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Help getting Mom diagnosed

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Old 02-03-2009, 06:30 AM   #1
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vthokie88 HB User
Help getting Mom diagnosed

I could use some help from others who have gone through this. My 75 year old mother has shown signs of dementia for about 7 years. Her health has been fragile - blood clots, back surgery, fibromyalgia, chronic stomach pain. It has been getting worse lately - she can't remember if she ate dinner last night, gets confused with time and dates, and sometimes thinks I am her sister, not her daughter. She will key onto one statement and she can't get past it. My father is battling cancer at the same time. She will not allow us to speak to the doctor about her memory issues, and dad doesn't want to rock the boat. Mom insists this is a reaction to stress, but it is getting worse and it started before we knew that Dad had cancer.

I would love to hear some strategies that helped get their loved one into care, because I would love to have her evaluated. There may be help out there.

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Old 02-03-2009, 12:38 PM   #2
Martha H
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Re: Help getting Mom diagnosed

It could be a reaction to stress, to her own and her husband's illnesses. But it could also be dementia. Since she has had issues for 7 years, there is little help to be expected from current drugs, which sometimes hold off the progression of the disease for a while.

I suggest you help her as much as possible to get enough rest and free time, always thinking that she is not entirely rational and should not have too much responsibiltiy and most of all nothing like being the caregiver of a sick person. She may not be able to remember pill schedules and cooking procedures and much more.

Is there anyone who already has POA over your Mom's financial and medical affairs? That is always a good thing to have, so you can intervene if things are going wrong.

When the time comes for a person (or a couple ) to go into assisted living or nursing home care, you have to be very firm and very authoritative. You may have to use a few 'white lies' always remmbering it is for their own good. In your case, tell her "DAD needs around the clock care" and so both of them will soon be moving to an assisted living facility. Blame it all on him. (hoping he does not veto this .. he has to think ahead and plan for how Mom will manage if he goes first) ..

You can even keep the word "assisted living " out of the conversation and just say "a nice apartment for seniors." Do your research and find out what is available where you live, what kind of insurance your parents have and what will or won't be covered, etc. An Elder Lawyer is an invaluable help in figuring out how to pay for the necessary care and placement.

Good luck! My Mom spent her final 2.5 years in a lovely nursing home where she was happy. She thought it was a 'spa' and told everyone about the wonderful Swiss chef -- even when she was on pureed foods. No one ever said 'nursing home'. We called it a rest home, a rehabilitation facility, a place she would leave again when she got well.

Hope it all works out for you,



Old 02-03-2009, 01:05 PM   #3
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Re: Help getting Mom diagnosed

We just had my MIL evaluated but didn't tell her that is why we were going to the doctor in the first place. She has quite a few medical problems and didn't have a primary physician(sees a lot of different docs) so we told her we were making an appointment with a doctor who could oversee all of her medical needs. Which was pretty much true, we just didn't tell her they were going to evaluate her for dementia. My MIL knows she isn't acting right at times but still thinks it is because of a stroke or something. The doctor explained to my mother-in-law that putting her on Aricept would help keep her with her family longer. My husband is more authoritative with her than I am or can be, so that also helped. He pretty much told her, "You're going and I'm taking you."
Maybe you could tell her that finding out the real problem will help her in the long run, to care for her husband, etc. and that there is medication available. That not being able to think clearly can be dangerous for her and her husband.
Not sure this helps much, but thought I would share anyway.

Old 02-03-2009, 03:20 PM   #4
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Re: Help getting Mom diagnosed've come to a good place to get your questions answered! Hope you've had a chance to go back and read past posts that will let you know a little about the bumpy road ahead.

From descriptions in your post, it sounds like your Mom does need a positive diagnosis. Sometimes we just need to go ahead and do the hard stuff, even tho she's so against it. I know you're worried about Dad too...some of Mom realizes his condition and is frightened...and some of Mom absolutely does realize the changes going on in herself.

