Last month I posted in another area about my mom saying she was moving back home and not returning. She's been getting bitter and starting to isolate herself. My sisters went Lake Tahoe for the week and she chose to stay at home, she said it was to cold. She just sits in front of the tv all day. She's still cooking and cleaning. She's developed Parkinsons last year and now I think she's developing Alzheimers. Today I went to visit her and she asked me if I came over this morning. I thought to myself, I was there Sunday. She then said "oh it must of been the other night". Could she be picking up that she's losing her memory? Is that the anger she's showing? How do you get a parent to go to the dr. to get tested? Thank you
They lose their memory not their intelligence. She probably thinks you were there earlier in the day but when said you were there Sunday she covered by saying it was the other night. In the beginning I do believe they they realize something is amiss or at least create excuses to cover what they don't remember. She may have wanted to stay home because it is easier to deal with what they know rather than some unknown.
Little explination. My Mom either realized she had ALZ (her mother and several aunts and siblings also so she knew what it was all about) or did an amazing job of covering the illness for several years. She had her doctor convinced it was nothing more than depression (which she had never had before in her life) from having to be Dad's caregiver (which is believable). If anything bizzare happened then it was Dad's fault. He did have vascular dementia so it could be so. In fact it was the things she didn't remember doing herself. If she didn't do them, then Dad must have.
She stopped going places yet complained that she never got to go anywhere. She used excuses just like your Mom. It was too hot or too cold or too far or too annoying for some reason. Mom cleaned but it was obcessive. She would wash windows, then do it again the next week. She spent an entire summer sitting in the flower beds picking leaves out of the straw, turning the straw over, and putting down new straw... one small handfull at a time. It mattered not if it was over 100 outside... she was in those flower beds most of the day.
She cooked. Most of what she cooked was pre prepared, burned, or thrown together haphazardly. There were strange things growing in her refrigerator and she never cleaned it out. Grocery were bought with no list so there was over 40 boxes of instant pudding and 20 graham cracker pie shells when we cleaned out the pantry. We even found open cans of food put back in the pantry. She finally got to the place they were eating cereal most of the time. I know for a fact a few times she put soured milk on the cereal. Occassionally she would try to make slice and bake cookies but they usually ended up in the trash. This was a lady who was known for her excellent cooking ability. She would actually "take to the couch" and not get up for a weekend if any of us girls were there. That way she didn't have to cook when we were there.
Money was the first problem I recognized. She as a bookkeeper all of her life. Even after she retired she kept books for three individuals. Suddenly she found excuses to stop and it was always the fault of the other person. One didn't get his papers to her soon enough for her to complete them. One was just annoying and that was a dear friend of hers. Then I noticed she was not keeping a check register at all and had hired somebody to do her tax returns. Bills were late or paid twice. Then she agreed to give $250,000 to two B rated insurance guys that she met at a resturant. I managed to stop them from taking her IRA and saved those penalties but they got their hands on some long term investments that cost her much capital gains taxes. She would never recoup what she would lose by taking that money out and it would be tied up forever and we could not have used it for their care.
All this was going on before we realized there was a major problem with Mom. It was only in hind sight that we realized the reality of the situation.
As for getting her to the doctor. The first appointment with her general physician, I just made the appointment, told her she was going for a physical the day of the appointment, and took her. He did a mini mental exam which showed some impairment but nothing critical. After she overdosed Dad with Xanax and then told everybody he had a stroke one day and a heart attack the next I made an appointment with a local Memory Assessment Research Service. No, she didn't want to go but I insisted. She finally went to prove me wrong. The results were worse than even I had expected. She was already late moderate to sever dementia consistent with ALZ. Within a week they had a day time caregiver with us there on weekends and a cousin there one night a week. That lasted a year before it was necessary to place them in an assisted living facility.
So take a look at her financials. Is she keeping a check register? Are her bills paid correctly? Is there money missing that can not be accounted for? Does she take money out repeatedly and not know what happened to it? Can she still use the ATM?
Are all the pots accounted for? I found burned puts shoved in the back of the cabinet and some are just missing. Can she still follow a recipe? If you give her a series of directions can she follow them? Is she taking her medication correctly without constant reminders? Does she repeat the same story to you over and over?
