I've noticed significant cognitive decline in my 86 year old mother, but have struggled with what to call it. We have not had her tested for dementia, because other than general age related cognitive impairment I didn't see evidence of classic Alzheimer's, which is what the large majority of forums and experts talk about. (also, when it comes to getting tested for geriatric/memory issues, Mother doesn't like to go see "those" doctors because "there's nothing wrong with me.") We scheduled an appointment for her, but she refused to go saying she did't feel well enough that day.
I'm not a doctor and realize that diagnosing via reading internet articles is not scientific proof. However, my nursing school daughter came home from class last week and says "I think mamaw has dementia." I asked why and she said "we studied that her slumping over to one side when she sits is a symptom of Lewy Body Dementia." I began reading up on the symptoms, and was astounded at the similarities with my mothers symptoms. She shuffles when she walks rather than picking her feet up. (called the Lewy Body Shuffle.) She stoops over and is a fall risk. We took her back to her home a few weeks ago to move some furniture. She slept in her bed, which is mecca to her. Woke up the next morning, stood up and said "I don't know where I am." Took her all day to get her bearings. She called me at 12:30 a.m. this week to tell me the roof was leaking in her assisted living facility room and the floor and her bedspread was soaked. I checked it out. No sign of leaking. Carpet was bone dry. But the left pair of each of mother's house shoes were wet, along with her left pants legs. She denies wetting herself, going so far to tell the nurse to leave her room and not come back if she was going to keep telling her she's peeing on herself. My mother tells us that water is dripping on her face while she sleeps; another thing I investigated and found no evidence. Any spot on the carpet where a footprint has made an imprint mark on the carpet is a "wet spot" to her. "See there, that spot is wet!!" I'll feel of it and it will be bone dry. The only spot on the floor that's wet is near where she's been sitting. Apparently, loss of bladder control can be a symptom of Lewy Body Dementia, as can be delusion (she can go back home and live alone) and hallucinations (water dripping on her face when it rains in her room.) Also, unlike Alzheimers, she knows who were are most of the time. She remembers my name, my wife's name, her grandkids names, and remembers pretty much where she is. She does tend to hide things then cook up a good conspiracy about how it went missing. (losing the key to her lock box is the latest stop what your doing and come fix this emergency.) But just when you think it's typical old person not remembering where she put her keys, she'll drop a real doozy. Like telling me a cute thing one of my kids did with my daddy when she was little. As mother related the story for the 1,000th time, I became my daddy in her telling of it...."you were over in the garden watering the plants and Rachel said what that man doing mamaw?" That man was my father, who has been dead 14 years. Yet she told me the story like I was my father. Weird. She loves to go to church services at her facility. Called me tonight and said "something's wrong with my memory. I forgot today is Sunday."
Something is definitely going on and its getting worse. Depression, apathy, agitation, everything is an immediate emergency, Having some days when she's spot on with what's going on. Other days when she stares at nothing with a blank expression slooped over. Always a social butterfly, she's becoming a recluse living in her own delusional world where she's not the problem, everybody else's the problem. "That nurse thinks I have a urinary tract infection. I don't have a urinary tract infection, and I told her never to come back to my room!" The Lewy Body Shuffle with her legs, the blank expression that never changes, imagining things that aren't happening, but thinking they are very real, remembering who we are on one day and that the grandkids are in school or work and remembering how her dog is doing, then one day she doesn't say much, forgets she's in her bedroom, calls me at 12:24 a.m. to report a nonexistent roof leak, or doesn't know it's Sunday. All these symptoms point to something different than alzheimers. It just seems that all the information out there is on alzheimers, with a tip of the hat to dementia. Yet, when in doubt they seem to knee jerk call everything Alzheimers when I don't think that's what my mother is dealing with. Any constructive advice would be appreciated.