I'm hoping someone can give me some advice and direction. My mom has been exhibiting some symptoms which I think could be consistent with AD. I don't really know much about it, so could be wrong.
She lives more than 2000 miles away, so my information is second hand and based on phone conversations with her. She is 76 years old and has always been a smart and thoughtful person.
Some reasons for my concern:
1) my parents recently visited my brother and his wife and new baby. My brother told me that they departed early because she was having cognitive problems and a few times didn't know who he was.
2) I talked to her on the phone a few weeks ago, and she kept referring to my brother and his wife as Bonnie and Dick, who are in fact my mom's sister and brother in law.
3) I talked to her a couple days ago, and she told me about how she's been entering all these sweepstakes, and thinks she's going to win millions of dollars. One said she was a "guaranteed winner" of a new car, and she was asking for advice on what color to get. She's spent $300-$400 on these sweepstakes entry programs. (scams if you ask me) This is a woman who is fairly wealthy and has managed my parents money for basically all their married lives.
I have talked to my Dad only vaguely about it. I'm really not comfortable talking about it to be honest. He said they've had several big arguments about her wasting money on these scams and she's threatened to leave him.
The advice I'm looking for, is first of all, does this sound like it could be AD? What else could it be? What kind of doctor should she be seen by? A neurologist? Any advice for me, on what to do?, what to say to my mom and/or dad? I'm not particularly close to either of my parents, especially my mom.
I am a veteran of Alzheimer care - my Mom had it for 8 years and I was her only caregiver for 5.
Everything you wrote points exactly to Alzheimer's.
Your Mom is being scammed out of a lot of money on these 'sweepstakes" things - someone must call or write to the senders and get her off their mailing lists. Or, before that takes place, someone has to check the mail every day and throw out all those junk mailings.
Much more importantly, your Mom needs to get a thorough checkup from a neurologist or a geriatric specialist and perhaps start on anti Dementia drugs. They help at the start and are not much use later on.
Someone also needs to have POA over her affairs, someone you can trust and who will do the right thing with her finances. And, someone needs to have a medical directive giving them the right to make decisions on her behalf when she gets too confused to speak for herself.
I suggest you go out to visit your parents at the earliest opportunity. If your dad is healthy and mentally fit, he needs to start taking more control over her life. If not, it falls upon their children. I think considering their financial stutus, both of them could live in a lovely assisted living home and have everything done for them.
Your Dad must know that ''something is going on" but it is amazing how long the one who lives with the AD victim fools themselves ..it is called denial. I did it too. "It's just a lot of 'senior moments'". "It's old age." "It's her eyesight." "She isn't hearing well any more."
It was Dementia.
I wish you luck in your journey along this pain filled road.
welcome to this wonderful place that is fulled with great advice... from your posting I too would be worried. If you can not get out to see your mom is there someone close by, a sister,brother, aunt or whomever that you can call and talk to and maybe discuss your concerns, this is a very serious disease and there are some meds, that may help slow this down if introduced early enough.... please get some help for your mom and dad, this is a painful road you are about to start....
I'm sorry your mother is struggling, but I am glad you found this wonderful supportive community, which has been a great help to me and I hope you find some useful information here, too.
A thorough physical check-up is the priority ... something other than dementia might be causing these issues, so you have to rule everything else out first. We have a wonderful geriatric specialist here with a vast background in Alzheimers who takes wonderful care of both my in-laws, including my dear MIL with Alzheimers.
Money management was the first sign of a problem with my MIL. I think we overlooked other things for a bit because she was always very carefree and silly (in a good way) But she was fooled by a phone scam, bills starting going unpaid and she'd say she was shorted at the bank when she'd cash their social security/pension checks. We only had a few months of these clues presenting themselves and her husband confided that she was getting lost when they were driving simple routes in the town they'd lived in for many years (FIL gave up driving in 1991 after he had a stroke so MIL did all their driving) At this point, I got pregnant with our first child and we moved them to the town we live in so we could care for them. A quick diagnosis and getting her on Aricept gave them 6 more good years in their home here with us helping to care for them.
