• All threads and posts regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 can now be found in our new area specifically for Coronavirus COVID-19 discussion.

    You can directly access this area >here<.

In denial

Francisco

New member
Jul 26, 2020
4
My wife, a retired academic now in her late 70s, has been exhibiting signs of dementia for several years and the symptoms are slowly getting worse. Early forgetfulness and inability to remember much about recently-taken holidays has developed into delusional episodes (people entering the house and stealing things), periodic confusion about where she is, inability to concentrate, hiding and mislaying things, and most days spent in bed feeling tired and "full of cold". The ‘dementia’ remains undiagnosed.
There are complicating factors: no children, no friends and family locally, and unresolved emotional issues connected with the traumatic loss of two brothers.
My assumption is that she is in denial, an assumption because we have never discussed the possibility that she may have dementia. Occasionally, she will say "my brain's going.." and I will swiftly reassure her: "No it's not, you've always been a bit absent-minded". This is exactly what she wants to hear.
When I first became concerned about her short-term memory, I flagged this to the GP and suggested she go for a blood test. She has a strong aversion to doctors and refused to go mainly I believe because she might be told something she didn't want to hear and she'd rather not know. Next, the GP suggested I use the pretext of a flu jab - the appointment was arranged but on the day, she was not feeling well and felt unable to go with me.
Also, she is very much aware that her brother died of pre-senile dementia – the knowledge of what happened to her brother I’m sure plays a part in her head-in-the-sand approach.
We have been married for over 40 years. My wife has always had a tendency to fear the worst and although rarely depressed, she does have a depressive personality. This makes me have mixed feelings about medical intervention at this stage. On the one hand a blood test might reveal other more treatable factors but on the other hand, any medical intervention that resulted in her having to deal with harsh realities would be likely, in my view, to lead to deep depression and perhaps even a loss of the will to live.
As it stands, she is in good spirits and feels loved and well cared for, and expresses her deep gratitude to me on a daily basis. She totally relies on me, now virtually a full time carer, to keep her safe and secure. I feel that it's manageable as long as I can care for her and keep her in good spirits but the time will come when support is needed.
Any comments would be welcome.
 

Bella6

Registered User
Jul 25, 2020
13
My wife, a retired academic now in her late 70s, has been exhibiting signs of dementia for several years and the symptoms are slowly getting worse. Early forgetfulness and inability to remember much about recently-taken holidays has developed into delusional episodes (people entering the house and stealing things), periodic confusion about where she is, inability to concentrate, hiding and mislaying things, and most days spent in bed feeling tired and "full of cold". The ‘dementia’ remains undiagnosed.
There are complicating factors: no children, no friends and family locally, and unresolved emotional issues connected with the traumatic loss of two brothers.
My assumption is that she is in denial, an assumption because we have never discussed the possibility that she may have dementia. Occasionally, she will say "my brain's going.." and I will swiftly reassure her: "No it's not, you've always been a bit absent-minded". This is exactly what she wants to hear.
When I first became concerned about her short-term memory, I flagged this to the GP and suggested she go for a blood test. She has a strong aversion to doctors and refused to go mainly I believe because she might be told something she didn't want to hear and she'd rather not know. Next, the GP suggested I use the pretext of a flu jab - the appointment was arranged but on the day, she was not feeling well and felt unable to go with me.
Also, she is very much aware that her brother died of pre-senile dementia – the knowledge of what happened to her brother I’m sure plays a part in her head-in-the-sand approach.
We have been married for over 40 years. My wife has always had a tendency to fear the worst and although rarely depressed, she does have a depressive personality. This makes me have mixed feelings about medical intervention at this stage. On the one hand a blood test might reveal other more treatable factors but on the other hand, any medical intervention that resulted in her having to deal with harsh realities would be likely, in my view, to lead to deep depression and perhaps even a loss of the will to live.
As it stands, she is in good spirits and feels loved and well cared for, and expresses her deep gratitude to me on a daily basis. She totally relies on me, now virtually a full time carer, to keep her safe and secure. I feel that it's manageable as long as I can care for her and keep her in good spirits but the time will come when support is needed.
Any comments would be welcome.
Hi @Francisco
I have found denial to be a very good coping strategy. Your wife may have a treatable condition, like an infection which the GP could prescribe antibiotics for without having to see her in the surgery. I think it would be worth trying to explore alternatives to dementia. But, if it is dementia then you are already giving her everything she needs and a label of 'dementia' may not be helpful.
 

