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Woried about mother

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Old 12-28-2005, 07:40 AM   #1
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Unhappy Woried about mother

Hi everyone
I was wondering if anyone could say whether my 75 year old mother's behaviour sounds like normal ageing or something more. Her memory has been getting worse for some years. After my dad died 10 years ago it was bad but the doctor said it was a symptom of grief and would return but it neve has.

I have become much more concerened recently however as things seem to be getting worse and when I compare her this year to last Christmas I realise just how much. She is always loosing things and comes to me to find them (she lives in an annex to our house). Often they are where she has where she has already looked or, if they are somewhere else, she says that she didn't look there because she "never puts them there". She will come in to me to ask a question which I answer and then she will come back again 5 minutes later and ask the same thing, and then again and again...and in between she is often asking my husband or the kids the same thing.

This year she had a card from an old aquaintance that she has had a card from each year for as long as I can remember but this year she brought it to me to ask who it was from....3 times!

More distant family members say that she will ring them up and discuss the same thing several times in the same phone call and frineds and neighbours have also noticed her repetativeness.

I think the thing that worries me the most is that she seems to be distorting things that happened in her past and telling me tales of things that happened in her past which were actually things that happened to me when I was a child. This indicates to me that her long term memory is affected as well as her short term. I remember my grandmother forgeting lots of things from today or yesterday but she had perfect recall of the more distant past up to the day she died. She will also make different judgements on a situation when she hears it a second or third time. For example if she were to ask me someone's comments about something and I were to tell her she might say"oh that was nice" but then when she asks again, having forgotten the first conversation, she might say "Huh, that was a cheek!".

My husband says that it is just part of getting old and not to worry but my feeling is that it is more than that. I don't know how to get her to the doctor without worrying her about my concerns and anyway, sometimes she seems perfectly normal and I am not sure that the doctor would pick up on it in the space of a short appointment.

Sorry for the lengthy post but I really would appreciate any comments or advise that you can give me.

Many thanks

Last edited by boodles; 12-28-2005 at 07:41 AM.

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Old 12-28-2005, 08:13 AM   #2
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Re: Woried about mother

Hi boodles!

What your mom is experiencing is not part of getting older. There is a real need to get her to a doctor. Could you get her there under the pretense that she needs a flu or pneumonia shot so that she doesn't worry? I've had to come up with all sorts of little lies to get my dad to the doctor. This way he doesn't get worried or angry.

You're right about the doctor probably not realizing just how bad things are in that few minutes he's with her. That's why it's important that you keep a list or journal the changes in your mother. I know from my dad's doctor visits that he can put on a real show for the doctor. One time I took him to the hospital for chest pain (he has really bad acid reflux) and he tried to jump out of the pickup truck while I was driving! His reason? He thought that he'd get in the back and lie down. He didn't realize that the truck was moving about 40 mph! And when we got to the ER, he acted as "with it" as he was 15 years ago!

The sooner you get your mom to the doctor, the better off she'll be. AD meds work best when started in the earlier stages of the disease.

And a word of advice: When you take your mom to the doctor, take the doctor aside and explain to him just how bad your mom's condition is and give him/her a copy of whatever you've written about your mom. Don't give it to him in front of her and be careful not to say too much about her condition in front of her. I learned this the hard way. I know it sounds deceitful but you'll be protecting her from from feeling embarrassed or hurt and the doctor will have the information he/she needs to help make a diagnosis.

Good luck!

Love, Barb
Live, Love, Laugh.

Old 12-28-2005, 08:37 AM   #3
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Re: Woried about mother

Hi Boodles and welcome,

Barb is so right about everything. A doctor's diagnosis is imperative. Eventually, your mom may get very anxious and agitated about her failings. I suspect that she is more at ease because you're near-by. My mom was an hour away and called constantly, crying because she had the same concerns as your mom. Now that she is with me all the time, most of the anxiety is gone becaue I can ease her mind quickly.

You are right, she probably does "seem" normal most of the time. My mom does too, but most of it is an effort to deny their memory loss.

If you ask my Mom about an event, she won't remember it. But if you say, "Remember, we went to the store........" she'll quickly reply, "Oh yeah, I remember that." In actuality, she doesn't remember it at all but is just covering-up for her memory loss.

My mom also distorts past memories when re-telling them. She will recount a memory that is actually something that happened to me, or something that she heard on TV. When I asked her doctor about this, he said it is normal for Alzheimers patience. As the disease progresses even long term memory becomes sketchy, so they compensate.

Welcome to our boards. You'll find many helpful answers here and a soft-place when you feel the need to vent your own frustrations.

