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is my mom mentally ill or is this dementia, HELP!

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Old 01-29-2007, 04:38 AM   #1
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is my mom mentally ill or is this dementia, HELP!

My mother has been on many, many different medicines for RA for many years, but ever since my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer she has gone completely off the deep end. Up until then, her mental state was fairly normal for her age (68,) but in the last year she's gotten extremely paranoid, at sundown she is apt to flip out over little things. She thinks everyone is trying to control her b/c we have taken over her meds b/c she was forgetting to take them, so now she's got a electronic pill dispenser so she can't take too much. I have her pain patches and I bring her one every three days. I have to stand right over her or she forgets to put that on. She was a meek, sweet womean her whole life, but lately she is justs plain old mean. I feel so bad for my daddy b/c he's the one dying, but she's constantly throwing temper tantrums if she doesn't get her way about something (usually she wants xanax and she can't have it, got addicted to it years ago) Her eyes get all wild looking and she curses at us and tell us how don't do anything for them and we just want their money? I really just don't get it. We had an appt. set up for all the test for alzheimier's but she chickend out and would not go. She's convinced that we are going to put her in a rest home, that has never even been mentioned. Is this a mental illness, or is this typical dementia? How in the world do we cope with this? Everytime I turn around she is flipping out about something new. She had a reaction to methadone and simbalta recently and almost died. Her symptoms seem much worse since that incident. ( a couple months ago) If it is dementia then it has gotten much worse since then. One minute she's almost like my mama then the next she's like some wild woman who can not be reasoned with. Any words of wisdom would be great.

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Old 01-29-2007, 07:25 AM   #2
Martha H
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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.



Old 01-29-2007, 02:02 PM   #3
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Re: is my mom mentally ill or is this dementia, HELP!

Dear Cindi,,

I think that it would be wise of you to look up "Sundowners Condition" on the web, as it probably fits your mom. My hint was when you wrote..... (at sundown she is apt to flip out over little things. She thinks everyone is trying to control her.) It is a condition that resembles Dementia.

Good luck and try to be patient...


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