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Does this ring a bell?

Onceagain

New member
Sep 20, 2020
2
Hi all,
I used to belong to this forum as I saw both my mother and father in law through this tough journey. The support I received was overwhelming and the advice second to none. Anyway, I'm back again!

My aunt (wife of my uncle so not blood relative) was widowed 4 years ago. My uncle was disabled and a larger than life jolly character. My aunt spent a large amount of time physically caring for him. She was always a quiet person not unsociable as such but kept herself to herself. They were always out and about on cruises and around at exhibitions with my uncle's hobby.

To cut a long story short, my parents who are in their 80's but really well and independent have always had an open door policy for my aunt welcoming her any time day or night. As avid U3A members they have tried to involve her in activities and have offered to take her to other groups and clubs. She will not do anything but moans about being lonely and having no friends. She doesn't really hold a conversation but wants my parents sitting with her. My dad is often on his boat so mum bears the brunt of it. This is taking a massive toll on my mum's mental and physical health now. She feels responsible and can't walk away. It's causing a rift with my dad who sees it more rationally - you can lead a horse to water etc.

My husband and I are convinced my aunt has early signs of dementia having followed the journey twice before. My parents won't accept this.

My aunt is:
- falling regularly (7 ambulance call outs this year and days in a&e for my parents)
- when she's with us she hums without appearing to be aware of it
- can't follow conversations but nods and agrees as if she does
- can no longer use her computer properly but it's not her fault apparently!
- I think she struggles for words occasionally
- has fallen out with a lot of people that have tried to help or have been friends in the past
- sleeps a lot
-is paranoid about people getting her money

However, most of the time she knows what day it is and where she's going. She can manage her shopping - not sure about bills etc - could be that my dad set up dd's when my uncle died.

She is very deaf which doesn't help. She hates the NHS hearing aid but won't spend the money to buy a digital one

My parents will not accept possible dementia for the behaviour my aunt is showing.

I was wondering whether these signs ring a bell with any of you?

Thanks for reading this far.
J
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
13,689
South coast
Well, I agree there are things that could be dementia, but it might not be.

Its difficult to see what you could do, especially as your parents wont entertain the idea that it might be. If she is displaying concerning or unsafe behaviour (eg getting lost, or turning up at inappropriate times) then I think that it would be a good idea to write to her GP, or even contacting Social Services if its frankly unsafe, telling them your concerns. Eventually, though, time will show whether its dementia or not as it cant get hidden forever if it is.
 

Melles Belles

Registered User
Jul 4, 2017
461
South east
Definitely ring a bell for me as I saw some of these behavIours in my dad and FIL Who both had dementia (different types). Not necessarily the same ones in each.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,967
Kent
Hello @Onceagain. Welcome back to the forum although it`s not the place anyone would choose to be.

The behaviours your aunt is demonstrating could be dementia but also could have a number of other causes.

You say she was always quiet and kept herself to herself. She did go out with her husband and on holidays too and it looks as if she relied on this
larger than life jolly character
to support her social activities.

Now he is no longer here, perhaps she is hoping your parents will help fill the gap. It doesn`t mean she has dementia even if it is a possibility.

You parents have witnessed dementia in your in laws and frankly the more you push for it in your aunt, the more your parents will try to protect her.

The deafness and resistance to wearing a hearing aid, I identify with completely. Hearing aids can be intrusive unless they fit their purpose quickly. There is little difference between NHS and Private hearing aids. I was fitted with the most up to date digital aid from the NHS and it is in the cupboard because I hear too many sounds cutting across the sounds I need to hear and it causes a lot of tension.

Perhaps your mum could back off a little just to see if your aunt got into difficulties without your mum`s constant help and support but she will need to be able to decide this for herself.

Maybe your dad could suggest it perhaps in the best interests of your aunt and also your parents.
 

Onceagain

New member
Sep 20, 2020
2
Helpful replies! GrannieG you have given me food for thought. My FIL also hated his hearing aid so I can understand why my aunt is resistant to any suggestions.

My parents never really understood how bad my MIL's VD was in the early days as she was so impressive at maintaining a good social front. It was only when you spent time with her that it became obvious. They didn't believe my FIL was afflicted before he was lost on his mobility scooter for several hours on more than one occasion.

You are definitely correct that they will continue to protect her and I have stopped mentioning the possibility of dementia, even though I think it might help my mum accept my aunt's behaviour. I also realise that grief and depression are also possible causes.

Finding a way to take the strain off my mum is my priority at the moment. I'm self isolating at the moment so restricted on what I can do.

I shall put my thinking cap on....
 

Sarasa

Registered User
Apr 13, 2018
1,862
Hi @once again, I'm severely deaf so can identify with some of your aunt's behaviour as I'm probably a lot less sociable than I would be if I could hear as it is tricky to properly engage with people when you don't get all the conversation. I know I hum without realising I'm doing it too! I wouldn't bother with private hearing aids. My mother in law got some from the NHS and they are exactly the same as the basic ones you'd get privately. I'd only bother if you wanted the extras like being Bluetooth enabled and it doesn't sound like your aunt would be capable of sorting those out. My MiL never got on with aids as all the noises she could hear scared her. As @granny G says you have to get used to them and I think it's probably too late.
Having said that a lot of what you said reminds me of my mum in the early stages of vascular dementia. I put a lot of the things that were happening down to her poor eyesight, but looking back there were also signs of cognitive decline.
Hope you work out a plan before your mum gets exhausted by it all.