Yes, there is aggitation and anger many times associated but I am not sure it is that they realize there is something wrong with them. Even now Mom thinks she is perfectly ok. It is her world that has gone crazy around her. When she was home alone it was Dad that was making her crazy. When the sitter was there it was the sitter that was making her crazy. At one time it was us being there so much that made her crazy. Now it is the AL facility that is making her crazy. They do know there is something wrong, but it is not of their doing. It can also be anxiety from not understanding what is going on around them. Mom is always frustrated that nobody listens to her. They do and they respond... she just doesn't remember that they have responded. We tell her something and she forgets. The next time she hears it she swears she was not told. But most of the time she just makes excuses for what she says incorrectly. She will say, oh yeah, I knew that, or now I remember when in fact she had NO clue. It is a defense mechanism.
Beyond that one of the centers of the brain frequently affected has to do with learned behaviors and self control. What they think is what you hear. Manners slip away and they become very self centered. They can be hostile to the ones they love the most but tomorrow they will not remember it. They become very childlike in this respect. I something is missing then it was stolen. You and I remember we put something away but not where. They don't remember having it at all so somebody had to have taken it. My mom has become very bitter and if left on her own she would sit in the room and watch the news channels all day. She even requested meals in the room recently but was told that was not a possibility so she goes to meals and usually gets aggitated while there.
I could go on and on.....
Start keeping a log of the odd things that are said or done by your Mom. That way you will be able to keep track and it will be good information for the doctor. Be observant.... nosey even. Dig deep and see what is really going on there. See if she can subract. That is a complicated task that leaves rather quickly. Check the stories she tells and see if they are true, half true, or imagined. Does she know what day it is and is she taking medication as she should?
Is she living with somebody else or alone?
I have typed way too much and I need sleep.... keep asking question!!!!
Most of the victims of this disease don't want to go to the doctor. They know something is wrong but try to hide it.
This is what we did. Make an appoinment for her on a day she is free, and pick her up. Without hesitation or preliminaries, tell her this is the day Dr X wants to see you, we have to be there in half an hour. Remember, you called him last week? She will not want to admit that she didn't call him (has no memory of calling him) and most likely will go with you.
The second trick is to prepare the doctor with a list of your observatins and suspicions and hand it to the receptionist when you enter. Say please make sure Dr X sees this BEFORE you call us inside.
If he still refuses to go, I had one other trick. Mom, I have a doctor's appointment and you know how nervous I get, will you please go with me, I feel better when you are there.
Then proceed as above.
The best doctor is a geriatric specialist or a geriatric neurologist, but any capable, up to date family doctor can make a preliminary diagnosis and get her on one of the drugs that work in early stages. Nothing cures this disease, and it will get gradually worse, but some drugs slow it down.
The doctor can also rule out other causes for memory loss .. even a simple bladder infection can do this.
Could she be picking up that she's losing her memory? Is that the anger she's showing? How do you get a parent to go to the dr. to get tested? Thank you
Welcome Michael! You're picking up on some of the first symptoms that many of us here have confessed to overlooking! My family sure did!
Yes...your Mom is very aware of the changes going on...and she's probably pretty scared. I wonder if her thinking is to try to stay away from loved ones so they don't notice her behaviors??? The anger seems to erupt often...and it's so hard to see these changes happen in ones we love...
Soon after my Mom's diagnosis, we noticed Parkinson's also and were told that they often accompany each other down this disastrous path....now (10 years after diagnosis with Mom)....that talented little rt. hand is in a tight fist against her skinny little body. There's a certain "gait" that appears also called "the Parkinson's Shuffle" where little low steps are taken across the floor.
Martha has given you EXCELLENT suggestions for getting her to the doctor! We also used some of those techniques...the secret is...you cannot feel guilty or that you have somehow betrayed her. It is love for your Mother that is guiding what you have to do. Difficult?? Yes!!...but helping her (and the rest of you) now is important. The outcome will not change, but you'll be more aware of this journey.
You mentioned other siblings. I'm from 6 "kids"...one brother immediately started a family web-page (free) that was used daily in the beginning to inform each of us (and grandkids) of how Mom was doing, Dr. visits, any kind of info or questions that needed sharing...and it was very useful. Two of my siblings live a long way from home...I call them the "faraways". It was such a good tool to keep us all informed.
The other thing I wanted to mention was your description of her sitting all day...we found out depression is one of the first symptoms of this awful disease.
You're in for a bumpy journey...but you sound like you are interested in finding out what you can. Good for you being the strength you Mother needs now. Keep asking questions! We ALL learn from each other's posts.....Pam
I just wanted to give you some of our insight because my mother DIDN'T experience most of the things written here.
