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Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .


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Old 01-31-2015, 05:32 PM   #1
Nina46
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Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Hi all, I am new here,I am thinking dad may have onset of Alzheimer's. I feel so bad he has been through heart diseas, back problems,colon cancer twice,now this. His memory is getting bad...he got lost while driving home the other night and had to ask someone for directions. He has misplaced money, and has also given money out to the grandkids then forgets he did so. He accused my mother of having an affair ( she would never ever do so), it became a huge argument,issue that went on for weeks....last week he poured a huge gallon of windsheid washer fluid in the gas tank which cost 2000 dollars to fix. Does this sound like Alzeihmers.? He doesn't want to go to the doc for fear of loosing his license, but we made an appointment for next week.My mom is becoming very argumentive with him and frustrated ,she could never deal or take care of this their relationship has not been good lately. I fear the worst...I'm praying it's only memory loss from old age he is 78.

 
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Old 02-01-2015, 01:08 AM   #2
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Nina, what you described here is not normal memory loss in old age. If he forgot where he but his key but could retrace his steps back to finding the keys, that is normal. But the examples you gave is a cognitive decline bad enough to interfere with normal daily life. That is the definition of dementia.

What you are seeing is the typical beginning stages of some type of dementia. I could be any one of several different types of dementia... Alzheimer's, Vascular Dementia, Lewey Body Dementia, Frontal Temporal Dementia are the most frequent ones. Getting lost in familiar surroundings is not normal. That is one of the early signs of dementia. So is inability to handle money. Paranoia many times is the very first symptom you recognize and fits with the accusations against your mother. Forgetting major events is typical. Not understanding how to do a task that he has done many times before is also typical and fits with putting the windshield wiper fluid in the gas tank. This is the loss of executive function. You may also notice that he is unable to pay bills correctly or keep a check register. Money will be missing and he will have no idea where it went. He may repeat himself. He will ask the same questions over and over or tell you the same story repeatedly.

It is frustrating, especially when you do not understand the reasons behind what is happening. Accusation, confusion, and not knowing how to do things are difficult for us to understand, and very stressful for not only your family but your Dad as well. As difficult as it is to hear a diagnosis of some type of dementia, at least it will give a reason for the behaviors you have seen. Nobody wants to hear this diagnosis but believe me it is for the best. Knowing what is going on will give relief to you all. It will give you the time needed to make the necessary plans for the future and learn more about the disease. Hopefully it will help Mom be a little more patient.

If Dad is getting lost when he drives it may be time for him to stop driving. This is a very difficult thing to do in the best of situations. If he is fearful that the doctor will suspend his driving privileges, then he knows there is a problem. Your Dad can get in the car and physically drive the car because he has done that all of his life. That is in his long term memory which is probably in tact at this time. What he can't do is make good decisions when he drives. He has already gotten lost and didn't know where he was. What if he forget the meaning of a stop sign or stop light, doesn't notice them, and fails to stop in time. What if he hits something, a post, another car, or a person, and has no idea how to handle the situation. This happened to my Mom. She hit a car and just drove off. There were witnesses and a warrant was issued for her charging her with hit and run. According to her she had not hit anything but the blue paint on the gold van said differently. Not to mention they had her tag number from the witnesses. I am just forever grateful it was not a person. Check the vehicle for dings and scratches. I took pictures one weekend and rechecked a few weeks later. There were several bumps and dings that appeared and according to Mom they had "always been there". Beyond the wreck potential, there is the getting lost. Mom and Dad were lost for over 18 hours, that will scare you!! My uncle took the long way from NC to SC by way of Florida. A local man was finally found at a hotel. He had driven lost until he ran out of road, got a room and just sat there until somebody found him. He was found at the beach!

The doctor should give him a MMSE (Mini Mental Status Exam) or other similar test for his cognitive abilities. There are examples online. On the MMSE, if he makes less than a 30/30 then more cognitive testing should be done. The doctor will also look for other reason for the cognitive decline that can be fixed. It could be a medication side effect, NPH (which includes incontinence and a shuffling gate along with the memory loss), B12 deficiency, or other brain abnormalities. He will check blood work and as for a CT scan of the brain. Once all the other possibilities are eliminated, your dad will probably be refereed to a neurologist or cognitive testing facility. But in your heart you probably already know the outcome.

When you do get the diagnosis, and if it is some type of dementia, learn all you can and help your Mom to understand. Please continue to get support. Here is a good source and you may want to join a local Support Group. Call your local Alzheimer's Association. They have lots of material and can lead you to one of their support groups.

