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  1. #1
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    Suspect wife (52) has dementia, possible early onset AD. What to do?

    Hello all. I am new and this is my first post. Any advice or insight from all of you will be greatly, greatly, greatly appreciated! I have been noticing unmistakable changes in my wife's cognitive abilities and personality, and these changes seem to have accelerated in the past 6 - 12 months. Her adult sons, who no longer reside with us, have also noticed significant changes. We have no family and little friend support in our home area. Our current dilemna is that my life, let's call her Lucy, is steadfastedly refusing to acknowledge anything is wrong. After much coercion, I, together with her primary physician, convinced her to get an head MRI. However she has since canceled her last 2 or 3 MRI appointments. To convince her to go for a neurological consult or psychological veal seems out of the question at this point. Meanwhile, her symptoms mount, and I am at a total loss as to how to proceed at this point.

    Here is some background. We are/were a professional couple. We still have a 17 y.o. at home, and 2 adult sons who are living independently out of town. Lucy is only 52, and I am still in the middle of my career and not nearing retirement. Lucy is also a Type-I diabetic since a teenager, but well-controlled.

    Lucy lost her job during the .com bubble burst about 6 yrs ago. About 5 yrs ago, she lost all interest in trying to find work, preferring to stay home internet surfing and fussing over her dogs, which she has so far accumulated 5.

    Lucy has been showing an unmistakable diminution in the ability to handle finances, and this has worsened in the past year. After she lost her job, I had simply turned over my paycheck to her and let her do our family finances. Beginning a couple of years ago, I started realizing that there are overdrawn or maxed out credit cards, our credit rating is in shambles, and very poor or neglected spending decisions. A couple of months ago, I finally assumed all control of our money, and giving her a "personal discretionary" account. She seemed relieved at this changed, but would not admit that our finances were a complete mess. In fact, the IRS is seeking $15K for something dating back to 2009, which I am still trying to sort out what happened. Don't get me wrong, we are still solvent and I make good money, but this is nuts.

    Her memory, especially short term, is a mess. She can ask the same question, like what time is my flight for the next week's business trip, 4 or 5 times in the same evening and still do not remember by the next day. A real conversation with her is a real rarity these days; she often segues into a million different stream-of-consciousness topics and forgets to listen. She often mishears, especially when I use a sentence that has abstract imagery. She is very prone to sudden agitation, happy one minute, shifting to extreme annoyance over very small triggers, and then just as suddenly return to normalcy. When agitated, her behavior seems over the top, with yelling, aggressive tone, sarcasm, etc. She is also prone to sudden bouts of crying over very strange (in my opinion) issues, such as over the mistreatment of some dog she has never met a whole continent away. She is exhibiting, with increasing frequency, distorted recollection, and this is coupled with a some paranoia, thinking that I am not treating her right or hiding things from her. This latter behavior has led her to alienate most of her real life friends in our town. Much of our conversations these days involves me listening to her putting down her friends, and sometimes me too. Sad to admit, but I find myself trying to avoid conversations with her because of all the negativity.

    Our dilemna is this. How do I get her to be looked at? As her spouse, what recourse do I have? Currently she is still okay being on her own, which is good because I need to work and cannot devote 24/7 to looking after her, which may also be good because I don't think I can stay sane myself if I have to be around her all the time. She really is extremely difficult to be around. It is like she is reverting to her pre-adolescent personality, with the usual governors to proper behavior removed.
    Last edited by luau; 20-04-2012 at 01:16 PM.
     

  2. #2
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    Hi and welcome.

    I have no experience of early onset dementia - my mum was diagnosed last October aged 78 following admission to hospital and had now had to move to a care home. She clearly had dementia for some time - years even but had a rapid decline in the past 12 months. She has vascular dementia and this can happen.

    What I can say is that some of the signs you descibe are those which indicate dementia but I don't know if can also indicate other things. I did wonder if she might be depressed as this can also manifest in some of the ways you describe - being tearful, not concentrating or listening (maybe remembering), being anxious, flying of the handle, mood swings etc. It sounds like she is quite isolated which won't help. These things are all also signs of dementia. Mum was hard to be around, difficult, demanding, unreasonable etc. It helps once you know the reason and I wish she had been diagnosed sooner so I would have been better able to understand. There is no point in reasoning with someone with dementia - it doesn't work. You have to have alternative strategies. Leaving notes and things can make day to day living easier - you mention about her forgetting times/dates - could you have a family calender to write this stuff on?

    It is very hard to get someone to seek help if they don't want to. Does she say why she won't go? Would she feel better if you went with her? Does her GP have any suggestions or advice? You could go and see them on your own for a chat.

    Hopefully someone with more experience of early onset will be along soon. Good luck.

    Jane
     

  3. #3
    Hi , if you said you thought that she might be depressed and offered to go to the GP with her she might take that better than dementia being mentioned .

