My mother has been to see her general family practice doctor, a neurologist and now a neuropsychologist. Her short term memory is shot, she was recently fired from her job as a teacher's aide due to her memory issues (which is disastrous finance wise), she has difficulty following simple conversations, she's on an anitdepressant but is still angry and combative whenever she is having difficulty with something. Her neurologist gave her an MRI but the results came back clear. She also somewhat passed the brief memory test the neurologist administered to her. The neurologist prescribed the pill that is meant for early onset alstheimers. I can't remember the name of it but supposedly it doesn't reverse memory loss, but it stops the memory loss from advancing. This medicine does not seem to be working as her memory is still deteriorating. The scary thing is, she's only 57 which is why I think some of her doctor's aren't taking this all too seriously. She went to a neuropsychologist this week and I found out later that she had lied to him about several crucial things including that she had been fired from her job because she left the kids out on the playground after recess three times. I'm at the end of my rope because she has begun lying to family members for several months now and now she's doing it with her doctors. I don't know whats wrong with her since every doctor we go to says she's fine or that "its just a little bit of early onset dementia..possibly..weren't not sure, could be something else". Does anyone have any ideas or any advice because I just don't know what to do anymore, especially now that she's lying to her doctors. I can't get through to her, if I talk to her about it she just gives me a blank look and nods her head. Its like she's looking at me through a fog and the person she used to be has definitely left the building. I really want to help my mom because she is so young and maybe if we figure out what it is now, it won't be as bad in the future. Could it possibly be another kind of psychological disorder that I'm not aware of? She also has anxiety problems , can be a bit antisocial (she used to be extremely outgoing, the center of attention) and has exbited signs of depression for which she's now on antidepressant. Any advice would be wonderful because I'm running out of ideas.
If I were you, I would send or take a note to all your mothers drs. and set her story straight. Then they can make a better diagnoses. If your mom will let you and you can, go to her drs. with her.
Is the drug Aricept? It worked for a few years on my father, but does not work for everyone. And her drs, may decide on more tests, because she is so young, just a few yrs. older than me! Push for the tests and dr. visits as she may well have something besides early onset alzheimers. It sure will not hurt, if she has the insurance for it.
A lot of ad people have anxiety and depression, because they do not know or like what is happening to them. And a lot of us supposedly "normal" people have both also, like me!!! There are meds for both of those. So, make sure her dr. gives her some.
The other, more versed caregivers will probably answer you in the am and give you much more to consider and some things that will help you too. Take care of you, or else you will not be of much help to your mom. I know tho, that it does drive us crazy sometimes, because we cannot be of more help.
Come back and talk more whenever you like or need. It does make you feel better and I have learned so much from this board!
That sounds very scary and I can see why you are so alarmed.
"maybe" early dementia is a bit too vague given what you have described, but if she passed the memory test then I suppose that is the reason the doctors said it.
There are a few suggestions I have:
Has anyone got POA? If not, do it now while your mother is still able.
As Wannabe suggests, document all her behaviours (there is a list at the top of this board describing behaviours at different stages that will give you a start). Can she manage things like following a recipe? Managing her nutrition overall? Managing her finances? Managing food and personal hygiene? Still driving? Don't leave anything out - I have sat in doctor's visits with both a mid-stage and early-stage dementia person and the lies they tell, not to mention the way the doctors believe them, are astounding.
Share that list with her doctors and family members (all too often here we find some family members or friends who are not able to understand the situation, or are in denial, which causes untold grief and conflict down the track). If you can get everyone on the same page it is a huge help. If you are accompanying your mother to a doctor's visit, write down your concerns and get them to the doctor before the visit.
Make sure the doctors have ruled out ALL other potential causes - thyroid, B12 deficiency etc.
Once you get POA, protect her financial position from scam artists, scheming relatives, churches etc.
Learn how to talk to her - going along with someone experiencing these scary symptoms - giving them reassurance and not challenging their reality on day-to-day issues - makes for an environment where they feel much calmer and safer. Don't constantly correct or challenge. This can reduce a lot of the stress on them and you. As Wannabe says, there are medications that can help - if your mother is still combative even though you are not challenging or correcting her, get help.