Francisco

New member
Jul 26, 2020
4
Hi @Francisco
I have found denial to be a very good coping strategy. Your wife may have a treatable condition, like an infection which the GP could prescribe antibiotics for without having to see her in the surgery. I think it would be worth trying to explore alternatives to dementia. But, if it is dementia then you are already giving her everything she needs and a label of 'dementia' may not be helpful.
Many thanks for this. We're coping at the moment and will probably try the 'flu-jab' approach in a couple of months.
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
4,596
Nottinghamshire
Welcome to DTP @Francisco

Many members have used the "well woman check-up" to get their loved ones to the Doctor's. I remember my dad being checked for vitamin deficiency among other things before the GP sent him for any tests at the memory clinic.

I used to sit just behind dad so that I could nod or shake my head without him seeing when the doctor looked to me to confirm or deny the answers to his questions.
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
374
How interesting you mention the staying in bed due to being ‘ full of cold’ that is one of my mothers behaviours. It is unusual to hear it mentioned.
I would look at the advantages of a diagnoses, and there are not many.

She would qualify for attendance allowance.

She would get a brain scan which could help diagnose more exactly the type of dementia.

Vascular dementia would give her no medication, other types may entitle her to some medication but none of it works that well. There is certainly no cure.

She could get some free care, but I suspect your income will mean you have less than no chance of qualifying for that.

If severe enough and she lived on her own she would not have to pay community charge.

So in conclusion I would not rush for a diagnoses. It may be good for the doctor to make sure that something like a thyroid problem is not causing her problems though.

I would as a matter of urgency get both the power of attorneys.
I would tell her we were getting one for each other.
When all the paperwork was done I would post hers but not mine!

With dementia it’s all about managing the behaviours, and you have come to the right place!
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
374
And another thought !
could you ask the doctor to send a district nurse or someone to the house to take a blood sample?
they may well say no? But don’t ask don’t get.
You could just say to your wife they are looking at her fatigue?
you can not diagnose dementia with a blood test, but you can look at other things they would consider on their journey to a dementia diagnoses.
 

lemonbalm

Registered User
May 21, 2018
400
Hello @Francisco. I agree that it would be useful to rule out other causes of your wife's symptoms when possible. In the meantime, your approach of using kindness as a treatment is admirable. I used this to look after my mum for two years (I didn't want to put her through any tests - and she wouldn't have gone anyway) and it was not until her dementia became much worse following a stroke, after which she needed a level of care only a care home could provide, that she was given a diagnosis and medication.
 

Francisco

New member
Jul 26, 2020
4
And another thought !
could you ask the doctor to send a district nurse or someone to the house to take a blood sample?
they may well say no? But don’t ask don’t get.
You could just say to your wife they are looking at her fatigue?
you can not diagnose dementia with a blood test, but you can look at other things they would consider on their journey to a dementia diagnoses.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your wise words - much appreciated
 

Francisco

New member
Jul 26, 2020
4
Hello @Francisco. I agree that it would be useful to rule out other causes of your wife's symptoms when possible. In the meantime, your approach of using kindness as a treatment is admirable. I used this to look after my mum for two years (I didn't want to put her through any tests - and she wouldn't have gone anyway) and it was not until her dementia became much worse following a stroke, after which she needed a level of care only a care home could provide, that she was given a diagnosis and medication.
Thank you - sounds familiar, and where we're heading, i.e., there will come a point where we can't manage this on our own.