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Dad's family has a history of dementia. He began to show clear signs around 2015, and was placed in a memory care facility in early 2017 at the age of 78. This was an earlier time-line than his own mother, but I think his mother had a more caring spouse who was able to keep her under control longer.


So, my mom has no known family history of dementia, lives alone near me since dad is in a facility. All of the sudden now SHE is becoming paranoid, imagining things that aren't really happening, very confused, etc. She is 77 :(


This is NUTS. I am an only child and trying to manage this on my own. What am I supposed to do NOW? Holy cow I am freaking out. Things just keep getting worse....how can they just keep getting worse!?! My parents are aged 77 and 81 now and are pretty much mindless zombies. What is going on in our world that is making stuff like this happen!?!

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Dementia wasn't in previous generations of my father's family either, but there were several family members who died of strokes in their 60s. Dad was diagnosised with high blood pressure at 42 but never took the medication exactly as prescribed, started having small TIAs in his 50s and developed vascular dementia by age 60. Because his general fitness was good and there's was enough medical attention, he made it to age 88 and died with CHF. Dad's older sister died at 86 from general age related decline; his younger sister developed ALZ at 74 and died at 81.

Although there was no dementia in Mom's family, there have been a couple members with the same small veins she has. One was a cancer survivor and one was an alcoholic. They died in their mid 70s from heart attacks. My mother who never smoked and was physically active, first started having some very minor memory issues at age 78. Brain scans showed no strokes or abnormal brain atrophy but did show small blood vessels in the brain. The short term memory issues didn't really become a problem until age 84 and dementia like symptoms didn't show up until age 86.

Looking over the family trees (genealogy is a hobby and DCs with cause of death are available from around 1900 in most states), in most lines there have always been a couple of members who died relatively young, while the majority lived into their 90s. One example is my alcoholic paternal grandfather died at 63 from a heart attack, as did a smoking younger brother while an older smoking brother died at 78 but also from a heart attack. For years we joked the major risk factor in the family was being male. One sister died from cancer at 58, the other 6 non-smoking sisters lived to 88, 93, 97, 99, and 99 without any dementia.

Personally, I think as medical science has been able to treat heart disease and prolong life, people who would have probably died earlier are now either living to develop dementia related to those diseases or perhaps the treatments/medications that save us from heart disease have side effects we don't understand yet. Seeing the impact of an active lifestyle in my great-aunts and mother's vigor into their 80s, I believe less active lifestyles are having an impact too. We've got a lot of chemicals in our food chain now that wasn't there until after WWII. Some combination seems to making dementia a bigger problem than it's been in earlier generations.
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Upstream Oct 2, 2019
TNechie: I agree. It seems science has found ways to keep the body living beyond the capabilities of the mind. The medical industry can keep people alive until 100, financial planners urge that you invest based on a timeline of living to 100, but if quality of life is gone in your 70s, what is the point. My dad's memory care facility is full of zombies walking around for years (some have been there for a decade), just sitting around day after day after day.
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Call 911 and report that your mother is displaying delusional behaviors. If she was in the hospital, she almost certainly picked up a uti.
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"She has made it clear she will not go anywhere willingly and has threatened suicide for years if I try to move her." Upstream, remember that your parents lived their lives and made their choices, for better or worse. Also remember that you have choices. Your mother sounds like she operates through fear, obligation and guilt (FOG). Only you can remove yourself from the FOG; she will never change.

Your mother lives alone. When she was discharged from the hospital, what did the discharge planner say about her going home to live alone? What support system satisfied the hospital that she could be discharged home? If supporting her at home falls on you, then you have the choice to be less available next time she lands in the hospital. Let the hospital be the bad guys. You have choices.
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Upstream Oct 2, 2019
Hey NYDaughter: Mom was hospitalized a month ago for a fall with broken ribs. I pleaded with the hospital to send her to a rehab facility, but they sent her home with home health care. Mom says the home health care (nurse, physical & occupational therapists) is "too stressful" and she unplugs her phone to avoid their calls. So, basically, she has ended the home health care that was her follow-up to her last hospitalization.
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Have her checked for a UTI. They can cause this to happen.
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NYDaughter, mom's dad died of cancer at 78 but her mom lived very heathily to her mid 90s. Dad's dad died at the age of 40 from something he got working in a factory (waaaay before my time) and his mom died after years with dementia around age 86.

Luckily both parents have long-term care insurance. Excellent coverage that is paying for 100% of my dad's $6,000/month care in memory care.

The problem: I was able to blindside my dad into getting tested cognitively and then moving him into memory care. He didn't really know what hit him. But, mom saw it all (she wanted dad gone from her house as quickly as possible) and she will know what it's all about if I speak with the doctors and have her tested in any way. She has made it clear she will not go anywhere willingly and has threatened suicide for years if I try to move her.

