Does mom have dementia? Only 61

kellyengJune 26, 2005

Hi all,

I don't really know how to proceed, so I thought I needed to ask some questions from people with actual experiences with dementia. I know this is going to be long so please hang in there . . .

Mom is only 61 (Just had a bday this month). She has had a pretty hard life. Married to dad for 21 years - very abusive man. Divorced him and struggled to make it on her own for a few years then married a wonderful man. The "happy years" lasted 8 years then her husband died of a heart attack. She had a heart attack on the same day. Ever since then she has not been the same. Mom was always a sad and worrisome person by nature but over the years it seems to get worse all the time. She married again a few years after her husband's death but it's obvious that it's just two people wanting one another's company - no real emotional connection between them.

Over the past couple years mom has become a bit forgetful (ask her what she had for dinner last night and she can't remember, etc.). But the main thing is that she has become extremely sensitive and paranoid. she thinks people are talking about her all the time and she turns simple comments into personal attacks. Here's an example: About a year ago her husband went out of town and my husband and I went to lunch with mom. He made a silly/joking comment about mom being footloose and fancy free. Later she called me very upset that my husband would accuse her of having an affair while her husband was out of town. It's gotten to the point where we all walk on egg shells around her. She takes everything so seriously and anything can be an insult to her.

Here is the latest and the worst. My sister lives in NJ and we live in TX. She had her baby 2 months early and the baby is hanging on to life in the hospital. Mom went to be with her and help her out. Yesterday, my sister's MIL came to their house and was helping sis hang some pictures in the baby's room. Mom calls me and starts crying and saying that MIL tells sis how to run her life and she just can't take it anymore! I ask mom what's going on and she tells me that MIL it telling sis where to hang the pictures. I say, "Mom please don't be upset, sis needs you to be strong right now, she's under a lot of stress because of the baby, please think of the baby, please hold your tongue, etc." I'm speaking to her like I would a small child about to have a temper tantrum in the store. I'm trying to be calming and reassuring and she tells me, "I can't count on my daughters for anything!" and she hangs up. Later that day my BIL calls and says he kicked mom out of their house and she's at a hotel because she became unglued and started screaming at his mom to leave her daughter alone. Later at the hotel after she had been sobbing uncontrollably for some time - she is still trying to defend herself saying "that other woman" (MIL) needs to leave her daughter alone. I talked to sis and she said she asked mom to help decorate the baby's room and she wasn't interested and so her MIL offered to help. She said that mom was acting sad and depressed all day.

Also, mom has been making comments lately that she "hates this world." And she told me a story about how she was at a restaurant and at the table next to her was an older man with a younger woman and it disgusted her so badly she had to leave right in the middle of her meal.

I haven't noticed any other cognitive problems. Well maybe one - sometimes she acts like she can't understand/figure out the next step in a process of doing something. In fact, she had me get her plane ticket to NJ because she was just too "busy" but she was sounding kind of confussed about the process (she's done lots of plane travel in the past). But she is employed (manages a small cafe) and from what I understand she does a good job and is well liked.

Does this sound like dementia or depression? I don't know what to do because I know if I tell mom that I think she needs to see a doctor she'll just get angry. I've mentioned it to her husband and he thinks I'm overreacting - and maybe I am . . .

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Oh yes!! It's some type of dementia. But it's going to take a good check up to see if it's reversible or not. Get her to a doctor and tell him/her just what you have told us. Dementia can be caused by a number of different things. Her age really doesn't have much to do with it. In fact, being 61 makes it more important that you have her checked on SOON!!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 12:58PM
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It would be worth your while to check where she is working and see if they have noticed anything. If they have, perhaps they would be willing to suggest that she have a "routine health checkup" as a condition of her employment. Otherwise, ask her about how she feels, does anything hurt, is she sleeping well......all that PHYSICAL kind of thing. Then suggest that perhaps a doctor could check things out to see what's causeing her not feeling well. DO NOT SUGGEST that she is acting strange or you'll never get her in.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 3:34PM
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HI there and welcome aboard! Dementia comes from many causes: basically it is said to exist when mental functioning declines to the point that one cannot execute daily activities at the level she was formerly able to do so. Some of these causes are physical, others are psychological. Depression can be a causative factor. Many forms can be treated and reversed. I would proceed by getting a thorough check-up with her MD.It may be hard to get her to agree. He will look at the common and simpler things, like meds she is on, and other stuff.Is alcohol a factor in her life at all? This is a really impt. step because "common things are common"...and usually correctible. The paranoia sounds like a depressive component to me, and there are great methods of treating depression. Let her know that you are concerned about her mood, and that she can feel better.
On the gloomier side, if she has had a heart attack doe to coronary artery disease, then vascular disease elsewhere has to be considered, in this case, in her brain...but I wouldn't be too quick to jump there first. Start with a good checkup and honest talk with the MD about her behavior.
PeaBee has good thoughts, as always. Welcome. Hang in there and let us know what happens. Shalom...Derry

