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Has my mum got Alzheimer’s? What do I do?

Discussion in 'Welcome and how to use Talking Point' started by f106, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. f106

    f106 New member

    Nov 5, 2018
    So it’s been roughly a year that I’ve started noticing changes in my mum’s behaviour. (I think) She’s retired so she stays at home most days. She began to do a lot less around the house like cleaning and house work; I thought it was because she had finally eased down on trying to make the house look spotless at all times. Then I started to notice her change in behaviour but because it was so gradual I would think it was normal. Once I began comparing her behaviour from in the past to now, I realise she has changed a lot.

    She would take a long time to complete simple tasks such as unlocking the front door or getting in the car and turning on the ignition. I noticed that my dad does a lot more around the house even though I would have thought my mum would be capable of doing it. He cooks dinner when he gets home from work and washes up afterwards. My mum would only eat the dinner and leave the kitchen to go up to her room.

    When she does cook she either microwaves leftovers or makes a sandwich which was different last year when she would cook our dinner herself.

    Sometimes she doesn’t even eat the whole dinner (which of course would irritate my dad from having to cook it at 8 o’clock in the evening just to throw it down the sink).

    She has lost a lot of weight too which I only noticed from comparing pictures from one or two years ago with her cheeks being more sunken in and sullen. She doesn’t smile in photos either anymore.

    Her temper changed from getting reasonably irritated at situations to becoming upset, sad and confused. This evening my dad tried to show her how to work a camera and she kept making the same mistake of not pushing the button all the way down to take the picture. My dad started shouting repeating the same instructions and my mum turned around and looked like she was about to burst out crying but like a child getting upset about being told off. I don’t believe she has always reacted like this.

    She tends to repeat things like questions about what time my train is or where I’m going because she forgot. She won’t drive to an unfamiliar town a few miles away and my dad has to drive me instead. (I rarely ask for a lift unless it is somewhere I have to go like for school.)

    She is more easily irritated at unreasonable things and will then try and slam things down like a packet of tomatoes to show she is annoyed but she won’t say anything.

    It’s taken a big toll on my dad especially when he tries to have a conversation with her. If he poses a question about the news or something that requires a personal response, my mum replies with simple, generated answers like ‘I agree’ or ‘yes, what you said’ and fails to go beyond that. It’s like she has no opinion of anything anymore and I can’t have a conversation with her because she either doesn’t listen or gets confused.

    Her tone of voice has changed too becoming more frail and ‘childlike’.

    On one or two occasions I’ve been up late I will come down to the kitchen to see her sitting at the table scrolling through John Lewis even though I saw her go to bed 3 or 4 hours ago.

    One big factor that led me to this conclusion is that her father had Alzheimer’s and I believe she is starting to develop symptoms.

    I don’t want to ask her to go to the doctors to run a diagnosis but I do not know what else to do - I don’t even know if it is Alzheimer’s but all of her behaviour point towards this.

    I am currently in college and I can not deal with the emotional stress this has brought and the tension in the household caused by this alongside the thought of not being able to do anything about it.

    Is there someone to speak to that can diagnose her from my observations? If she does have Alzheimer’s, how do I make her go to the doctors to check? What will happen after a diagnosis? Is it better to leave it and try to accommodate for her as best as possible and how? Sorry for the long thread I just don’t know what to do and who to speak to about this and I can’t deal with it by myself anymore.
  2. nae sporran

    nae sporran Volunteer Host

    Oct 29, 2014
    Welcome to TP, f106. I'm sorry to hear of your worries and your mums deterioration. The stress of watching someone you care about being ill and you not being able to help is hard, I know.
    Sorry, my partner has vascular dementia and the process of diagnosis involved a referral from the stroke association and the process for your mum may be different.
    https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/symptoms-and-diagnosis/diagnosis/making-diagnosis will give you some idea of what to do, and it is possible your mum's condition is caused by other factors, but her GP will take that into consideration. Others will be along who can give you better advice.
  3. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    I'm sorry for your distress but unfortunately no one can diagnose any form of dementia from afar just from your observations. This requires memory tests, blood tests and a brain scan, and your mother will have to agree to all this. One way of trying to get her to the doctor is writing to her surgery with your concerns and asking them to invite her for a general well woman check-up, however, no one can say how successful this will be.

