Can a person with dementia change their personality depending on who they are with? - AgingCare.com

Can a person with dementia change their personality depending on who they are with?

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My mother lives with me and my husband. She has vascular dementia. I work out of the home but Mondays I have to be gone so I have a caregiver come in. Tuesday-Sunday Mom sleeps until 10:30 and doesn't get dressed until 4pm. When she isn't eating she is sleeping. On Monday when caregiver comes, she's up and dressed. The report from the caregiver is that she's laughing, conversing...pretty with it. I'm beginning to feel like chopped liver as I devote almost all my time to her needs and have become housebound. It's taking a toll on my marriage. I feel like Mom has me over a barrel. Today, we missed church once again, my husband went alone (week #5). Mom slept. However, my brother called from out of town to talk with her and she was right as rain. What is going on?

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I notice if I suggest something to my mom she will do it moreso than if I tell/remind or offer. Try suggestion caregiver75104. Sometimes different ways of communicating letting them make a decision can help.Maybe your GF feels like he is losing everything but is trying to hold onto being able to make decisions. IMO Blessings!
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I agree with Jeannegibbs, check out "showtiming". I lost my mom in January, but the Lewy Body dementia she was afflicted with had been working on her for years. I had no idea until the hallucenations started in October. Three months later she was gone. I cared for her for 32 yrs, and believe me I use to wonder what in the world was going one. She would be perfectly fine talking to my older sister. Same with the dr. visits. THen with me, it was totally different. She would get sick and depend on me totally. When I was told she had Lewy Body Dementia I got educated right away. When I read about the "Showtime" effect I couldn't believe it...It was like I wrote the story. I cam to realize mom had no control over it, it was the disease. I am so thankful I was able to get educated and I understood what was happening. It helped me those last three months of mom's life. I actually felt priviledged knowing that mom was obviously very comfortable with me. (This was what I gathered from the info I read). Get as much education as you can, it helps you cope. I'm so happy you are getting outside help. That really was a lifesaver for me. Cherish the time you have with your mom. Believe me you won't have any regrets, especially on the days your tears stream down your face when she's gone. Take care.
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One thing is for sure...mom had lewy body dementia, she showed a whole different side to her. My mom was never a big boaster, she was always humble and shy. After the dementia it left her with almost a completely different personality. And boy could she change at a drop of a dime. My sisters who would come to visit always saw the sweet side of this new personality. But me and my family saw someone we did not recognize.
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JeanneGibbs, of course you are correct! But the root factor is: can they change their behaviour depending on whom they are with. this is the common denominator whether they have dementia, bipolar, narcissism or Alzheimer's.
Chicago1954, you made me laugh with your comment "and would even turn into the entertainer at a doctor's visit" Oh HOW TRUE!!!
Mine can hardly wait to get in there, in fact before she's even in the office, she's off and away, talking to people in the parking lot, the elevator, the drug store, the waiting room.....and then the show begins. "Oh Dr. X! It's so good to see you! You're as handsome as ever......were you in the emerg this morning? How did that go? Did you have a busy week? and how is your family?" and on, and on, and ON!!
She pays practically no attention to anything that he advises her to do, just smiles and bats her eyes at him, it goes right over her head, in fact by the time she gets home it is a completely different story. Why yesterday she came home from her appt. saying that he wanted her to have a cat scan and had been given a requisition for it. I took a look at the paper and, guess what! It was for a blood test!!
Of course she treated your sisters differently - this is what they do. I imagine you were the scapegoat and she put the others in a completely different light. Were you always the one going without, doing wrong things, being punished?
Thanks for your post. I am glad to hear that my mother is not the only one who turns into Rodney Dangerfield at the doctor's!! (I am not allowed in there with her anymore because I would "out" her - she lies about what she eats, medicine, when she takes it etc. but got caught once on a blood test he did - she was too lazy to take her cholesterol pills -- BUSTED!!!)
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I was interested to read this. My mother certainly treated me different (better) than she did my sisters. And would even turn into the entertainer at a doctor's visit.
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seven13, I'd like to propose a modification to your statement. Of course some can!

Caregivers on this site seem to be caring for at least three distinct populations: 1) Persons with impairments due to some physical condition, such as lung disease, cancer, blindness, etc. 2) Persons with Narcissism and 3) Persons with dementia. I'm not sure whether persons with mental illness such as bipolar disorder should be a 4th group or included with group 2 or 3. My point is just that I don't think there is a one-size-fits all description that covers everyone in one of the groups, let alone everyone in all groups.

