Is this typical of cognitive impairment?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Linbrusco, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    Dad 78 has MCI - no dementia.
    Mum 75 with moderate Alheimers. She also has Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia so feels the cold and feels the heat.
    Mum & Dad live behind us.

    Dad is lacking in the sense department when it comes to Mums safety, but two things have happened now, which really makes me wonder can MCI cause him to be so oblivious?

    A few weeks back I suspected Mum had a urinary infection.
    I made an appt to take her to the doctors, but had to pop out for an hour with my daughter. My husband was here.

    I came home to find that Dad had let Mum walk down the shops to get milk.
    Its a 5mn walk.
    They didn't need milk.. My husband would have stopped her otherwise if he had seen her.
    She was perspiring heavily, temp of 37d, looked shocking, and about to keel over.
    Took her to the doctors, and sure enough running a temperature and her blood pressure was up, and a urinary infection, and mildy dehydrated.
    She could have walked down the dairy, collapsed or worse.
    I asked Dad why he didn't go, walk with Mum, or even ask my husbnad if we could spare some more milk. He shrugged his shoulders.

    We are having a heat wave here at the moment in New Zealand 28-30d.

    Mum came over to my house not half an hour ago, fit to pass out.
    Bright red face, sweating profusely.

    I took her back immediately, got her changed into shorts from trousers, took her slippers off, got her to sit down, shut their curtains to keep the light & heat out, in front of the fan, with a cold drink and a cold wet cloth for her face.
    Dad had the doors shut, no fan on. He says he doesn't feel the heat.
    Thats fine but he could still turn the fan on for Mum.

    Am I expecting too much from him?
  2. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
    Oh dear :( your poor mum

    My thoughts
    My Mum had MCI. She became "less caring" of others. She steadily got less able to empathise with anyone.

    It got to the point that I noticed a bit more than mci, though her doctor kept disputing that it was anything more than mci

    After a lot of heartache, through the years, She is now in a care home, with severe vascular dementia, and was recently put forward for CHC

    A nightmare situation for you. Hoping something can be done to help you xxxxxxxxx

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  3. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand

    Dads been seen by the memory team 18 mths apart and all his tests were pretty much the same. Dad has always been less caring of others.
    The only time he reacts is when its a baby or small child crying.

    I just sort of thought with Mum, and something so blatantly obvious that he would do/say something?
    I have always said to my husband, that Mums safety is compromised as it is, due to her lack of awareness, but I'm not going to allow Dad to risk her safety also.
    These last two, have really got me worried.
  4. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
    It's soooo hard isn't it. Holding your hand and sending a squishy hug

    Sorry not to be more helpful xxxxx

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  5. dora

    dora Registered User

    Aug 1, 2007
    Is it a man/ generation thing?

    [Am I expecting too much from him?[/QUOTE]

    Years ago MIL fell into a ditch, but seemed ok afterwards.
    A week later, dad casually said that he would be going shopping on his own as her knee had swelled up and she couldn't walk.
    Neither of them had thought to phone the dr. MIL was probably in the early stages of dementia then, but FIL is still fine mentally today.

    So I don't think this is necessarily dementia - related, but you know your dad best.
  6. Mrsbusy

    Mrsbusy Registered User

    Aug 15, 2015
    Yes I think it is due to his condition. I'm afraid you are in the same position as me both parents trying to look after each other, but neither capable. My Dad would have done what your dad did, as his thought process is now useless, logic gone. Mum has vascular.

    I think you have to get used to trying to think for them like a child, and pre-empt problems. My dad will phone me about trivial rubbish but not when my Mums ill.
    Tells me he has plenty of bread, get to there house he has half a loaf.

    Recently I spent three days taking mum to hospital for treatment, it took four phone calls the following day to get Dad to take her blood pressure for me. But if he ran out of cheese he would be phoning like a shot. He knows she has kidney failure, time is getting limited for her, and he would cut off his arm for her, but doesn't think to check her BP! He's hot but doesn't think to take off his jumper.

    Basically, they are trying to work together but it ends up working against each other.
    Good luck.
  7. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Lin, I'm so sorry to hear of your frustration. I am sure you are very concerned about your mother's safety, and that's quite a heat wave, by the way! (It is 33 F/1 C here at the moment.)

    I'm definitely not a medical professional so take all of this for what's it worth, but here are some thoughts.

    Before my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, she was given a diagnosis of MCI. It took me a while to learn that mild cognitive impairment is more about a set of symptoms than a specific disease. The way I understand it is, while some areas of function (memory, language) may be intact, other areas (attention, reasoning) may be impaired, but not enough areas for a diagnosis of dementia. Information here: and here:

    So whatever cognitive impairment your father has, could be quite noticeable, and/or could be in an area of the brain that controls reasoning or judgement, rather than something like language or visual processing.

    I hate to even say this, and feel free to ignore me or tell me I'm speaking out of turn, but it is possible your dad is deteriorating, and the impairment is getting worse in some areas, or even that he has developed some type of dementia.

    So, it's quite possible that he is just not capable of meeting your expectations due to whatever his cognitive issues are.

    It's also possible that he is capable, and just isn't doing it. It's so difficult to know sometimes.