    If she does get diagnosed with any form of dementia, only Alzheimer's and mixed dementia usually come with medication, otherwise only behavioural symptoms or things like depression can be treated. Medication only halts or slows down progression for a short time so the focus of any help should be day to day support, both for her and her husband, via Social Services. It would also be a very good idea to get Lasting Power of Attorney for her (both finances and health) while she still has the capacity to understand and agree.

    I think a good article to read for dealing with anyone who is increasingly confused is this one about compassionate communication:

  4. Malalie

    Malalie Registered User

    Sep 1, 2016
    Hello f, and welcome here.

    You have probably been doing a lot of research and ended up here trying to find answers about why your Mum's behaviour is changing - good on you - obviously a caring and concerned daughter. Could you say how old your Mum is?

    There could be many reasons for this change in her personality - from marital relationship breakdown that she's not telling you about, a vitamin deficiency - depression - other medical or psychological conditions- you name it really.... No one could diagnose something like this without a medical examination so a visit to the GP would be best if you can get her to go willingly. Preferably with you or your Dad present if possible.

    I would suggest keeping a short bullet point journal about aspects of your Mums behaviour that becomes worrying as time goes on - keep names of professionals she has seen, what they say, what they prescribe etc. It may become useful in the future.

    You don't actually say what your Dad thinks about this (apart from getting exasperated when trying to teach her about using his camera....) Have you spoken to him about your concerns?
  5. f106

    f106 New member

    Nov 5, 2018
    Thank you for the reply.
    I do not know the exact age of my mother but I know she was born around the late 1940s to mid 1950s. Sorry I can’t give you an exact number I don’t ask for her age out of courtesy since I guess she doesn’t want me knowing.
    I don’t think she has depression because she is happy but just sometimes very unaware of her surroundings or a situation. She is happy until something puts her in a bad mood like for example if I sit in her chair to tie my shoes.
    Also, my dad has never been one for these types of conversations since he probably wants to avoid getting upset and therefore the topic of my mum. He may know at the back of his mind but I would never ask him in fear of upsetting him or blunt denial and frustration with the suggestion.
    Thank you for the journal suggestion I will start to note down her behaviour incase it could be useful later down the line.
  6. la lucia

    la lucia Registered User

    Jul 3, 2011
    It's scary isn't it - realising how vulnerable our parents are? But I think it helps to have a plan and feel like you are doing something constructive.

    The journal idea is very good - just simple notes, observations and dates and circumstances.

    Your mum's doctor can't talk to you about her without her permission but you can explain your suspicions to the doctor on the phone and share your journal notes. Hopefully, as was said above, the doctor can invite your mum in for an appointment 'well woman checks' or whatever and start investigating. She doesn't have to be told about your worries. That's what I did with my mum. And then my daughter went to the appointment with my mum who was in total denial that there was anything wrong with her.

    Somewhere along the line you will have to have a frank but gentle conversation with your father. Tough, I know, specially in families that don't do 'open conversations'.

    You could just say that you are worried that she has a health problem and keep in mind that while your dad may also have concerns its tough to acknowledge that your life long partner is declining in some way. And he might not be ready to open up. But if you can get his help to get her to the doctors that would be great. One step at a time.

    Meanwhile, the hardest part of all, try not to let this have an impact on your college work. Easier said than done I know but your future is important. And don't forget that you can talk about anything you like right here in this forum and let off steam or get support. No one will judge and there's always someone around when you need them.

    There's a forum specially for young people but you can post a question in these other forums if you prefer. Best wishes.

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