The key is do something ... it's so easy to explain it away and hope it will get better, but you must be proactive, as the other wise ladies here have suggested. There's so much to take care of, but it's better done now than later.
The road of Alzheimers can be long and painful. Your mothers symptoms seem to match up, and the advice of the other women is very excellent. Though your mother's symptoms may seem minor now, and seeing as you are not close to her, you may find it easy not to worry too much (aside from her "sweepstakes problem) but it's important to do as much as you can as soon as you can, and that includes having meaningful conversations with her. Again, I know you say you're not terribly close with your parents, but you would be surpirsed how much it hurts when you try to have even a simple conversation with an alzheimers patient, and you can't because you don't even know what they're talking about.
My grandmother had slowly progressing dementia for years, and my family wasn't too, too terribly concerned because we all got used to her behaviors of forgetfulness and "renaming" of even her own children. This past year she progressed very rapidly into alzheimers especially one she was forced to move out of her apartment, which I can only imagine how hard that was for her, being a very independent woman, living by herself for the majority of her life. Two weeks ago my mother went to visit her in the nursing home, and for the first time my grandmother had no idea who my mother was. Three days later she died.
Though the dementia and alzheimers experience wasn't quite as painful for me (as sadly I didn't see my grandmother nearly as much as I should have), my family suffered a lot.
Don't waste the last coherent years your mother has to speak to her. You may very much regret it in the end. Also, make sure your father is educated on the disease. Love and support is very helpful, really when it comes to any disease.
Regrettably I have to agree with the others who have posted. The first symptom I noticed with Mom was also a scam. She agreed to give $250,000 to some fly by night insurance guys she met in a restaurant. It "sounded" good but they failed to tell her that they would be withdrawing money from her IRA with major penalties and long term stocks with hefty capital gains. She would never recoup the money she would lose and her investments would be tied up such that she could not use them. I managed to stop the transaction. Even after I stopped it, had lengthy conversations with Mom about it, they called her back and she agreed once again. That time I did save the IRA and canceled the policy during the 30 day grace period but they succeeded in cashing out the stock and it cost many thousands of dollars in taxes. This was a lady who was a financial wiz all of her life. A few hundred dollars may sound minimal but it will only escalate.
My first conversation would be with your Dad. You need to talk to him about your Mother, their arguments about the financials, and other behavior she might be exhibiting. Is she buying items repeatedly or buying items that are unusual or unneeded? Is she repeating herself.... telling the same story several times during the same conversation? Now is her cooking? Is she burning pots, forgetting she has turned on a pot, leaving items out of recipes? Is she showing signs of depression that are unusual? Has she withdrawn from her friends? Does she do things and swears that she never did them? Does she remember conversations after they are over? Mistaking a current generation for a generation of the past is common. Does she take her medication correctly without prompting? Does she put items in strange places?
You Dad may be covering for her. As some of the others have said, those that are the closest tend to excuse the behavior as they fall into denial. You need to be straight up with you Dad because if you Mom does have dementia chances are she will not admit to it. This is not because she knows it and denies it. The brain of a dementia loved one does not allow them to know. As the doctor told us..... they can't know what they don't know. Their reality is their reality and they think they are fine. It is the world around them that is the problem. So that leaves the loved ones to recognize the cognitive decline and get them the help they need.
Your Mom definitely needs a complete physical to rule out any other causes of her confusion. She needs to be seen by a geriatric neurologist, geriatric physician, or cognitive assessment center.... not just a GP or family doctor unless they are skilled in dementia. Mom was diagnosed by a cognitive assessment center and her GP still didn't grasp the diagnosis. He told her to "pay more attention" while she was driving!!!
If at all possible I would visit with Mom and Dad to see for myself what was going on, especially if your Dad is not straight forward about Mom's behavior. Your Mom needs the appropriate diagnosis and then you can go from there.
