Do you have experience with a parent with Alzheimer's/Dementia?
Last night, close to midnight, my mom called out of the blue. She seemed a little disoriented. Definitely not the mom I know. She said she hadn't heard from me in a very long time (I talked to her on the phone about a week ago and I visited there about two weeks ago). I asked if my aunties had flown home. She was surprised I knew the aunties even visited. I told her I was there for the anniversary party and they were there too. She couldn't remember that I was there two weeks ago.
She said she opened up a book and found my number, called it, but it was my old number when I lived in the city. She then found my current number and called it. She kept asking me if I lived in Edmonton, and I said well not really, I had moved outside of the city. She seemed surprised. She wanted to know if I liked it out here and what's the town close by. Well, I moved out here almost 8 years ago and she had mailed me packages and letters to my mailbox in town in the past.
I felt like I was talking to a stranger. How long before she doesn't remember who I am? I told her these memory problems are not good and she needs to talk to her doctor to do some tests next time she goes to see him. At least she sort of said yes she would do that. I kept repeating it. She said she remembers a lot of things; she just doesn't remember things that aren't important. She didn't remember I visited them for their anniversary party. Was my visit not important? I know she doesn't know what she actually doesn't remember and that was her best explanation. I told her she doesn't want that to get worse and the doctor can help her.
I think everyone else around her talks about this around her and not to her. I might be the first person to directly advice her to talk to her doctor about it and ask for tests. My dad told me he talked to her doctor and the doctor said to wait and see. I think this deterioration is going rapidly and treatment can't wait. I've seen my friend's father going through this and my friend's tough journey dealing with it. Now my mother is going through this when my dad isn't well either to take care of her.
What has been your experience in this kind of situation? I am not close to my parents both in terms of relationship and physical location. I told my mom to call me whenever she doesn't feel ok or just need to talk about something. If I need to I pass on info to my brothers and sister in law so they can arrange something to help her. I feel a little guilty for being far away and not having to deal with this issue day to day myself.
Even if she had a minor stroke, its time that you and your siblings not leave your parents alone and start looking into home health, nursing home, medicare, insurance, long term insurance, www.alzheimer.com, elderly services offered by your county, city, medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney, DNR, will, trust etc. Its a tedious process. My own experience, my father was diagnosed in his 50's . In his late 40's he would get into anger temper, cursing, getting violent, that led to him being incontinent, etc. Me and my siblings where quite young to recognize, that he was loosing his memory. My mom was always handicap and had lot of health problem but her mind was very sharp. So once we realized we start keeping our father in our homes away from mom, because one she couldn't take care of him and second they both would get into fights. We all took turn. My mother is much younger than my dad. In 2011, she broke her femur, titanium rod, replace twice, and in few year she had mild stroke. That led to few other strokes. But in a years she lost her memory, and with in a month the last stroke, forceful treatment from the hospital, with intubation, life support, all that took her away in 2013. In her last month she would just cry and sleep. One of my brother never left home because he wouldn't wanted mom alone. He did go to work and wasn't very comfortable changing diapers for mom. My dad is in vegetable state now, but he is still around. I had changed my dad's diaper for 4 years. One of my brother said my wife is not going to take care of my parents, but now she have him. My youngest sister in law took care of my dad too. she was actually mad at her husband for leaving to work and not worry about my dad. My brother have to travel for work, he have to pay the bills. Even thought I asked them to put dad in nursing home, my brothers are to scared to lose him. I was never closed to my parents either, but when time came you have to roll your sleeves. The first day i brought dad to my home, i had a nervous breakdown and end up in a emergency room. Even the flight to bring dad to Texas was not easy, because he would try to eat everything and then cough it all out. I was lucky that we didn't get kicked out of the plane. I didn't learn my lesson and took him to the beach one time. He dropped his pants in a gazebo and start peeing. He was almost getting arrested but luckily the cops believed me that he is not well. He would not keep his pull up diaper on and I had to fight him to put his diapers. He would constantly throw up, eat whatever he wants and then toss it all out. Not to worry not all alzheimer patient, react that way. Some just talk, and ask questions, and think you are there mom and dad. Eventually they are supposed forget how to eat, and then breath. My father did came to point where he would think I am his mom. He would fight with me that he needs to go home, and scream for his mom, dad, aunt, siblings to came get him. He have tried taking my car but then he will forget where he was going and then came back inside and start eating or drinking or start socializing with me. Its nothing personal, there brain is became a mesh. Just play along, what ever your mom say, the whole ordeal became quite comical after a while. Classical music, or what ever music she liked in her younger year will help her sooth her. Good luck to you as this is really a lot of work, and sooner you start and get organized, your life would be much better. Medical equipment, such as bed pan, gait belt, medical bed, toilet seats, shower chair etc are also thing you want to look in too.
My mother used to call and say she lost the kids and can't find them. I lived 75 miles away so I had to console her. I told her the kids were fine and they were with their mother. She would be alright. Finally she could not live alone and we found a nice place where she could make friends and have people to talk too. Now I am going through the same thing with my oldest sister, that's life.
