Is this the start of dementia or just forgetfulness?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Fozz, Aug 20, 2006.

  1. Fozz

    Fozz Registered User

    Mar 9, 2004
    Hello to everyone, I haven't been on here for a couple of years since my Dad died. We now have a problem with my husband's Mum. She has been getting increasingly forgetful over the last couple of years, but things have got worse over the last few months.
    She finds it hard to keep track of the date, and gets in a muddle over arrangements, not able to keep a track of when she is doing things. Most worrying is not remembering how long she has had food, my sister-in-law found 7 month old eggs and a 2 week old takeaway in her fridge.
    We are getting together as a family to help her, but don't know how to get her to see her GP, as apart from the memory loss she is (thank goodness) in very good shape for 84, and there's no good reason at the moment for her to go. She just dismisses her bad memory as 'my silly old head', and there is no other change in her personality to suggest anything more sinister, but she definitely needs help now to cope. Luckily there are several of us willing and able, but don't know what we are dealing with. Has any one any suggestions?
    Just wanted to add that I found this forum a lifesaver two years ago, you all do a wonderful job!
    Fozz xxx
  2. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Hiya Fozz,
    Welcome back! I think it might be a case of wait and see. I just wonder if you could get MIL to the doctor on some other pretext and get him to have a chat, and maybe do a blood/urine test to rule out other possible causes (mineral deficiencies, water infections). If you could speak to GP in advance maybe he could invite MIL in for a General health check, or with winter coming up it could be linked to a flu injection.
    The good thing is MIL has got a team ready to support her. I think most elderly people experience some level of forgetfulness, without it being dementia - it may be that.
    That's my ideas exhausted. I am sure that others will come up with some more.
    Love Helen
  3. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    About 3 years ago, my Mother started to show signs of forgetfullness. It did seem to improve at times when there was someone around the whole time (such as when I visited) so it was easy for the GP, when I took her there, to dismiss it as normal aging. However, following 2 strokes, the scan showed a previous one, which appeared to be the cause of the initial forgetfullness. Now, on doing further research, I discovered that forgetfullness is not a normal part of aging, in that there is always a reason for it. The reason might not be treatable, but it isn't normal. The most troubling thing about the "normal aging" thing is that then there seems to be little incentive to ensure that the forgetfullness doesn't cause other problems. In my Mother's case, her forgetfullness caused her to forget her blood pressure medication, with the result that she had the second and third strokes, with fairly disastrous results. If the GP had pointed out this potential problem, we could have set up a system to deal with it. It might not havge had an effect, but it might have done. So, don't be surprised if you don't get much help from the GP, but do think carefully about any steps you can take to reinforce her failing memory.

  4. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    I suspect that like my Mother she has Vascular Dementia ........initially my Mother would say "oh my brain " but thats been replaced by incredible aggression if you dare suggest she has any problem

    Do see my thread .......Its Crazy for the dilema this causes for families
  5. Lynne

    Lynne Registered User

    Jun 3, 2005
    Hi Fozz

    As you're a 'TP original' I understand that you will not seriously be hoping for a diagnosis by us amateurs! Whilst we might (like Helena) find things in your description of your MiL which are similar to our own family members' symptoms or behaviours, I'm sure you know that there are lots of similarities which have no special significance. Also, forgetfulness, sleeplessness, irritability, poor concentration & other symptoms can be caused by stress (as every TP contributor will know!), depression (ditto), anaemia, under-active thyroid function and many other conditions as well as AD.

    As regards how to get her to see the Dr., what I did was to write down my concerns & a description of changes in my Mum over a 2 year period in a letter, send it to the Dr. and then make an appt. to see him myself to discuss. (I had arranged for her care to be transferred onto the same 'list' as my own doctor, which helped too. My own problems were frequently connected with her!) As she has 'mislaid' her hearing aid - amongst many other things - I made an appointment for her to see him "about her hearing". The Dr. then led the conversation with her onto matters general, & memory problems. I appreciate that not everyone has helpful & co-operative doctors, but it worked for me.
  6. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    OK Lynne

    But what did the doctor do about the memory problems

    I am fully aware other conditions can mimic AD/VD but in someone age 84 the most likely cause is AD or VD

    My Mothers own doctor said exactly that today and my Mothers 90 although she insists she is 100

    I have a list of her highly problematic behaviour which puts her and her neighbours at risk as long as my arm but they do not amount to Crisis under the current silly legal situation
  7. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Hiya Helena,
    I got mum to the doctor using similar tactics to Lynne. We then paid privately to see a neurologist and to go for a brain scan - because we needed to know what the situation was. By this stage mum could not draw a face, didn't know we had just had Christmas, was struggling to clothe herself in the right order. We have been fortunate that when mum was not sundowning she was quite placid, if not confronted, and could be persuaded to go for these appointments.
    Helena I can understand how frustrated you must feel not being able to get the help for your mother that you feel she needs; but do you think that your mother picks up some of the vibes from you - thus contributing to her anger and anxiety?
    Love Helen
  8. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006

    She shows exactly the same aggresion to my sister who is totally the opposite to me and is patience personified

    She does the same to anyone who dares to try to help

    She will not speak to one neighbour who was her best friend because when she called the neighbour last year claiming she could not start the car and was clearly not even able to fathom that you had to turn the ignition key ....the neighbour told her she really should not be driving

    Another neighbour who was called to help her open her front door told her to tell me she should not live alone she is slagging him off to all and sundry

    Just as the plumber phoned me to say that she has deteriorated very greatly to when he last saw her in Match and that most of the time she is away with the fairies and is at great risk .
  9. daughter

    daughter Registered User

    Mar 16, 2005
    In that case, please, please do as Sally suggested:
    or have you already tried this?
  10. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    My Mother will not have Social Services or any stranger in the place

    and i cant be there i live too far away
  11. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Hi Helena

    one of the things that can happen as we are hugely concerned about a relative who has a problem such as dementia is that we may begin to believe that we know exactly how they will respond in any given situation.

    We may be correct in that, or we may not.

    However, once we begin to make assumptions based on our knowledge of somebody with dementia, it is possible that we could actually impede some form of solution to their - and our - problems.

    In my own experience, I say to myself "how can Jan possibly gain from activities in the care home, since she can't see, participate, interpret, or, seemingly comprehend." I give her dementia the benefit of the doubt. While I find it would break my heart very often to see her there, with the activities going on - I normally let the care home enable her to be a part of what is going on. I just arrange not to be there myself.

    In your circumstance, and your mother's, if you simply assume she won't let anyone from Social Services in - or if she has not permitted them in sometime in the past - then how can anything move on. You end up frazzled yourself, and holding everything that should in reality be someone else's burden, or part burden.

    Why not take the suggestions to get a care assessment on board. At least try it, without pre-judging anything. How can Social Services do anything at all if they can't have the opportunity to get a foot in the door, to understand the problem?

    Most of us say the words "Social Services" through clenched teeth; they don't have a good reputation, do they. Others say how brilliant they have been, however.

    My view is that the more real cases they are able to approach, the better educated they will be, and the more likely they will be able to help us - and others.

    Why not try to help educate the ones in your mother's area? Call them in. If she won't let them in then they have something to write in their files, something you can refer to later. Otherwise nothing is going to change, and most of the pressure will end up with you.

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