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 4:15PM
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It's important for her to get a complete physical examination to rule out any metabolical reasons (e.g., electrolyte imbalance, vitamin B deficiency, brain tumor, etc.). Any of those things can cause confusion such as you've described. If there are no metabolic reasons found, then you can move on to evaluations for dementia, depression, etc. Are you friendly with her doctor? Can you call him/her and give them a heads up first?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 12:29PM
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Thanks everyone for all your suggestions! On the really really happy side - the baby was taken off the oxygen machine yesterday and he's taking breast milk thru a syringe and is suckling. Apparently - that's a HUGE improvement for a week old 3 pound premature baby. I going to see him and sis in 2 wks - I can't wait!

Mom is not speaking to us. Her hubby called sis and me yesterday evening and informed us that mom thinks we are cr*ppy daughters and she doesn't know when or if she will speak to us again. I'm wondering what I did to piss her off at me so badly? I guess it's because I didn't say "Yeah mom, that lady's a b*tch! You should punch her in the face!" I swear I think if I had said that it would have made her feel better and none of this would have happened. She for sure needs to see a doc but I don't see that happening if her hubby doesn't think it's necessary (and he doesn't). I think he just doesn't want to rock the boat. As far as her job goes, I've seen her at work and it seems like she's pretty with it & I don't want to compromise her position by asking anyone questions. It's a small, not too busy cafe, so her job isn't all that demanding.

She sees her cardiologist every year for a checkup/stress test (she had one 2 month ago and passed with flying colors), she's on heart meds (don't know which ones) and doesn't take any other meds - not even ANY cold meds because she's says they will kill her if mixed with the heart meds - I tell her to ask her doc if she can take any meds for allergies and she says she rather suffer thru allergy season than take the risk (whatever). Can you tell I'm frustrated?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 1:53PM
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Oh gee!! That's about it then. Maybe it's just a passing thing that will go away. Maybe not. In which case, she will get to a point that even her husband will be able to see it. We'll wish you the best until then. Don't worry yourself about it.
That is really great news about the baby.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 2:46PM
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My grandma had dementia. She was much older, but none the less...What you're describing sounds a lot like my grandma. I was told to not neseccarily go along with what she says, but not try to argue what is "right" with her. For example, she thought the Bulgarians (whole nother story!) were after her. She was riding her bike by the train and they jumped off and threw her bike under the train. They then said they were after my dad. She was shaking and crying and telling me, begging me really, to call my dad and tell him to hide. I never in my life lied to my grandma...but I knew there was no way to reason with I told her I would go call my dad immediatly. I then went to the bathroom and cried my eyes out! I gathered my strength and went back to her, told her I called my dad and he was safe. She then says "What about Bob?" (my brother). I thought fast and told her he was with dad. Whew. After that I talked to the nursing supervisor, who told me I did exactly what I should have done. Don't argue, don't reason, just nod and try to change the conversation. It was scary to go visit her as I didn't know from one day to the next how she'd be.

The other thing your story reminded me of was my mom. At 60, she started forgetting things. Lots of things. Was paranoid. Acted like I was someone she didn't really like. She steadily got worse, where it was affecting my dad. One night she had a seizure, not the kind you associate with epilespy, more of a black out or fainting with a slight shake going on. She wouldn't wake up. My dad finally called 911. She "awoke" when the paramedics arrived, but didn't know who my dad was, didn't know who SHE was. She went to the hospital and they did an MRI. There was a mass in her brain. It was a brain tumor. At first they were told it was inoperable, and probably benign. After 2 yrs, she got steadily worse. She didn't remember how to spell my name. My given name. The name she gave me. She couldn't drive. She cried ALL the time. I went with to the neurologist. This time, they said they could operate. It was removed. She's gotten some of her "old self" back, but not fully. I'm not really comfortable with her as the driver. She doesn't remember from 1 day to the next something simple. Like turning on the t.v. and then turning on the DVD. Recipes. Something she's cooked forever. She now needs a recipe.

Gosh, I don't mean to scare you, but have her checked. From head to toe.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 8:25PM
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