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Old 11-10-2008, 09:40 AM   #1
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Confusing Confusion

I'm puzzled about my mother-in-law's symptoms. I thought one of the key indicators of dementia was loss of short term memory. She gets very confused about the past, like how many children she had, their names, whether they're married, etc. She does sometimes ask me the same question several times during the same conversation. But if I tell her she has a doctor's appt the next morning, she'll wake up and ask if it's time for her appt and remember it all morning. Or some little thing that I mention, she'll remember for days without fail. Is this normal with dementia? Some things are lost, some things are remembered?

Thanks,
Emily

 
Old 11-10-2008, 10:07 AM   #2
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Re: Confusing Confusion

Emily when it come to AD and Dementia there doesn't appear to be any particular pattern to the disease other tahn the seven stages. All AD patients are different and react in different manners to different situations. I don't think there is any normal pattern.

My wife gets obsessed with things for days at a time, a couple of weekends ago her obsession was to clean out the outside storage, last weekend it was getting the Christmas tree down out of the attic, put together and decorated, this weekend she decided she wants to buy hereself a little car because she was getting tired of staying home. She is not physically or mentally able to drive. No. 1 son told her she didn't need to have a car, she didn't have any business driving anyway. I tried to handle the situation in a little more delicate and tactful manner. I'm sure No. 1 daughter will tell her the same thing.

It is strange the way they get these things in their minds, but they are all different, we just have to roll with the punches and address each situation as it comes along. Some days she doesn't have the short term memory loss either, but other days she can't remember what she did five minutes ago. Go figure!

Last edited by jim816; 11-10-2008 at 10:08 AM.

 
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:44 AM   #3
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Re: Confusing Confusion

Emily, the doctor at the memory assessment research service explained it to me this way. It is not all off or on. It is intermittant, especially in the earlier stages. It is like being in a room... you and I have the big light on and we can see everything. With dementia the light is more directed and flashes on and off. So that conversation you just had didn't occur when the light was on or it was not directed in that direction.... and therefore no memory and the question is repeated. But the doctor's appointment information entered the brain when the light was on and directed that way and therefore she remembers. Since there is not as much cluttering the mind it is crystal clear. As time goes on.... those moments when the light is on becomes less and less frequent. This also explains why there are bits of truth in the tales they weave. They are only getting part of the picture and have to create the rest to make sense of it.

My Mom remembers that Dad fell in the bathroom and that he injured his arm. That was a visual input and she processes visual input much better than auditory. The details of the fall were given to her later... and they have changed every time she tells them because she has no clear understanding of what she heard. During that same time she was obcessed with a small sharp place on a tooth. This went on daily for over a week and through three dental visits. Three days after it was fixed.... she had NO memory of having anything wrong with her tooth.

So memories are made at random and vanish just as randomly. With no reason to why some things stick and others don't or why some stay and some disappear. And yes... it is different for each of patient. You will learn your Mom's pattern..... and then it will change as the plaque and tangles take a little more. I so hate this disease!!!!

Love, deb

 
Old 11-10-2008, 12:44 PM   #4
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Re: Confusing Confusion

Great question...excellent answers!

I've noticed "selective memory" in my loved ones.....but gotta admit...I'm pretty good at it too! I did notice that when Mom had a planned Dr. visit, she'd practice and practice her 6 children's names and such. It was so sad to see her try so hard to impress him.

One "constant" that I've noticed with Mom...both inlaws...and most of the clients where Mom stays happens to be music! They seem to remember the familiar tunes...seldom the words, but almost always the melody. Even at the end, they all seem to recognize the tunes.

Several times as I sing to Mom...usually no words, just a "do-do-do" melody that she used to join in with me...(this is great, because without the words, I can sing even more!)...I'll look around and see several clients singing along with absolutely no change in posture or expression....but it's obvious they are remembering. I do think that music is one of their last memories.

Jim...I had a friend that solved his Father's driving by simply filing the car key so it wouldn't fit in the car starter! He realized that his Dad wasn't as intent to DRIVE as much as he just wanted to know those keys were hanging in plain sight for whenever he might need them! Bless you, bless you for your careful care of your wife...many here will benefit by your posts!

Deb...I've never heard this explained like this...but it makes perfect sense.....thanks!

 
Old 11-10-2008, 01:31 PM   #5
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Re: Confusing Confusion

i am new to this, but i dont see any pattern at all in terms of memory. i wish i understood more.

 
Old 11-10-2008, 02:30 PM   #6
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Re: Confusing Confusion

Ah, that makes so much sense! I understand better now. Deb, the doctor you talked to described it so well. You've been blessed with a doctor who takes the time to help YOU, and not just his patient!

Thanks so much, everyone!
Emily

 
Old 11-10-2008, 03:47 PM   #7
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Re: Confusing Confusion

The thing is, there isn't any pattern. It is entirely random. One day Mom would know me, her past history, or at least ''something" ... the next day, that scary blank look. I called it the ''nobody home look." Empty, out to lunch. I was terrified of that blank look. It was Mom being gone while still alive.

Martha

 
Old 11-10-2008, 07:28 PM   #8
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Re: Confusing Confusion

Yesterday, daddy had absolutely zero idea of who I might be. He knew I was familiar, and when I walked in the door, was delighted to see me.

Today, I walked in the door and said my usual, "Goood MORNING, daddy!" and he said, "Well, good morning, Debbie!" (The only person on earth that gets to call me "debbie"). So, yesterday - no idea who I was, and today? Knew my name for the first time in a long time.

