Is this Alzheimers?

carol harnetty

Registered User
Jun 22, 2008
About seven years ago my Dad suddenly started to behave strangely. Not understanding where the money in his pocket had come from. Saying strange things like "when I look out of the window all I can see is grass and trees". When we tried to explain he became angry and agressive and just keep telling us we didn't understand. A few months later he suddenly took my mum hostage with a knife to her throat threatening to kill both her and himself. He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where they eventually diagnosed him as having Alzheimers. Since then he regularly attends hospital and has MMSE tests. In all these years he has never scored less than 30. There appears to be nothing at all wrong with his memory but his behaviour to aggressive and deeply offensive. He does nothing at all during the day -not wanting to go out of the house and expects to be waited on hand and foot by all. Once a moderate social smoker he is now smoking up to 60 cigarettes and day and will take himself off to bed up to 20 times a day.

When he does have any visitors he is always "taunting" them about the bad things that have happenned in their lives. He says things like "I've seen your husband, he's waiting for you". When the husband has died. My sister had a stillborn baby and he is always saying "you're baby's crying - aren't you going to see to it". People no longer visit as they find it so upsetting and my poor old Mum (80) is isolated, frustrated, embarassed and lonley.

I can only go on the diagnosis we were given but cannot help but wonder if this really is Alzheimers.

I would like some feedback on what other people think.


Registered User
Nov 28, 2005
Hello and welcome:

It is very difficult to answer as Alz. takes so many different forms. Your Dad's symptoms do sound unusual.The MMSE test is not especially good as a measure. My husband is very advanced with Alz or Mixed Dementia, and his score has never been less than 25. The diagnosis should be made on behaviour rather than scores.

How much help are your family getting? Is your Dad on medication? I am thinking here of GP, Social Services, Mental Health Team and then on to the voluntary groups like Alz. Society, Help the Aged etc etc.

Your Dad obviously has some form of dementia - so you all need as much support as you can get.

Good Luck Jan

carol harnetty

Registered User
Jun 22, 2008
Thanks for the reply Jan. Unfortunatley Dad is cared for at home by my elderly mother with help from myself at the weekends. I think she is rather "old school" and feels there is a stigma attached to any form of mental illness and therefore I'm sure she tells little of what goes on most of the time, although today he has abused her so badly - verbally not physically - that she is a little broken woman but still reluctant to accept any help. Dad is on medicatiion, Sulporide, Rivastigmine and Exelon.


Registered User
Mar 23, 2008
coast of texas
Carol, I too, agree that AD takes on so many forms. I do not know how much time the GP or any social worker has spent with him, but I wonder if they have blanketed him with a diagnosis. I'm in the US so it is considerably easier to get a second opinion, but I would try and I would talk with mum and explain that she is your concern also. She may have more insight than you do, but in the long run her mental health would be my worry also. Perhaps if both you and your mother keep diaries of his behaviour and talk to a psychologist instead of a GP he/she may have more insight.

There are so many forms of AD that it is almost impossible to get a full diagnosis with out other medical tests in place..examples are scans of the brain, mental tests, and other tests done for ruling out other problems also help rule out or in AD as they rule out other problems (not trying to confuse you). Take care of yourself and be there for mum this is not an easy road.



carol harnetty

Registered User
Jun 22, 2008
Thanks Nancy. You are so right about my Mum. I try to be there as much as I can but can see her health deteriorating rapidly.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Hi Carol, and welcome to TP.

It does sound as if your dad has a very unusual form of dementia, if he his still scoring 30 on the MMSE after seven years.

But there are many unusual forms of dementia, my husband John has a rare one which was originally diagnosed as AD. However, his MMSE scores did gradually decline.

The truth is, none of us can answer your question, and indeed the consultant may not have a definitive answer. I was told that John's diagnosis can only be confirmed at autopsy!:eek:

But don't let that stop you asking questions! Ring the consultant's secretary and say you are worried about both your parents, and would like an appointment to discuss things with him. Then tell him you are wondering, because the disease is not progressing in the usual way, and you wonder if he could confirm the diagnosis.

It does sound as if your dad's behaviour is very difficult, and your poor mum is going to be ill herself if it's allowed to continue. I hope she getsat least some help from SS. If she hasn't already had one, she should be asking for a carers' assessment.

All the best,

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Carol

In your position I would try to see your father`s GP in confidence.
The GP will not discuss your father`s condition with you but will listen to what you have to say.
I know you might find it difficult to go behind your parents` backs but it does sound as if they are in real need of help.
My husband has the same `old school` attitude to mental illness but it does not mean developing symptoms should be ignored.
Take care xx


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
When we tried to explain he became angry and agressive and just keep telling us we didn't understand.
That sounds just like how my mother use to be towards my father few year running up till my father pass away & then year later, I had enough of my mother abusive behavior towards me that I made her have a brain scan she was told she had AZ .

My mother would just go for my father over the smallest thing , my father would just say "see what I mean "? she mad .

My mother had lost all logic in understanding all my father was doing ,was trying to get the TV to work , mum just went into a screaming fit nearly went for my father throwing a chair at him .

My parents where old school thinking about mental health , My brother also had a mental illness, they just would not anyone from the mental health team in the house .

If my father had not died , I could of never of got my mother to have a brain scan . They would of just carried on in they relationship not getting any outside help .

Thanks Nancy. You are so right about my Mum. I try to be there as much as I can but can see her health deteriorating rapidly.
Try get your mother to see the doctor just for your mother own health , if she on any medication make sure she take them .

My father was on blood pursuer,tablet , also heart medication he neglected his own health did not take his blood pursuer medication correctly that one night his blood pursuer went so high he had a heart attach that killed him out right in fount of my mother .

Doctor may not talk to you on your own about your patents medical health , because of the data protection act . But try to go to the doctor with your mother for her health may be then you could have a word with the doctor , while your they with your mother.
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