What do I do if I suspect my mom is in the beginning stages of dementia?

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My mom is fairly young, she's 70 and I think she may be in the beginning stages of dementia. There is a history of it in her family. Two years ago she fell down her back stairs and hit her head. She was taken to the hospital and tests were conducted and it was determined that she was fine. Within the past year and half, she has become increasingly paranoid, forgetful and argumentative. She often doesn't make sense when she speaks. She is still seeing the neurologist that she was connected with after her fall. She has made mention of the doctor running more tests and when I ask why, she tells me that he is trying to rack up her bill, clearly that's not the reason. I've tried contacting her doctor and I know he can't tell me anything, but I at least want to express my concern for her health and well being to him. She lives alone and I worry about her and don't know what to do or where to start. I'veI've tried talking to her and she's not willing to cooperate with me, she wants to argue with me. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Try writing the doctor a letter detailing her behavior. It sounds as if you do not have a Durable Power Of Attorney for medical issues. Does anyone in your family have that document for your mother? If so, have that person contact the doctor. If not, you are going to have issues getting the information

Either way, the doctor clearly sees problems and would likely welcome your input. What he or she can do about it without help from the family is hard to tell. Try this step anyway and see what happens.

I agree that the head injury could have contributed to this - maybe sped up the development that had already begun.

Good luck,
Carol
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I sure hope that she'll go back to the neurologist for those tests! And ideally, that she'll let you come with her. (Tell her you want to observe so you can check out the charges and make sure she is not being overbilled.)

That really is the best first step ... have her examined and tested by an expert.
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Falling and hitting her head could have caused a concussion. This can lead to the same kind of brain damage that looks like early dementia. It might resolve itself in a couple of years, especially since your mom is not very old.
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Good for you for giving the MD information, likely your mom isn't giving good information. Yes, see if you can give your mom a reason to go with her that she will like. Jeanne's suggestion is a good one. It does sound like the MD is trying and your mom isn't cooperating. You've tried reasoning with your mom, if you haven't tried this, try focusing on your love and concern for her and stop there. She might be able to hear that when reasoning with her may not be possible at this point. Is there anyone (primary care doctor, pastor, friend, etc) that she is willing to listen to and follow their guidance? If so, enlist their help. And yes, Smschaff34's suggestion about POA is good, if she will cooperate.
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The first thing I would do is get a second opinion. The second thing I would do is have your Mom agree that you can be on the HIPPA form. That way you will be IN on her medical issues. Thirdly, before it gets to the point your Ma cannot make reliable decisions obtain POA and DPOA. You may also may want to consider Advanced Directive. Good Luck
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You might try faxing-emailing-writing the doctor in regards to what you have observed (frequency/how often, recency/how recent, severity/how bad, and duration/how long) her symptoms last and cause-effect if noticed when they come and go (e.g., time of day, better/ worse before/after a nap, after an outing) and genersl info (incontinence, head-aches, dizziness, sensitive to sensory like touch, light, temp, eating changes). You're right MD can't reveal info (you/she needs to get a POA and DPOA in place quickly for the future though if you don't have one). Many MDs don't feel comfortable calling back family even if they have the time w/o consent on file. But a well-written letter puts it all right there and documents the concerns, which might give MD insight and/or nudge. Other people's answers are great too (observe MD/tests). I'd want to look at the scans and review meds Rx. Even if you can't read them yourself, asking the MD take you through them means he has to look at them again. Surprising what they sometimes see that they or initial reading had missed. A second look is good. Looking for changes over time and/or trauma. Careful/watch out in general are hematomas especially if she's on blood thinners and UTIs are totally different/dementia- like as we age vs. symptomatic pain. Surely he's done a work up incl those...hope helps some. Good for you to be there abs care.
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I agree with what others say talking TO the Doc about your concerns is not GETTING information only filing him in on what her routine is and how is varies. I began a journal on my MIL when I first began being her care giver and her Dr. who is being changed soon couldn't care less about her changing conditions. But for sure keep a record of what's going on review it now and again just for your self and if all else fails find a Dr. who DOES want family input !!
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You or family should start going to all the doctor appointments with her. I've had many frank discussions with the doctors in the hallways. All the medical jargon sounds like jibber-jabber to a lot the elderly with memory problems and it's hard for them to ask the right questions about medications and treatments for everything, not just memory issues. I always step out of the room, so they can have private time, but always there for the important discussions.
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Melanie241, last year my Mom also had a serious fall where she had hit her head. Prior to the fall my Mom was fairly sharp for someone who was in her late 90's and still living at home, with my Dad. ER ran a battery of tests and found a brain bleed caused by the fall, and a previous brain bleed from a fall that I never knew happened. My parents were good at hiding those facts from me.

The last fall spiraled Mom's memory into late stage dementia. Doctors tried rehab but that didn't work, thus Mom was placed in long-term-care, and 3 months later she passed.

Head trauma can be serious stuff, and one needs the right kind of doctors to map this all out. Melanie, if your Mom is starting with dementia, I believe there are meds that will help slow down the process, but I am not familiar with the meds.

Hope everything works out for the both of you.
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When my parents came back from doc appts ( way prior to moms dementia diagnosis) and said everything was good, he said we are both doing good. Ok dad what was your blood pressure, I don't know. How was your blood sugar test? Gee, I don't remember but I did tell him that joke i told you last week and he thought it was really funny. He said his daughter getting married next month. After receiving these types of answers my sister and I decided that it was time that one of us went to everyone of their doctor appts. My mom hated going to the neurogist and after many conversations she finally said to me that the doc makes her feel dumb because she goesnt know the answers to all of her questions. I told her if she didnt know it was ok to say, I don't know. I then explained to mom that after the doc asked the questions that I would talk to him about everything else I noticed. My mom still hated going to the neurologist but allowing me to do most of the talking made her feel a lot better. I typed out a short note to the doc and asked the nurse to please make sure he read it before coming in the room. While in the office with the nurse for every doctor my mom and dad went to i would say, mom, is it ok that i talk to the doctor on your behalf, mom said yes and I ask the nurse to please get the form for mom to sign so we would have it on file. Sorry for rambling, hope some of this is helpful
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