Know I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. I do hope you get the answers you are looking for. Feel free to come back here anytime to ask questions or just vent. I have been where you are now with both my Mom (Alzheimer's) and my Dad (Vascular Dementia). It's not easy but you can do this Hang in there!!

Love, deb

 
Old 02-01-2015, 12:11 PM   #3
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Thank you so much deb for taking the time to write this out and explain everything to me, I really have no clue about this disease, its all new. Sounds like he does have it, not prepared for all of this, the appointment is soon so we will get some answers and I will update, the latest incident is him telling us he paid a 400 dollar water bill when in fact it was only 150 dollars, he is argumentive about it. My mother is beside herself..thanks again

 
Old 02-01-2015, 12:45 PM   #4
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Bless you Nina!! It is not a journey I wish on anybody but it is one you can survive with information and support. There is a way to live well with dementia.

I will give you and Mom a heads up. Do NOT argue with him! You never argue with someone with dementia unless it is a matter of life or death. Their brain has short circuited and what they believe is a confabulation of information they were able to grasp. It may not be your reality but it is theirs and it is as real to them as your reality is to you. He paid the bill, he got that. He paid $400 for something at some point. The two become merged and he paid $400 for the bill. That is his reality. You know he only paid $150 but that is your reality and no his. My question at this point is.... what difference does it make? Dementia gives new meaning to the saying.... sometimes it is better to be kind than right! On top of that, one of the areas affected early by this disease is the area that control our ability to be rational social members of society. They lose their "filter" and ability to empathize. This is where the paranoid rises.

Put yourself in Dad's eyes for a while. He knows he paid the bill and how much he payed. He has always been aware of bills and budgets. He has been able to understand money and where it goes. He has always been the head of the family and the financial authority. Now he has his daughter and his wife telling him he is bonkers. Even without dementia he would argue with you. With dementia it's over the top because he doesn't have the restraint to hold back what he has to say.

If he is upset about the amount of the bill then just say.... "I know that bothers you Dad (which validates his emotions) ... we will see what we can do to save a bit of water (which gives him a solution and hope for the future)" Otherwise you just say "Wow Dad"... and see if you can interest him in a ball game or bowl of ice cream. Diversion will always get your further than argument because you will not convince him that he is wrong. That's his ego working... the pride in who he was. He knows something is amiss (his fear of losing his driving privileges proves that) and there is no reason to take away any more than what is already gone.

Look forward to hearing what next week brings

Love, deb

 
Old 02-05-2015, 12:04 PM   #5
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Wel today mom called to let me know that dad is fine,back to his old self, not need for concern.is she kidding me, it's so frustrating, I'm not cancelling his appointment,why is she being like this? No he is not back to himself, in fact she just told me he is not remembering how to use a remote for the tv....I don't know why she is having a change of heart.

 
Old 02-05-2015, 05:57 PM   #6
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Nina, this is typical of the older generation. They tend to close ranks when something is wrong and protect themselves and each other. It is also a function of denial. Dad's in a happy place in the moment.... so it's not that bad and we will not do anything. She's grasping! That is how she wants it to be.

Do not cancel the appointment. If necessary tell her, as I told Mom, that we will go find out for sure he is ok.... which he was not.

Again, she is doing this because she is scared. She is fearful of the future and what this diagnosis means. You and I know that not having a diagnosis doesn't make it go away. She just wants it to go away.

The other component is that many do not understand that the cognitive decline of Alzheimer's or other dementia does not just affect what we think of as memory. It affects behavior, logic, rational thought process, ability to follow directions and understand complicated task, and everything else we do with our brain... basically everything!! Not understanding money, getting lost, not knowing how to operate electronics, and so much more falls victim to cognitive decline. Eventually they will lose small motor skills such as picking up a fork. Then the large motor skills such as walking... and the list goes on.

For both their sakes, keep the appointment

Love, deb

 
Old 02-12-2015, 09:11 AM   #7
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Well the appointment was two days ago, I couldn't go because my daughter was sick so I had my brother go instead. That morning Dad was being so defiant, arguing, took much convincing to get him out, then he tells him half way there that he lost the health card, so poor brother had to pull over call the office which they allowed him to go ahead, and bring card later which we still can't find.....anyhow, doc thinks dad is not controlling his blood sugars properly and not eating on time, so is having dad do a series of blood work to rule out things first. Not sure how I feel about this.i was upset at the lack of concern....is this the normal procedure? I mean mom called to let me know that dad couldn't figure out how to get to the blood clinic on his own,and she had to take him.....I think I am going to make a follow up to clarify things with the doc.i don't think he has the whole picture,dad is very charismatic , and quick to make light of this, back to square one.

