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She’s 70 years old. She is not one of my best friends. She does join in for lunch and shopping from time to time.


I have noticed her memory loss. She has dealt with major health issues, so I chalked up her forgetfulness as stress related.


She is experiencing higher anxiety than normal. She won’t take prescribed meds. She becomes easily frustrated.


I am not bothered if she doesn’t want to do something. She reads my behavior as “not caring.” I don’t react and it is driving her nuts!


She constantly tells me that her daughter becomes highly irritated by her behavior. I am sure that she stresses her daughter out.


After my caregiver days ended for my mom I decided that I would never put myself in an exhausting situation ever again.


Even if I did want to become more involved, I do not have enough experience with people with memory loss.


My mom is 95 and is still lucid. Daddy had no dementia, nor my grandparents.


My godmother was the only person that I knew with Alzheimer’s disease.


When my friend called this evening I told her to see her doctor because I am not qualified to make an assessment.


I will start talking about something and she says, “I can’t remember that incident. Please tell me again what happened.”


Fine, I don’t mind repeating something once or twice but I simply can’t repeat something a million times because of the frustration of repeating myself endlessly to my mom due to her being near deaf.


I realize that my friend is lonely due to Covid.


She wants me to spend a lot of time trying to jar her memory. I’m not going to do that.


When I told her to discuss it with her daughter she said that she did not want to upset her because her daughter recently lost her job.


Have any of you ever had a friend tell you that they are experiencing memory issues and how did you handle it?

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Needs Help, might she be interested in this Forum at all?
If not, as you say she is not one of your close friends, I would just not do anything about it. She isn't interested in seeing someone. I would refrain from getting in close.
Were this a CLOSE friend my advice would be considerably different, but as she is not I would simply ask when she says "I can't remember that incident; could you tell me again" if she is at all concerned that her memory is less than it was. That it is apparent to you, and you wonder if it is of concern to her. Tell her to discuss this with her MD.
I think when we step in with folks who are not close to us there is very little thanks for it, and perhaps a whole lot of problem.
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 28, 2021
Alva,

I don’t know if she would be interested in the forum. I could ask her.

She told me that she is tired of being misunderstood, especially by her daughter.

I don’t know if I told her the right thing or not.

I told her that she needed to be understanding with her daughter because she just lost her job.

She thinks her daughter doesn’t care. That’s exactly how she is acting with me too.

In reality, what can I do? I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I can’t answer her questions about her memory loss.

She also told me that she doesn’t like her son in law. I am starting to feel like she doesn’t like the boundaries that they are setting with her.

I am not going to get overly involved.
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Your friend accuses both you and her DD of 'not caring', but meanwhile, refuses to take her medication or see the doctor for a problem she's obviously suffering from.

The truth of the matter is this: you nor her DD can care more than SHE does about her or her health. SHE is the one who has to care enough to take ACTION and do something about the situation she's facing. Burying her head in the sand and accusing others of 'not caring' isn't going to make her situation one iota better. Plus, she'll wind up alienating the people who really DO care about.

That's what I'd tell her the next time she goes off on a rant. And then tell her to call you when she decides to do something about her problem & quit blaming others for 'not caring'. Then let her future calls go directly to voice mail so you can listen to what she has to say before deciding whether or not to call her back.

Good luck!
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 28, 2021
Lea,

That’s what I think too.

I don’t understand how people can be terrified of drugs for depression or anxiety in 2021!

When I told her that I had taken meds for anxiety when I needed them she said that she knew people that had issues with reactions.

I said to her, “You are not them. We all react differently to drugs and the dosage or type of meds can be adjusted for our needs.” She didn’t answer me, so I don’t think she is going to try them.

I know some people have reactions to drugs but she should at least try them.

I suppose it’s a trade off. Some people are going to have to tolerate certain side effects, but if they help in other areas, it may be worth it.

Sometimes I think certain people should not read the pamphlet that comes with drugs. They get afraid and won’t take them.