Yes, the suicide threats have been documented and she's been Baker-Acted twice, so that has sort've run it's course.
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Don't panic, it happens often.

First consider the easy things to deal with. Has she been to the doc recently? Has she been checked for a UTI?
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She has taken Benzo's for years/decades (since the 1980s). Most current is Klonopin. She doubled up on them for two weeks, which is not atypical. Well, the pharmacy refused to refill before the 30 days, so she went into withdrawl. After not sleeping for a few days she was hospitalized and given a script for the drug which was filled yesterday. Note: This is not the first time we've been through this, this is her third hospitalization due to mismanagement of Klonopin since March 2018.

She called me at midnight last night thinking people were in her house, and it was day time, and she was going to run to the store and buy some wine. She was shocked that she woke me up. She called my husband's phone at 5 AM this morning and said she wanted to "go home", and saying more weird stuff.

For about the last 6 months she's been having more trouble keeping up with day of the week, time of day, etc. Also, I've been cleaning spoiled food out of her fridge, she does not eat much at all and not on any kind of normal schedule.

She's an alcoholic, mixing wine with Benzos, anti-depressants, sometimes opiods, and cigarettes too, so it's hard to tell what is causing what.

BTW: up until age 70 she was a fitness guru, marathon runner, clean eater, etc.

What a flippin' roller coaster.

So, in answer to the UTI, she was in the hospital a little more than 24 hours ago. I am hoping they checked for that there...
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EnduringLife Oct 4, 2019
Klonopin can increase dementia symptoms significantly! Happened to my mom....switched her to sertraline (zoloft)
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Upstream, can you get mom tested for a UTI right away?

I'm so sorry to hear that she's having more problems. ((((Hugs)))))
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Get her checked for a UTI. If it does turn out to be dementia, what are each of your parent's wishes/living will?

"What is going on in our world that is making stuff like this happen!?!" In my opinion, it's a combination of plastics and chemicals that have become ubiquitous. They are in our food, clothing, furniture, packaging, etc.

Both your parents have lived longer than average. How old were their parents when they died?
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disgustedtoo Oct 19, 2019
Don't forget all the lead that was used until they figured out it causes problems... It was used in so many things and has tainted not only water supplies, but the ground as well, not to mention that in many older homes and apartments, lead paint is still an issue.

(no proof yet, but according to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:
"Evidence is emerging that blood and bone lead levels, reflecting relatively modest exposures, are associated with hypertension, renal insufficiency, and cognitive impairment.")
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Personally, I believe we are consuming too many chemicals in our "ready to eat" foods. We no longer cook from scratch and we don't have any idea what we are eating. Sugar used to be a special treat - now you can't find anything that doesn't contain sugars.

Back in the 1970's, Senile Dementia was linked to poor nutrition. Nothing has changed other than you no longer hear of Senile Dementia AND our eating habits have gotten even worse.

You can start by limiting the amount of garbage you eat and they eat or you are seeing your own future in your parents. Believe it or not, 77 & 81 are not ancient - we are living longer but we're not taking care of ourselves.

I limit the amount of "Processed Foods" that I will eat. Because of my need for Nutritional Shakes, they have become the exception to this rule - but other than my Shakes, I am cooking from scratch again.

It's been a year since I've had bread, cake, cookies and pasta - in other words, no wheat products since the wheat is now tampered with, genetically modified and known as GMO Wheat - google it. Yes, I know it's not supposed to be happening anymore but our government found it in June this year:
www.capitalpress.com/ag_sectors/grains/usda-probes-discovery-of-gmo-wheat/article_0f6e80c8-8974-11e9-aff1-43528d15eb20.html
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disgustedtoo Oct 19, 2019
"Processed Foods" is another thing that is bad for overall health. When my cholesterol was first noted as high (278), they had no clue why but immediately wanted me to take drugs. Nope. It took me a while to figure it out on my own (now they have smartened up, but not then - it was eggs, meat, milk, etc, which were NOT big in my diet!) Hmm, what changed since the last check (5 years)? Kids moved out, still working, was using frozen dinners for lunch at work. Once I eliminated those and got back to "basics", it was not only under control, but my "good" was even higher than they suggest (higher is supposedly better!)

I recommend people read the ingredients and not rely on that silly white label and avoid anything that says Fat Free and even Reduced Fat. When fat is removed, it becomes bland, like eating paper, so they add SUGAR to make it palatable! Long before any of this, I noted how much sugar was being added to foods. Peanut Butter doesn't need sugar, yet the major brands all add it. Too much sugar is not good for us, yet it is now added to so many pre-made/pr-packaged foods! Of note, the white label may indicate no cholesterol, but guess what the body does with excess sugar??

The more you can make from "scratch" and the less "fatty" stuff like sauces, the better. Raw veggies are good too.
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