 
Old 02-12-2015, 10:05 PM   #8
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Actually it is not that abnormal for a General Practitioner or Family Practitioner to make this type of assessment. I wonder if they ever consider that there is a reason behind Dad not controlling his blood sugar and eating properly? I wish they would listen to family members!! I would definitely give the doctor additional input.

As for the blood work to check for other possible causes, this is typical. They will try to rule out any other cause for the confusion which may be a type of deficiency, medication side effects, or other problems that could be treated. I do wonder if your Dad was given a MMSE (Mini Mental Status Exam) or other cognitive test to determine if he did have cognitive decline. I think this should be a standard protocol with anybody over the age of 55 or who have complaints about cognition from the patient or the family. It is a simple 30 question test which show deficiencies in various types of cognition. It is only a starting point but will indicate if there are problems that need further investigation. Please do not give up. If you are on your Dad's HIPPA list (allowing you to talk to the doctor) I would surely talk to him. If not have your Dad add you to his list of allowable contacts and then contact the doctor. If you do not get the answers you are looking for, ask for your Dad to be referred to a elder neurologist who specializes in dementia or a cognitive testing office. I will say that it usually takes more than one visit to get a real diagnosis. The GP will usually do blood work, review medications, get a CT scan, and do a general physical to rule out other causes. Then a specialist will be brought in. Then you go back a second time and the decline is noted. Then you get a real diagnosis... Wish there was an easy way but that is about what we have. Many GP are very hesitant to even mention dementia. So keep working on it!!

Love, deb

 
Old 03-13-2015, 11:20 AM   #9
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Hi all, I haven't been here for a while, things have not been good with my father. we have been having a very difficult time. After what seemed to be what the doctors said mental confusion from uncontrolled blood sugars, we worked hard on trying to stabilize his sugars by counting out food and meds for the day. It seemed to be working out fine, but honestly did not see a huge change in the mental state. We were hoping that it would fix itself. 2 weeks ago my father developed a virus, and in the middle of the night my mom called to rush him to the hospital, after 10 hours in the emergency he was admitted for pneumonia, and a mass near the stomach area that showed up on the Ct scan. His sodium, and sugar levels were off again, sodium being very low. His mental function is decreasing. The nurses are saying the low sodium has been responsible for all his altered mental state. He is getting angry, trying to leave the hospital, getting confused about where he is, but then goes back to normal able to dial a phone number, foods he likes etc. Can this happen with low sodium?? I am thinking its more a Dementia setting in. Anyhow they cannot run any medical procedures until the sodium levels are up, but I fear his cancer maybe back and has spread since he cant barely breathe, having urinary problems etc, its just a mess. My mom no longer wants to deal with this at home, I don't think he is leaving soon. I'm so confused as to why we aren't getting any answers, and why his mental state is declining so rapidly. I m thinking a brain tumour?? Don't know, feeling confused and very scared.i am adding that after meeting with the doctors today my dad has congestive heart failure and possible colon cancer again....my question is if he. Has colon cancer again will they be able to do surgery with his heart problem...?

Last edited by Nina46; 03-13-2015 at 09:57 PM.

 
Old 03-14-2015, 10:07 PM   #10
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Patience Nina... obviously his is a complicated case with many problems and that is going to take some time to sort out. Yes, dramatic swings in blood sugar can cause confusion, low sodium can too. If he has some sort of dementia then the pneumonia can make it worse. But if they get his blood sugar and sodium back in normal limits and the mental function does not increase then you know that was not the cause. Nobody can tell you if the sodium or blood sugar is the cause until those are fixed. The Urinary problems or congestive heart failure can be the cause of the low sodium. So it's all a catch 22 that the doctor's have to sort out one piece at a time.

Do not jump to brain tumors or any other confusion until you know for sure. Let the doctor's do their job. As for Mom, I am sure she is exhausted. Dealing with an agitated person is exhausting both mentally, physically, and emotionally. Listen to her. She is the one that has had the day to day dealing with him. She knows her limits. What happens next is not a decision you make right now. You do that after you know what is causing the problems.