I am glad you found the board and I hope it has and will be helpful for you. It has been my salvation since my Dad has vascular dementia and my Mom Alzheimer's. All of us have been where you are and where you are going. Keep us updated on your progress in finding answers. I will keep you, your Mom, and your Dad in my thoughts and prayers......
If you feel you can't talk with you Dad or that he isn't really aware, spend a weekend or a week with them obserbing your Mom and her behaviour, and your father and how he responds to her. They are really a tag team and it takes two of them to do this. [been there done it.] Whether you are close to your Mom or Dad, you are at a point where you need to step in and get help before a crisis occurs.
your mom needs a good assessment by a geriatric doctor. If you have a relationship with their doctor, call him and express your concerns to him and tell him how your mom has been acting. Ask him what he thnks needs to be done. If he isn't a specialist, ask him who he thinks she needs to see.
In the mean time, make sure that your parents have given one of you kids POA and durable POA, medical POA. Make sure that you are on the bank accounts. Get this in place while they are still in their 'right' minds so that you will be able to help them when down the road it gets worse and you needs to be able to access their accounts.
I lost my mother a year ago to this horrid disease. My father cared for her and covered up quite well how bad it was-so I know what I'm talking about. You need to be very pro active about this-and it's hard to do and it's not fun and they will resent you and call you all sorts of names and your feelings will get hurt! But you have to help and someone has to be the bad guy!
Welcome to the board..and keep post and let us know how it goes..oh BTW, your Mom's doctor won't talk to you without medical POA unless you already have a good relationship with him/her soooooo another reason to consider why you need it. The HIPPA laws have really tied our hands as far as helping our parents...
Thanks to everyone for your very thoughtful replies. I will call and talk to my dad. It's hard for me to visit them, as I have MS and am wheelchair bound. I can and do fly sometimes, but it's not easy for me.
My mom has called me almost religiously once a week for the past several years, but for the past few months, calls have become less frequent. I'm scared. This would be a lot easier if I lived near them and could just drive over and visit.
I'll post again when I have more information.
Again, thanks to everyone. This is clearly a very caring group. It is clear that those dealing with this issue definitely need support from others.
I'm afraid my mom seems to be getting much worse. My dad is definitely aware there is a problem, but doesn't know what to do. She is highly delusional now. I just talked to her on the phone and she thinks I was just there today and flew back east this morning. She also thinks my dad wants to kill her, and has locked herself in their bedroom to prevent him from doing that. I'm so scared and worried. I advised my dad to call 911 and have her taken to a hospital. Anyone got any advice for me that I can give my dad?
Your Dad needs a local advocate that can guide him through the process. Perhaps calling the ALZ Association to see if they can match him with a volunteer that can help him. Your mom may need to be admitted for evaluation, then the social worker would be available to help your Dad find the answers he needs. Most of all he needs help.... enough help that he is not responsible for your Mom 24/7. I agree that 911 might be what is needed. And you Dad needs to tell the physician to call and talk to you. Your Dad may not be ready to admit or implement the steps needed.
I do understand trying to deal with crisis long distance. I have had to do it myself. Lean on whoever you can. Any friends or family that is close by or organizations that are willing to help. Know I will keep you, your Mom and Dad in my thoughts and prayers..
Your dad needs someone who is right there to help him through this whole process. Do you have other siblings who live near by that could help with this? If he does have her admittied for change in mental status then the case management team would be availbale at the hospital to point him in the right direction. That is provided he gives the case mgr and doctors the full picture of what is going on at home. I know with my dad for the longest time he would protect mom and not tell anybody anything. It wasn't until I moved in and saw the day to day events that were happening. This summer was the worst like your mom, my mom became very delusional lashed out at us and was very combative. Mostly directed to my Dad. We enlisted the help of a Geriactric Physcologist. That was helpful with putting her on an anti anxiety medicine. I know if it wasn't for myself and my brother starting the process of hooking up with the right people my Dad would never have known what to do. He has a tendancy to believe things will get better when in turn they were only getting worse.