Take care

Old 12-28-2005, 08:42 AM   #4
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Re: Woried about mother

Hi -

Sorry you have this worry about your mother. My mother had Alzheimers.

I agree with Barb that your mother needs to be seen by her doctor - especially if it's been 10 years since she was evaluated. Perhaps her memory loss is something that can be helped and is not AD at all?

At the top of this thread is a sticky called The 7 Stages of Alzheimer's. You might recognize your mother's behaviors among those listed. When I was worried about my mother, I copied, pasted, and printed the 7 Stages of AD, highlighted what Mom was doing, and gave that to her doctor the day before her appointment.

Please don't just assume this is normal aging. Take your mother to the doctor and at least you'll know.

Come back any time you need to talk, rant, ask questions, or just read. We've been where you are and do understand.

Wishing you well - Barbara

Old 12-28-2005, 09:44 AM   #5
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Re: Woried about mother

No, dear Boddles, it is not normal aging.

My Mom has Dementia. It started with minor forgetfulness, misplacing thngs, forgetting facts, forgetting what you just told her, repeating the same joke you just heard.

It progressed within abut 4 years to forgetting how to walk home in her neighborhood where she had lived for 30 years, forgetting how to take the bus, getting off at the wrong stop, not recognizing landmarks she has seen for 30 years.

Throwing out brand new food and keeping decaying leftovers, sorting out things like the utensil drawer and leaving everything totally disorganized, forgetting to clean herself after the bathroom, forgetting to change her underwear, wearing dirty clothes, washing her hair 10 x in one day but not taking a bath.

Having hallucinations, talking to a 'monkey' she 'saw' in a tree, telling us she saw people on the street who actually died many years before, forgetting the past as well as the recent events,.

It went downhill, with an occasional improvement, but steady downhill progress. Now she is in a nursing home and pretty happy there, well cared for and not able to get lost any more ...

I wish you strength and resolution as you deal with this problem. There are many hints and tips on previous messages on this board, such as 'do not argue with her!' and how to get the car away from her before she forgets what a stop sign means ...

You are also welcome to vent and rage here if needed, and no one will ever criticise you. It's also a no guilt zone and we will tell you nothing that goes wrong is your fault!

Sorry to paint a dark picture. But perhaps your Mom's condition is being caused by a number of other illnesses such as Hyperthyroid, or a medication she is on .. then it could be reversible . I hope so, for your sake.



Old 12-28-2005, 01:24 PM   #6
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Re: Woried about mother

Thank you all for your replies. I was amazed at the response.

Whilst I shed a tear whilst reading your responses because I guess in many ways you have confirmed that there is cause for concern, in another way it is a relief to talk to others who understand.

At times when she seems to be OK it is easy to tell myself that I am making too much of it but writing it down like that and re-reading my post helped me to realise that the normal times don't wipe out the other things.

A while back she went through a spell of getting dreams muddled up with reality - once whilst away on a family vacation she got up very distressed because she was convinced that my then 10 year old daughter was her daughter not her grandaughter. She came down the stairs crying and saying "she keeps saying that I'm not her mummy". We had to sit her downand explain who she was and after a while she was OK. This was the worst time but not the only time. We put it down to a different environment and a change in her medication but now I am not so sure. These inciedents seem to have stopped but I cannot help but wonder if that is becuase as she forgets more and more things she cannot remember the dreams well enough to confuse them with reality.

In retrospect I guess I should have insisted on her seeing a doctor then but by the time we got home she seemed a lot better and was insistent that she did not want to see anyone.

I think I will make an appointment when I get back to work in the new year and go to speak to the doctor by myself so that I can go in works time and she need never know about it. Then maybe he can call her in on a pretext of a check up or something.

Thank you all again - I have a feeling that I will be visiting here more in the future and my thoughts are with you all as you go through these difficult times with your own loved ones.

Old 12-28-2005, 05:52 PM   #7
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Re: Woried about mother

You are very welcome!

My husband and I live in my dad's house. My dad is staying with my sister 700 miles from here right now. But dad spent 15 months with us. Because I am the caregiver when my dad is here, my husband STILL doesn't understand the depth of this disease.

That's one of the many reasons why I come here. This is the only place I can vent and tell how I'm really feeling and what I'm really going through without judgement and ticking someone off. I started coming to this board almost two years ago (my how time flies!) and it's been a lifesaver for me.

Sounds like you have a really good plan for getting your mom to the doctor. Don't forget to write down anything and everything you can think of. You may need that concrete evidence to convince the doctor to go forward with testing.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Love, Barb
Live, Love, Laugh.

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