Dementia now?...possibly...Chemical imbalance before maybe?

TinmantuNovember 17, 2007

This could be a long rant, but I'll keep it as short as possible. My mom has had a habit of interfering in her children's marriages, pretty much since day one. She's 89 now and it's gotten to the point where she is accusing my siblings spouses of stealing things from her. (Sneaking in at night and taking them because they stole her keys and made copies)...these accusations have caused my sister to cut off communications with her. Some accusations have been absurd like thefts of her vacuum cleaner, sister and BIL sneaking in and tickling her feet at night just to taunt her. My brothers and sis think she is nuts and always has been. That this is nothing new. The problem is, I think they are wrong by putting more distance between them and her instead of recognizing there is a problem.

Sorry for the long post, I guess I am just speculating since she was doing this even in her 40's that maybe it's more than getting old. She has had mini-strokes in the last 7 years and I'm sure that dementia is also a factor. It just seems to be getting worse.

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Seems the time has come for your mom to have a complete checkup. That would be the best jumping off point to determine chemical imbalances, new pattern of mini-strokes, severe UTI (which really knocks the elderly off their pins - erratic behavior, hallucinations, paranoia and easily brought under control with a course of antibiotics), or the worst of the lot which would be Alzheimer's type dementia...

Get together with your siblings and talk things out - but the first action, really, should be to have your mom evaluated. Get everyone on the same page with the idea that there is a problem that has to be addressed and that your mom isn't simply being willful or manipulative.

Many of us have been through this so you're definitely not alone. Armed with some good information as to what's physically or mentally going on with your mom will help lead you to a course of action - and it unfortunately could mean she can no longer live alone or remain in her own home - long term care might be in the cards; one of you may have to have financial power of attorney if that hasn't already been granted; someone will have to determine if her legal and financial affairs are in order - there are quite a few things to consider with an elderly parent.

One note of caution, be sure not to sign anything that names you as "responsible party" - you could and probably would be liable for any expenses she might incur.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 5:47PM
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Thank you for the reply...she has the bi-annual bloodwork and checkups and after this last ordeal with my sister I brought up my concerns to the doctor and he basically said that further testing for strokes and damage at her age would be of no value, that there was damage present in previous tests. Sibs are basically taking the attitude that they want nothing to do with the problems and that they don't want anything from her estate. (which is virtually nothing)...translated that means, don't bother me with moms problems, I have my own.

Thank you for the caution on signing as the responsible party. I will keep that in mind.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 6:57PM
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You're kind of caught up in being "the one in charge" now - so whatever you do or feel you have to do is going to be the right thing. If no one is willing to help - even with moral support - don't stand for any criticism.

I do understand the reluctance to do further testing if she already sees a doctor twice a year and her medical history is clear. We went through that with our mother (my brother and I). We knew it was the onset of Alzheimer's, and just wanted our suspicions confirmed so she could start a drug regimen. She had a routine physical, the head scan, and we had her participate in a Memory Clinic run by one of the local hospitals. That was all; we wanted to spare her any kind of invasive testing, trips to a psychiatrist, etc.

Mom just got more and more forgetful and repetitive; was not high maintenance and not difficult at all to look after. Her financial papers, Living Trust, will, DNR's, end of life directives, etc. were all in good order and the only thing I had to do was have my name added to her checking account so I could take over the routine bill paying and make sure the checks for her estmated income taxes, property taxes, house insurance, etc. were sent - things she was vaguely aware of but would manage to overlook left to her own devices.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 9:20PM
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She needs a new dr. He is NOT recoginizine the problem and refuses to do so. The 2nd poster gave some excellent advice. Testing for strokes, and other problems are a must for older people. You might consider some legal advice, because when and if she goes to the hospital/nursing home, without someone being in charge with the HEPA rules, no one can do anything, even pay for the nursing home. One problem will she sign anything allowing you or anyone else to get/give informaion to the medical center/and /or social security and with out this informaion, even bills will not get paid, unless someone assumes responsibilty, which you or anyone else should not due, because you or someone else will end up paying the bills, and even for a nursing home.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 12:14PM
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I just read your post; I'm normally on the Garden pages. My mother is 87 and is doing exactly the same as your mother. She keeps hiding things, anything, because she thinks someone will steal them. We are going nuts. She is on several Alzheimer drugs and I think they actually make her worse, my sister doesn't agree. I also have 2 brothers who like your siblings, don't want any part of the care too. I still work a full time and a part time job so it is very difficult for me to give alot of time. My whole weekend is spent taking care of her. Just wanted you to know we understand what you are going through.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 7:56PM
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The mainline Alzheimer's drugs are good, but once the disease - Alzheimer's or one of its numerous related dementias - gets a toe hold, there's no magic bullet. The drugs can stabilize someone for a time, then they reach plateaus, then have a downturn with more and different symptoms, reach another seemingly stable plateau, then downslide again. It's a natural progression - but without the drugs it's almost impossible to calculate what the rate of decline might be.