All of my life, I remember my Mother hiding things and not remembering where she put them and accusing us (my father, my sister and i) of moving it, hiding it, giving or loaning it to someone, etc. I thought the hiding was because she came from a very large family of 10 children and she was always complaining that in that house, you didn't have anything for yourself. During the time of me growing up, my Mother was also the person who if she woke up in the morning, everyone had to be up! there was no sleeping in if she didn't sleep in. She wouldn't watch TV in a room by herself. She'd sit in the room with my Dad when he was watching spaghetti westerns (black/white, older version shows) and complain all the show instead of getting up and going into the other room to watch TV by herself. She never wanted to be alone. Again, I contributed this to being raised in a house where you probably never had too much privacy or quiet.
Now fast forward years and years, Mother was still hiding things. Jewelry, money, whatever. She was a hypocondriac and was always saying she needed to go to a doctor and did!. When parents built a house in Pennsylvania she was fine the first year or two going back and forth and adjusting to the surroundings in both places -- about 3 years into this lifestyle, she started to seem like she was confused on where the utensils, were or dishes. But 24 hours of being anywhere, she's be her own fine self.
Then came the cooking mistakes. The putting pans on the burners with the flame underneath but nothing in the pot. OR putting the burner on but not realizing the flame never lit and gas fumes started. Her spaghetti gravy was starting to change, it didn't taste the same. And other common recipes were starting to not be tasty. She'd cover it not remembering how to make things by saying she was trying something different or new.
Another year passes and Mother was still cooking, cleaning, and being controller of the house. Daddy took Mother to the doctor and then brought her back home to NJ and was making starting arguments. I now know it was because he saw things happening and was not prepared to take them on himself. Mother kept saying she wanted to come back to NJ to live and father just wasn't willing, so he was willing to leave her here and go back to PA by himself only it never happened. Mother was there with him and so were we on the weekend of a surgerical procedure of which he died. We brought her back to NJ knowing that by now, we had signs she couldn't and didn't want to be by herself.
Because she was now alone, she was still cooking and cleaning. But then she started watching TV and saw the Physic Friends Network and called the number. Once they have you hooked in, they'd start to call you and say "dial this number, we have a message for you" and the $300 - 700.00 phone bills started coming in!
Then she lost the ability to talk in conversational ways. She started stuttering or tripping over words. Her sentences started to be static and we found we were supplying a word here or there. She would get frustrated but it would take her so long to talk. Her driving also became a problem. People would tell me of her stopping in the middle of the road like she didn't know where she was going. She side-swipped a car and was charged with a hit-and - run but when we saw damage to the vehicle, she claimed that she was at the store and came out to find the car like that then Sister informs me that mother got a letter from another town's police department and had to go and show proof of insurance, etc. When I heard that, I immediately took the car keys away and she no longer drove.
Next came the loss of total verbal ability. She would just la, la, la her way through the day and she was no longer able to stay by herself. Every time Sister left the house, she suffered very bad panic attacks.
So now in writing, I see some similarities to others stories and some not. We didn't need to trick her into a doctor's office because my mother was so addicted to going to the doctors she was there all the time. She just wanted to feel like someone was actually interested in talking with her and she wanted the attention so she profaned being ill or needing tests all the time. We had to actually intercede to keep her out of the doctor's office.
My MIL did the same thing going to the doctor. She loves going to the doctor, all of the ones that she has. None of them know what the other one is doing for her.
She'd be terribly sick and the doctor would come into the room and all of a sudden she would perk up. She was also calling all of her 4 kids to take her to the hospital on the weekend. I mentioned that she needed to call 911 if it was that serious and she said that she'd be too embarrased to do that. Very Frustrating. The doctors would run a bunch of test and tell her there's nothing wrong and she said that they don't know anything. She's had 4 kids and it's ruined her insides. The doctors got to the point that they'd cringe when she came in. You could ask her what the doc said and she would say that they said she had alot wrong with her. If you ask her to specify she couldn't. Just repeat that.
Well she's finally stopped the hospital runs. I think she wore that one out.
Part of it is the AZ but another part is the attention which she's always been like that. Unfortunately you cannot do that to the healthcare system. That's what drives up our costs and clogs the system. It was up to her kids to weed out the truth and own up to it. I think that's why she stopped that trick.
Thank you all for your responses. I talked to my sister and she's going to talk to my mom's doctor on her next visit. She takes her to all of her appointments. I saw the strangest thing so far from her today. She baked a cake today, Saturday is her birthday. We talked for a while and she seemed fine. I asked her about the cake and she said she made it because the date on the box was about to expire. She scared me for a minute, I thought she was going to have a party with some invisible friends. Thanks again
Don't give up yet Michael... she could still have that party with the invisible friends
I am glad that your sister is going to talk to the doctor and have your Mom checked out. It's a difficult diagnosis to hear but it is also better to know what is going on than to wonder. Hope you get some answers soon...