When does memory loss become a real worry

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by JohnCas, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. JohnCas

    JohnCas Registered User

    Sep 19, 2017
    Hello, my mother lives on her own, i speak to her most days and we have meet up at least every month. She turned 80 recently, she has always had a bad memory but has been getting worse, it seems to get a lot worse when she is tired, away from home or if she has a drink. When i bring it up with her she says all her friends have the same issue and its just part of getting old. Because she lives on her own its hard for me to know if she is having other issues that she might not want to tell me. She is very scared of being labelled with dementia as her own mother had dementia and received very bad care. She has gone to the doctors about 6 months ago and asked about it, the doctor didn't seemed concerned, but i have since noticed the "symptoms" getting worse. Does anybody have any recommendations for services in the Bristol area that might be suitable to help. I am looking for something fun/interesting for her to do where somebody can keep an eye on her, or for somebody to come by and see how she is doing.
  2. eddiesgirl

    eddiesgirl Registered User

    Oct 22, 2012
    Sorry I can't be of any real help, but as you (and your Mum) are aware, in people of her age it is very difficult to distinguish between normal age-related cognitive changes and the beginning of something more heavy-duty.

    In the circumstances you describe, it may be 'any other issues' that are a better guide than memory - in my own Mum's case, it slowly dawned on me that she was no longer doing her washing-up properly. She had also made me the odd cup of tea with less-than boiling water. Looking back, these were the first signs.

    So while your idea of keeping a watchful eye to see how she is coping is an excellent one, I can see this will be difficult if you yourself are at a distance, given her fears. I'm not from your area, but various agencies do offer sitting services that could enable some sort of informal assessment. However bear in mind they won't know her 'baseline' (although as you say they should - operative term should - keep you abreast of any future changes.)

    You know her best, though. Next time you meet up, could you perhaps visit her at home? This might give you a fuller picture of what's going on without alarming her further.

    Good luck X
  3. Risa

    Risa Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
    In my area, there are social clubs for elderly people (not with dementia) and they have outings to places, restaurants and theatre trips which sound fun. It might be worth phoning Age Concern in your Mum's area to see if they can suggest specific clubs/groups that she could join. Age Concern may also be able to suggest local befrienders who could see your Mum regularly and keep an eye on her.

    If your Mum was happy to see her GP a few months ago, could you arrange another appointment for when you are next visiting her just so you can see how she gets on?
  4. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    hello John
    and welcome to TP
    a few slips of memory can just be down to getting older - not knowing that there's a problem with memory and changes in behaviour may be symptoms of dementia but could also be down to vitamin deficiency and other conditions -so it's good that your mum's GP is in the picture
    would it be possible to visit your mum for a few days and stay with her, without taking on any of the usual everyday chores and without altering her routines, so that you see how she is in her familiar environment - when I did this with dad it was quite an eye opener - but I wouldn't have noticed much if just popping in for a quick hello
    best wishes
  5. Sam Luvit

    Sam Luvit Registered User

    Oct 19, 2016
    East Sussex
    Hi John

    I used to visit mum & do all the cooking while I was visiting, I realised I needed to make some changes when she cooked one day as I was busy sorting something else. I say cooked .... the meat was charcoal & then she started peeling the potatoes :eek: she'd lost the ability to plan.

    Planning, table manners & thinking that pouring boiling water over the dishes meant they were washed were what I noticed first.

    As Shedrech says, there are other reasons for the symptoms so if you can get her back to her GP, you could find it's a deficiency rather than anything else. :eek:
  6. Fullticket

    Fullticket Registered User

    Apr 19, 2016
    Chard, Somerset
    Oh JohnCas, this takes me back to my mum at 80 - when we first realised something was not quite right. Over the following months and years we had to deal with all sorts of problems. Questions I would ask are:

    Do people come to see her and she has forgotten she invited them? Do you go and see her and she has forgotten you are coming? She may pretend she remembers they/you were coming but is there any food in to cater for them? Any biscuits, any lunch?

    What is in her fridge and how long has it been there?

    Is she responding to trash mail, i.e. sending money for prize draws?

    Does she have Sky? How many insurances does she have for it?

    Are people knocking at her door and offering to clean the roof, path, insulate the loft? Checking the loft at mum's revealed at least three lots of insulation, all of which she had paid for.

