Re: is my mom mentally ill or is this dementia, HELP!
Dear Cynthia, it is very hard for anyone to make a long distance diagnosis, but many of us here have had similar things happen to our loved ones, so we can feel your pain.
Your Mom may be in the early stages of dementia, or maybe she is reacting to her long term misuse of medications. The stress of seeing her husband in this state can also throw her off. Try to be as gentle and understanding as possible.
Some of us have had to use a ruse to get someone to a doctor. Something like "Mom, I have an examination and I hate to go alone. Please come with me." While there, both of you go into the doctor's office and (this is the important part) you have already given the doc a list of all her unusual symptoms and behaviors, so he has some idea what you are looking for. He or she will ask her a few questions. Something like Can you tell me what season it is? What month? Who is the president? A couple of years ago my Mom thought it was Reagan - this was after Reagan had passed away.
Those answers give the doc some clue. She may decide to send her to a neurologist and by then you will need a new trick to get her to see him or her....
I hope it is NOT Dementia. Maybe she will be OK after all the present stress of your dad's illness is off her back.
I am her age and do not feel that ANY kind of odd behavior is normal for my age. In my opinion people in their 80s and up still behave and think just as normally as people in their 30s, IF they do not have dementia! We tend to shrug things off 'because of age" when a healthy person of any age should be able to remember their medications, appointments, dates, common sense answers to questions, their manners, how to behave in public, how to dress, wash and groom themselves - these things only disappear from disease, not from age.
I wish you luck with it.