symptoms

Dementia & Age Regression Delusions?

Joseph Community Member November 16, 2009
  • I've written on the topic of delusions a lot lately. My 88 year old mother continues to struggle with delusional thinking. To me, it seems like my mother is having bad dreams that somehow morph into part of her reality. As a child, she was severely disciplined by a strict Irish father who enjoyed his whiskey, a bit too much. When his children had troubles, such as bed wetting, he considered it the product of laziness and knocked his children around a bit. His brutality wouldn't be tolerated today, but unfortunately, the mental brood of his abuse has come back to roost in a mind afflicted by dementia.

     

    I believe that my mother's sleep incontinence is stirring up some old memories of guilt and punishment. Who would have thought that the misguided actions of a parent eighty years ago would impact an adult with dementia in this way? Clearly, there is a lesson in this about raising children, but that's not my focus in this article. Instead, I want to relate how this never forgotten discipline, has menaced a truly wonderful elderly human being. Dementia is just another beating for this tortured soul that I call mom. Because my mother lives in an assisted living community, delusions such as hers can be problematic. Today she is accusing her caregivers of spanking her whenever her bed is wet. Be assured, that this not an actual case of elder neglect or abuse. I've checked her for injuries like bruising or redness and there is no evidence to support her claims. It is the delusion, based on the dream, resulting from the childhood discipline.

     

    The assisted living facility isn't likely to appreciate rumors of physical abuse. This sort of thing can scare other people, if they believe the reports to be true. A concerned resident might even contact the authorities about the allegation and an investigation may result. This is not a problem that assisted living facilities want to deal with. If they have a good reputation, and my mother's place is excellent, they want to protect it and their employees.

     

    What are the remedies in a situation like this? Medication is always the first thing to consider. Perhaps more, perhaps less, or maybe a different medication would be helpful to minimize the delusions. It's a slow process because dosage is administered in small increments. Verbal intervention can be attempted, but with delusional thinking and dementia, success is unlikely. A geropsychiatric hospitalization may provide behavioral correction through a new drug therapy. Or, as a last resort, it may be necessary to move to a dementia facility. The last solution is a hard thing to do, even if someone tells you that it is the best choice for your mother.

     

    I have heard that some dementias cause an age regression as the brain deteriorates. If that's true, this may be what I am witnessing. Oddly, if that is the case, my mother "the child" still recognizes me as her son. It's a curious relationship that dementia causes. You can find yourself playing many roles as a caregiver. I don't relish the possibility that I will someday be seen by her, not as her son, but as her abusive father. That day will be a difficult one for both of us. Delusion can be a demon in your head. Relief may be elusive because remedies are only temporary, at best.

8 Comments
  • CJ
    CJ
    Jan. 04, 2010

    This is a helpful comment, Joseph.  I find that, at times, my mother (age 91, probably somewhere between stages 4-5 right now) seems to behave around me as if I am my father.  My father sort of ran the household, making all the important decisions.  He was a quiet person, but nice to be around in general and even tempered, for the most part. ...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    This is a helpful comment, Joseph.  I find that, at times, my mother (age 91, probably somewhere between stages 4-5 right now) seems to behave around me as if I am my father.  My father sort of ran the household, making all the important decisions.  He was a quiet person, but nice to be around in general and even tempered, for the most part.  My mother always had a tendency to make what she called "white lies" to get around him on minor things.  Sometimes she just ignored his advice or suggestions or became disruptive with him, saying occasionally cruel things.  He just looked past it, always, as part of her upbringing (this is the way her large family operated).

     

    As her alzheimers progresses, I am trying to prepare myself for more abuse.  Lately, she has not been abusive, but I'm not at work just now (I'm a professor).  Once classes start up again and I'm around her less (thus giving her less interchange), she's likely to start up again.  (It's quite troubling that when I am most tired - these are the times when she can become most verbally abusive.)  What I find most perplexing is that she does relate to me (on these difficult days) as if I'm my father.  I *am* like him in personality, so perhaps that is what triggers it.

     

    Your post helped me to see that I am not alone and to understand better that such regression into a former lived experience is to be anticipated.  Thank you for that.

  • Joseph
    Nov. 16, 2009
    My formatting was changed in the above post. I don't know where all of my paragraphs went... it's just one long rambling story on my screen. Perhaps it will self-correct. If not.... My aplogies.--Joe
    • Anonymous
      P.
      Jan. 03, 2010

      I just wanted to say I found your comments thoughtful and moving.  I am enduring a similar experience with my 86 year old father.  Your comments about age regression/memory are a possible explanation for some of the delusions my dad is expressing - though in his case, a mind that was both empathetic/caustic and given to reading a whole lot of police...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      I just wanted to say I found your comments thoughtful and moving.  I am enduring a similar experience with my 86 year old father.  Your comments about age regression/memory are a possible explanation for some of the delusions my dad is expressing - though in his case, a mind that was both empathetic/caustic and given to reading a whole lot of police and war novels may also be expressing itself.  I don't know.  But your love for you mom is apparent and I can sympathize. Thanks for sharing. 

    • Joseph
      Jan. 03, 2010
      Thank you very much for your comment! I'm glad that my SharePost was possibly helpful to you. Best Wishes! -- Joe
    • CJ
      CJ
      Jan. 04, 2010

      Hello, Joe.  I'm having trouble getting the system to let me see the complete original post, but I wanted to drop in and say that reading your posts from former times has been very helpful to me.  I'm glad you're back!  (Are you back, now, from your break?)  Thanks for coming back!  CJ

    • Joseph
      Jan. 04, 2010

      Hello, CJ.  I just dropped in briefly to post a reply.  I will be back to resume my SharePosts in about ten days.  Thank you for your comments and I'm really glad that my posts have been helpful to you.  Best Wishes! -- Joe

    • Carol Bradley Bursack
      Health Guide
      Jan. 04, 2010

      Hi Joe,

      The site underwent an upgrade, as you can tell, and I have found some things, even articles gone. I hope that will be corrected, but time will tell.

       

      Good to see you back!

      Carol

    • Joseph
      Jan. 04, 2010

      Hi Carol,  I've noticed the changes to the site.  So far, I haven't encountered any serious issues with them.  I just dropped in to catch up with a few replies.  I'll be back in about 10 days and will return with a new SharePost.  Best Wishes, -- Joe