demensia or depression?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by jonty, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. jonty

    jonty Registered User

    Oct 29, 2007
    This is my first time on this site and I'm doing it in order to learn from others experiences, and to tell our story in the hope this life experience may help others.

    My Father in-law Bill (aged 76) has suffered from depression for the last 4 years since his wife sadly died from demensia. From being an organised and active man this loss would lead to him sitting in a dark living room in the same chair, just staring at the telly or the picture of his wife that sat on top of it. Come 6pm he would start on the Volka and Tonic until bedtime (regularly wetting the bed or not reaching the toilet). Over the last year or so we have seen further loss of energy and within the last 6 months my wife and I noticed he was starting to forget things and repeat himself.

    It has been very difficult for my wife (the only child) as Bill is a very stuborn man but still we have kept making regular visits to see him.
    Six weeks ago the alarm bells starting ringing in our minds when we couldnt get through to him on the phone. We called the GP who sped round, saw Bill in a very confused state and emmediately placed him in hospital. Now Bill lives in Chester with no family round him. My wife and I live in London (3+ hrs away on the train).

    To cut this long long story short placing Bill in hospital for over two weeks seemed to have done more harm than good as he caught additional infections and was fitted with a cathater that he didnt need. He's now at a rest bite home and visiting hospital where they will be carrying out further tests. His short term memory is very poor although he knows who everyone is, he can be non responsive one day and very communicative the next. He seems very dehydrated and isnt eating much. He is also very tired and sleeping at the wrong times of the day

    My wife has had first hand experience with her mothers demensia and says that these are all the classic symptoms.

    I feel like I'm treading water at the moment. I feel helpless as if I'm not doing enough to help both him and my wife, and we're both so tired. After 4 weeks we still havent had a full assessment and I feel I cant plan the next step/s regarding where he will live etc until we have these results.

    I'm rambling I'll stop now... but I'm pleased I got it out. Thank you for reading
  2. Norman

    Norman Registered User

    Oct 9, 2003
    Birmingham Hades
    Hi Jonty
    welcome to Talking Point.
    It is a worrying time for you,and so difficult living so far away.
    I t sounds as if you wife may be correct having already experienced a similar situation.
    I think you must get the assessment before you can progress.
    Keep posting and let us know how you get on
  3. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire
    Hi Jonty,

    It sounds as if your FIL needs a proper assessment of his mental state, to determine whether indeed it is depression, or the beginnings of dementia/AZ because the two are very different.

    You say he is in a home but undergoing tests at the hospital. Would he not be better to be in hospital for a while on an assessment ward (without the catheter), so they can see how he behaves 24 hours day, rather than just for a short time.

    I'd ask about this, if I were you.

    I hope you can get a proper diagnosis, then you can decide how to move forward.

    Best wishes

  4. Taffy

    Taffy Registered User

    Apr 15, 2007
    Hello Jonty and welcome to TP,

    I have a old friend also named Bill (86) and back in 98' he lost his wife to cancer. Bill went into a deep depression his health suffering as well. Everyday except Sat-Sun ( no transport ) Bill spent at her grave it was pitying.

    Bill ended up in a psych unit he also displayed dementia symptoms all of which greatly improved with the depression been treated. He was never allowed home again and firstly placed into a assisted care hostel, now because of his failing health he is in a nursing home. He never got over his loss.

    I'm assuming over the four years that your FIL was treated for his depression. My dad is in poor health kidneys and heart and he has been assessed for dementia and given the all clear BUT his symptoms mimic dementia. My mum has had alzheimer's for seven years.

    The waiting is the worse part and maybe they need to rule out anything that could be causing similar symptoms so they don't misdiagnose your FIL. I can understand how your wife feels because I truly thought dad also had the classic symptoms. A very difficult situation for you both I hope that it's not long before everything can be sorted. Regards Taffy.
  5. germain

    germain Registered User

    Jul 7, 2007
    Hello Jonty and I second all the welcomes !

    Our Mum has AD dementia but has also sufferred from mild depression for years.
    Its very difficult for us and the professionals to tell one from the other sometimes.
    All the anti-depressants that she's been tried on only seem to worsen things.

    And I think that AD can worsen depression - especially if the person starts to realise there's something very wrong.

    Worth getting both treated if you can
  6. janetruth

    janetruth Registered User

    Mar 20, 2007
    Hi Jonty

    You mentioned that your FIL was drinking Vodka at night, is it possible that 4 years of this, that it could be a drink related problem.
    Have you spoken to anyone about this, it wouldn't hurt just to speak to his Doctor as it would help them to get a proper diagnosis.

    My Dad was Alcohol dependant and had many Demetia like symptoms, he died aged 74 in Hospital, in 2000.

    My Mum now lives with me and my partner and has AZ she is 82 and all her life has only ever had the odd Sherry, she much prefers a cup of tea.

