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Could it be Alzheimer's?

srt36

Registered User
Jun 17, 2007
3
I, along with my family and many friends have been very concerned about my mother recently and many people have mentioned the possibility of Alzheimer's. My mother was diagnosed with depression earlier in the year, but was suffering also with panic attacks and some minor confusion. She was prescribed anti-depressants which turned out not to suit her, so her medication was changed and eventually the panic attacks stopped and her condition seemed to be slowly getting better. However, over the last few weeks, the confusion has taken a severe turn for the worse, for no apparent reason. She says many things that don't make any sense atall and often can't even remember simple things like days of the week or occasions, and she is unable to recall or talk about events. Today is Father's Day and she commented to me that it was nice that we were out for my brother's birthday.:confused: Her GP has said this is simply an effect of her condition. My mother has suffered from depression in the past and there was no confusion then. This is completely different and the confusion is very worrying for everyone. It is my intention to speak to her GP tomorrow, but I just want to know whether I am over reacting or do I have genuine reason for concern. She is just approaching the age of 60.
Thank you.
 

Skye

Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
17,000
SW Scotland
Hi

Welcome to TP, I hope you'll find a lot of support here.

It does sound as if your mum coul be suffering from young onset AD, but there are other possibilities that could account for her confusion.

I don't think you are over-reacting, you are doing the right thing in getting your mum checked out.

It would be a good idea to write down all the things that have worried you and take the list with you, that way the GP will get a clearer picture. Hopefully he will suggest a referral for tests. Don't let him fob you off by saying it's just normal signs of aging, it's not. Make sure you let him know how concerned you are.

Let us know how you get on.
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Hi and welcome to TP

I would like to echo what Hazel said. Speaking as someone who has had long-term depression plus being only 9 years younger than your mother, I do not believe that the symptoms you describe are a direct result of either her illness or her age. It may not be Alzheimer's Disease: there are many other conditions that can cause this sort of short-term memory loss and confusion, but don't be fobbed off. After all, 60 is not particularly old.

Does your mother have any other health issues such as hypertension or heart problems? Either of those can increase the likelihood of some kind of vascular problem.

Jennifer
 

Nell

Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
1,170
68
Australia
Skye said:
Don't let him fob you off by saying it's just normal signs of aging, it's not. Make sure you let him know how concerned you are.
Very important!! Doctors (who can be wonderful!! I have no axes to grind with the medical profession in general!) can be very quick to say "normal aging". My Dad had to have a quintuple bypass which the heart surgeon said saved his life by hours :)eek: ) after his doctor had said: "It's normal for people your age to feel tired and have aches and pains". :confused:

Also, think back on recent events. . . . have you noticed some "oddities" in your Mum's behaviour that you didn't think much about at the time??

After Mum was identified as having AD we realised that quite a lot of things had happened that we too put down to "old age" (guess I shouldn't blame just the doctors!!).

Things like: not cooking enough food when she had visitors; complaining that the microwave made the porridge "too salty' (!!); leaving things in the fridge that should be in the freezer; taking all day to do a few minor chores; etc. etc.

I remember on one occasion telling her she was behaving unreasonably "like a spoilt child" over something - no longer remember what. I felt ashamed of this when I later realised she couldn't help it.

I guess I'm saying that things that happened previously might now be significant in light of what is happening at present. It is worth thinking about.

I do hope for all your sakes you get an answer and some help.

Stay with TP - it is a wonderful source of information, suppport and comfort.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sandy

Registered User
Mar 23, 2005
6,847
Hi,

You are right to be concerned about this change in your mother's condition. I think the key phrase was: My mother has suffered from depression in the past and there was no confusion then.

The simple fact is that without further investigation your mother's GP can not categorically state that he KNOWS this is just part of her depressive illness. And I think this is a key point to put to the GP (along with your detailed observations on her changing behaviour): How would he be able to distinguish between depression and dementia in a person like your mother? That is what tests/observations would he use to make a differential diagnosis (to tell which it is).

