My motherinlaw is 90 and in poor physical health. She lives in her own rented apartment but has the services of a professional paid carer on a daily basis. The doctor (she says) visits her weekly but I think that is only to check basic things such as her temperature and blood pressure. She adamantly refuses to go into a care home. She lives hundreds of miles away in another country where we are not fluent in the language. My husband flies to see her 3-4 times a year. What has prompted this question is the recent series of events. My husband had long-delayed surgery just before Christmas. We advised her three weeks in advance, that we could not travel to her country at that time, on the phone and in writing. We had to repeat this news 16 times (I counted) over a three-week period before she finally got the message. She then angrily called my husband "selfish" for not going to see her at Christmas. This is completely out of character. Over Christmas itself, when my husband was recovering from his operation, she showed no interest in that whatsoever and only wanted to talk about herself (because she had forgotten about it?). About a week later she started to phone every other day to ask if he was still in hospital. We have so far told her seven times that the operation was weeks ago and that he is back at work. Another incident which may or may not be true: she (allegedly) phoned her carer in the middle of the night to ask where she (the carer) was, as she (my motherinlaw) had to take the children to school. The children are now in their 60s. It seems a crazy story to me: how could she know who to ring in the middle of the night (the carer) if she has dementia? Or is that another symptom? Getting places and people and time-frames completely muddled? She also phoned her sister to ask her how her (the sister's) husband was. The sister angrily told her that her husband had died two years ago and slammed the phone down. My motherinlaw's reaction was that she did not know, nobody told her. My husband is equally adamant that his mother does not have dementia. He says 'look at the way she can recall events from 70 years ago in perfect detail, look at the way she remembers the house where I was raised'. But her short-term memory is only days or sometimes even hours. So is this dementia or old-age forgetfulness. We can not tell from here.