    I hope things get sorted soon.
    Living so far away from her Dad, must be terrible for your wife.
    Take care
    Janetruth x
  7. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    You will have to wait for a full assessment and diagnosis. Sadly there is no definitive clinical test for dementia (particularly Alzheimers Disease) - it is done by symptom.

    In your FIL's case, he has so many other problems such as depression, not eating or drinking - and (I hope you will not be offended by this) a possible alcohol problem. The catheter could indicate they suspect a urinary infection or something like that. Singly or in combination these could produce symptoms that are similar to the early stages of dementia.

    The only way forward is to treat the other conditions and then see if the "dementia like" symptoms get better or not.

    Unfortunately this tends to leave you hanging in suspense, which is really awful for you!
  8. cariad

    cariad Registered User

    Sep 29, 2007
  9. germain

    germain Registered User

    Jul 7, 2007
    Hello and thanks for the link Cariad,

    I've followed a few links on from the original and found out its possible that our Mothers sudden deterioration since leaving hospital could be linked to the "cold turkey" stopping of her Prozac.
    Will pursue actively.
    Thanks again
  10. beechwood

    beechwood Registered User

    Oct 30, 2007
    How I feel for you and your wife

    My father died suddenly back in February and I had to take over caring for my mother. At that time I didn't even know she was suffering from dementia as she had not been assessed. My father had hidden the seriousness of her situation and, because they spent the winter abroad, I had no idea she was so bad.
    She came to stay with me initially and I soon realised that she was incapable of going back home to live alone. It was a real struggle getting her to agree to move closer to us.
    My own doctor was marvellous and pulled out all the stops to get her assessed and onto Aricept but it still took months and I had to suffer the daily problems of coping with a seriously sick woman whose moods were unpredicatable (often violent and abusive) and who could only be left on her own for very short periods.
    She has been on Aricept for six months now and the improvement has been impressive (but it's all relative, so she is by no means 'normal'). However, she is calmer and more cheerful but she still needs full time care as she is incapable of doing much for herself.
    It is like having a small child again - needy, vulnerable and a danger to herself if not closely monitored. She is also manipulative, cunning and very demanding.
    I too am worn out but, because of the affection she shows me (something I didn't get off her when I was a child, I might add) I struggle on. I remind myself she cannot help the way she is and I try to ignore her constant, confusing conversations and incessant demands and focus on the positives (not a lot, I grant you, but there are some pleasures in caring for her)
    I have no magic wand to wave for you, I'm afraid. The only advice I can give you is to keep supporting your wife as best you can and please, please, please don't offer her advice on how to cope. She will not appreciate it, no matter how well intentioned your words are!
    Good luck - you are going to need it.
  11. jonty

    jonty Registered User

    Oct 29, 2007
    Thank you

    I wanted to say a big thank you to all who sent replys to my initial note yesterday.
    When you hear back from people who know exactly what you're talking about you dont feel so isolated.

    Thanks again

  12. elaineo2

    elaineo2 Registered User

    Jul 6, 2007
    leigh lancashire
    Hi sorry for your situation and i hope you can resolve it sooner rather than later.I have experienced these worries with my father.I am now going to be blunt!(not like me really).Get in touch with the GP and ask for an assessment from the memory consultant.Don't take no for an answer or you will be waiting and waiting.Don't get me wrong,i don't ask you to be rude,just make your point and make sure they know you know what you want.(sad,that this is the way to go).please let us know the elainex
  13. KenC

    KenC Registered User

    Mar 24, 2006
    Co Durham
    When I became ill I was told that I was just deppressed, then after months of tests I was told that I had Dementia with Lewy Bodies.
    What I did not realise until much later was that when people have Dementia they do get very depressed because they are not in control of their lives any more.
    I started to experience this after my diagnosis, and my consultant did tell me that this does happen.
    But I think some Doctors use the term deppression rather than look at the real reason behind it. I was extremely lucky that as an employee of a university their own medical department started to look into my case, because they must have known that I was not depressed and they infact found the answer which my own doctor did not seem to like.

    Best Wishes

  14. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    This is all so true.

    When my husband was being treated for depression, it was as a result of his inability to cope with a house move.

    He was later found to have Alzheimers.

    Now he is equally depressed because of what Alzhimers is doing to his mind.

    The depression has been constant, but has has two different causes.
  15. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire
    Ken C

    It is refreshing to hear from a sufferer like yourself. We all tend to focus around being carers.

    Do keep us up to date with how things are for you.

    Much love

  16. KenC

    KenC Registered User

    Mar 24, 2006
    Co Durham
    Hi Margaret,

    I will try to keep in touch once my broadband is sorted out. We have had major problems over the last few months, and have had to resort to a dial up system which is very slow. We hope to get things back to normal when we return from the Dementia UK Conference at Harrogate later next week.

    Best Wishes


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