My mother has every symptom of early to moderate stage Alzheimer's disease. Memory loss, bad judgment, paranoid ABOUT EVERYTHING especially bills and anything to do with money. She forgets the love of family and accuses us of the vilest behavior without consideration. Example, her bedroom door got locked while I stepped out. She sleeps with our 3 year old grandson nightly, but in her mind, it was I or my son who had left, locked her bedroom door from the inside and left her. She forgets meals, I have seen her staring at the blank TV where she forgets to turn it on, she's afraid of anything new which is unlike her. In fact, mood and personality changes are all a part of her symptoms. She's 71, and many female relatives in our family have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. However, my mom has been to her Doctor, and a so-called specialist who both insist that physically there's absolutely nothing wrong with my mother. How can my mother have such severe symptoms causing me fear to leave her alone and the doctors all keep saying it's just forgetfulness that comes with aging. It seems to me that my mom is quite young for this type of caring on. Everyone else is getting treatment, but my mom has been deteriorating noticeably for the past 7 to 10 years and they keep telling me its normal. What can I do?
There are so many good points in these responses. I, too, felt relief when my dad died, because he died as himself when the brain surgery went wrong. Ten years later, most of it hellish for Dad, his body died and I felt him whole once more. I still feel him with me, something I couldn't feel during the ten years of dementia.
As for the idea that caring for Auntie making Mother's mental health worse, I'd say yes. Caregiving is stress full even for younger healthy people. Many fall into depression. Older caregivers often endanger their health even more. Caregivers feel guilt over turning a loved one over to nursing care (even with daily visits, as I also did), but often it's the best thing they can do. So many elders need care day and night, and realistically that requires a staff. A caregiver can visit daily and monitor the situation. He or she can bring favorite treats, really visit with the person and use the time in a positive way to enjoy one another, rather than using it for daily chores. There's no right decision for everyone, but knowing you are doing your best is what counts. Our best is never perfect, but it has to be good enough.
This sure sounds like dementia to me. I'm not a medical person, but wow! You've got a lot going on. She needs a neurologist or psychiatrist who will do a PET scan on her brain, as well as cognitive tests. Her heart may be fine, but her brain is not. Exelon works for some people but other drugs are available. Dosages are important. If she is worse on Exelon, she may need a different dose, or Namenda or a combination of different drugs. Whatever it is, she needs a different doctor and one that isn't "friends" with the ones she is seeing. She (and you) are getting the short end of the stick. The earlier she starts the right medications, the better the results. With family history and all of these symptoms, the right kind of doctor is sure to find dementia and start treating it. That may take experimentation.
Good luck. Please don't give up. Look for another doctor.
Thanks so much. You have really been very helpful. It's as if you know far more than our doctors, they never mentioned a neurologist, a psychiatrist, or a PET scan as the next step. Mother and I have looked it up and it seems that the PET scan may show more information than the MRI. I can't say enough to thank you, but I will never give up seeking the best help we can find.
My mother and father showed some of the same signs that you have written about. Both of them were diagnosised with Dementia. Vascular dementia. I know exactly what you are going through. First this started with my father in 2000 and by 2002 we had to put him in a nursing home due to the fact he was beginning to fall and my mother could no longer care for him. He started off with a change in his personality, little things, it them progressed to be angry with everyone, paranoid, losing things and blaming everyone else. He passed away in 2003. It was hard but I was morning the loss of him from the day his personality changed and by the time of his actual passing it was a relief. Finally, he would be healed and whole again. We had tried everything for him. My mother began to show sign so dementia late 2004. Her personality started changing and she would have out burst about things that made no sense. She would say that my brother and I had done things that were totally untrue. She would sometimes remember what she had said and would apologize, cry and would tell us that something was/is wrong. In 2006 she fell and broke her hip, and it has been downhill ever since. She got over the fall, and surgery,but we had to hire caregivers to help during the day and my brother would stay at night with her and then she just progressed and needed more and more help after many UTI's, hospital stays, more and more angry outburst, we had no choice but to find her an assistant living facility that specialized in dementia. She has been there for 6 months now and most of the time she is happy. She still gets angry, and still tells me and my brother that we are terrible, not for putting her in her new place but because we don't ever come to visit. (We visit every day) she just forgets. When mom is having a good day and mentally she is herself, (few and far between) she will tell us how much she appreciates us and that she is so thankful that we had found her this place. She has always said that she never ever wanted to live with her children. She has a boyfriend, friends and is much more active than she could ever have been at home. I know that medically she is checked on more often than I could ever do. Living in asst. living, mom is seen more often by a doctor and can get medical attention so much faster. In saying all that I will tell you that I still struggle everyday with it. My mother is/was my best friend and it breaks my heart each time I see her and she is mean. I breaks my heart when she is doing great because it reminds me of who she was at one time. It is the most difficult thing I have ever had to deal with. I know that I have not given you any answers but I hope it helps that you know that you are not alone. I think I am just a little further down the road with the disease. Please feel to write me. I will listen an respond with my experiences. Take care,
Thank you for your reply. It does help to know that we are not the only one as it was seeming that everyone was being diagnosed and treated but my mother. However, those who are being treated I don't see the help, but I can't just let this happen without fighting it all the way. I think that I really need to loosen up my fears of where Mother is headed and just take action. I think if I have actively done everything I can do, I must then rest in the joy of the time my mother and I will share hence forth and try to make it really count. I am very lucky for now in comparison to your dad and mom. I only have moments of bad events, but 80% of the day is normal. If I could find a way to slow this down and keep it close to where it is for some time now I would be very happy as I have an 88 year old auntie who is confined to a wheel chair, depressed, and herself about 10% of the day if that much. At least I have an idea of what has happened to several of my aunties. I just want to make sure that I don't let my worries and fears get in the way of mom's progress.
Today for the first time I decided to call my brother over at 6:00 AM when mom took out her insurance card and said that I need to get on the insurance company for selling her funeral services. She got that because the card said Medicare F. "F" stands for funeral. She scared the life out of me when she said that. The rest of the day has been perfect with my mom. We took the elder aunt from the nursing home to the dentist. The dentist said that her teeth were not getting brushed properly and had caused ulcers on the gums. We have had to call the Department of Health in on this nursing home as they refused to do any exercise, get her a dentist, get her glasses, etc. They wanted to half wash her put clothes on and sit her in the chair and leave her with her head down until her meals and off to bed. So we (mom and I) are seriously having to stay on top of auntie's care because the nursing home is refusing to do it.
I do have one other question. Do you think that these stressful things like caring for auntie and doing her bills that make her very upset from time to time could be speeding up loss of brain function? When she gets so upset, I am worried that she might get so bad that I can't handle her and that I might lose her mind altogether, like she might just snap out and not come back. I think I have too much fear for her condition. I saw her start turning around and around holding her head in her hands, sometimes pounding her head. She would be ok in about 15 minutes, but I almost get the thought to call for help (an ambulance) because she might get in a permenant type situation.