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Help with an aging parent

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Old 02-16-2007, 10:43 PM   #1
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Aileen7 HB User
Help with an aging parent

My mom is showing signs of dementia and I was wondering if there are any tests or even things I can subtley test her on the see if she has alzheimers disease? Thank you for any suggestions.

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Old 02-17-2007, 07:19 PM   #2
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Aileen7 HB User
Re: Help with an aging parent

I would be thankful for any input anyone has. thx.

Old 02-17-2007, 09:59 PM   #3
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Re: Help with an aging parent

Hi Aileen,

Just wanted to say hi and give you just a few maybe, suggestions. Not a lot of people post on the weekend, so, keep coming to the top and the "experts" will probably give you help on Monday.

If you can, you need to take your mom to her family dr. If she will not go or yall do not have the $, there is a MMSE test that possibly can be given to your mom. I do not know if anyone has ever given their own relative one. Usually the dr. does it. It is a question and answer and drawing test.

If you search this forum, for MMSE, you will or should come up with what one is like. I know I saw a copy of one of the kinds on this forum back about 1 year or 6 mo.

Take care and write back to get more answers.

Love, Wannabe

Old 02-17-2007, 10:42 PM   #4
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tired-of-it-all HB User
Re: Help with an aging parent

well i know for a fact signs like forgetting to shower or forgettiing to change your underwear everyday. i know a sure signs but it goes along with other things. i am not a doctor but my mom had alzheimers so i basically am sure of those two signs.

Old 02-18-2007, 03:43 AM   #5
Martha H
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Re: Help with an aging parent

Dear Aileen,

My Mom has AD, and here area few things we began to notice a few years ago:

-she repeated the same question more than once even though it had been answered.
-she began to neglect her personal hygiene.
-she went out in winter with only a thin jacket on.
-she began to forget to take her medications, or to take too many.
-she entirely stopped balancing her check book.
-she began to not know what to do with mail that came in, threw out one important bill and thus almost lost her supplementary health insurance, but saved junk mail. Later she did not look in the mailbox at all.
-she threw out good food, brand new flowers, good clothes, while saving old shabby clothes, odds and ends.
-her clothing, which used to be put away neatly in several dresser drawers and a closet, was now piled up between two dressers, with no rhyme or reason, while the dresser became empty.
-all of her good jewelry disappeared, along with her antique German Christmas tree decorations. She did not remember what she had done with them. (I suspect that some unscrupulous "friend" took advantage of her confusion to relieve her of her valuables.)

Around that time I went to live with her, and took care of her clothes and food, and mail and bill paying.

Later, worse symptoms appeared: she wandered off and got lost. She went out in the night. She woke me up in the night to demand to know who I was and why I was in her house. She could not go out withut getting lost.

She stopped enjoying eating out, complaining about the food and calling it "tough' and sending it back .. it was embarrasing to the rest of the family. Until then she had happily dined out. Later I found out that AD patients have trouble chewing and swallowing.

She took money out of the bank and I never found out what happened to it.

Those are only a few. Some take off their clothes, begin to use curse words, hit their loved ones, scream, spit and claw at those trying to help them.

Mom is now in a good nursing home, and not going to live much longer, due to heart problems and cancer and AD. She is 98.

It has been a long, hard road. I wish you strength as you deal with it.

One thing that really helped me was the concept "One thing at a time."



Last edited by Martha H; 02-18-2007 at 03:45 AM. Reason: mis-types

Old 02-18-2007, 04:45 AM   #6
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Re: Help with an aging parent

HI there, I have seen the Mini Mental performed on a loved one AND in nursing homes, and although each person is unique and gives different answers ... this is pretty much the basics:

The 'Mini Mental" exam is a non-threating (or theoretically non-threating) test that can be done by just sitting and chatting ... no poking, no prodding and done right, it can be a pleasant experience. They get 2 points for a correct answer, 1 point for a close answer and 0 points for a wrong answer.


1) What year is it?

2) What month is it?

3) What season is it?

