Is this Alzheimers or something else?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Samantha1977, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. Samantha1977

    Samantha1977 Registered User

    Jan 16, 2017
    #1 Samantha1977, Feb 5, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
    I've posted once before.
    We are carers for elderly mil who was diagnosed about 15 years ago.
    She's mobile and can eat and drink with no help. My main question is... she does things that seem questionable whether it's the Alzheimers causing it or just personality.
    We bought ice cream for my 2 children and mum today. As they always mess around and not finish it etc we usually buy 2 and share it between 3 cups. My 5 year old daughter and mum were watching us and mum comments in a tone that may seem like she's instigating "look your mum and dad are eating ice cream" yes I did have a quick spoon out of my daughters as parents usually do. Which in turn made my daughter start having a moan.
    Anyway...20min later we get home and mum starts saying she can't find her stuff and her passport etc. And we made her understand she doesn't need anything. She kept insisting she's just come back from a flight etc etc. This has happened before. But it's getting more forceful and nothing we say pacifies her. Anyway then she went on explaining " i have alzheimers and I forget things" so I took the bait...I asked how does she know she has alzheimers. She said I was diagnosed by a doctor. So I decided to ask more..."what is alzheimers?" And she answered that it was when you started to forget stuff. She gave some very sane examples.
    After about 2 hours of how she can't find her suitcase and passport. She turned it up a notch by starting to 'cry' there were no tears but her voice and facial expression were that of a person crying without the tears. We tried and tried to explain but mum won't listen. She was in a trance nothing NOTHING would get through to her.
    My 5 year old, always trying to help, suggests why don't we give grandma some juice to make her feel better' and when I watched closely mums facial expression was more of laughing expression. I did a double take and asked my partner to look...genuinely confused. She had her hand over her mouth but she was laughing quietly. Surely I was mistaken so I asked if she was ok and she looked up trying to contain her laughter...asked me just as she met my eyes she changed back to being upset whilst holding her lips together trying not to laugh. I am so confused.
    Please note...I am not saying she is making this up. I am honestly confused at this behaviour. My partner and I have have spent a good few hours pacifying her and I can't help but wonder now. Especially with 2 young's just so exhausting.

    Thank you for reading such a Long post.
  2. 1mindy

    1mindy Registered User

    Jul 21, 2015
    By its nature it is confusing. One minute seeming very logical and understanding,next no knowledge of much. Maybe another scan should be asked for, to ensure she had the correct diagnosis,so that you can give her the right support.
  3. Risa

    Risa Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
    Hi Samantha1977

    I've seen this with my Mum and it is quite weird to observe - her emotions can switch from angry to laughing to worried, back to angry again etc, literally within minutes. I liken it to being on the intranet and flicking from site to site.

    It could be a progression of the illness, but if it has been a long time since your MiL had a scan or was seen by a Dr, it might be worth booking an appointment if you are worried.
  4. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Insisting that theyve just come back from holiday/got in from school/had tea with the Queen are definitely symptoms of dementia. It called confabulation and is the result of a damaged brain trying to "fill in the gaps" of memory loss. She really believes it, so you cant reason her out of it. The best thing is to either go along with it, or say something non-committal and try and redirect her.
    Yes, Ive seen this sudden change of emotions and also muddling up of emotions - crying when they are happy, or laughing when they are upset. Changing lucidity is also par for the course. PWD (people with dementia) can turn on a sixpence.

    Whenever you get something new it is worthwhile checking it out - infections can make things suddenly very much worse, but, TBH everything you have mentioned could well be the progression of the dementia.
  5. Ann Mac

    Ann Mac Registered User

    Oct 17, 2013
    I never could quite get my head around how my Mil could guenuinely believe that she needed to 'find' a missing baby (that didn't exist), and yet at the same time as being so detached from reality, she still retained the capability to say and do deliberately provocative things to cause upset to me and the rest of the family, giving every indication that she knew exactly what she was doing each time. The rapid switches beween tears at being so distraught about the baby, and the 'smirking' with delight when one of her comments hit the mark and got a reaction, were so hard to reconcile - even whilst my head told me that 'its the dementia', I would find myself questioning if she really could be 'that bad' if she could be that crafty and nasty?. And - very occasionally - Mil would refer to or acknowledge the fact that she had a 'bad memory' - but she couldn't link that to the possibility that she might be mistaken about anything, one had no bearing on the other, as far as she was concerned.

    Its so frustrating and confusing, trying to come to terms with what dementia can do to our loved ones. Dealing with a reality where obvious, proveable facts can be completely disregarded, where there is no logic to beliefs and behaviour, I found, occasionally left me doubting my own sanity. At times when she particularly targetted me for a lot of the attention seeking, unpleasant behaviour, I used to wonder was it really that the dementia had changed her personality - or had she always had this nasty streak, had she always seretly disliked me - and was it a case of the dementia had merely removed her ability to hide how she really felt?

