aging parents- followup

pecanpieJune 23, 2006

My previous post has scrolled off, but to my kind forum friends who gave me good advice and support re: my concern for my MIL's odd behavior, thank you again and here's an update.

Quick recap- she has 6 sons, none of whom have 'noticed' anything odd- or at least to the point where they'll leave their confort zones and bring it up to their dad, who is in denial about anything and everything. Bless his heart. All her DILs have noticed her being alarmingly 'off' in some way or another for a while now.

It hit them between the eyes last night.

We were all at an old family friends' pool party given to introduce a new grandchild- an engaging and precocious little one year old. I was holding the child and made the comment that the little girl seemed to favor the dad's side of the family and MIL said in a loud voice, "Well, THAT'S unfortunate!" looked at me and raised her eyebrows. The child's parents and both sets of grandparents were right there, as well as 3 of her boys and my FIL. Terribly embarassing, but it was very evident to her family that she was completely unaware of anyone else around and obviously thought she was having a private conversation with me.

Of course, there was stunned silence. I looked at my family members and said, "Will you all please deal with this? Amy and I have social rounds to make" and I walked off to let them handle it, or it would've been my problem. I later apologized in private to our hosts.

My BILs are not happy with me, but they've been forewarned many times that her behavior is at times way beyond normal.

If this doesn't force them to get her to a doctor, I don't know what will.

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I don't know how old your MIL is, but I would urge you to get her to a doctor. My mother was acting "off", and it was attributed by my father to stress over my grandmother staying with them for part of the summer (very high maintenance woman). Her friends just thought she was acting a little more quirky than normal. I didn't notice because she was always "busy" - too busy to talk to me for any length, always keeping herself busy doing something when we were together. Again, figured she was just busy with Nana. I spent an entire weekend with her and the only thing I noticed was she was being more affectionate/clingy with me than normal. I attributed to the fact that she hadn't seen me in two weeks (my parents were on a boat trip and I drove up there to meet them for a weekend).

It finally reached a point where it became obvious something was off. It ended up she had a large brain tumor, about the size of a lemon. She died 1 year and 9 months later.

I would urge you, or anyone else, who notices changes like this is someone to get them to a doctor.

I don't know WHY your BIL's are mad at you! Please. They need to get a grip and deal with this. Just because your FIL is alive doesn't mean he can deal with it, or that he even sees it. If need be, your husband should call her doctor and tell him/her what is going on. Maybe they can call your MIL and tell her it is time for a "physical" to get her in there. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 10:34AM
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Pecanpie, check in at the CareGivers Forum here. True, it doesn't move as fast as some of the forums here, but most of us have been there, done that, or are in the middle of things. Just because you are not your MIL's caregiver doesn't mean that you can just sit back. Your DH and his family need your support in any way they can get it.

At least come over and rant along with the rest of us.


Here is a link that might be useful: Caregivers

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 11:16AM
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What Fairegold said. So far, it seems a very helpful forum (in my case, thanks to fairegold :)).

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 12:29PM
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As am aging adult who is sufferiong from many small strokes and the resulting damage, I can sympathize with you.
It is so hard on everyone and people either ignore it or overreact.
Take your MIL to the doctor. Tell her the doctor called to tell her to come in for a physical.
You should know that odd behavior is known by the person who is doing it. It is embarassing and humiliating and so one says nothing.

The most simple things happen and you wonder if any one notices.

Get her to the doctor, she could be having some serious things going on that could be causing this. You don't want to be the one responsible for death because no one did anything. If her sons can't deal with it, deal with it yourself.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 1:13PM
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Hugs to you, Pecan. I know this is difficult. No advice, but you have my support.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2006 at 2:05PM
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Oh Pecan! Your precious family is in my prayers.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 5:16PM
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Check out this thread with the poem in Caregivers Forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Crabby Old Woman

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 7:36PM
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Your hugs, support and prayers have been felt and appreciated. Thank you all so much.

Early last week, she was pulled over for driving slowly and erraticly (sp?). She thought she was looking for her horses. The policeman, bless his heart, took her home, read my FIL the riot act and stayed there while he called her physician and explained the need for an immediate appointment.

She has a bladder infection and some sort of anemia and is being treated for both. Her physician is now on notice that her behavior has been off, which is a huge relief.

Let's hear it for our men and women in Blue!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 9:13PM
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Oh, that's really a blessing, PecanPie. There is something about an authority figure, be it a doctor, minister or cop, that makes people sit up and take notice!

Bladder infections are common and seem to produce odd side-effects in the elderly.

SOmeone needs to have a talk with the doc and ask that he/she administer a written test and/or request that she take a new driving test. I googled on written+test+dementia and got back this link. Check the geronet.ucla link

Here is a link that might be useful: driving and dementia

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 11:17PM
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Pecan, if she has had the bladder infection for a while it could account for her behavior completely. For some reason bladder infections can cause pretty severe dementia in seniors. My friend is a visiting nurse and she says that's the first test done when there are symptoms of dementia.

What happened is really the best thing that could have happened. She was found by an authority figure, no one got hurt, said authority figure was able to pound sense into FIL, and she's getting treatment. I'm sure you're breathing a big sigh of relief!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 7:42AM
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Ditto what Paige said. No one had to be the "bad guy", save for the authority figure, and now she's under medical care.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 8:13AM
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Pecanpie -- So glad for you that this has been brought under control.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 5:52PM
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whew, that is great news.

I remember back to the other thread, being in the chorus of those strongly urging a medical eval for your MIL. Bladder infections (and also medication interactions) can cause elderly folk to think and act very strangely. There may still be more to deal with beyond that, but it is a such a relief that her doctor is on it.

Maybe all the men in the family will now get a clue that keeping their heads in the sand isn't the answer!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 1:54PM
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I often have to evaluate elderly people when their family thinks they are senile; The person who sees them the most reports inappropriate behavior, comments, the lack of judgment driving, poor money management. It is worse if they live alone.
What causes problems diagnosing the problem is that they really perk up and sound sharp with somebody new; a family member that they really like but don't see often or a new person.
So those family members like sons who don't really chat at length daily with Mom think she is ok. If you watch that interaction --you see that they are talking and she is a great audience beaming at them. They think she's fine.
Good thing you got her to a doctor; but that doesn't magically change anything so make sure they see her regularly. Somebody also needs to gather up her prescriptions and let her doctor know everything she is taking. Ask if she is taking any of her husband's medication. As CelticMoom pointed out,sometimes there is an interaction; meds affect elderly people differently.
Somebody needs to tell the doctor what she has been doing; believe me she isn't going to do it;
I am sometimes court appointed when a conservatorship is being proposed, and when I look through the medical reports, I can see the doctor is not always aware of what the family is worried about.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 10:38AM
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What great insights Marge! Your descriptions of how older folks perk up in company is exactly what I suspect is happening with my own dear MIL. We see her mostly at family parties - there are LOTS of them - and she generally seems just fine. But her sister, who sees her daily and helps with a lot of the little details things, is deeply worried. Until yesterday, I hadn't really seen anything that couldn't easily be rationalized away. But yesterday she said "Oh, you're renovating?" to me (in a genuinely surprised voice) -- and we've been under constant, massive renovation for the past five years.

MIL lives alone, doesn't have any extra money, and has limited mobility. While the family is close, emotionally and geographically, we're not quite sure how best to help her. We all agree it would be best for MIL to live with one of her kids -- and she's such a dear we'd all welcome her. But none of us are really situated suitably.

Marge - Any good books you can recommend that would help us figure something out?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 11:06AM
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