4) Where are we: Country, City, part of city


1) Name three objects (usually pencil, paper and table because they are the immediate objects they can see).

2) Repeat the names of the objects


1) Count backwards from 100 by 7's. Allow 5 answers.


2) Spell WORLD backwards


1) Ask them to name the 3 objects from before.


Name a pencil and watch.
Repeat the following: 'No ifs, ands or buts'
Follow a three-stage command: 'Take a paper in your right hand, fold it in half and put it on the floor'
Read and obey the following:
a) Close your eyes
b) Write a sentence.
c) Copy a design (usually a 5 sided figure interlocked with another 5 sided figure)

From there you add up the score, although Language gives different scoring but you can get the idea.

You must also take into consideration their hearing and eyesight and any other disabilities (such as moving to a new town etc), but you must be tough in other ways by not prompting !!

Of course, there is this little old lady I know who when asked What year it was promptly replied in a haughty voice "Well, if you don't know why don't you check a calendar you stupid girl" .. and when asked the month went into a screaming fit of verbal abuse because asking these questions was all just too much for her and she knew it and so reacted on the defense .. so it's not always easy depending on the individual.

But you can try this at home to give yourself an idea ...


Old 02-18-2007, 05:06 AM   #7
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Post Re: Help with an aging parent

Martha, you just brought some memories to me.

My dad never puts his clothes where they belong. When he was with me, he would pile all of his clothes (both clean and dirty) in a pile that was both next to his dresser and in front of his closet. My thought was at least he had them in the general vacinity of where they were supposed to be. He could have been like my grandma was and hide them all around the house.

Aileen, Angel bear and Martha are two of our most experienced caregivers. They are sound both in experience and advice. They have both ran the cycle from beginning to near end with loved ones. Look for the common things in Martha's post and try the test Angel bear posted. I think you'll find your answer there.

Keep in mind though that there are many other things that can mimic some of the symptoms of AD. That being said, in my opinion, there is no substitute for a doctor's diagnosis.

Love, Barb
Live, Love, Laugh.

Old 02-18-2007, 08:03 AM   #8
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Re: Help with an aging parent

That re-kindled some memories for me, too.

The first thing I noticed was probably the "junk mail," thing. Mom would call hysterical because she had gotten a letter that needed immediate response. I'd drive all the way to her house and learn it was junk mail. Finally, I would have her pile all mail in one place till my weekly visit. This stopped a lot of crying and hysterical phone calls.

And, the clothes thing, too.

I thought she was constantly re-arranging her bureau drawers. Nothing was ever where it was suppose to be. Took me awhile to figure out that she didn't remember where anything was suppose to go, so she had a little of everything in every drawer.

Now, in the "group home" where she lives, she has 2 - 9-drawer dressers and the items stored in each drawer rotate constantly.

Old 02-18-2007, 11:12 AM   #9
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Raffeer HB User
Re: Help with an aging parent

The MME will tell whether your Mother has DEMENTIA. It will not tell you whether she has Alzheimers. There are many causes of dementia some of which are reversible. Alzheimers is not. Unfortunately the word Alzheimers is used interchangeably with dementia. Dementia is merely a symptom of the disease.
It is essential that you get her to a doctor, preferably a Neurologist, to make an assessment. The window for reversing dementia can be short should it be determined that she has one of the other causes.

Old 02-18-2007, 01:24 PM   #10
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Aileen7 HB User
Re: Help with an aging parent

What a difference a day makes I can't thank you all enough for your generous and detailed replies. It appears I put my question in the wrong category based on all the replies since it was moved. Every sinbgle reply was helpful but that test you gave me to try and subtley give to my mom Angelbear was exactly what I was looking for so extra special thanks to you.

Old 02-21-2007, 10:51 PM   #11
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Aileen7 HB User
Re: Help with an aging parent

Thank you all again. I gave that test to my mom under the guise of a fun test we were all doing at work today and she did better than I expected so perhaps she is not as far along as I feared. The only part she really struggled with was the part about the three objects. Thanks to all who responded!

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