    My husband has not had any scans and was diagnosed with early onset vascular dementia 3 years ago after about 5 years of problems with memory and behaviour ,
    Last edited by jeany123; 20-04-2012 at 01:50 PM.
    You Never Know How Strong You Are Until Being Strong Is the Only Choice You Have,
     

  4. #4
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    I am not sure why you think particularly that this might be early onset dementia. Is there a history of this in her family? Obviously she does seem to have some problems and as these are cognitive and memory issues it is probable that something is wrong in her brain but there are other illnesses that affect the brain other than dementia. What if she has some other treatable condition causing these difficulties and by refusing to acknowledge it may leave it until it is too late to fix it. Somehow you and/or her family must try to get her to the scan.
    Do you have any idea why she is not going to the scan? You say she has memory problems so is she maybe frightened about going to the hospital with regard to getting lost or is she forgetting about the appointments. Have you offered to go with her? If you feel she is crying off because she thinks there is nothing wrong with her then you could try telling her that the MRI scan will prove that and then you will stop going on about it when it shows she is clear.
    I would ask her to do it for you because you love her.
    with best wishes,
    Tre
     

  5. #5
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    thanks for your responses

    Again, thanks for all your responses so far. To address some of the questions that you raised, it is true that I don't know if it is early onset or any thing else. So in this respect and because we don't know if it is Alzheimer's, this is perhaps the wrong place to pose my questions.

    Yes, I do think that depression may be part of Lucy's issues, although she is very good at putting on a good face. I do know that clearly something very much out of normalcy, and her condition seemed to have taken a big step downward since the beginning of this year.

    Lucy was battling some issue with hyponatremia (e.g. low blood sodium) last year. In fact, she lost consciousness once while driving, and wrecked the car. Her primary care physician and I have been trying to eliminate metabolic causes. Now her sodium level is close to normal, and the electrolyte imbalance can no longer account for the altered cognition. So far we have no indication of metabolic anomalies from blood tests and thoracic and abdominal CT scans. The last place to look is the head. Lucy is refusing the MRI, claiming that she did not want to waste another morning sitting inside a little noisy chamber. I think she might be afraid to find out if there is indeed something wrong. Once I did offer to go with her, but she accused me of trying to prove that she is crazy. I simply don't know what to do next. Right now I go day to day; I try to and be there; I try not to agitate her, which is becoming progressively more difficult; and I try to ensure that no matter what happens, our family stays afloat financially.

    So my biggest question for which I am seeking your collective wisdom, how do you render care to someone who refuses to acknowledge anything is wrong? And what steps can I take to take care of the whole family, myself included?
    Last edited by luau; 20-04-2012 at 03:29 PM.
     

  6. #6
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    Hi,
    This must be really difficult.
    Does your wife understand the reason for a need of the scan?
    She is a wife and a mother of three children who cares for her.
    Does she fear the examination or the possible result on the scan?
    Can you make her feel responsible for her own well being@
    The diagnosis may not be Dementia, it could be a tumour not to alarm her but cancer needs treatment.
    My husband three years on with very similar behaviour and denial of being unwell was seen by a neurologist and the very first test he did was blood test which included HIV - yes, a difficult one to swallow - we were lucky it came back negative though I have still lost my husband at 52 as he is not the man I used to know.
    Can you seek help from one of our wife's friends they must too see a change in her.
    Depression, yes that is what I thought for a long time, if only the there would be a treatment plan.
    Best wishes I do hope other people will have better suggestions for you.
    Lis
     

  7. #7
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    Sorry to hear that things are going wrong at home, and I hope you manage to help her, and find out what is happening. I agree with taking her to the GP together, and have a chat with the doc. Surely they can do a memory test if the MRI is a bit too scary for her and perhaps a chat about how she's feeling. At least when you have a diagnosis, you will be able to make plans for the future and any care/help she and you may need.

    I also agree, some of the things you talk about can also be something else, and living with a partner with depression a lot of the things you talk about are the same as my partner. I am in no way saying that your wife may not have Alt's, but in our case, its not.


    I wish you all the best, and I hope you guys get there.
    x
    Last edited by blightygirl; 20-04-2012 at 09:07 PM.
     

  8. #8
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    Firstly I do not think you should not be posting here whether or not it turns out to be dementia. There are many TPers who have had trouble getting their loved one who is in denial to get medical help. I am interested she says the scanner is a noisy box as this is exactly what my husband called it but only after he had experienced the first of his three scans.
    All I can suggest is to keep telling her that you do not think she is crazy but you worry that she may be missing the opportunity of having something curable treated by avoiding the scan and that makes you very sad.
    Tre
     

  9. #9
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    Hi, i've recently taken my 77 year old mother to the doctor because i thought she was suffering from some form of dementia, i made this judgement based on my 50yr old wife who was diagnosed EOD feb 2011. Having gone through the appointment and simple tests the GP carried out, he agreed that there was definately a problem but suggested this may be down to the long term effects of diabetes. My mother suffers but is well controlled and borderline. May be that your wife is similar but symptoms are confused by elements of depression. May be worth having a chat to GP and thinki
    ng more broadly about potential causes. All the best Big Geordie
     

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Geordie View Post
    Hi, i've recently taken my 77 year old mother to the doctor because i thought she was suffering from some form of dementia, i made this judgement based on my 50yr old wife who was diagnosed EOD feb 2011. Having gone through the appointment and simple tests the GP carried out, he agreed that there was definately a problem but suggested this may be down to the long term effects of diabetes. My mother suffers but is well controlled and borderline. May be that your wife is similar but symptoms are confused by elements of depression. May be worth having a chat to GP and thinki
    ng more broadly about potential causes. All the best Big Geordie
    Might your mother be afflicted with vascular dementia? Though there is not much literature on this, it seems the same mechanism leading to peripheral neuropathy and vascular issues in diabetics should also happen in the brain?

    Your wife and your mother at the same time! Wow! You have your hands full!
     

 

 

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