falldowngobumpJune 6, 2009

My 86 year old MIL has been living with us for almost 2 years now. She has mild to moderate dementia and is unable to manage most everything. Reasoning skills, memory, judgment is what it is at this point and I have quit my job to stay with her full time. I'm holding my own with this and some days have to struggle to see the bright side of the situation (honestly). We seem to be dealing with something new. She has been experiencing spells of intense and extreme sadness and hopelessness. She acts like she hurts but is unable to describe where the "pain"is. Nothing hurts but everything hurts. She becomes weepy and cries for hours on end and can't tell me why or what the problem is. She is just "sad" or she has the "blues". She at times becomes very withdrawn and sleeps for hours on end, but is exhausted. You can imagine what this does to her blood sugar and what little memory and judgment ability seem to deminish. She gets her nights and days mixed up. This is really affecting her health (her doctor says she does remarkably well for her age health wise) The last bout with this lasted about 10 to 14 days. I have an appointment to discuss this with her Dr. next week. I think she is suffering from depression.

Has anyone else delt with this and can you give me any advice? It's so hard to watch her suffer with this. She has always been so pleasant and positive.

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Depression is very common in the elderly. WHen you discuss this with her doctor, be certain you are familiar with all the side effects of anti-depressant medications. They are strong stuff but can really help.

Also, don't depend upon her to take them daily. You may find it necessary to dispense them to her yourself. You don't want her to get confused and dose herself twice because she forgot she's already taken one!

Good luck to you and congratulations for taking the initiative to help her.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 6:56PM
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Just an update. The visit today with her doctor was very productive. There was no doubt she is very depressed. He prescribed a very low dose antidepressant. He really spent time with her to get a handle on the situation. He also assured me that depression goes hand in hand with all sorts of dementia. I'm very hopeful that soon she will feel better. I know this antidepressant dosage is sort of trial and error and different for everyone and might have to be adjusted. I handle all her medications and dispense them when she needs them--she lost that ability a year or so ago. So I guess at the moment it's just a wait and see sort of thing. I am hopeful this will help!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 5:08PM
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The trouble with depression among the elderly -- usually compounded by some level of dementia -- is that it typically carries with it a considerable level of rationality. They're older and they know it; they know death is coming closer; they know they can't function as they used to and returning to such function is unlikely; something else is always happening; they don't do anything really useful anymore; many/most of their friends are already gone or incapacitated -- man, that's depressing! Especially with dementia, the ability to think your way out of it and/or "see the bright side" or "make a mental adjustment" is diminished. Even the normally upbeat have bouts of it.

Just about all anti-depressants are hit-and-miss affairs and they all take a while to kick in before you can tell. Just be sure she's regular with her dosages. They can be very effective. However, don't be hesitant about follow-ups if, after a reasonable period of time, you're not seeing results. Finding the right one at the right dosage is sometimes difficult.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 5:38PM
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Thanks so much for the advice. You describe the situation with her very well. She does have dementia but still has times when she knows that she is unable to do many things because she "messes it up" (as she puts it) Its hard to get her to try anything new or gain a new interest when she has difficulity with the smallest things. When the depression sets in she looses all interest with the things she can still do. Her view of herself is very poor. I'm thankful that she was able to convey that with her doctor and he really took an active interest to make her feel better. He is a real God send. Thanks again for the interest and replies to my post. I was beginning to feel pretty hopeless about the situation myself.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 6:24PM
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When you take her to the Doctors are you in the room with her?

Reason I ask is when I took my MIL to the Dr she had a habit of forgetting to tell the Dr of all her symptoms.

I let her answer all the questions but would prompt her on certain symptoms that I knew she was having BUT she wouldn't or couldn't remember to the tell the Dr.

That way I knew what was happening & didn't have to rely on her memory/interpretation of the visit.

Lots of luck..

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 12:22PM
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Yes I am in the room with her and have been the entire time she has lived with us. Even when she lived independently (before my FIL passed away) I took her to see the doctor and went in with her. She was having some confusion and forgetfullness even then. My FIL was sharp as a tack until he became ill and died. He was very hard of hearing so my being there was a necessity. I listened and conveyed the information to him and he did a great job with her. We had no idea how much he was dealing with till she moved in with us.
I have handled all of her medications from day one because she was occasionally confused and we didn't want any medication errors or double dosing. At this point she has no idea what or how much she takes of anything and the medication is well out of her reach because at times she will take anything she gets her hands on.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 5:40PM
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