Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sunday, October 18, 2009 Marianne, Community Member, asks

Q: I believe my mom has dementia. What do I do?

My oldest sister who is a RN is in denial, other siblings live very far away.  I'm the only one to help.  She asks the same questions over and over in the same sitting.  After about the 8th time I just tell her she's already asked that question but then she gets upset with me.  She lives alone.  Fortunately with an electric stove and not gas.  I think my oldest sibling is just waiting for something severe to happen before she'll step in.  We are not a close family and "talking" was something that was never done so to approach her about this would be very difficult.  She's in denial that she's forgetful so how do I even find out who her physician is?  Can I contact her physician about my concerns?  Will they do anything?  HELP!  Marianne  ( I also just started working full time after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and I have 3 kids plus a husband to take care of)  We couldn't have her move in with us.  I think it's best now to let her live where she is because she knows how to get back home?

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Answers (3)
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
10/19/09 9:13am

Marianne, you are not alone in this, even though I'm sure it feels that way. Many families are like yours, and that makes all the "talking it through" advice useless. You are looking at the reality of your family dynamics.


Your sister is likely not wanting to look at it, as you said, until something drastic happens, and then it will likely be a nursing home for your mom.


If you don't even know who her doctor is, that is a real disadvantage. Try to find this out and then write the doctor ahead of time and tell him about your concerns. You may have to get your mother in for "routine physical" in order to get her to go at all, but once there, the doctor can order some tests. Your mother may be aware of her memory problems and afraid, but she can't express it. Most people know when they are losing ground, but try to cover it up. It's horribly frightening to know you are forgetting vital information.


There are medications available to help slow the disease, so it is important to try to get her some help. She may be okay were she is for now, but you may need to have in-home care people check on her, since you have your hands full already. Visit as often as you can, but take care of yourself, too.


Please let us know how it goes.



Marianne, Community Member
10/19/09 12:54pm

How do I approach her if she's argumentative?  She's been hiding ëvents"from me.  My cousing let me know that she had fallen at the bowling alley when walking backwards as she watched her ball.  She hurt her hand but was mostly embarrassed.  She didn't tell me that herself, though.  I was also told that she had fallen there once before too earlier this year or last year, I can't remember.  She doesn't tell me these things, I hear it from other people.  Her friends are concerned about her.  She tries to keep herself busy but winter is fast approaching and she'll be stuck at home all year.  She's on two bowling leagues and gets together with her friends and does small road trips but I'm afraid her friends will stop calling because of her condition. 

I guess I'll have to approach her and tell her I want to know the name of her physician?  Or should I say I think she's loosing it and need to go to the dr with her or could I just call her physician and explain  my concerns. 

There was an incident this past summer she took my 5 year old for a walk and they were only supposed to around the block but were gone for an hour.  My husband drove around looking for them and found them the next street over heading toward a major road!  He didn't let her see him because he didn't want her to feel we were checking up on her.  But when they got back I asked what took so long and my daughter said they got lost but my mother immediately said, no they didn't.  I won't let her drive with my kids in the car for fear she'll forget what a red light means.

NC, Community Member
10/19/09 10:41am

You may want to get a caregiver to look after her a few hours a day. Just check to see if she is ok everyday unless you or your sister can check in everyday. She could start the fire (electric or gas) and etc. Or she could get lost. Talk to the neighbors next door to make sure they can help out in case of emergency. Ask a professional home care person to talk to her. These people sometimes can persuade her and make her realize she needs help.

You cannot prescribe medications  without a diagnosis. It could be Alzheimer's or vascular dementia or other kinds of dementia. But aricept and exelon are the common ones to take.

We took some hard time to deal with my FIL before he was diagnosed. We had to hire a caregiver in spite of his objection. Just told him the neighbor didn't like him to be alone. Even with the caregiver there in the day, he burned the food twice before she came in. We got the diagnosis of AD only 1 or 2 years later when he got the AD drugs.

It is a long way to go.


Good luck,

Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
10/19/09 1:59pm

She may listen to a friend, pastor or Rabbi more than you. Third parties can help a lot. She needs a checkup for sure. I wouldn't say she's losing it, but show your concern and let her know you feel she needs a complete physical. If she won't listen to you, try a trusted friend. Sometimes they fight their "kids" more than people outside the family.


Good luck, Marianne. This is tough, I know.


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By Marianne, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/22/10, First Published: 10/18/09