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At first she said it was because of her medication, then she said it was because she wasn't sleeping very well. She acted like she expected it to be temporary and just go away by itself. Well she's got worse and worse over this last year. She can't remember something you tell her only a few minutes later. She tells the same stories over and over and over. Sometimes starting the story again right after finishing it. She will jump off topic in the middle of a conversation. She can't send text messages any more, she can't work out how to do it. But she used to be able to. Or how to use her TV remote. She gets confused if she has to speak to anyone on the phone, like the bank or speak to anyone in a shop like to get her prescriptions. All sounds like dementia. But... could it be anything else? Dehydration, thyroid function, anemia, diabetes? Her meds? Anxiety? Could she be faking it? She lives alone but wants any excuse she can think of to get someone to be with her. she's been known to use illness to manipulate before. If it might be anything else, what can we do about it?

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Boredhousewife, I would not tell Mom you want her evaluated for dementia. It is simply time for a thorough physical. After all, she is on Medicare now and she should have a baseline established in case she develops any problems in the future. Before her appointment tell the doctor what symptoms you have noticed. I don't see any reason to increased your mother's anxiety by telling her what you suspect. Let a professional do an evaluation first.

As for your participation in her care, you need to start setting boundaries right now. You cannot do everything for her. Decide what kind of help you can provide and how often. If she needs more help than that, your job it to figure out how to see that she gets it -- not to personally provide all of it. You may have to stand up to a lot of accusations, but that doesn't magically enable you to be two places at once or to care for your own family and also your mother full time.

If Mom has dementia, she will sooner or later need 24/7 supervision. You may have to "palm her off on other people" whether she wants that or not. That is, she may be able to stay in her own place for a time if she has in-home care, and when that is not enough, other arrangements will be needed. She is young and may be living with increasing impairments for decades. Don't fall into the trap of doing everything for her thinking that will be enough.

The sooner you have some idea of what you are dealing with in your mother's health, the sooner you can start making realistic plans for her care. Please arrange a "general checkup" for her.
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My mother has a paranoid personality disorder and when she developed Alzheimer's it was very hard to tell the difference whether her paranoia was her PD or Alzheimer's.In order to avoid a lot of unnecessary stress I started taking all things with my mom as being Alzheimer's related and it sure has made things much easier. My mother also refuses to be evaluated so we just keep close tabs on her and help as much as we can especially now that she can no longer drive. Dementia brings a lot of fear into the life of the person who has it just do your best, take breaks for yourself, get family/friends to help. Maybe check into getting a geriatric care manger since you live 80 miles away, assisted living would be ideal.
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She's very afraid of having dementia. Who wouldn't be? So I will have to push her very hard to get checked out. If I get her to get the other options checked first maybe she will be ready to face it by the time she runs out of other options. It's also very possible her using illnesses to manipulate were very early symptoms of dementia. She over plays her helplessness to make people feel sorry for her and guilty but she also won't let you take the problem away by fixing it, because then she will lose her leverage. It's hard to tell what are real symptoms. It's going to be one almighty row to get her to see a Dr. She's going to accuse me of trying to palm her off on other people and not do everything for her myself. But I live 80 miles away and have 2 toddlers.
Sorry to vent :) thanks for your advice. Xxx
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It sounds like dementia. It could be something else. The only way to tell is with a thorough medical evaluation, and even that may leave some doubts.

If your mother has used illness as a way to manipulate in the past I can understand that you might be a little skeptical now. It is a very sad mistake to assume persons with early stage dementia are faking it. That just makes everything harder to cope with.

Early evaluation has many benefits. It helps for family to know what is going on. If it is something treatable, treatment can begin. In the case of dementia there is no cure but some symptoms can be addressed and quality of life can be improved. Treatments are most effective in the early stages, so why put it off?

If Mom hates living alone, maybe this is a good time to begin exploring other options, like a senior community, or perhaps assisted living.
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I would have a doctor evaluate your mom. I sometimes think that my mom was just trying to get attention when she couldn't do things that she usually could do.Sometimes I will ignore her constant asking for help with little things to test her current ability to do some things without my help.I even tell her that it is better for her to do as much for herself as possible-it pushes her limits- she needs to feel that she's not completely helpless .
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