Worried about my grandma - dementia or thyroid?

Aurora3

New member
Jan 23, 2020
7
We've been worried about my grandma for a few months now, and I was wondering if anyone might be able to help give my some insight with their own experiences or advice. Sorry if this is quite a long post! I really appreciate anyone taking the time to read.

Not long ago (around early summer I think) my grandma was told by her doctor that she had a borderline thyroid problem (I'm not certain if it was borderline underactive or overactive thyroid, but I think it was overactive), but he said if she wasn't having any symptoms that they wouldn't put her on any medication and she was going to go back for a checkup in this coming March.

Fast forward to a few months back, my auntie mentioned that she was a bit worried about my grandma's memory, and she'd noticed her becoming forgetful. A couple of times my grandma had made plans with my mum and then forgotten. We'd also noticed some mood changes, she seems to be getting overly stressed and worked up about things. She had been doing a cleaning job a few hours a week in the mornings and had been getting really anxious about it and was having problems sleeping. My mum told her if it's making you stressed to stop doing it as there's no point, she didn't need the money and was only doing it to help out a friend, so she did. We also had a lot of rain a few months back and my grandma told us that she'd been up all night unable to sleep because she was worried about her house flooding, and that she'd had heart palpitations.

My grandma had power of attorney for a cousin of hers who was 101, and she'd had to organise her moving into a resdiential home. She sadly passed away around Christmas time, and my grandma had been organising her funeral which she had become very stressed and anxious about. She'd expressed to us that she'd noticed herself being forgetful (in a half jokey way) but had put it down to the stress she'd been experiencing with her cousin's funeral and hoped she would be back to normal once it was all over. I stayed at her house for the weekend near the time of her cousin's funeral, and mostly everything seemed fine, we went shopping, she cooked for us, we watched TV together and had normal conversations. She spoke about recent things like her organising the funeral, the election, etc. But there were two things that I noticed. We'd been shopping and I'd paid for both of our things in one of the shops, and my Grandma paid for us to have lunch. When we came back to hers she said she wanted to pay me back for the things I'd paid for and got her calculator out to work out how much I'd paid for her things. I insisted it was fine and that she'd paid for lunch and I didn't want her to pay me back. Around 20-30 minutes later, she insisted again that she owed me some money and wanted to pay me back as she wanted lunch to be her treat, she went to the drawer again to get her calculator and said "Oo where's my calculator gone?" then she saw that she'd left it on the table and laughed. This time she insisted and gave me the money. I wasn't sure if she'd forgotten that she'd already tried to pay me back, or whether she'd just had more of a think about it and decided she really wanted to pay me back! So it might've been nothing, but because I knew she'd been a bit forgetful recently I was looking for things. The other thing was that her sink had been leaking when she turned the tap on before I'd got there (only a little bit of dripping, not gushing out or anything), which had stressed her out, and when I tried to have a shower before I went to bed no water was coming out - the water coming out of the sinks and bath was fine though. I think this had made her worry that it was a more serious problem with the plumbing though, but she came into my room at 8am to wake me up and ask for me to ring my Mum. It was a Sunday and she wanted my Dad to drive up to hers as soon as possible to have a look at her sink and shower as she wouldn't be able to get a plumber unless she rang an emergency one, she said she was sorry to wake me up so early but she'd been awake since 5am worrying about it. I just thought it was a little bit unusual that she had been so anxious about it when it wasn't an emergency. She always uses the bath rather than the shower and it turns out whoever stayed at hers last and used her shower had knocked a switch on the head off, and my Dad was able to repair her sink.

The funeral was a month ago now, and her memory and mood changes don't seem to have improved. Her birthday is in March and originally she said she wanted a party at a place in town. She then told my Mum she didn't want a fuss and would rather it just be a small thing with close family round at my aunty's house. This isn't that unusual, as she's never really liked much of a fuss or being the centre of attention, but I did wonder if she'd maybe been feeling a bit worried or conscious of her forgetfulness. The day afterwards she spoke to my aunty about her party and had seemed to have forgotten that she'd asked my mum to change the plans, but was happy when my aunty told her that they were no longer doing the party. However, since then she's now invited 32 people to my aunty's house, so it seems she's no longer wanting it as just family!

My mum and aunty spoke to her about her anxiety and her forgetfulness, and convinced her to go for a blood test. They'd looked online and seen that thyroid problems can cause problems with memory and mood changes, which can often be mistaken for dementia, and given that the doctor had previously mentioned her thyroid they said it'd be a good idea to get it checked. She had her blood test this week, and is getting the results next Wednesday. Although I'm not convinced, I've looked online and it seems that memory problems and confusion seem to only be mentioned as a symptom of an underactive thyroid, rather than overactive. We think it was overactive thyroid that the doctor had mentioned previously, and all the other symptoms she's been experiencing (weight loss, anxiety, mood changes, heart palpitations, difficutly sleeping) seem to be associated with an overactive thyroid (except for the memory problems!). They also seem to be symptoms that could be explained by a dementia too.

My grandma text my mum today to say that she's worried about her brain and wanted a chat. She told her that when she came out of her doctors appointment, she couldn't remember where she'd parked and she didn't really recognise where she was or and couldn't remember why she was there for a minute or so, in an area she knows well. But then she remembered, found her car and drove home fine. But this is very alarming to me, and I know disorientation like this in particular is a sign of some dementias. Whether thyroid related dementia-like symptoms can cause this sort of confusion/disorientation as well I don't know?

