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My mom lives with me as I am her caregiver (double amputee/dementia) My dog (Sam) that I loved for 15 years died one month ago. My mom was very attached to Sam and his death seems to have accelerated her dementia. Is this possible or maybe a temporary thing?

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Before connecting her rapid cognitive change with the death of your much-loved dog, please have her checked for a UTI. Also she could just be entering into another phase of her dementia. Could it be due to the change in her routine with your pet? I suppose, but there's no clinical way to know if this is the cause. Even if it is, there may be nothing that can be done about it. Have you tried giving your mom tasks? Like folding kitchen towels, sorting and matching colorful socks, etc. This keeps her busy, burns mental and physical energy so she could sleep better at night, and gives her a sense of purpose. If she has memory loss, she can do this every day, more than once a day.
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Susan58 Jul 16, 2021
She was checked for a UTI and that’s negative. Mom does better when she has someone sitting and visiting with her. As soon as the person leaves she starts in with going home and asking where her dog is. It’s as though the minute her mind has a free second she starts obsessing. Mom has shown some memory loss and confusion over the last year or so plus she has no interest in doing anything. She was always very active and self sufficient but within the last 2-3 years she does nothing. She’s like a different person in several ways. In the last month she has declined so rapidly especially cognitively. I don’t know how to help her. She gets so angry especially in the evening. She thinks I’m keeping her against her will and won’t take her home. She screams and looks at me like she hates me. Thanks for taking the time to help me.
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Susan58: For an individual with no mental impairment, the loss of a pet is EXTREMELY difficult. For an individual with dementia, that sorrow is magnified. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved dog, Sam.
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How long ago did she get diagnosed? Has she had a bunch of tests to see if she has any physical reasons for her decline? I'm going through that with my mom. Had B12 tested, thyroid, kidney function. Working with doc to decrease meds and get off ones that are know to cause confusion, etc.

If she is getting aggressive, might talk to doc about something to calm her down a bit.

Was she evaluated for depression? Maybe due to the loss of your beloved doggie she could be depressed from that and could benefit from something to help with that.

You must have your hands full with a double amputee! Make are you are taking care of yourself too. Get some helpers, etc. Your health and well being are important too!
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Very definite connection. The death of one of our dogs greatly accelerated my husband's dementia.

indeed, my husband does not know who I am, after 65 years of marriage, but says "Hello, puppy" when we visit. Just to allay your oh-ohs, it does not bother me at all. 'Tis what it is. And he's content.
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YardParty Jul 18, 2021
Your brief, thoughtful, so awares and poignant reply made me simply want to say thank you for being all of that--and kind enough to share your thoughts and advice.
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It could be a combination of things, the loss of the beloved dog, progression of her dementia, maybe another underlying disease or infection, maybe depression, maybe she is just tired of living.

Have her dr give her a rather good evaluation. She may need

As she falls deeper into the rabbit hole, you will need to learn to accommodate her "reality" which has no relation to "our" reality. You will need to learn to visit her reality. Don't argue, reason or explain to her why she can't go home - come up with vague answers and direct her attention elsewhere if you can.. Give answers that calm and sooth her agitations. My dad was convinced that he owed people money and wouldn't stop talking about it until I told him that I had paid these fictitious debts.

In the meantime, while looking into long-term options, hire aides to come in and assist with mom, be a companion and visit with her.

Best wishes to you and your mom.
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The loss of a beloved pet is, to me, one of the worst and most horrific things that can happen. I have had numerous pets going back years and today, many years later, I still suffer terrible trauma, heartbreak and a horrible sense of loss. I have photos of them in a huge collage on my wall so I can see them daily and that brings me a sense of peace. There really is not much you can do except - if she lives with you - consider getting another pet (but you would have to care for it). She will love the new pet and this may not be so pronounced. Please consider that. And she is very old and with that comes dementia and there is nothing you can do to fix it.
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Dementia symptoms manifest themselves in unpredictable ways, none of which are encouraging. Although the progression of dementia symptoms are shown as “stages”, a traumatic experience, such as the loss of your beloved dog that your mom was so attached to, can accelerate the decline and cause a person to advance from 4 to 6, for example. This would not be a temporary change, there's no going back.

People can experience personality changes because of dementia. They may no longer have the emotional self control that they had when they were healthy. Her aggression may be telling you that she can't process what's happening to her. Even though she's with you, she may feel insecure or frightened. Her behavior is not a reflection of your relationship, try not to take it personally. Do not react in kind to her anger, step away. A response could be, “I'm sorry you're so angry mom, is there something I can do?”. Are there things that might soothe her behavior? A chocolate chip cookie or an ice cream cone often worked for my wife. Could you purchase her a stuffed dog? Some are even animated. Realize your mom has changed. Her anger may eventually wear off, but another challenge for you will replace it. The book Surviving Alzheimer's may help. It offers practical tips for caregivers.
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Susan58 Jul 16, 2021
Thanks so much for your reply. Her decline has been so rapid that I’m at a loss. There have been signs that her mind is slipping but nothing like what is currently going on and I’m so unprepared. I’m going to need plan b because if her anger continues I don’t know if I can keep her with me. The thought of putting her in a home kills me but the thought of moms aggression continuing and/or getting worse kills me as well. It breaks my heart to see her this way and not be able to make it better.
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So sorry you lost your beloved Sam Sending lots of sympathy and good wishes.
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Susan58 Jul 17, 2021
Thanks so much. It’s rough going right now and I miss him terribly
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In my experience dementia is 2 steps down one step back up. Whenever major events happen to mom she seems to go down but then bounce back, but with slight decline. Hopefully you mom comes back a bit.
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Reply to AlzDaughter
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She may be in mourning or suffering from depression, very common in seniors. An evaluation by her usual doctor and maybe follow up with a visit to a geriatric psychiatrist.
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Susan58 Jul 17, 2021
Thanks for your help.
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