Advice on how to deal with early stages

Discussion in 'Recently diagnosed and early stages of dementia' started by iipboss, May 27, 2015.

  1. iipboss

    iipboss Registered User

    May 27, 2015
    I am looking for some advice please and from the outset I apologise for the length of this post.

    My Mum (69) is I think (from observation and from reading forums like this) displaying early signs of dementia. Although she is NOT in a constant confused state and sometime is quite capable of having a lucid conversation we have noticed over the past few months she is “not herself”. My Dad obviously noticed things first and he has now been convinced to make an appointment for Mum, but, he doesn’t want to book an appointment for her under false pretences and wants to sit her down and discus with her first, however, none of the family know how she would react to such a conversation, possibly anger and denial and we are worried if this was the case she might refuse to go the Doctor.

    The things that have led us to think she has early stages of dementia are:

    • Conversation has almost dried up although she will answer questions put to her easily.
    • Confusion with certain tasks (sometimes) e.g. she put the vegetables on to cook before the meat for a Sunday roast.
    • An awkwardness in social situations, sort of inappropriate/ unusual behaviour is the best way to describe it.
    • Occasional disorientation – e.g. walked out of the back door of her house and round to the front and thought she had locked herself out as she could not get in the front door.
    • Always wants to clean things and do housework – slightly obsessive.
    • Eating – I don’t know if this is unusual, but she has developed a huge appetite and can eat a cooked breakfast and then have a large mid-morning snack – unheard of, or, eat two puddings.
    • Another strange one – always likes to have her handbag beside her – even in her own house, she takes it with her all the time.
    • Vacant look and staring – when she has done something unusual and it is pointed to her she stares in a vacant way and never makes a comment or a response.

    Having said all of this, I can still chat to her on the phone and can ask her questions, which 99% of the time gets right, she can drive(although more erratic than normal) and in many other ways she is very normal.

    The questions I have at this stage are

    a) Does the above look familiar to people reading this?
    b) How should you react when she does something wrong/ or gets something wrong? Should you point out the error, “Mum, I said three cups of tea?” or, should we sort it without saying anything?
    c) In the long periods of silence – should we try and encourage conversation or is that too much pressure and should we leave mum to say watch TV in silence.
    d) Do we point unusual activity out – “Mum, why are you always carrying your handbag with you”, or, do we keep quiet?
    e) Is there anything proactive we should be doing? I appreciate she has not yet been to see the Doctor yet but as getting an appointment is likely to take a few weeks anyway is there some things we should be adopting now?

    Finally my parents live in the North East of Scotland (myself in the South East of England and my Sister in Spain) and a search on this website suggested that the support available was likely to be on-line support, therefore I will be very grateful for any responses.

    Thank you
  2. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    #2 Beate, May 27, 2015
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
    Hello and welcome to TP.

    You ask some very good questions.

    A) yes, all familiar traits for someone with dementia, though obviously everyone is different
    B, C and D) I wouldn't point out errors and shortcomings. Still talk to her but don't ask her too many questions. Here's a great link about compassionate communication:
    E) you could contact the Alzheimer's Society or Age UK for any practical advice, befriending service or any clubs your Mum might like to attend. While a diagnosis is not needed for support from social services, as long as your mother doesn't place herself at risk, there might not be a lot forthcoming yet, and it's probably too early to start applying for things like Attendance Allowance. It might however be a good idea to get power of attorney sorted as your Mum needs mental capacity to understand and sign it. The sooner the better really. The form isn't as daunting as it looks and you can fill it in relatively easy online if you prefer. Registration costs aren't prohibitive and could go down to nothing depending on your mum's financial situation, but the peace of mind is priceless.

    Good luck and if you want further reading material, there are plenty of factsheets here:
  3. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    North Manchester
  4. balloo

    balloo Registered User

    Sep 21, 2013
    As you said POA important but if you do it yourself you will still need solicotor certified copy for pensions people ,bank and to claim attendence allowence as they wont talk to you if you cannot give them a certified copy.
  5. balloo

    balloo Registered User

    Sep 21, 2013
    As you said POA important but if you do it yourself you will still need solicotor certified copy for pensions people ,bank and to claim attendence allowence as they wont talk to you if you cannot give them a certified copy.
  6. iipboss

    iipboss Registered User

    May 27, 2015
    Thank you for replies and for the links to fact sheets. Adopting the Compassionate Communication ideas is making things easier already!:)
  7. MLM

    MLM Registered User

    Jun 17, 2014
    In terms of bringing up your concerns to her you could ask her if she is feeling like her usual self and see if she herself raises any issues if you haven't done this already.

    I would also keep a note of what things appear to be unusual for her and the frequency of these things happening. It will be useful when you do go to the GP.

    Things like POA are important but don't worry too much about that. Not everyone manages to get it sorted out in time if there is an issue and there are still systems in place to support families to make the important decisions for their loved one, it isn't a case of them not having a say if POA isn't in place, it just makes things simpler and a generally less time consuming.