I was wondering whether anyone else knew whether an overactive thyroid can cause symptoms similar to dementia too, or whether it is just underactive? I do have a bad feeling that it's not going to be thyroid related. But I'm glad that my Grandma is aware of the problems she's having and is talking to us about it. Hopefully if it is a form of dementia we can get it diagnosed quickly. I guess we'll just have to wait for the blood test results and go from there...

Any insight or advice would be much welcomed!
 
Last edited:

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
70,395
Kent
Hello @Aurora3

I think it would be wise if your grandma allowed a family member to accompany her to see her doctor. It`s the best way the family can find out precisely what is wrong.
 

Aurora3

New member
Jan 23, 2020
7
Yes I think so too, always best to have more than one set of ears there. My mum is seeing her today so she's going to suggest going with her to the doctors if the blood tests come back with nothing. Hopefully she'll agree.
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
2,580
Yes I think so too, always best to have more than one set of ears there. My mum is seeing her today so she's going to suggest going with her to the doctors if the blood tests come back with nothing. Hopefully she'll agree.
Actually just go ! xx
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
2,580
She is, I just mean hopefully my Grandma will agree so it doesn’t have to be difficult. What does the diagnosis process usually involve?
For Mum & Dad
Appointment with GP / referral to Memory
Clinic ( clinical mental health team)

CT scan & bloods at local hospital

Met with psychiatrist/psychiatric nurse- Q&A sheet & timed tests reviewed C/T scan & diagnosis

Basically that’s what happened both times. Liasing with the GP etc means you are in the loop. Aged Mother diagnosed in 2014 but didn’t want anyone to know!!! So the poop hit the fan & we got another diagnosis in 2019! End Stage dementia.

hope that helps a little
The Alzheimer’s helpline are amazing & can explain it very concisely if you ever want to call them

good luck
X
 

Aurora3

New member
Jan 23, 2020
7
For Mum & Dad
Appointment with GP / referral to Memory
Clinic ( clinical mental health team)

CT scan & bloods at local hospital

Met with psychiatrist/psychiatric nurse- Q&A sheet & timed tests reviewed C/T scan & diagnosis

Basically that’s what happened both times. Liasing with the GP etc means you are in the loop. Aged Mother diagnosed in 2014 but didn’t want anyone to know!!! So the poop hit the fan & we got another diagnosis in 2019! End Stage dementia.

hope that helps a little
The Alzheimer’s helpline are amazing & can explain it very concisely if you ever want to call them

good luck
X
Thank you! That's really helpful. I will make sure my mum goes with my grandma to the GP and pushes for a referral to the memroy clinic if the bloods come back with nothing. When my grandma went originally and mentioned her memory problems she said that the GP said it could be to do with all the stress she was under, but it's since then that she had the very concerning incident of forgetting where she was in an area she knows well, and I want to make sure the GP is made aware of that!
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
60
Just be careful you are not fobbed off.
The GP did a memory test that mum passed. One question was’ what is the name of the Queen at the moment! Seriously what could they ask to make it easier ‘ what number comes after number one’?
Perhaps they are not aware that short term memory is the problem.
I pushed and they got the memory clinic to do next level testing which consists of pictures of animals, among other things.
Mum was borderline, did we want to proceed?
Pushy daughter ‘ yes we do’
It’s the brain scan you need to get ( ours confirmed vascular dementia)
Beware ,they are certainly not touting for business and if you are happy to be comforted and dispatched home, that is what will happen.
If you have no power of attorney then please consider it.
 

Aurora3

New member
Jan 23, 2020
7
Just be careful you are not fobbed off.
The GP did a memory test that mum passed. One question was’ what is the name of the Queen at the moment! Seriously what could they ask to make it easier ‘ what number comes after number one’?
Perhaps they are not aware that short term memory is the problem.
I pushed and they got the memory clinic to do next level testing which consists of pictures of animals, among other things.
Mum was borderline, did we want to proceed?
Pushy daughter ‘ yes we do’
It’s the brain scan you need to get ( ours confirmed vascular dementia)
Beware ,they are certainly not touting for business and if you are happy to be comforted and dispatched home, that is what will happen.
If you have no power of attorney then please consider it.
That's ridiculous! Well done you for pushing! This is my worry, I don't think my mum wants to admit to herself just how worrying it is. After the blood results came back fine I asked so what now? She said now that the stress my Grandma was dealing with is over hopefully that will be it now and she won't experience any other symptoms and it will turn out that the stress was to blame... so we'll wait to see how it goes but if she does experience anything else she'll tell her they need to go back to the doctor and go with her.
Which I would be inclined to agree with if it was just the other few symptoms we've noticied (some forgetfulness about plans and being very anxious and stressed lately) but she forgot where she was in an area she knows well... I just can't see stress-induced memory problems causing that sort of disorientation in the way a dementia would? It seems like a huge red flag to me. And I'm worried that the diagnosis process takes a long time as it is, so I want us to start pushing now for answers, not making excuses for symptoms that don't seem right to me at all and leaving things to get worse..
 

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