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Does she have dementia?

(13 Posts)
kittylester Wed 04-Sep-19 20:08:01

Foxglove - you could ring and talk to someone rather than going on the website.

Foxglove77 Wed 04-Sep-19 19:31:14

Thanks for your replies everyone.

Fizzers yes she loses her glasses and keys all the time. This started before Dad died but his loss hasn't helped. They were married 60 years.

Our local surgery is so over subscribed we can never see the same GP twice.

Kittylester thanks I will look at Alzheimer's site for advice.

agnurse Wed 04-Sep-19 17:59:42

It does sound as if this could be the beginning of Alzheimer's, but there are a number of things that would need to be ruled out first. Really, what she needs is a complete check-up with blood tests and maybe even a head CT if her provider feels it is warranted. (In my area a head CT is generally part of an Alzheimer's work-up. Obviously there is no "official" test for Alzheimer's, but a head CT can rule out other issues such as a brain tumour or bleed.)

What I'd strongly recommend is that you talk to her doctor in advance about your concerns. Given what you've reported about her forgetfulness and repetition, it's quite possible that her insight is very poor. It's common for people with dementia to forget that they have memory problems. They can't remember that they forgot something, or that they got lost, or that they couldn't do something, because their short-term memory is so poor. This means that she may indicate to her provider that she's better off than she actually is. I had a practicum at a geriatric clinic, and we normally insisted that a family member or friend needed to accompany the patient for a geriatric assessment, to provide collateral history. It was common for the visit to go somewhat along the lines of, "My memory is pretty good", and then the support person would say, "Wait, Mom, remember you had that issue last week/month/recently?" Even if your mother won't allow you to accompany her to a visit, you can still call her provider and indicate your concerns. While her provider can't share her medical information, they should be able to listen to you and this will give them a heads-up as to what may need to be done.

There is also the question of capacity. You'll need to find out what your area's laws are in this regard as they can vary. I believe it is generally accepted that until proven otherwise, it is presumed that an individual has capacity to make his/her own decisions. This means that your mother may have the right to live at risk unless something serious happens that causes her capacity to be questioned. Your local seniors' resource agency may be able to provide you with information on capacity determination regulations and processes in your area.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. I've cared for many patients with Alzheimer's and other dementias, but only recently began to experience this as a family member as my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago. She now lives in a care facility. I hope that something is able to be done for your mother.

Redtop1 Wed 04-Sep-19 17:46:09

My Mum went to great pains to cover up memory slips with the excuse that she was so busy and had a lot on her mind and it was to be expected. It went on for a couple of years, she gradually stopped cooking, my father took over doing that as she had burned (incinerated a few things and boiled pans dry). Soon after this it became noticeable to me that looking at her eyes she didn’t appear to be with us, a vacant look. It was soon after this that she was diagnosed. It was all very sad.

Willow500 Wed 04-Sep-19 17:44:23

Oh dear unfortunately this sounds exactly like my mum's early symptoms too - please try to get her to the doctors to be assessed. If diagnosed early enough there is medication to help slow the progression down. By the time I had got mine (and my dad) to the memory clinic it was too late for them. You can look on the Alzheimers site for advice too. The idea of forewarning the GP is a good one - even the practice nurse can do a simple memory test (I had one earlier this year when having a routine blood test). Its very worrying for the person themselves when they realise something isn't right.

Grannyknot Wed 04-Sep-19 16:44:44

Hi Foxglove I'm sorry to say that the description of your mother sounds very much like the beginnings of my MIL's Alzheimer's.

My MIL also realised that something was wrong, and she asked me to find out who the expert was in our city (in South Africa) and she asked me to accompany her to the appointment. Later, when it came out and her daughters were mystified as to why she had asked me and not one of them, I realised that she was 'saving' them from the shock or hurt or worry, and that I was a safe place at this stage. I had agreed not to disclose to anyone, but I did tell her son (my husband) because others in the family had noticed that all was not right.

Perhaps your mother needs to get there in stages too.

I'd talk to the GP as others have suggested.

annsixty Wed 04-Sep-19 16:43:59

This is a very good idea if your surgery will cooperate.
Mine wouldn’t.
I was told it had to be his idea and him that put it forward.
In the end I gave him an ultimatum.
As soon as the GP started talking to him she realised there was a problem.
They did blood tests etc to rule anything else out but the standard test for Alzheimer’s proved it.

Charleygirl5 Wed 04-Sep-19 16:12:55

Get her to see her GP by mentioning she needs to have a drug review and as somebody said, prime the GP beforehand.

kittylester Wed 04-Sep-19 13:47:43

You should get a formal diagnosis. For some forms of dementia there are treatments that can slow the progress. There are benefits that can kick in and lots of help available.

The Alzheimer's Society can give lots of help and advice.

Doodle Wed 04-Sep-19 13:42:37

It is worth persuading her to go to the GP as if it is dementia they may be able to give her something that helps. My brother was also reluctant to go. In the end my SIL got him there by stealth having primed the GP beforehand so the subject didn’t have to be mentioned by name.

kittylester Wed 04-Sep-19 13:38:38

Can you talk to her gp privately about your worries? Some gps will then offer their patient a general 'check up'.

fizzers Wed 04-Sep-19 11:25:06

My mother was like this, constantly fiddling with the TV, the heating settings, then it progressed to 'losing' hearing aids, glasses etc. My mother was diagnosed with dementia but she was 90 years old at the time.

She would become confused as to the date, which political party was in power, then it progressed to losing keys , medications etc.

i think the only way to know for sure is to take her to the doctors, but she may refuse to go.

As she says, she could be stressed, she did lose her husband earlier this year and she is still trying to get to grips with that, a bereavement can and does knock you sideways, I'd give it a while longer to see if she gets any worse

Foxglove77 Wed 04-Sep-19 11:18:50

My Mum will be 81 in March. She is in general good health and can ride her bicycle into the local village a mile away. Dad died earlier this year so she now lives on her own with her beloved dog.

However she is very forgetful and repetitive. Mum always reminded us children of all upcoming birthdays and anniversaries never missing any. She completely forgot mine this year which is so unlike her.

She knows herself there is something wrong but insists she is just stressed. I have asked if she would like to see a doctor and offered to go with her but she says the only thing wrong is old age and there is nothing the doctor can do about that.

She is forever fiddling with the TV controls and then when we put it right she does it again. It's as though she has no short term memory.

Should she be formally diagnosed? If so is there anything that can help or should I just leave things be continue helping as much as I can?

I don't have any previous experience in this.