Yes! Voicemail is a good thing.
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NHWM, I think this is a no-win situation for you. I don't blame you for no longer having the bandwidth to repeat and repeat. My MIL has memory loss and my mom is starting to have a little. The most helpful thing you can do is to keep promoting her daughter as her best ally. She's the one best able to your friend help in the long run. Your friend seems to know she has a deficit and is probably terrified. Hoping her daughter is on a learning curve regarding her mom's challenges. Has your friend gotten a diagnosis? If your friend comes to "acceptance" or a less fearful state maybe there are support groups or she can talk to a therapist. The chronic problem is she's becoming less able to remember new things, so some therapeutic pursuits will just be not productive. If she keeps asking for help remembering things you can try saying, "I don't know...I don't remember either!" and then just move on to a subject that she's familiar with.
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 28, 2021
I think you’re right. I will speak to her about talking to her daughter again.

She says that she doesn’t want to bother her daughter but I don’t want to take over for her daughter. It’s not my place and I am not interested in doing that.

I don’t want to frustrate her further by not being of any real help to her.

She caught me off guard by saying that she felt comfortable speaking to me about her memory loss because I took care of my mom for so long.

I had to remind her that my mom did not have any abnormal memory loss. I don’t know if she thinks everyone loses memory like this. She started crying saying that she was upset not being able to remember the year that her son died. Is that normal?

My mom lost a son too but knows the day and the year that he died.

I didn’t know how to respond to what she said.

What would you say if someone told you that they forgot the date of their son’s death? Should I have said to look on a death certificate. It was awkward for me.
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I understand you not wanting to get involved. I felt that way after my Mom died. I knew I should go and visit a friends Mom who we had helped previously with rides to appts. It ended up getting out of hand when we started doing it for my friend, then her daughter. When her other daughter came into the picture I put my foot down with DH. Even though my friend and her DH are gone, I was so afraid I would be sucked in again.

I think you need to contact the daughter. Telling her you don't mind Mom calling you because u know she is lonely but you also see a big decline. That she needs to be evaluated. Labs and Tests run to see if there is a physical cause for her memory problems. It could be Thyroid, diabetes, low potassium, it could be a Dementia. This is the daughters responsibility at this point. Thats were ur responsibility stops. I doubt if ur friend will go to the doctor on her own.
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 28, 2021
Thanks for understanding my feelings.

Can I please ask you something? I know that she is scared.

Do you think that is why she won’t ask her doctor about a neurologist appointment?

How aware are people that are experiencing memory issues?

Was your mom hesitant to see new doctors or go for tests?

I suppose that I am comfortable with a neurologist because my mom has Parkinson’s disease.

I am very familiar with a neurologist. They don’t frighten me because of going with my mom to her appointments.

My friend says that she doesn’t want to see a specialist. I tried telling her that her primary doctor can’t address memory issues.

I end up feeling drained when she calls me because I don’t know what else to tell her.
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NHWM, I think there's a big difference in intent, coping, and support between people who generally are frustrated and want suggestions, vs. those who want symptom reinforcement and a human bridge to lean on.

The next time she raises the issue of memory loss, you might suggest that she jot down issues she doesn't remember, then when she's able, think of solutions.  I think the more someone focuses on something, the more problematic it becomes.    If she creates ways to counter some of the aging issues, she's adapting and finding solutions instead of just complaining.

And, equally important, she's taking action for herself, not pulling someone else in to be involved and compensatory.

For the quick frustration, suggest that she stop immediately when she's frustrated and focus on something relaxing, whether it's music, books, or catalogues.   And sweetly emphasize that this is something only SHE can do.

Personally, I think she's overwhelmed and doesn't know how to cope to compartmentalize and find solutions.     And that's not unusual; I've been through that myself.

Lastly, I don't think it's healthy or wise to let her dominate any interactions with her self focus.   She may become far too reliant on you, and then become annoyed when you don't meet her demanding expectations.

I would also suggest that she get a calendar, or use some lovely stationery to create a diary, perhaps with a section to document her forgetfulness BUT inclusive of countermeasures.   If remembering dates or activities are part of her forgetfulness, she can easily make her own calendar with some reasonably priced clear paper, a ruler, pen or colored pens or pencils, and some cutouts from catalogues, or printed from online.

