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Possible start of Dementia, raising subject with DH

(22 Posts)
Mamma66 Thu 02-Jan-20 08:29:22

My lovely MIL is 89, the last couple of times we’ve seen her I have become increasingly sure that she has the onset of Dementia. My Father was also present and mentioned it to my DH (they have an excellent relationship) but DH didn’t seem to have noticed (or at least want to notice). My Father saw MIL again on Sunday and it confirmed for both of us what he had been thinking. Knowing my DH he hasn’t acknowledged it and nor will he any time soon. His late Father had terrible Alzheimer’s and didn’t recognise DH for the last three or four years of his life and DH really struggled with this.

My Brother-in-Law and his wife live with MIL and are her carers. From chatting to SIL I don’t think she has seen the decline so obvious when you are not seeing someone daily. My SIL is doing her best, but I don’t think she is accustomed to looking after someone living with Dementia.

DH’s lovely sister was there too, should I gently raise it with her or step back and wait for MIL’s children to take a course of action? I have a reasonably good understanding of Dementia because of my job, I want to see MIL access the help she needs but not sure if it’s my place.

For clarification, I know the best thing with DH is to give him time to process information, he will raise it when ready.

Any advice or thoughts gratefully received... 🙂

TwiceAsNice Thu 02-Jan-20 09:01:50

I think it might be good for you to speak to your SIL and then perhaps you can speak to your DH together

Daisymae Thu 02-Jan-20 09:08:37

I am not sure what's to be gained by raising this as an issue at the present time. I would think that your sister in law is best placed to tackle issues as they occur. You can provide support as and when it's required. I would stand back for the time being.

annsixty Thu 02-Jan-20 09:18:53

I agree with that last post.
I realised very gradually when my H developed dementia, I think if anyone had pointed it out in the early days, I would have been in shock and may have viewed him differently, we may have missed out on good and happy times with me worrying all the time about him and the future.
The family living with her will surely notice if her behaviour deviates too much from her norm.

GrannyLaine Thu 02-Jan-20 09:27:41

Mamma66 I sympathise with your dilemma. My DD went through a similar situation with her husband's Grandma who lived alone. The family steadfastly refused to accept her concerns, even to the extent of ignoring a very poor score on the standard memory test. Long story short, Grandma had a fall and broke her hip, developed a long spell of delirium whilst in hospital post surgery which truly unmasked the dementia. It sounds as though your MIL is very well cared for and other than addressing issues of physical safety, perhaps its a wait and see situation?

Oopsminty Thu 02-Jan-20 09:30:19

Don't say a word.

They may well be aware

It's a delicate subject and my father never admitted that my Mum had dementia, even when diagnosed.

Granny23 Thu 02-Jan-20 09:32:49

Sorry Daisymae but I think that is bad advice. The sooner there is a diagnosis the better. There are medications which do not cure but slow the progress of the disease. A diagnosis is also the passport to both financial help e.g. carer's allowance or attendance allowance, and practical help such as a Blue Badge, Panic alarm, raised toilet seat, etc.. Further there are practicalities such as putting a Power of Attorney in place, which can only be done in the early stages, while the person is deemed to have capacity, i.e, is able to consent.

Mama66 best place to start is a visit to the Alzheimer's web site and Talking Point Forum, where you will find a wealth of information and support from professionals and people who ARE living with Dementia. Please do not leave this burden/responsibility on the shoulders of SIL alone, as so often happens. This situation requires a whole family approach and agreement.

Oopsminty Thu 02-Jan-20 09:45:33

It's not bad advice, Granny23

It's just different advice to yours

GrannyLaine Thu 02-Jan-20 09:51:50

Granny23 you are absolutely right about all of those things , particularly in respect of lasting power of attorney. BUT until the family is ready it will be hard to put them into place. The Alzheimers Society were really helpful with phone support for my daughter.

Nannarose Thu 02-Jan-20 10:18:48

Always difficult. My own advice is between the two - watch & wait, but prepare yourself to take advantage of an opening that the carers or family may raise.
Do read up on the Alzheimer's site - however experienced you are, this site is very good on how to tackle the subject.
You can also raise physical or general health, and see what is said.
My own experience with many difficult subjects is that people are aware - just denying it, including to themselves. That's why being aware and ready yourself means you can take advantage of any opportunity.

Nannarose Thu 02-Jan-20 10:21:42

PS: do you do any of the care? My experience is also that carers don't like non-carers making any observations.
Sitting with her whilst they go out may give rise to an opportunity. Offering 'because she seems more frail'might be helpful, but you will know best.

GagaJo Thu 02-Jan-20 10:23:05

Surely the point is, if it IS dementia, catching it as early as possible could mean medication that could slow it down?

GrannyLaine Thu 02-Jan-20 12:34:59

Gagajo while that would be true with early onset dementia, I think the difficulty here is that the lady is almost 90. There are enormous problems in the way the very elderly respond to medication and interactions with other meds.

Septimia Thu 02-Jan-20 13:01:01

There are some really good books about dementia, with good advice. It's probably worth reading up on the subject before you try to intervene too much - the information might advise on how best to do that anyway.

If your MiL is otherwise being well cared for I'd wait until a suitable opportunity arises to make an informed comment, rather than raising the subject and being rebuffed.

Esspee Thu 02-Jan-20 14:53:42

Please please do not take the advice given about not mentioning it.
When I noticed early signs in my mother I moved heaven and earth to have her assessed. She was prescribed a then experimental treatment which later became available to all. It halted the deterioration and it meant that her final years were of a much higher quality than they would have been if I had allowed her to slip away from us.

Septimia Thu 02-Jan-20 16:02:46

I think the variety of responses reflects the variety of relationships that the posters have with their families.

They have done, or advised, what seems right in their circumstances.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to assess the best approach for your family circumstances while bearing in mind all the advice given.

BradfordLass72 Fri 03-Jan-20 01:13:06

If this IS dementia, it will soon become apparent to everyone and you don't need to do a thing - except stop worrying about it..

If your DH chooses not to accept it, let him.
It's not something any child wants to accept and he's already been hurt once.

If/when it becomes obvious and/or a problem, you can then offer help or advice about professional and extra care but at the moment, there's not much to be done.

welbeck Fri 03-Jan-20 02:29:06

medication does not help in all cases. and with some underlying conditions, it is contra=indicated. so as not to give unrealistic expectations. tread v carefully.

kittylester Fri 03-Jan-20 07:38:00

Are you sure that she doesnt have an underlying infection? UTIs in particular can have dementia like symptoms.

A trip to the gp seems a sensible idea.

cornergran Fri 03-Jan-20 07:49:28

I agree with kitty, a review with the GP focusing on a potential physical issue is a good place to begin.

Daisymae Fri 03-Jan-20 09:02:55

I based my response on the fact that the op is not caring for this lady. It seems to me that the main carers are best placed to decide what course of action needs to be taken, bearing in mind all the circumstances of the case.

BlueSky Fri 03-Jan-20 09:14:03

Yes at 89 medication may not be effective or suitable. Anyway a mention of your concerns to the main carer wouldn't hurt.