    Now Mil is in a home, I have been able to get a bit of distance and from reading other posts on TP, I can see that her behaviour was far from unique, that plenty of others have come across the same sort of situation - but at the time she lived with us, when I spent all day, every day, dealing with such conflicting 'evidence' of her capabilities and understanding, it was incredibly hard.

    Just in case, though, If this behaviour is quite new, I would get her checked out for a UTI or infection of some sort - the impact of infections can be both strange and extreme as I am sure you know. However, if it is progression of the illness, try looking for similar instances of behaviour in other posts. That's what I often did, when faced with behaviour that was hard to cope with and whilst there isn't always a way of stopping some behaviours, I found that just knowing others had experienced the same sort of thing, really helped xxx
  6. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    All good points made above. I do find this smirking hard to deal with even though on the whole my husband is good natured. He does it as if saying that I am an idiot and he is just humouring me!

    When I have just saved him from being scalded, falling over, wearing pyjamas over or under his clothes, brushing his teeth with shaving gel then I feel very frustrated and annoyed at his cheek. Of course, I am a bit of an idiot because his smirking is dementia driven.
  7. lemonjuice

    lemonjuice Registered User

    Jun 15, 2016
    I think someone once said, the PWD still retains their original personality, so dementia just heightens the characteristics. If they've been manipulative earlier they just become more so. If they've been controlling ditto.

    They certainly can retain much slyness and craftiness long after 'reason' has left them.

    I once read an example how someone's mother was prone to wandering at night. So they put a lock down low and one up right near the top of the front and back doors, requiring bending low and climbing on a chair to push them back, as well as having to turn the central handle. The PWD still managed to get out! :confused::eek:
  8. Marcelle123

    Marcelle123 Registered User

    Nov 9, 2015
    I have experienced a lot of this sort of behaviour from my mother. When she lived at home but was visiting my house she'd stare at me critically, or burst out laughing. And now she is in the care home she has taken to suddenly wailing or 'bursting into tears' - but there are no tears. Once we had spent a lovely afternoon together sitting & occasionally talking & I was taking her back to her room. Suddenly she 'burst into tears' and I turned and looked at her sharply. She stopped immediately and said, 'Sorry!'

    I certainly used to feel, when she lived at home, that some of the behaviour was crafty or deliberate - but also, that she wasn't to blame for it, all the same, any more than a child who wilfully keeps pushing the boundaries is really to blame.

    Now that she has deteriorated so much & is in the care home I no longer feel that her behaviour is under her control at all. The wailing & crying, I believe, has probably been picked up from one of the other residents & she does it when I come because she wants to have some attention or emotional reaction from me. I tend to try not to give her this gratification as I don't want my mother to get into the habit of lamenting loudly, as I think it will only 'persuade' her that she's miserable, when much of the time she is not.
  9. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    When I visited him in hospital, my father used to tell me he'd come close to suicide (long story, he wouldn't move to be near me and he became a 'bed blocker') but the nurses told me he was 'playing me,' and that he was absolutely fine when I wasn't there. So don't worry about finding it hard to deal with -- you are human and it would try the patience of a saint. I tried to think of it as the brain's logical processes going before the emotional processes did.
  10. Samantha1977

    Samantha1977 Registered User

    Jan 16, 2017
    You are ALL honestly amazing.
    Someone could tell me it's part dementia and part personality and I would not believe a word! Even the doctor! But knowing you're all carers actually makes me 'soak' up your opinions and point of view and I take it on board and think about it.

    It makes sense! While she's still got her difficult personality where you can never please her, she definitely does certain things that point at dementia. She could sit there for an hour staring into space and yet the next moment she will get up and pace for hours waiting to go home or constantly needing the toilet. 2 different people. And the next moment she will speak to anyone outside the house who cared to listen how miserable her life is and how no one cares for her.
    Just like the ice cream issue. Generally she has a very far away look not really knowing or having knowledge of where she is. Yet there aware moments of clarity where she decided to watch my husband and I take a cheeky leak of the my daughters ice cream and telling my daughter look your parents are having ice cream.

    Sent from my SM-G925F using Talking Point mobile app
  11. Samantha1977

    Samantha1977 Registered User

    Jan 16, 2017
  12. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    " 2 different people"
    I can relate to that. When mum was in the early stages I used to say it was like dealing with two different people. She could be saying to me how lucky she was that she had friends and family to look after her and then in the next breath would be accusing me of stealing from her and ordering me out of her home :eek: It was bewildering and very unnerving.
  13. Samantha1977

    Samantha1977 Registered User

    Jan 16, 2017
    Yes Canary! I went through the "she took my money or jewellery" mode. It was traumatic. Please don't get me wrong I am NOT glad she has alzheimers because it is a horrible thing to have. But I am reading and reading here and the more I read the more I understand. And I feel now thay none of that was is alzheimers that caused that paranoia and behaviour.

    Sent from my SM-G925F using Talking Point mobile app

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