This isn't just a  frivolous suggestion, it's a creative diversion that creates a solution.   Searching for appropriate photos (for me it's garden catalogues) not only stimulates the mind, but relaxes it b/c of the beauty of the flowers.  So when she takes out her own made calendar and jots something down, she's exposed to beauty.   And it can soothe and relax her, and give her troubled mind a break.

Animals can serve as inspiration instead of flowers.

This documentation probably stems from having to do so as a paralegal, then contract administrator.   All time had to be documented and explained so that it was properly billable. 

What I think is that she needs some guidance, by way of suggestion, so that she can develop and implement her own solutions.  Otherwise, she could just feel as if she's floundering in an invisible realm of forgetfulness.

This does assume though that her forgetfulness is stress related.  If there are genuine physical issues, I don't know that my thoughts would be of any help.
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 28, 2021
I have tried to redirect her focus to pleasant incidents.

She gets very upset when she doesn’t remember incidents.

I do think it is stress related but can’t help but wonder if it’s more.

It’s true, all of us forget things if we are overwhelmed by a situation.
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For years now someone I know has worried about her memory. I gently suggested seeing her regular Doctor first as to have a general checkup & a chat. 'Wouldn't hurt' kind of approach. Do some blood tests, good to rule out things like vitamin deficiencies etc.

Eventually she did. I think she had to get the courage up & to feel safe mentioning it. It's such a taboo area isn't it? It's wonderful your aquantaince feels safe enough to mention to you 😊 Normalise it like any other health concern. Gently suggest she talk to her doctor each time she mentions it. (A referal would be needed to the Neurologist I expect anyway). And to confide in her daughter if she feels she can.

My friend is/has taken the next step of seeing a Neurologist for some baseline testing. Another 'wouldn't hurt' sort of thing.

'knowledge is power' they say - but it's takes a whole lot of bravery to take the first steps.
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NeedHelpWithMom Feb 28, 2021
Beatty,

I do feel badly about the heartaches she has had in her life.

She isn’t adapting well to changes in her life.

Her anxiety is preventing her from experiencing any joy.

Stress is effecting her memory to a certain degree but she says she has no memory at all of certain events.

I don’t know enough about how memory works to talk to her about her situation. She needs a qualified doctor.

She is rude to her daughter and others when she becomes frustrated.

She does keep her primary care appointments because she has diabetes and high blood pressure.

I get the feeling that she isn’t completely honest with her doctor.

Especially with meds. When I told her that she might feel better after taking her meds she said that I didn’t care how she felt. I suppose that she is trying to take out her frustrations on me.

She has a script for Zoloft that she says is for her anxiety. She hasn’t taken one pill.

I told her that I was not going to discuss it anymore when she started in on me.

I politely said goodbye and hung up. If she’s upset, oh well...
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I may call her doctor's office and tell them you feel her doctor needs to be aware of changes you have seen. That you have suggested she talk them over with her him and you are sure she hasn't. This does not go against HIPPA laws. The law only states he can't discuss her treatment with you.

You mentioned diabetes. If she is not taking her diabetic meds correctly, this may also effect her memory.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 1, 2021
Thanks, I didn’t even realize that diabetes effects memory as well.

I know that diabetes effects so many things. I hope one day we will see a cure for it.
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To me it sounds like she is hinting for others to come in and make her life right again...and she is upset that no one is picking up on those hints. Her daughter is preoccupied with her recent job loss and you just know better than to get too involved so she is taking that as both of you not caring. Yet she won't do a thing to help herself. My father started every conversation with me with "I've got a problem". Whenever I suggested anything that required HIM to do something about HIS life he felt like I didn't care. He wanted me to come in and fix everything while he directed me from his chair. That would never fly with me but it didn't stop him from trying time after time.
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She needs to take a fall...literally or figuratively so that her family can step in. I had a neighbor with Parkinsons who frequently falls and she is trying to keep her elder dog which can pull her. As her health gets worse she is frequently begging friends to come over and walk the dog. Including friends who are in worse shape than she is. I decided to limit my visits to her so that she does not put me on the spot.
You are doing the best thing by being silent. If she does press you, you can acknoledge what she is feeling but make excuses for any requests as it continues to enable her
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