If this happened recently and is drastically different than when you last talked to her (if it was recent) I would have her checked by the doctor. It could ne UTI. I am a social worker who worms with elderly and disabled and assess them often
I had one lady who ended up at our ofgive t0 miles grom her house driving. She made no sense and I called the police in town she lived to find out if family. It was a monday. I got ahold of her son and he daid she seemed off the weekend bit has always neen sharp as a tack. Turned out she had brain bleed and with medication 1 week later was ok.
It could ne dementia but if shocking and symptoms happened quickly I would tske her right away. Just realized you are far. If the doctor said to wait she just may have some short tet memory loss
You remember how to do things you have done forever but may not recall what you ate or the anniversary party. It is like not storing new things but having access to files in head stored before.
Try not to worry and it is best not to repeat often about her being forgetful as it can be upsetting to her. Good luck. Message if need to talk.
My mother died with dememtia. If there is anything I would change about the decisions I made during that time it's that I would have gone to much greater lengths to protect my mother from living alone. I wanted to move her in with my wife and me but my wife refused, saying living with my mother would be hell for us and likely destroy our marriage. Living alone likely accelerated the rate at which my mother lost her facilities. I know for sure living alone was difficult for her. Two years later my marriage broke up anyway.
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My favorite uncle ended up with Alzheimer's. As it progressed further and further the thing that seemed to work best was focusing on earlier times in his life as his memory deteriorated. My very last visit he totally didn't recognize me, although he was still able to remember everything that happened from his early twenties. I covered up my sadness and just showed him joy at going over his old stories. If there's anything you really need to talk to her about, sooner would be better.
I don't think these have been wide spread in either side of my family, ive heard of a few people that may have had it long time ago before they passed , in the last few years, my mom had a friend that just died this January from Complications from both of this brain diseases. I would say that her doctor needs to take your moms case seriously. What you are describing sounds like symptoms that go with these type of diseases , both are awful i know
The first thing to suspect is medication and/or medication interaction, ( even things she has been on for years), dietary insufficiency, (like B12 degeciecy),plaque buildup in arteries, particularly caratoids, diabetes onset infections like bladder infections, etcetc NO dementia!
Dementia is the diagnosis when all else has been thoroughly checked out.
Sadly, I do have experience with this, both personally and professionally. The thing with someone who has dementia is do not argue with them or attempt to reorient them. Play along. If they tell you they are worried about who is going to feed their horse, and they haven't had a horse since they were a teenager, tell them it's all fine, and that you will make sure the horse gets fed. Hours later, they may not remember that they even ever had a horse or asked you about it. Dementia/Alzheimer's does not follow a predictable timeline. Sometimes, someone has mild signs for years, and then cognitively goes off a cliff in a matter of weeks or months, but usually the onset is gradual and they develop coping mechanisms that keep even those closest to them from realizing what is happening until at some point, it becomes impossible to ignore. Focus on making sure her environment is safe, that there are people around her who can keep her safe, and that the home is set up (while she's still living at home) to make sure if she starts wandering she can't get outside without activating an alarm. It's a horrible horrible thing to have to stand by and watch happen to a loved one. You mourn them twice--first you mourn the loss of the personality and then later you mourn the death of their body. That is how it was with my mother. It took her about four years of decline before my father finally came to the conclusion he could not manage her at home and keep her safe. She went to a nice Memory Care living center and she actually seemed to do a bit better there for the last few months of her life, but then had a cerebral hemorrhage and was gone quite quickly. By that point, we all agreed it was a good thing as she was more and more no longer in the present.
Read up so you understand dementia. You don't mention how old your mom is. It is considered Early Onset if she is in her 50s, and that is not a good sign. Many people with Alzheimer's tend to do better early in the day, and the night time brings on the dementia, otherwise known as sundowning which sounds like may be going on with your mom. Dementia is one cruel ass disease, it robs the victim of their personality and leaves only the shell.
I haven't personally, but two of my close friends have recently gone through this with their mothers both of whom l knew. We had many conversations about this. The frustration for everyone is exhausting. It is an insidious disease. At times they turn into people you don't know. I am truly sorry this is happening to you and your family.
My mom was diagnosed with Dementia a few years ago. We have a home health worker come to her home 3 days a week, and my sister and I share the responsibility of making her dinner and getting her to dr.’s appointments. She’s not allowed to drive anywhere. The amount of time I spend taking care of my mom may have been a factor in the breakup of my marriage. I don’t know if this gives you any insight, but your mom is probably going to require a lot more attention.
I took care of my dad how had alzheimer's. It's not easy, best thing is make sure they are on the drugs that help slow the disease and there doctor can help with that of course, it was the hardest thing ever had to do. My father was a person with a super ass high IQ, American History Teacher (high school). It was hard to see such a smart man loose everything he knew. Also if you are going to be taking care of them, the doctors help you with stuff to on how to deal with it. Also its hard but you have to learn to laugh at the stuff they will do as it gets worse to. Just remember, they can't help it.