Hope you are able to get some answers soon but please be patients

Love, deb

 
Old 03-20-2015, 10:26 PM   #11
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Well my father was released from hospital today. His colonoscopy showed some polyps which were biopsied but no concern for cancer again which is great. His heart failure is under control and is on new meds for that. Bad news the doctors called my brother and told him they suspect dementia and that he scored 12/30 on a test they gave him and they have to take away his license before being released from hospital. Hes home know, mom is worried sick, he's determined to drive but we have disabled the car and took away his keys
What does this mean know? How rapid is the decline and how do they eventually die from this? How long can he livr at home for? Devastated and confused.This is happening way too fast.

 
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Old 03-21-2015, 07:49 AM   #12
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

First, I am sorry you are having to deal with this again Nina. I am glad that his other medical problem have improved.

If he only scored a 12 out of 30 on the MMSE then this is not new. It is something that has been progressing for years. Kudos to the doctor for taking the appropriate step in taking away his driving privileges. His cognitive ability to drive and respond to what happens in the moment are severely compromised and he is a danger to himself and others on the road. It is not easy to take someone's driving privileges (sense of freedom) but it has to be done and good that the doctor did it. Disabling the car and taking his keys is the best you can do... and constantly remind him that somebody can take him where he needs to be.

As far as how long he has, how rapid is the decline? That would take a crystal ball to figure out. Each is different. It could be quick or slow and what's next is a question nobody can answer. It depends on his health, what type of dementia he has, and what complications lay before him. With a score of only 13 out of 30, he is not at the beginning of the disease but probably midway.

As for how long he can stay at home? That will depend on his temperament, how well he adjust to the new changes, and Mom's ability to take care of him. Again, each is different. I have known some strong caregivers who have kept their loved one at home through out the disease. I have also known caregivers that needed lots of assistance and others that could only deal with the disease for a short time. How well does Mom handle Dad, especially in those angry moments? Some with dementia are easy to deal with and others are very difficult. What you have to do is watch the situation between Mom and your Dad. Be aware of Mom's physical and mental health, as well we Dad's. Listen to her if she says she can't do it. Listen to what she might NOT be saying out of a sense of duty as well. Assess Dad's behavior. Is he a danger to himself or your Mom if he become outraged. Bouts of angst and aggression along with wandering combined with Mom's ability to deal with these situations, are usually the deciding factor in whether Dad can stay at home with Mom or not.

Love, deb

 
Old 04-08-2015, 12:23 PM   #13
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

Just a quick update...well my dad is doing remarkably well. He is physically back to where he was before going into the hospital, sugars and heart meds are regulated through a book provided through the pharmacy. It's made our lives so much easier. His mental state seems better, seriously we had Easter dinner together and only had one slip up. He forgot where the dishwasher was. He is going back for a memory test in the upcoming weeks. He is determined to get his license back. It may happen I honestly have seen a huge improvement since they corrected his meds and he is doing better. He may still have it, the testing will tell. After talking to the physician they felt under the circumstances (him being ill and having a language barrier, English not being his first language) they want to retest things to make sure. Time will tell in the meantime I am glad that he is doing better, mom is also less stressed. One thing that shocked me is that my 3 brothers went behind my back and got him to sign a power of attorney without asking me. The only was I found out was because my sister in law told me, because she was there and she wouldn't witness it because I didn't know about it. I was upset and hurt at the same time. Apparently they feel like I am too busy to care about it (since I am raising a special needs daughter and I would be too busy to care), I let it go but I was shocked, I have heard of family wars over this and frankly I don't want to go down that road as my plate is full but they could have at least asked..NO??

Last edited by Nina46; 04-08-2015 at 12:27 PM.

 
Old 04-08-2015, 11:49 PM   #14
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

That is good news Nina and the very reason a diagnosis is necessary. Cognitive impairment has many causes, some of which are fixable. I do hope it was only the medication causing the problem

As for family conflicts during time of crisis... they happen way too often. If I could say on word it would be communication. Family member have to talk to each other. Have regularly scheduled meetings in person, on conference calls, or via internet video conferencing. Leaving somebody out of the loop, even if the intentions are the best, can cause hard feelings. It's always best, even if you disagree, for everybody to have all the information available. I do hope you and your brothers can fix this misunderstanding.

Love, deb

 
Old 05-02-2015, 08:44 PM   #15
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Re: Worried dad may have Alzheimer's .

I wanted to update quickly, dad is still having his minor slip ups and he is continuously asking "did I get that right"? I think he realizes his memory isn't great.He did go back and re did his test, he scored 26/30 this time so the doctors are re doing it in a few months. Still don't know what to think, but taking it one day at a time.

Last edited by Nina46; 05-02-2015 at 08:46 PM.

 
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