    But if the bottom line is, you feel your mother is at risk, then perhaps something needs to change in terms of your mother's care?
  8. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    I think I would like to swap 33d for 33f right now :)

    You are exactly correct. It is also hard to know if hes just being a difficult so and so.
    A lot of his behaviours are not new. I just struggle to see how something blindingly obvious ... mums red face, and sweat dripping down her face, fails to alert Dad that something needs to be done... Turn the fan on, get her a cold cloth... Or get out of his arm chair heaven forbid and come and see me.
    I think our crisis point will be Dad compromising Mums safety, and lack of judgement

    Its hard not to get frustrated and a bit angry with Dad ( whether MCI or not) none of us kids have had a good relationship with him.
  9. garnuft

    garnuft Registered User

    Sep 7, 2012
    Same position with in laws. MIL 92 FIL 89.
    He has dementia, she doesn't.

    He's been left to his own devices.

    It's hard not to feel a little bitterness and anger. x
  10. CJinUSA

    CJinUSA Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    eastern USA
    Your remark that "Dad has always been less caring of others" might say more than you think. He probably does not want to have to be responsible for caring for your mother. He might resent that people expect him to care for her. He might be worried about his own wellbeing. Etc. It's less a matter of "he *should* care about her," it seems to me, than it is a situation that you *need* him to care for her. These are probably two different things.

    When my father was in his last months of life, my mother essentially wanted to walk away. She laughed at him when he mistook the pattern on their dinnerware for food. She walked away when he called her. She was not up to dealing with her grief over the necessary changes that his increased vascular dementia was causing her.

    I'd find a way to have someone take care of your mother without having to involve your dad, if that is at all possible. Some folks are not caregivers. It's not a crime, nor is it really a moral failing, I think, so much as an inability to have empathy. If he has no empathy for others, he will not be a good carer. In my view.
  11. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    Herein lies the problem.
    If he resented caring for Mum he says and does the total opposite.
    He has been seen by his GP numerous times, Alzheimers Key Worker, Memory Team Nurse and a Social Worker.
    He has respite from Mum 5 days a week for 2-4 hrs at a time.

    He puts on a very good act, to make out how wonderful he is.
    " Everything is great" " No we don't need any help" " No I don't want to join any Carers groups/mens groups/senior citizens groups" " Arent I good, I help do the housework, cook dinner, get your Mum XYZ"
    Last time Memory Team Nurse saw him to asses his MCI, I told her how Dad was not coping overall with Mums Alzheimers, and maybe she could have a good talk with him, as he gives alot of mixed messages.
    The upshot was that he was coping admirably, but what he wasn't coping with was the loss of going out together, going dancing, going on holidays.
    I was told to take a step back an let him get on caring for Mum whatever time she had left at home.

    Dad was talking to her about things they used to do long ago.
    Prior to Mums diagnosis in 2013, and even further back it was Dad wanting to stay at home, and Mum going places on her own. He made it sound as they went out dancing all the time. Yes when they were in their 20's!

    I do think with the recent changes in Mum, it is well worth a family meeting with our Alz Key worker.
  12. CJinUSA

    CJinUSA Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    eastern USA
    Until my father's dementia was obvious, my mother tried to pretend everything was fine, and she was doing fine, and all, somewhat as your father is doing. Then, when all of it became clear to all of us, she turned away from caring for him. She was in a kind of denial. And she *was* caring for him, but not in the ways that he needed at that time.

    It is also true that people put on a good face when they know they are being questioned by people who have it in their power to suggest changes in their lives. Surely the people questioning him know this, but unless he reports problems, no one can really do anything, can they? So that is the bind you are in.

    Sounds like a meeting of you and your parents and the appropriate personnel is indeed in order. Is there any way you can let them know in advance what your concerns are? Your dad sounds like he is an excellent coverer, the way my mother was. Whoever interviews you and them needs to know your concerns.

    Sure, you could also do as he wishes and just take a step back, but then it seems your mother is at greater risk. Your father just wants things to be "normal," or as normal as his ideal fantasy of his married life could be. He is putting off facing the real trauma of his life - the loss of his beloved partner and teh way of life they knew together.

    It's all very hard. My heart goes out to you.
  13. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Lin, I think it's very clear from your posts that you have well-founded concerns about your mother's well-being.

    I wonder if you might begin to document these sorts of incidents, so as to be able to give the GP/social worker/whomever, a clear picture from your point of view. (This idea I have cheerfully stolen from TP!) This could include photos and video, as well as your notes.

    I think a family meeting with your Alzheimer's key worker is an excellent idea. As you say, there have been changes in your mother's condition and they should be kept up-to-date about that, and to make sure her care needs are being met. I don't know the details of the privacy situation where you are, but certainly you can provide that information, and your concerns and questions, to the Alzheimer's worker, in advance of the meeting (see above suggestion re: documentation). That way they know what is on your mind but you needn't go into it, in front of your parents. Even if they legally cannot discuss issues with you, they can certainly listen!

    I do think it is very, very challenging when, in whatever circumstance, there's a family member with whom things aren't quite right, for whatever reason, and it's impossible to tell if it's a case of "can't" or "won't." I cannot tell you if your dad can't see that your mother needs more care, or won't see it. I also cannot tell you if your dad can't provide that care, or won't.*

    But I do know that the end result, whether it is can't or won't, is doesn't. Your dad
    doesn't see her needs, and doesn't meet those needs.

    None of this would matter, if your mother were not vulnerable and at risk.

    For her safety, and your peace of mind, you have to do, what you have to do, to ensure she is protected and cared for.

    I cannot imagine how upsetting and challenging all this must be for you, and I am sorry.

    *I absolutely have a family member in a "is it can't or won't?" situation right now, but will spare you the tedious details. At the end of the day, she doesn't!
  14. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    I think I agree entirely with Amy

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