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Mum's memory getting worse

Joeb

New member
Jun 25, 2019
6
Hi, my mum's memory has been getting worse over the last 3 to 4 years. The difficulty is that she lives in Spain with her partner (who does most things for her - like cook, banking etc), so my only communication with her is over the phone mostly. She is over visiting at the moment, staying with me and my partner and son. I've noticed it's particularly bad when we're sat together she will repeat the same sentence about 5 to 6 times within about 20 minutes, I don't say anything and just answer her the same as before. Her partner hasn't mentioned his concerns to her, which is rather frustrating. So it's been left to me and my sister. She is due to go back to Spain on 5 July and we really need to talk to her before she goes back. Does anyone have any advice about how to go about this? She is convinced her 'brain doesn't work sometimes' because of arthritis in her neck, and will most probably use that as the reason. I don't think she will take it well as she was such a strong independent woman, who now relies on her partner for everything!
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,867
South coast
Hello @Joeb and welcome to DTP.

Unfortunately, conversations like this very seldom go well. My mum would admit to some memory loss which she maintained was normal for her age and absolutely refused to see anyone about it. She would get very angry if anyone mentioned it and never, for the whole of her life (she lived another 4 years after this) understood that she had something wrong with her.

Im afraid that this lack of insight into your own condition is a symptom of dementia that many (most?) people with dementia have and you can reason/cajole/argue till you are blue in the face with no result.

Have you talked to her partner about this? Do you know if he has tried talking to her? Is he in agreement with you talking to her? What exactly do you want to talk to her about? Are you trying to get a diagnosis, or POA, or what? Usually, it is best to come up with some other reason to get them to do things, other than possible dementia. Many GPs, for example, are willing to call that person in for what may be described as a "well woman" appointment and do memory tests while they are there.
 

Joeb

New member
Jun 25, 2019
6
Thank you for your reply, it's really useful to hear other people's experiences. I'm sorry to hear about your mum. My mum went through this with my gran, so is aware of what happens, but I'm not sure she will ever admit dementia (so think we will leave that word out of the conversation). I think because she lives in Spain - it's very difficult to talk to her on the phone about anything but every day life. So thought it would be a good opportunity while she's here. Her partner has asked me and my sister to talk to her, so don't think he has talked to her. We would ideally like her to agree to see a doctor (which will be in Spain), and get a proper diagnosis. It could be that it is a side effect of the arthritis in her neck, but not convinced. Just want her to get all the help and support she can, we feel so useless being away from her too. I think reading about it, we will suggest she goes to the doctor about her neck and get her partner to mention to the doctor before she goes.

Thank you again!
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,867
South coast
I think reading about it, we will suggest she goes to the doctor about her neck and get her partner to mention to the doctor before she goes.
This sounds an excellent plan.
Maybe it would be better to just do this rather than have The Talk and risk her refusing to see a doctor about anything.
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
9,163
Yorkshire
hi @Joeb
a warm welcome from me too
I agree with canary, leave off talking with your mum so you don't risk building up her resistance to talking with a medic
chat with her partner and between you come up with a list of: our concerns for your mum, what she can no longer do for herself that she could do well 1,2,3 years ago, what her partner has to help her with, and changes in her behaviour ... send this to her doctor before the appointment, so that they have a chance to consider everything you've written and take the information into account at the appointment
you might also warn her partner of something we call 'hostess mode' where a person puts all their energy into appearing capable, indeed reels off all the things they still do for themselves (all inaccurate) and fools the person they are with for only a short time, even medics ... so suggest he goes to the appointment too and sits slightly to one side so your mum can't see him shaking his head to let the doctor know when your mum isn't telling it as it is
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,240
Good plan.
Just position the doctor's appointment as about her neck or other existing ailment which she acknowledges. Don't try to talk to her about memory loss as she will probably get annoyed and defensive and dig her heels in and refuse to see the doctor at all.
Has someone got LPA for her? It would be really helpful to get this done as it will almost certainly be needed. Again, position it as something everyone should do, tell her you are doing an LPA yourself and ask her partner to do the same (not sure how it works in Spain so you'd need to check that out).
 

