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In the past few years (approx.3- 5) my mom's behavior has led us to question if she might be early stage Alzheimer's/Dementia ... or is it due to aging and many health problems in recent years. Mom is 75, Dad is 78. She had heart surgery about 3 years ago and preexisting behaviors have seemed to be accentuated and some erratic (some memory loss, inappropriate comments in social situations, angry/bitter behavior, says some very hurtful things to family and friends, mental capacity deteriorated, can't find words to say something, speech sometimes slurred, she is on several medications including pain but says she has weaned herself down to less doses per day, says things that she sometimes doesn't remember later,extremely emotional and even threatens to take her life but then says she was just joking and doesn't know why people made such a big deal, stays secluded in her bedroom for long periods of time-all of these have happened over the 3-5 year period). The big event ... my mom and dad moved to an independent living community and my mom began a relationship with another man she had previously known as a childhood friend. Fast forward ... my mom and dad almost got divorced over this, she said she loves the other guy and that he's going to marry her, then another day she says she won't ever see him again and loves my dad. My dad caught her in the other man's apartment and slapped and pushed her (my mom had previously said she wasn't seeing him anymore and asked for forgiveness). My mom and dad have had problems off and on for as long as I can remember but never anything like this. My mom blames my dad for his years of insensitivity and lack of affection. My dad and my sister both think there is definitely something wrong with my mom (dad and mom been together for 42 years, my sister lives minutes away). I am thousands of miles away and so is my brother so we know we don't see things the same as dad and sister, but I don't know what or who to believe b/c there are so many different stories coming from everyone. My question is, how can you tell if it is in fact early signs/stages of something like Alzheimer's or dementia or is it aging, health, and emotional problems? She's gone to a few counseling sessions (counselors at the independent living community), we've asked her to consult her doctor and she says the doctor says she's fine, we've finally gotten her to go to a neurologist and has the 2nd appointment that will include my dad and sister and then a brain scan. What other things should we be doing to help my mom, and dad? I feel like no matter what it is, something is very different about her and she is in pain emotionally and, well, causing a lot of pain to others involved also ( I understand it may be without her really meaning to and I don't say it to be insensitive, it's just the truth). Thank you for any advice.

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Everyone above has given good advice concerning investigating what's going on with your mother. Continue with trying to find out if something physically/medically is happening with her. Investigate her meds too. Could be she's on the wrong meds, too much or is not taking them correctly. I find it interesting that her strange behavior started after her surgery. Could be meds used during and following surgery have had an effect on her.(I've heard people say anesthesia and/or pain meds affected their loved one. Saw it with my 70 yr. old husband on a mix of pain meds, following surgery.) Or, it could be that the experience of heart issues at her age brought on a psychological change with her. (scared her and caused her to face her mortality and she's trying to come to terms with it.)

In addition, I would suggest not forgetting about your father and his needs. When my mother began to decline with early dementia and mobility, my father became grumpy and harsh towards her. His behavior wasn't normal around others either. He too would hit her to "shut her up" or make her "come to her senses". While I'm sure living 24/7 with her circumstances and taking on more chores around the house were trying his patience, lashing out at her and others, was not acceptable and only added negatively to the situation. Make sure he has opportunities to get away from the situation and relax and do the things he wants to do. Does the I.L. Community offer cleaning, laundry, cooking help or has your mother done that and perhaps now he is doing it? Try to relieve him of any chores that are too much for him to handle with everything else going on. Also, don't forget to give him attention. I think men especially can feel ignored or forgotten (jealousy) when their spouse can't provide that attention anymore and/or their wife is the focus of family's concerns.

Finally, based on my experience, I would suggest keeping an eye on your dad and the decisions that he makes. Remember, he ultimately will be the one to make some very important decisions concerning your mother and her future. Do you have confidence in him to make correct, informed & unselfish decisions, considering the struggles and history between your parents? Something to think about.

I wish you and your family...peace.
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Both my mom & mother in law have Parkinsons & it causes some of that kind of behavior. The neurologist will be able to tell & then you will have to find the right medication. Could be multiple things going on.
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I have heard for women with dementia acting out in sexual ways, and it might even be common.Is is possible for your folks to move away from this other man? Or would your mom just take up with someone else, anyway? One thing that is stressed in the retirement communities here, is that STDs are rampant. She really needs tested if she is having unprotected sex.
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I totally want to second the idea that someone aside from your mom and dad should be going to the appointments, or at the very least, talking to the doctors (with the proper releases of course) afterwards. My mother hears what she has decided the doc is going to say beforehand, can't seem to take in "new" information that might be given. Hugs, B
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What is being done -- seeing a neurologist and having tests performed -- is exactly what should be done, and it will give you a much clearer answer to your question of whether Mother has dementia. Once you have that answer it will somewhat easier to chart a course.

While Nancy is right that dementia adds even more stress to a troubled situation, I also know from experience that the need of one spouse to care for the other can create a new kind of bond. In any case, do try to accept that your parents' marriage is not your responsibility. It is what it is. I'm worried, though, about your father slapping and pushing his wife of 42 years. Is he in counselling? While I don't blame him for his anger and I can see that Mother is "at fault" in this situation, getting physical about it is totally unacceptable in my book. If there is a history of this physical response by your father then I would be very concerned about him as a caregiver.

But first things first. Let us know how the second neurological visit goes.
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Karla, it does sound like your mom is showing signs of dementia/Alzheimer's doesn't it. The symptoms are like those of a person who is suffering from this, but who knows? I think you're right in taking her to a neurologist to make sure she hasn't had a stroke of some kind too. Whatever problems your folks have had in the past is only going to be exacerbated by dementia, so that will only get worse I'm afraid. Also, either you or one of your siblings should start going to EVERY doctor appointment for both your parents. I and/or my sister started doing that with my mom, because what she HEARD and what the doctor was SAYING, was quite different at times. Plus my mom would just run right over what the doctor was telling her because of course, she knew best. ha.
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