You're getting some really good info already, and I think you realize how important it is to take some of these difficult steps. My Mom is in the end stage after 10 years in an Alzheimer's Facility...both inlaws also passed recently from this disease. You do have your hands full....hope you post often....lots of caring shoulders and many who have walked in your path......Pam

Old 02-03-2009, 04:55 PM   #5
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Re: Help getting Mom diagnosed

good luck to you. we put my mom in a nursing home about 2 months ago. we knew it was time because she was so confused and showed signs of dementia. it took us about 2 years to finally do this. it was the hardest thing to do. the signs will show you the way and my prayers are with you. her dr diagnosed her with dementia. the disease doesnt get any better even though i gave into hope.

Old 02-03-2009, 05:07 PM   #6
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Re: Help getting Mom diagnosed

Welcome to the board vthokie. What you are seeing in your mom's behavior is exactly what I saw before my mom was diagnosed. She had us convinced that it was due to depression caused by the stress of caring for Dad who has Vascular Dementia. No, she didn't want to go to any doctor but her long time family doctor who was also a close personal friend. She had him convinced it was depression as well. It was only after she gave Dad a overdose of medication (she didn't remember how much or when she had given it to him) which put him in the hospital for a week, did she finally get her diagnosis. Please be sure that she is not handling Dad's meds.

The others have given you great advice. I didn't give Mom a choice in her diagnosis. Stubborn lady that she is, she went to "prove me wrong". I will never forget that tired fightened little lady that walked out of the testing. She knew it had not gone well. Yet withing an hour she had her excuses for why. Since then she is back to her self diagnosis of depression but at least we have our answer to what we are facing.

Mom and Dad are no in AL. It's not a cake walk but it sure beats them being at home. At least now there is help just outside their apartment door instead of hours away.

It's a hard road and I hope we hear from you often. There are great people here that are in or have been on this journey. They have been my sanity and hopefully can lend you a hand as well. I am sorry you are having to go through this with your Dad and now your Mom. I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Love, deb

Old 02-03-2009, 08:23 PM   #7
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Re: Help getting Mom diagnosed

Welcome to the land of tricks and little white lies. You have come to the right place.

When we knew my mom was in trouble she was meaner than a snake and the thought of saying something to her about it sent chills down our I took the cowards way out....I sneakily went to her doctor and snitched on her! I told him all the signs and he waited for her to come in on her own and he got her. He tested her and then prescribed her medication and convinced her to take it by saying that if she didn't want to turn out like Ronald Reagan then she better take it...she did and it made an immediate change for the better...that was about 7 years ago and she has progressed but it is how we originally got her to the doctor in the first place.
Good luck!

Old 02-04-2009, 08:39 AM   #8
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Re: Help getting Mom diagnosed

WElcome vthokie...
I'm hoping that means that you are a Hokie? My son has his BA from VT. My lovely DIL has her MA and PhD from Tec. There's not a better school around! And we have a little grandson that we hope is headed that way!

I'm sorry that you found us, but is sure sounds like you need us. Although it could be stress, I doubt it. I think that your Mom has Alzheimers. If you haven't had her in to be tested, she needs it now before she gets any worse. I would suggest that she get a good physical by her doctor. You could suggest that it's time for a check up-but call the doctor ahead of time and prepare him by letting him know what you have seen and what is going on.Give him specific, don't be vague, the more specific you can be, the more infomation that you can give him the clearer picture he will have. Make alist of things that you have seem, that way he has something to go on. If she doens't have a doctor that is current on these diseases, or if you feel that her doctor won't believe you, find one who will. You need to have a doctor that will support you and help you with your mother....

There are a couple of drugs on the market that will help the progression of the disease. They won't stop it, but they will slow down the progression of the early stages. This will give you a few more years with your mom at the stage she is now. and any bit helps at this point.

If you don't have durable POA and medical POA for both your mom and dad, now is the time to get it. You will need it for both of them sooner or later. As your mom gets worse you wll need to have the POAs to talk to the doctors so pleae make sure that someone has it...

I'm sorry you had to find us, but welcome..

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