I won't say anything negative about alternative therapies since nutrition is key to everyone, not only those suffering dementias, but nutrition will not bring back or regenerate those brain functions that have been lost. From someone who was a caregiver for five years, it was difficult enough keeping my Mother ineterested in a decent, balanced diet without having to contend with the idea of her taking a handfull of nutritional supplements. There comes a time when food, hydration, etc. is no longer of interest to them. Systems are slowly, systematically shutting down - including the mechanisms controlling the ability to swallow. Mom lived to be 91 1/2 and it was pneumonia that finally took her. She had an easy, pain free death - the kind of death we wish for ourselves and those we love.

I would agree with seeking out a new doctor that is at least sympathetic with the treatment of the elderly - any doctor that dismisses things simply because one is old would not have my confidence. And because the population is aging, there are plenty of good doctors out there who still have their elderly patients' best interests at heart. You wouldn't buy a rug for your livingroom you didn't like - should be the same for primary physicians.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 1:53PM
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At her age, even if it were possible to find out exactly what is wrong, there is little or no chance that it could be corrected. A UTI is about the only thing that could be helped, if it were that.

It would put your mother under even more stress (not good) to put her through the testing to try and pin point the causes. It really doesn't matter if it's strokes or someother kind of dementia cause, it isn't going to be curable.

Yes, it would be nice to know instead of just wondering, but because of her age, the outcome will probably be the same, a downhill road all the way.

Please take care of yourself. If your brothers or sisters don't seem to care about you to worry about what this is doing to your health, then, forget them and do what's best for YOU.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 2:52PM
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>>without someone being in charge with the HEPA rules,HEPA is an synthetic air filter. The correct phrase is HIPAA, for health information privacy act.

If your mother does not have her legal affairs in order, it is essential you do it now, before she becomes completely incompetent (from a legal standpoint). The situation with your siblings is not at all uncommon, unfortunately.

Dementia has many forms, and Alzheimers is one of them, but certainly not the only one. It's not unusual for many elderly to become disoriented and paranoid, even violent.

It's a difficult time for you. There are support groups, and it's time to start calling and/or Googling for them. Caregivers have a seriously impaired mortality, because of the physical and emotional stresses involved with years of caregiving. Don't let this happen to yourself, and remember you can't solve all your mom's problems. The most you can do is ease her final time. Give it your best, but as others have pointed out, don't forget to care for yourself and your own family as well.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 6:12PM
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Thank you for the thoughtful replies...hadn't checked back for a few days because of the holidays...I have convinced my sister to at least open up communications with mom and that is one positive. She came over for Christmas, but didn't show up until she was sure I was there and left at the same time as I did, so that she couldn't be blamed for stealing something. It's a start anyway. It does help me to see that others are dealing with this same situation and it's not just me. (Misery loves company? I think not!!)..just glad to have a forum like this to get a little reinforcement. Thank you all!!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 6:31PM
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Your mother sounds a lot like mine; it was hard deciphering whether it was dementia/alzheimers because of her lifelong behavior patterns.

I have 2 older brothers who himmered and hawed about what to do, and when things started to worsen, it was like they just didn't want to be bothered and they still don't.

So everything fell on me, and that was not easy, as I was never close to my mom, yet my brothers always were.

One thing I might mention is the Alzhimer's meds. I am not saying this was normal effects, but they added to my mom's moodiness and bouts of pure ugly behavior. Her doctor finally took her off them and her demeanor finally changed, thank heavens.

BUT ....since that time, I have seen a steady decline in her mental state and a definite progression of the disease.

My suggestions are to always get a second opinion. There are doctors who specialize in treating the elderly, and those with dementias/alzheimers and look for a doctor with those qualifications.

You also need to possibly face the fact that this is all coming to land on YOU. Start preparing for that possibility and READ, READ, READ anything and everything to help you cope and learn what to possibly expect!

Make sure you get the legal things taken care of and SOON!!!

I wish you luck and understand a little of what you are facing. My biggest hurdle was accepting the fact that my siblings weren't going to step up to bat with me..... still struggling with that, although not as much.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 12:38PM
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