Sort out your own personal priorities. How much time do you need to spend on other people/things in your life vs how much can you spend on your mother. This can quickly escalate into a 24/7 situation (even if you are not dealing with it you are worrying about it). Make time for you and your loved ones (including your dear mother of course, but not excluding everything else!!). Recognise that your health and your family will suffer (sometimes very seriously) if you try to shoulder too much of what might become more than you can humanly be expected to do.
This is a great place to vent, ask for or give advice to those dealing with loved ones who experience these dreadful symptoms. This is the only place I have found people who understand what I am experiencing and who are always ready to support.
The absolute hardest thing for me to get through my head about this is that there is NO getting through to them. The way you described you Mom appearing to be in a fog is very familiar to me.
You have to take control, in whatever way you decide you need to because she can't. I still find myself thinking "how can I explain this". It's just my nature to want to much for her to understand and she simply can't.
Do you know your Mom's family history? Can you ask around if you don't? I just recently read that when dementia onsets early in life, it's much more likely to be genetic than when it onsets later in life. In addition to providing a full history of your Mom's own issues to the doctor, I'd ask aunts, uncles, cousins if they remember any early symptoms in your Mom's parents or aunts and uncles. It's a longshot but it might give you something more to go on.
Has she absolutely been tested for anything else that can cause dementia--I mean physical problems such as B-12 deficiency, etc? Also, when I read of early on-set dementia I always wonder if the victim is taking a statin drug or any other drug that could cause this behavior in some people.
If the doctor prescribed Aricept or Namenda, then he does supect Dementia. If he is familiar with this disease, he already knows that the patient does her best to sound normal. Having been fired from her job is so painful and embarrassing that your Mom just puts it out of her mind.
In her first few years with Dementia , none of us understood what was happening to my Mom. She did a lot of the same things - forgetting things, making up strange excuses, being annoyed if you ever suggested something was wrong. Her own family doctor was completely fooled for at least 2 years because she cleverly made comments in his office that sounded very intelligent without being dependent on memory. (admiring the rug, for example). Or, she told stories about all the wonderful things she was doing, not saying (or even knowing) that lots of these had been years and years ago.
I hope, too ,that another cause will be found so your Mom gets well again. But if it turns out to be early onset Dementia, she needs to be under the care of a neurologist. The good news is that research is talking about having a cure within a few years. So far the meds available may or may not keep the disease at a standstill for 'a while'. That isn't good enough, of course, but it is better than only 5 years ago where there was nothing at all one could do.
I strongly advise you go with your mom to the doctor's office. I go with my husband each and every time, sit right there and if he isn't totally up front I step in and set it straight. I do this with my mother as well. She has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer's but has many other problems, heart etc. and I suspect short term memory loss now. She tells the doctor what she thinks she wants to hear and gets very angry with me when I step in. My husband on the other hand is Mr. cheerful and tries to be so very charming thinking he can hide behind his behavior so the doctor won't realize how bad he really is. He has been on Aricept since first diagnosed five years ago now. I don't think it is working any longer and I intend to take him in very soon.
I hope you are not intimidated by your mom, they have a way of doing that to their kids. You need to stand firm and tell it like it is!
Hi Kascot! Has your mom been tested for hormone deficiency and thyroid problems? I have hypothyroidism and went to several different doctors before I was diagnosed with it. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, stress, PMS among other things. I was taking Prozac for my very painful periods. It actually helped for that. But a month later, I was diagnosed with depression. I was already taking Prozac and the doctor prescribed Xanax for me too. Gee, Prozac AND Xanax and I was STILL depressed! (later I found out that anti-depressants usually don't work for depression caused by hypothyroidism) Anyway, is your mom always tired no matter how much sleep she gets?
Many doctors overlook testing for thyroid problems. If your mom hasn't been tested yet, I strongly suggest she be tested. It's a simple blood test. Nothing to it really. It took 2 years of doctors, many expensive tests and even a 3 day hospital stay before I found out that all I needed was this simple blood test that no one thought to check for.
My dad has mid stage AD. My hypothyroid symptoms were very similar to his early stage AD. I was so scared when this was happening to me. I thought I was going insane. And all I have to do is take a pill once a day (a very inexpensive pill at that) and I'm fine. I have to get my blood tested every so often to check hormone levels and have to adjust my meds accordingly. But compared to other diseases, this is a piece of cake.
I truely hope that your mom does not have AD and that it's something simple to control like hypothyroidism. Btw, my memory and moods are much better now. No depression and no Prozac or Xanax.