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Are these signs of dementia?

Discussion in 'Memory concerns and seeking a diagnosis' started by Bunky70, May 18, 2017.

  1. Bunky70

    Bunky70 Registered User

    May 18, 2017
    New to the forum and sorry if I'm going to be repeating probably most people's worries about their loved ones. My Mother in law has been struggling with memory issues for quite a while but has worsened in the last year, a few major ones being unable to make out the time in the middle of the night even when told - feeling like she has missed a day because she has gone to sleep again. She uses wrong words for things and gets people confused bu sometimes will correct these quite quickly. She thinks people are in the house (including her mum who has been dead for 7 years now) but she will tell you she knows it can't be the case and even has a note by her to tell who is actually in the house (herself, husband and dog). There are lots more examples of confusion and disorientation. She is reluctantly going to the doctors and because of her history of anxiety they are just carrying on treating her for that though the truth is she is very clever and very selective about what she tells the GP. So all of this is completely undiagnosed. She has phoned tonight distressed to say she had a bad turn this morning when she woke she didn't know where she was and didn't recognise the dog and was asking her husband where all the other dogs were (she only has one) but doesn't care what we all advise she is not telling the GP and ending up having lots of tests. My ask is does this all sound like symptoms of dementia ? Would she be able to retell the fact she couldn't remember who the dog was or that she didn't recognise the house etc !? She had routine bloods done about 10 months ago and nothing untoward came up on that. Any help or advice would be lovely.
  2. LadyA

    LadyA Volunteer Host

    Oct 19, 2009
    Welcome, Bunky. It all does sound concerning, although there are other things that could be causing the symptoms that should be ruled out, for example, depression or vitamin deficiency.

    It is important that her GP is fully informed of how she really is, so my advice would be for her husband (or yourself even) to either go and see him alone or write to him explaining what you've outlined here. The GP cannot discuss his patient with anyone else, but he can listen to your concerns and take them in to account when he then sees your MIL.
  3. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Hi Bunky, welcome to TP
    It sounds like it might be time to bite the bullet and contact the GP as LadyA suggests.
    Everything you're saying rings alarm bells and the sooner she's on the GP's radar the sooner something can be done.
    I will be honest and tell you that AZ is a war you're going to lose, so it's more about which battles are worth fighting, getting the diagnosis and medication is very much one worth fighting, it can be one of the hardest too.
  4. Malalie

    Malalie Registered User

    Sep 1, 2016
    Hello Bunky, and welcome.

    It does all sound a bit familiar, but good advice from LadyA as always - it could be something that it is quite simple to rectify. If the doctor is aware of your concerns (through a letter or whatever), he may do a little informal memory test as he's talking to her. She could present herself very well with his questions, and be told to carry on as always - nothing wrong. This happened with my MIL.

    It is worth keeping a diary about episodes with Mum that are concerning you, so that if you are still worried in a few months time, you have a history of what has been going on since the doctor saw her last.

    It may be time to consider writing up Lasting Power of Attorneys for health and financial affairs whilst Mum is still generally OK if that has not been done already. You can get the forms off the internet, and it is very simple and easy to do.

    I hope things go well for you, and I'm glad you have found this forum.
  5. Bunky70

    Bunky70 Registered User

    May 18, 2017
    Thank you all for your very quick replies it is so appreciated and so thrilled to have found this forum. My husband is trying to push his Dad into being honest and direct with the GP when they go next week. My MIL won't let either of us go as she knows we will say more than she wants us to. Her fear is she does have Alz as her own father had it. We thought about contacting the GP on our own but we know both MIL and FIL ( who is very much in denial) will be very cross with us if we they found out but maybe you are right and this is one of the battles we have to choose to take on as part of me wonders if her anxiety levels are equally getting worse because she knows something is not right and is probably very scared. I wonder too if It is the onset of Alz have we left it too late for medication to help !? Thanks again all x
  6. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Two things you've said: if they don't tell the GP the whole story or are worried you may say too much then it may be worth reminding them that the longer he doesn't get the right medication the faster the condition will get worse, it's their choice but burying your head in the sand isn't a good decision when it means he's being deprived of medication that whilst it won't cure him may make it a lot better for them both for longer, their choice and they both will have to live with the consequences.
    Second point, GP's are very discrete, send the GP a letter with your concerns that way the GP will know what they're looking out for from the start otherwise they could just turn the whole appointment into a discussion about other issues and get nowhere.
    It is important that he gets checked out, it could be a number of treatable conditions like a thyroid issue or even a vitamin deficiency or (God forbid) a brain tumour.
    How would everyone feel if six months down the line the doctors found something and said "if only you'd come in 6 months sooner we could have done something".
    Sometimes "you have to be cruel to be kind" but it's so important that the cause gets identified and treated.
    I say that as someone who recently lost a lifelong friend to a brain tumour, it sometimes bothers me that he put off going to the doctors because he was seeing what AZ was doing to my wife.
  7. Little Circles

    Little Circles Registered User

    Mar 30, 2017
    Sounds very similar to my Mum, and my Mum was not keen to see any doctors - she said they are not going to tell me ' I am funny in the head' but things were taken out of our hands as she had a bad fall and was in hospital and that started the ball rolling on a diagnosis
    It is best for her to see her GP but haven't got much advice on how you can persuade her to go, perhaps if she has got to go for another reason or arrange a routine health check and someone could go with her and explain the concerns.
    I am not being much help as I am new to this myself and hope you can persuade her to seek a medical opinion

    Sent from my iPad using Talking Point
  8. Tilly56

    Tilly56 Registered User

    Oct 14, 2014
    #8 Tilly56, May 19, 2017
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
    Be careful if writing to the doctor.

    Someone has said that it is fine to write to the sufferer's doctor, and that doctors are discrete. Not necessarily so. My mother has been having symptoms for 4+ years. I wrote to her doctor a couple of years ago and he dropped me a line to say he would bear in mind my concerns. He did a brief test and declared to Mum that he was not worried about her.
    Symptoms continued and I became increasingly worried, to the point where I spoke about it to my own doctor, and she advised me to write again. I did so, updating the doctor on further symptoms. Shortly afterwards, I had a call from Mum saying that she had thought she had given birth to a lovely daughter but now she'd changed her mind. Her doctor had given her a copy of my letter. In one move he destroyed an exceptionally loving mother/daughter relationship of nearly 60 years. Two years on, Mum has deteriorated but seems to have forgotten the incident, and our relationship, whilst far from back to normal, is no longer in the unhappy condition of that terrible time.
    Incidentally, I have written endless letters and emails to the doctor's practice and to various other medical organisations, but I have never been given any explanation as to why the doctor did such a thing.
    Meanwhile, my mother is still in denial and has still not been diagnosed. Any medication which could perhaps have slowed down the symptoms has been denied her.
    So if you plan to write to a G.P., be sure he/she IS discrete.
  9. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    I've never heard of that happening before, all I can say is that GPs are just that General Practitioners not specialists. It may be that they fancied themselves as a bit of a psychologist and thought wrongly that by confronting your mum with your letter it may make her face up to the reality of the situation.
    But whatever the situation it should never have happened and I hope you reported it.
  10. felix1977

    felix1977 Registered User

    Jun 13, 2017
    What did tell your doctor?

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