Wait. Let me take that back. If you ASK him who I am, he usually has no idea. But he will occasionally ADDRESS me by name. Like when I step out - "Buh Bye, Daddy. Remember - no dancin' girls while I'm gone! Love you!" and he will often say, "Love you too, Debbie."

I find that odd, but it's all part of the "imposter". He knows in his deepest memory that I am "Debbie". But in the forefront - no earthly idea.

Isn't this disease just the pits?

...lil' deb

 
Old 11-10-2008, 09:03 PM   #9
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Re: Confusing Confusion

Today was filled with "confusing confusion". When I woke Mom she wanted to know why I was at her place so early. I thought I had that cleared up until 5 minutes later she was having her coffee and ask how and when did she get here? I must have answered that question 10 times.I know it was hard to keep track because she was not home but the day continued with small glimpses of knowing what was happening and then gone the next second. Like "Where are we going"? The Dr. Mom. Getting her dressed "Where are we going"? The Dr. Mom. In the car "Now where are we going"? Get the picture??? I always answer like its the first time she has ask. But when we got to the eye Dr. and she told him she wasn't having a bit of trouble seeing.................WHAT???? This is all my daughters idea, pointing to me.........WHAT????
I showered her yesterday. Lotioned her all over and she was fine. Nothing wrong........This morning after getting her dressed she said her little finger hurt. I looked at it and OH MY GOODNESS the joint was pufffed up and inflamed and a boil looking thing was beginning to pop. So on to the GP after the eye Dr. Then blood tests and an xray to be sure the infection hasn't gone to the bone. I swear, even when she is with me she still can take a turn for the worse and I'm looking right at her. She wears me out!!!! She has gout in her finger now. She lost a toe to gout last year. Her kidneys are sluggish. This infection put her in the hospital twice last year and it wasn't pretty..... Another round of antibiotics. I pray it doesn't follow the path of the toe!!!!!
We got to the GP after all morning at the eye Dr. and being fitted for new glasses and she said "What are we doing"? Going to the Dr. Mom. Again??? Yes, Sweetie its going to be a long day. Yes lil' deb it is the pits.
I'm exhausted.
Love, Chris

Last edited by DrewsG; 11-10-2008 at 09:08 PM.

 
Old 11-10-2008, 09:17 PM   #10
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Re: Confusing Confusion

As the light goes on and off and back on again only to go off again. Martha is right... there is no pattern. It is totally random. My dad does much as yours does little deb. If ask, he can not come up with the name to fit the face. Sometimes he will ask me my name. Other times he will call me by name. More often he just calls me his eldest daughter.

Bless you Chris. I am sure the day was wearing on you, especially as you hopped around with the brace on one let. It is a good thing you already had Mom dressed when you found the finger problem which lead you to the sluggish kidneys. You knocked out three birds with one stone today. I had to laugh at your experience. Mom has done that. Complained for weeks, you finally are trying to do something about it, and she swears it is not a problem. Then you walk out of the door and she's complaing again!! Light on, light off, light on again!!! I bet Chris sleeps tonight!! I do hope tomorrow goes well

Love, deb

Last edited by Gabriel; 11-10-2008 at 09:18 PM.

 
Old 11-11-2008, 09:06 AM   #11
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Re: Confusing Confusion

Deb, The "Light-on, Light-off" explanation makes perfect sense, I've never heard it explained that way before.

We have solved the car issue at my house, we only have one car now, I still work and it is gone when I am at work. We sold her car early this year, she hadn't driven it for almost a year. The key to my car that hangs on the key rack will work in ignition lock, it will turn, but it will not start the car because it has never been programed. You can do this with the newer GM cars. All you have to do is go to the dealer and get a duplicate key, you just don't have the key programed.

I go through this little pain thing day after day, I know she hurts, I just don't know how bad she hurts, she is unable to explain the pain sensations to me or the doc and just doesn't has any grasp of the 1-10 pain scale at all. The only thing we can do with the pain is just treat it as a sympthom and take her to her doctors on a regular basis, if anything unusual shows up we will make a special trip to the doctor. Sometimes we have to drag her to the doctor to get something looked at.

I don't mean to be rambling off topic, but it just seems like all of us caregivers have so many issues to deal with on a daily basis. It is a big help to be able to share our experiences and knowledge.

 
Old 11-11-2008, 05:26 PM   #12
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Re: Confusing Confusion

I agree with you Jim.... just having somebody that understands is a god send.

I agree that the light switch explination is the best one I had heard. I had worked with dementia patients in LTC and never heard such an explination until I took Mom to the MARS. They were amazing. It's a great extension of our University system.

I do understand what you are saying about the pain. I have the two opposites. Dad feels very little if any pain. We have to be aware of what is going on with him and how he reacts to things to know if there is something wrong with him because he never mentions pain. Mom on the other hand goes into melt down over any little thing. Her tooth was the last episode. We truly thought we were dealing with at least an abcessed tooth and it turned out to be a little place on a cap that scratched her tongue occassionally. All you can do is the best you know how to do at the moment and do from there

Glad you got the car issue fixed. Dad actually has a key to his van in his pocket. He's happy with that..... even though the van is 3 hours away at my sister's house!!! As long as he has the key he's happy. The things we do hehe

Good to hear from you.....

Love, deb

 
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