yourself and your own family first and approach mom with caution and the resolution that if she is nasty, your out of there. The less you engage with her, the less she can blame on you.
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