I can only imagine the helpless feeling you must feel living 2000 miles away. That must be the hardest thing for you. Deb Gabriel's suggestion of contacting the Alz association is a good start. Our thoughts are with you.
Calling 911 is not a bad idea. The hospital will evaluate her and give your Dad some ideas. Usually getting a diagnosis is the hardest thing, because the patient refuses to go to a hospital or even to a doctor. Delusions of the sort you mention could be caused by some other disease of the brain besides Alzheimers, therefore it is necessary to do a brain scan. Once something like a tumor has been ruled out, the other options can be discussed.
I've called the Alz association and haven't found them to be particularly helpful. They've pretty much just offered to send me information in the mail. I need to talk to a counsellor or case manager type person.
My mom just called today and asked if her mother was visiting me here back east. I asked "what do you mean?" She said, "your grandma, is she there?" I said, no, your mom died decades ago. She said oh ya, that's right, she died in 1967, I guess I was thinking of someone else. She then told me that she and my dad were splitting up and that when they visit at Christmas he was going to stay here and she was going to return to Arizona to live by herself.
My brother lives in Colorado and offered to come down there, but my dad told him that wasn't necessary.
What specifically should my dad do? Should he try to legally compel her to see a doctor? Should he be really nice and beg her? I'm fairly sure she doesn't recognize that there is a problem. Should he talk to her doctor?
My Dad's favorite morning question is whether his brother has had breakfast or not. He worked and lived with my Dad before he was married... before 1950. Eventually it became to upset him if you told him his brother was dead so we just say "yes" and go on with the day now.
Yes, your Dad need to talk with your Mom's doctor and tell him what is going on. Then he needs to take her to the doctor however he can. Sometimes we don't tell Mom or Dad where we are going until we are on the way. He needs to be firm, no discussion previously, and just show up at the doctor's office with her. Most times they will cooperate. If she doesn't and to go for herself perhaps she will go with your dad to his appointment... which is really for her. Sometimes you have to shade or evade the truth to accomplish what is best for them.
No, she probably doesn't know there is anything wrong with her. At the very beginning they have some recognition and occassionally during the early mid stages but that goes away. At the point you describe she usually just thinks the world has gone crazy around her and that she is perfectly ok. That is why you use deception if necessary to get her to the doctor.
Mom only went to prove us wrong.... that there was nothing wrong with her. She came out saying the test were flawed, not explained right, or why should she remember such random things. She had an excuse for everything... she was in moderate to sever dementia by that point. We let her do it her way but we got the diagnosis we expected.
I wish you luck and will continue to keep your Dad, Mom, and your in my thoughts and prayers.
Your father has to trick her into going to the doctor. Something like this:
OK honey, this is the day we're going out, remember?
She doesn't want to admit she doesn't remember, so she says OK.
He makes sure she is washed and dressed reasonably well and they get into the car.
When they get to the doctor's office he walks her in. If she says what are we doing here, he says, remember, I have to pick up that prescription I need.
Hopefully they do not have to wait a long time in the waiting room. When the nurse tells them to come in, or before, your father hands her a printed list of all the changes he has seen in his wife in recent months and asks him to PLEASE check her for signs of dementia. He can either stay in the room with her or go out, but he must let HER answer all the doctor's questions. If she balks and throws a tantrum, this also helps the doctor to make a diagnosis. If she, like my Mom in 2004, says it is April when it's February, that it is also fall, along with being April, that she has 5 kids instead of 3, etc -- he knows. if she cannot remember and repeat 3 words a few minutes later, he knows.
At the very least you will probaby get a prescription for Aricept or Namenda, an appointment with a neurologist to rule out any physical brain damage, and some kind of advice. Maybe a referral to a geriatric specialist. Maybe a list of good nursing hmes.
At least then your Dad can get the whleels rolling for some kind of placement in some kind of institution since he doesn't seem the type to care for her at home ...
I wish all of you luck and blessings to deal with this tough situation.