    This is before she had a diagnosis and when she was living on her own. Most worrying was that she was overdrawn at the bank - she had a 'boyfriend' who was the same age as my husband. He took thousands from her (no diagnosis, no reason for the bank to question!). The final straw was when some local people from a travellers' site kept coming round and emptying her purse and, finally, driving her to the bank in their van to draw out money. She came to live with me the following day...

    Probably not what you wanted to hear.
  7. lemonjuice

    lemonjuice Registered User

    Jun 15, 2016
    #7 lemonjuice, Sep 19, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
    I do wish there wasn't this general perception that dementia is essentially 'a memory problem'! :mad:

    Yes there can be memory issues, but they are very different to the 'occasional forgetting of a specific word', or 'where one parked one's car', or the name of someone one doesn't meet on a regular basis. Elderly people's memory is not as quick as it once was. They often live alone and have little stimulation and if they're tired or under-the-weather their memory might not be as sharp as normal and they may forget things occasionally, as did my late mother-in-law, who did not have dementia. She usually self-corrected herself as she realised she was wrong. Whereas my mother with dementia, when she was still able to talk didn't even realsie she'd made a mistake. Or would talk through other people's conversations.

    The memory loss which comes with dementia is very different.

    The typical example often given
    Forgotten where you've put the keys - normal
    Not understanding what a key is or what it's for- cognitive loss (dementia)

    Forgetting to drink a cup of coffee and leaving it cold on the side- possibly normal
    Having a hot cup of coffee put in front of them and not attempting to drink , even after prompting- possibly symptomatic of dementia
    Or in my mother's case just making hot cups of water without any idea she needed to put either a teabag or spoon of coffee into the water. And insisting it was 'tea or coffee', despite being plain water in the cup.:confused:

    You get the idea.
  8. JohnCas

    JohnCas Registered User

    Sep 19, 2017
    Thanks for all the replies. The money thing would be really scary, horrible to hear about people that could try and profit from this. I hope to be able to diagnose properly before something like this happens.

    Thanks Risa, I think being upfront is a really good idea. I dont like the idea of planning things behind her back, seems wrong.

    LemonJuice those are good things to watch out for thanks
  9. lemonjuice

    lemonjuice Registered User

    Jun 15, 2016
    There are lots of other 'indications' and contra-indications' I remember reading somewhere a long time ago. I've been on this journey with 3 relatives for over 20+ years now and even my mother is 12+ years into it, so no idea where I found it but a quick 'search' may yield a list for you.
    Or someone may be able to point you in the direction of a link?
  10. Tragicuglyducky

    Tragicuglyducky Registered User

    Apr 4, 2016
    Hi john, we managed to get dad's cooperation for memory assessments when he was agreeing that he had memory issues. We didn't take him to the GP to get him referred we simply spoke to them over the phone and agreed a memory assessment could be beneficial and referred him. For his memory assessment we told him the nurse was seeing him because he'd complained about his memory and they wanted to see if there was anything they could do to help him.

    Looking back we can see roughly when it all started, obviously we only recognise it with hindsight but maybe there are similarities that suggest you need to up your game? Before he we suspected anything dad was more and more paranoid and anxious about things. Small things worried him and he worry and worry and wouldn't stop talking about it. Other interesting signs was working things out in his head. His mental arithmetic had always been good (better my brothers who has a maths PhD!), but looking back it was taking him longer and longer to working sums out or calculate days even when looking at a calendar. I hope that helps!
  11. DollyBird16

    DollyBird16 Registered User

    Sep 5, 2017
    Greater London
    Prior to Mums appointment, I wrote to the Gp detailing what we had been observing.
    The Gp was fantastic and explained that she needed to do the memory test as she does with all patients of a certain age. Mum was comfortable with that.
    As expected the result was not good. GP was honest and asked Mum how she thought she did and suggested someone visit to check further.
    Sadly we're on the vascular dementia road.
    Writing to the Gp, always works for me.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Always plenty of people here with much knowledge and happy to share learns and journeys.
  12. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    I think 'memory problems' are one of the ways in which dementia becomes apparent to relatives.

    For example my husband first realised something was really wrong when his father had forgotten that he'd been found to have slow growing prostate cancer. There'd been an episode when he'd been passing blood and then various tests. But a few years along the line my father-in-law denied this had ever happened.

    I suppose I agree that a kind of slowing down and absent mindedness and misplacing names comes with getting older. But it seems that really 'big' forgetting does happen as dementia progresses - and it causes big problems.

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