Joeb

New member
Jun 25, 2019
6
hi @Joeb
a warm welcome from me too
I agree with canary, leave off talking with your mum so you don't risk building up her resistance to talking with a medic
chat with her partner and between you come up with a list of: our concerns for your mum, what she can no longer do for herself that she could do well 1,2,3 years ago, what her partner has to help her with, and changes in her behaviour ... send this to her doctor before the appointment, so that they have a chance to consider everything you've written and take the information into account at the appointment
you might also warn her partner of something we call 'hostess mode' where a person puts all their energy into appearing capable, indeed reels off all the things they still do for themselves (all inaccurate) and fools the person they are with for only a short time, even medics ... so suggest he goes to the appointment too and sits slightly to one side so your mum can't see him shaking his head to let the doctor know when your mum isn't telling it as it is
Thank you that's really useful advice - I'll talk to her partner if I can get him alone long enough to speak properly with him.
 

Joeb

New member
Jun 25, 2019
6
Good plan.
Just position the doctor's appointment as about her neck or other existing ailment which she acknowledges. Don't try to talk to her about memory loss as she will probably get annoyed and defensive and dig her heels in and refuse to see the doctor at all.
Has someone got LPA for her? It would be really helpful to get this done as it will almost certainly be needed. Again, position it as something everyone should do, tell her you are doing an LPA yourself and ask her partner to do the same (not sure how it works in Spain so you'd need to check that out).
Thank you - so do you recommend we don't mention memory loss or forgetfulness? I'm not sure what an LPA is? It might be that they'll need a translator for the doctor - but she is used to this as they do use one for her other health conditions.
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
9,163
Yorkshire
hi @Joeb
LPA is Lasting Power of Attorney - here's a link re the ones here
https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney
but it may be worth looking into what Spain requires

I agree about not mentioning memory issues to your mum just yet, though if it comes to it folk often accept that their memory 'isn't what it used to be' rather than use 'dementia' or Alzheimer's
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,240
Thank you - so do you recommend we don't mention memory loss or forgetfulness? I'm not sure what an LPA is? It might be that they'll need a translator for the doctor - but she is used to this as they do use one for her other health conditions.
I would either not mention the memory loss, or just do it in passing, definitely do not dwell on it as a 'problem'.

Shedrech has explained and given a link about the Lasting Power of Attorney. It means someonelse (you, her partner or both of you) can act for her in financial and/or health matters. My mother got in a terrible muddle about her money and couldn't remember PIN numbers or passwords or who to ring to transfer money, so bills were going unpaid - fortunately she had previously arranged LPA for me, so I could take over for her. You can do the 'legwork' by getting the forms but she will need to sign them.

LPAs are not just for the elderly - my OH and I did them for each other when we were in our 40s, in case one of us had an accident or sudden illness.
 

Joeb

New member
Jun 25, 2019
6
I would either not mention the memory loss, or just do it in passing, definitely do not dwell on it as a 'problem'.

Shedrech has explained and given a link about the Lasting Power of Attorney. It means someonelse (you, her partner or both of you) can act for her in financial and/or health matters. My mother got in a terrible muddle about her money and couldn't remember PIN numbers or passwords or who to ring to transfer money, so bills were going unpaid - fortunately she had previously arranged LPA for me, so I could take over for her. You can do the 'legwork' by getting the forms but she will need to sign them.

LPAs are not just for the elderly - my OH and I did them for each other when we were in our 40s, in case one of us had an accident or sudden illness.
Thank you - i'll check with her partner, I know he does most of the banking, and while they are over he is going to the bank to be put on her accounts (i'm also on them jointly so can see what's what) i'll check with him about the LPA. I think we'll get her to go to the doctors about her neck and her partner will mention it to the doctor while he's arranging it - I've just managed to have a word with him.