I believe that the driving forces behind the behavior of someone with Narcissism are quite different from the forces behind demented behavior.
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Unfortunately seven13 sums it up for me too. My mother-in-law could change at the drop of the hat too. The caregiver (you) has an extremely difficult job as it is, and it's even more difficult when the elder has medical problems and/or Dementia or Alzheimers too. Just know you're doing your best and don't beat yourself up. She's sick and not the same person she was unfortunately. I had to remind myself that ALL THE TIME because it's hard. And definitely try not to let it affect your marriage if you can. Start setting boundaries and such, and if they aren't met - then start looking for other alternatives, i.e. moving to her an assisted living facility. If she's not up when you get ready to go to church - if she can be left alone - then leave her there by herself if she's not ready. If she wants to go, she'll start getting ready faster. But if she's moved in an AL facility, they will wake her up for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And there will be activities with people her age that she can participate in if she wants and make new friends. But now that someone will be coming over in May three times a week, she will need to "get with it" more often too and hopefully that will help too. Good luck!!
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Of course they can! Even the ones without dementia do it - it's part of their arsenal of how to survive daily life. They have become beyond clever at their manipulations and lies and know how to play people.......and this is only compounded and made more evident if they have narcissism. They will tell who they wish whatever suits them.
If my mother wants sympathy from her friend, when the friend calls, she will answer with a horrible croaky voice "Oh hello Betty, I just don't know what's wrong with me today, my throat is just awful" which suddenly disappears after about at minute. Then it's on to the next phone call to the government health agency with a voice that is totally authoritative and demanding.
They can wangle doctors, health care workers, people at the bank, grocery etc. into getting whatever they want. I have seen them butting into lines at the grocery, shortchanging people at the register and always trying to get something for nothing.
I hate to say this but older people who behave in this manner really make me dislike them -- a LOT!!!
She is treating you this way because she WANTS to. Isn't it amazing how they pop back to life when someone comes in to see them? That's because it's someone they want to impress. You will find that they have a different "telephone" voice with others than in normal life. Mine is concerned with her image of herself and must do the right thing at all times, for example, make sure she writes thank you cards immediately, returns phone calls, etc. and her house always had to look perfect. This is because they want others to have that perception of themselves.
But because you and I are their caregivers they feel that they can let down their guard because we see them every day and they feel that we "don't matter" to them. If she is holding any perceived "slights" against you, you will be on her hit list and nothing you will do will ever be right by her. You could bend over backwards catering to her every need but there will always be something wrong with what you do.
I bought mine a beautiful new nightgown for her birthday and it was opened and thrown back in my lap with "is there something wrong with your head? you know I only wear pajamas" !!!
Also I hate to harp on it but if you check out the threads on narcissism, you will see how they use triangulation (separating their relationship with you from their relationship with your sibling(s) ) and see that you are the scapegoat or whipping boy and your sibling is the golden boy. She would NEVER put herself in a bad light in front of HIM, because she wants him to think that she's the paragon of motherhood!! Plus she probably tells him all your business, and in conversations with him finds out all his, but she will never share any information about him with you - because she could be blamed for that if he didn't like it.
You have just summed up my life!!
Try to do as I do, find a few things that give you a little joy every day, do little things for you, get out as often as you can - and - most important - realize that you will never be important to her, as harsh as that sounds, and as hard as you are working. It is a thankless job for which you will never be appreciated.
I'm very sorry, but this is the reality. It will not go on forever and I wish you all the luck and blessings in the world, for you are trying to do the right thing and be a good person. I know you are . Hugs!!
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Mom is a different person if others are around. I think she is depressed. she is on all kinds of meds for it, though, and it doesn't help. I think she'd be better off if she was in AL, but can't afford it. When the home health people come, she's different, when my son and his family were here she was good. I think she is bored with her small life. I don't blame her, but I also can't be her entire life like I've been I need help. We just can't seem to be able to afford anything. I have found an excellent care agency, and even though it's only $12.50 per hour which is very reasonable, it remains $12.50 per hour no matter how long someone is here, so that adds up quickly. I think I am going to get them a couple of times a week, anyway and have Mom pay for it. She can afford that, not much more, but that. Good luck. I wish I had someone that would just do it for less, but so far I haven't been able to.
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I have been with my husband for almost 30 years. He is now 54. After 2 years of a misdiagnosed brain tumor, and now almost 7 years of caring for my husband who has Brain Cancer stage III with mixed gliomas, it is a miracle he is still alive. He takes the highest dose of Namenda made, Prozac, and other meds for the damage from 4 surgeries and radiation. Instead of celebrating him still being with us, it has been a nightmare for me. My sons, now 18 and 20 blame me for not being able to make their Dad "happy", so that he is content at home. I come home with lists from doctors of do's and don'ts and that has just made me the enemy. He loved to pick on me and admitted that to his doctor right in front of me. I can't begin to tell you the surreal nightmare it has been here year after year, never knowing if he is going to make it because of bad MRI's every 3 months, and his behavior. He turned into another person after the 1st surgery. He is basically missing 2/3rds of his right frontal lobe. On the last trip to UCSF 2 months ago he decided to take off and hooked up with his estranged family who has done nothing to help us with him after all of these years. They were kicked out of the hospital during the first surgery for bringing liquor to him and being so loud and obnoxious. They have never liked me because they think I'm too much of a "goodie two shoes". According to my new attorney, Divorce is my only option. I have cared for him, quit work to care for him (no pay for spouses), spent my retirement(s) for medical bills, our boys, living expenses, etc... and have found out in the last 3 weeks that he had been selling tools, assets, planning his "escape", and our so called patient advocate has been helping him. Has anyone ever experienced anything like this with their spouse? Is it really the dementia or me being naive? He can really put on a good show and sound great at times, but if someone is around him enough they see the "real him". Thank goodness there are a few people that have. Any advice? The heartache from this is unbearable, and my son's attitudes hurt the worst. I have honestly done everything I possibly could for this man that I knew how to do because I believed in the "for better or worse" part of our marriage. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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