It is also worth looking at a tutorial that the Alzheimer's Society has created to explain the process of diagnosis:

http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/working_with_people_with_dementia/Primary_care/Dementia_diagnosis_and_management_in_primary_care/diag.html

Looking at the page of that tutorial on depression:

http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/working_with_people_with_dementia/Primary_care/Dementia_diagnosis_and_management_in_primary_care/depression.html

It is worth noting the last sentence on that page: Between 15 and 20 per cent of people over 65 years have significant depressive illness, and depression commonly coexists with dementia.

And looking at the sentence before that: Sometimes the diagnosis is very difficult to make and a trial of antidepressants is the only way to differentiate finally between the two.

Your post said that her depression and anxiety were responding to the antidepressants and yet the memory problems were no better and even getting worse. That seems to imply that the co-existing depression was not responsible for her memory problems (?).

I do also have to say that certain medical professionals do not always take early signs of memory loss (also called mild cognitive impairment - MCI Factsheet) seriously enough. This bias could also reflect the fact that current NICE guidelines do not recommend drug treatment for the early stages of Alzheimers.

Good luck making your points with the GP today.

Take care,

Sandy
 

Lila13

Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
1,342
Good luck with the GP.

Lila

srt36 said:
It is my intention to speak to her GP tomorrow, but I just want to know whether I am over reacting or do I have genuine reason for concern. She is just approaching the age of 60.
Thank you.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,063
Kent
Hello srt36,

I hope you get some answers from the GP today. It`s always best , if you think family members aren`t asking the right questions, to ask on their behalf.

It will be interesting to hear how you get on. Depression can be blamed for too much, IMHO, when there is often an underlying cause which may be overlooked.

Take care
 

jackie1

Registered User
Jun 6, 2007
238
Cheshire
It is so easy to slip into the trap of finding reasons for odd behaviour. I know that I did with John. But once you really notice the behaviour, as you have done, I think that you really have to insist on action.

John was 52 when his assessment process started, driven on very strongly by me. he very quickly had an MRI scan which , apparently, showed no damage. As I wasn't happy with this (no reason was given for his behaviour) I asked for a second opinion. Further tests were done which confirmed AD about 8 months later.

Until you feel happy with the answers you get keep pressing, don't be fobbed off.

I hope that all goes well for you and your mum.
Love
Jackie
 
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srt36

Registered User
Jun 17, 2007
3
Thank you all so much. I really appreciate your helpful comments. I have a telephone appointment with my Mum's GP at 11.00 am today, so will let you know how it goes. Thanks again
 

annesharlie

Registered User
Apr 10, 2007
80
Vancouver Island, Canada
Hi srt36

I'm thinking of you - I remember well that hideous sinking feeling in the stomach when I first realized something actually IS very wrong. With dementias it's hard to notice at first, esp if you're used to the person being a bit scattered. I do hope your doctor looks into it very carefully and thoroughly. It is a good idea to have incidents and questions written down prior, otherwise one forgets. Oh dear, I'm writing this from Canada and I realize by now you would have had that telephone consult.

Do let us know the outcome.
A
 

Lila13

Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
1,342
I keep thinking of all the times when I phoned my mother's doctors and was told they'd ring back and they didn't, I suppose that was the receptionists. I don't know if it would have made any difference if they had rung back.
 

annesharlie

Registered User
Apr 10, 2007
80
Vancouver Island, Canada
Lila

Don't fret over what's passed. Even if you'd got a diagnosis very early on, there is still no cure for dementia and so the outcome is no different. In some ways it's easier to not know too early - when things like driver's lisences are taken away soon after diagnosis - often really, when the person is still competent to drive.
 

srt36

Registered User
Jun 17, 2007
3
As a result of my telephone appointment with my Mum's GP this morning, she had an appointment this afternoon at the surgery and has been taken into hospital this evening. They are intending to keep her in a couple of days and will be carrying out a brain scan and I think several blood tests. One of the possibilities mentioned, was low sodium levels, so I think they will also test for this. I am so glad that they have at least taken very prompt action, I didn't expect same day, but at least we will know for sure.
 

Skye

Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
17,000
SW Scotland
That's excellent news. It's great that you got such an immediate response. Let's hope they find the cause of the problmes.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,063
Kent
It`s good they are not just going straight down the dementia line, but are testing for other things, much more easily treated.
 

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