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  8. MLM

    MLM Registered User

    Jun 17, 2014
    It is also worth adding that dementia isn't the only thing that causes confusion and/or memory concerns so it is important to rule out a number of things to reach a diagnosis and explore any options for treatment.

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  9. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Yes, I agree with all of the above. Here in the States, I feel it's important to have the power of attorney sorted out as soon as possible; this may not be the case where you live but I generally think it's better to have it and not need it, than need it (urgently) and not have it.

    Everything you listed does sound like it could be dementia or something similar BUT there are different types of, and causes of, dementia. I know it might be difficult to start things moving with the doctor but I do recommend it. There are many physical ailments that can cause symptoms like dementia (thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies, drug reactions, hydrocephalus, tumors, even urinary tract infections) so it is always a good idea to get things checked out.

    Frankly, for right now, I would not point out or challenge any unusual behaviour unless there is a real problem (danger to self or others). This often just makes things worse. I'm a believer that social interaction is a good thing, and many people with dementia do tend to withdraw or isolate themselves, so anything that isn't distressing to her is probably a good idea, but you know your mother best.

    I hope you will get some good advice and information; there is plenty of both here.
  10. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
    I am a great fan of Tepa Snow who has got lots of "videos" on line giving advice on how to deal with different stages of Alzheimer's/dementia
    If I have a problem dealing with something mum is doing, I try to have a look at what Tepa suggests and try to see if it helps mum and me.

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  11. Countryboy

    Countryboy Registered User

    Mar 17, 2005
    this is just my personal view well how I have always approached this way my dementia didn’t worry me when I was diagnosed aged 57 if you reaching the age of 70 just enjoy that your above ground so live life to the full,
    I’m 72 and now over the allotted threescore years and ten so every day is a bonus now for me
  12. MrsChristmas

    MrsChristmas Registered User

    Jun 1, 2015
    Hello there

    I have just read your post and think we are in the same boat although your Mum is a good bit younger than mine-90. I am in the process of trying to get my mum diagnosed but her symptoms are just so vague. My mum resents any intrusions in her life and has a great fear of doctors.

    Mum is still driving but had an accident a month ago which frightened me to death! I too have noticed the fact that conversation is very difficult it's alright if I am talking but Mum will only ask if I have a good week when I had only seen her couple of days I an acquaintance not her daughter.

    It's just hard to hold a conversation and we do end up putting the TV on just to fill the silence which is so sad.

    Mum does not cook any more (she lives on her own next door to me) but buys things that can be put in the microwave or she'll fry and egg and have oven chips.

    Mum always has to have her handbag with her - been like that for years. We took her to the theatre in London a couple of years ago and she caused havoc for me and my partner because she thought she'd lost her handbag!

    Mum has good days and bad days.

    She does not sleep very well and is still painfully thin since my dad passed away in 2012 although, like your Mum, she does eat a lot.

    Like you I am struggling to find concrete symptoms and I have put it down to extreme old age.

    However, in last year Mum has become extremely forgetful and I do have to repeat things to her several times. Things like dates for holidays, where we are flying to (Barcelona Mum...many times!) and where we are going when we get there. I have even put dates on her calendar but she does not look at it.

    She gets very anxious if her routine is altered.

    What has made me concerned is that she reads a lot but cannot remember the title of the book or if she meets up with very old friends she cannot recall what they talked about.

    Mum is still able to look after herself just however, my partner and I do most of the maintenance and repairs to her property and we look after the garden.

    My brother has taken over her finances and everything is paid by dd but if something has to be dealt with financially she gets very flustered and has really trouble with numbers and writing cheques.

    My main worry is Mum driving at 90 with arthritis in both hands, pre Glaucoma and severe hearing loss and her loss of memory and constantly repeating stories from years ago but not being able to remember conversations in the last few days.

    I am hoping Mum's GP will contact her and have in for check up - if not I will have to go and see my GP - they are in the same practice.

    The suggestions from the lovely on this Forum have invaluable - hats off to the guys on here.

    Does this help at all.

    Keep in touch, if you can.

    Mrs C
  13. Lash

    Lash Registered User

    Jun 14, 2015
    Hi, I just wanted to let you know you're not alone. My mum is showing very similar signs and symptoms that you have described. These were gradual until the last 8 months and the last 3 have progressed a lot quicker. This week alone she didn't know what an onion or pizza was and had to ask if the picture of the child in her purse was me (is was). I don't always point out mistakes but on ocassions when I do she can be quite nasty and defensive. We visited the Dr 3 weeks ago, although she didn't understand why and told him she had hayfever.. We are now waiting for a memory clinic appointment. My mum also continues to drive and this gives me many sleepless nights but I'm unsure what to do as she insists she is fine. She lives alone so my sister and I visit every other day, she has a good friend who is aware of what is happening so this also helps. This whole situation is frightening but reading other people's experiences I feel calmer in knowing we're not alone. Xxx

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