Friday, August 01, 2014

Sunday, March 28, 2010 DMarie, Community Member, asks

Q: mom, 68 makes up stories, adamant they happened..gets angry

just wondering if anyone might be able to help my family (those not in denial)

better understand if what my mom has been doing falls under a different form of dementia, or if this is something that more closely resembles alzheimers.

 

I first noticed this "issue" about 10 yrs ago.  My mom would tell a story involving family members and we ALL know if never happened.  No matter how we would try to reason w/her..and inform her that we "all" were in agreement...she would become adamant and stubborn...and insistant that "it did".  Then she would get

very, very angry...and would seem to take on a entirely different "look"   her entire countenance would change.

then...she seems to "return" into this stage of sweetness and try to reassure who ever it is she is trying to "convince"...that it's just okay to "let it go"..and then tries to act like the person she just told "has a problem"!  lol

Now..this is NOT funny by any means!!  But it has been very scary to witness over the years.

There have been times earlier on that she declares she phoned my adult siblings and myself to inform us of a family gathering..  and when non of us showed up...we were called with everyone wondering "where we were". 

Although each of us informed her we were never contacted...she remained insistant that she did!  She will carry this out to the end.  The only resolve is to let it go.. NO ONE will EVER convince her to the point that she will admit she just "made a mistake" or "forgot".

I know my father has dealt w/this and seen the incidents pop up now and again... but I believe he's in denial.   My parents live 4hrs from me and we now live 1500 miles away from my adult siblings...so they just don't see any of this first hand.  My mother's sister has though...and 2 yrs ago she brought it to my dad's attention..  I never could get him to talk to me about anything...he just gets angry at me and makes me feel like i'm ganging up on my mother!

I think he's in denial.

Recently, my mother tried to convince me she had medical knowledge about a certain condition and had been "trained"...I just said "Oh Lord, here we go"

and sure enough...she continued on trying to convince me about "what she knew"....and then told me she studied it in a medical journal while in a Dr. office w/her Uncle while she waited for him in the waiting room.   My heart sank.

She is suffering w/Fibro Mialga and she is also dealing w/other conditions of which she is secret about concerning her neck/spine and nerves..  Her overall health is poor.. She does not excercise and does very little beside going to church and going out to eat w/my father.  She has progressively seemed "aloof" towards me... 

Sorry for the length of this.. I'm just concerned and need direction... I don't want to pursue anything with my dad or bring anything more to his attention..  She is not always presenting this way... but i'm not around her often enough anymore either.

any comments are appreciated

thank you for your time!

Donna

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Answers (8)
AFA Social Services, Health Guide
3/29/10 4:23pm

Donna,

Your concerns for your mother are well founded, as her behavior can be indicative of some kind of condition. However, it is difficult to determine what is going on unless your mother has a proper diagnosis with her physician. Although her symptoms are classic indications of dementia, she could be suffering from an infection, vitamin deficiency, thyroid condition, or other issues, some of which may even be treated. Therefore, to really get to the bottom of what is happening, you need to start by taking your mother to her primary care physician. Her physician will start by running a series of tests such as a blood/urine test, comprehensive medical history, cognitive screen, etc, and then may refer her to a neurologist for further brain testing. This should be your first step in getting your mother the care she needs, and it’s best to do this as soon as possible.

You described a few scenarios where your mother was making up stories and you could not find a way of convincing her of the truth. If your mother has some form of dementia, it would be no surprise that you encountered these challenges. Individuals with dementia have an impaired sense of reality, and it can often seem as though they are living in their own world. This world may be completely bizarre and a fantasy, or realistic but based on long ago events. Often you will find that individuals with dementia cannot be convinced of the truth, or be pulled back successfully into everybody else’s reality; in fact, the more one tries, the more he or she risks upsetting or agitating their loved one. As your mother may no longer be able to enter your world, the best thing you can do is enter hers. It may seem strange or false to do this, but it is the only way to keep her engaged and improve her quality of life. If you find that she is pleased by the stories she tells, ask her for more details. Try to learn more and see where she’s coming from. There is no harm in allowing her this sense of enjoyment – in fact, it may even encourage her to use her imagination, exercise her verbal skills, and support her desire to be open and forthcoming with her family. However, if the stories are of an upsetting nature and she is experiencing distress, do your best to remind her that “everything will be ok” or tell her, “don’t worry, you’re safe with me” and move off the topic onto something more pleasant.

You mentioned that your mother does not exercise and does little but stay indoors with her husband. This can be damaging in the long run for both parents, as your mother doesn’t have a social network or variety in her routine, and your father doesn’t have any respite from caring for her. One solution that can help both parties is enrolling your mother in an adult day center. There she can receive supervision, meals, activities, exercise, and peer interaction on a daily basis. At the same time, your father would have some time to himself, which can allow him to take care of his own matters and renew his energy in time for her return. Your father could also use this time to join a support group, where he can connect with other caregivers experiencing similar situations, while developing his own social network. This is an invaluable service for caregivers, in that it can help educate them on the multiple facets of this illness, provide a proper emotional outlet, and offer some time away from caregiving. You and other family members should also consider joining this group to learn more about how you can effectively manage your mother’s illness and continue learning about different ways in which to help her. If you need help finding an adult day center or support group in your area, please feel free to contact the AFA social services team at (866) 232-8484.

Reply
NC, Community Member
3/29/10 10:58am

Hi DMarie,

 

I am sorry about your mother and I can see that your father is in denial.

Is there any way you can ask a professional health worker like a nurse or a doctor who is a friend to talk to your Dad? He needs to understand there are medications that can help Alzheimer's or dementia such as aricept if she does have dementia of some type.

I don't know what other conditions she has and she may have other disease that shows dementia symptoms. So I cannot say for sure what is wrong with her.

But you need to educate your father about the need of diagnosing her properly. She can see a neurologist to detect her dementia so she can get medications.

The medications are for delaying symptoms for dementia and make it easier for caregiving. It is not for cure and may just delay the symptoms for 6 months but it is worth a try.

 

Please make sure your father understands this. If he cannot be the proper guardian of her, the adult kids should be the guardian for her safety.

He is not doing her any favor by ignoring all the situations.

 

Good luck,
Nina

Reply
Joseph, Community Member
3/29/10 11:45pm

Hi Donna,  You have received some excellent suggestions and I agree with them.  Your mom needs to be evaluated first by her physiscian to see if something like a hormone imbalance or some other factor may be causing these traits in your mom's character.  Once her doctor discovers the problem or concludes that something else needs to be investigated, a neurologist may be useful to determine if dementia is the problem.  There are a number of kinds of dementia, but they all could cause the behavior that you described.  In the best case scenario, a cause for this behavior may be cured if it is something treatable.  In the worst case, it could be Alzheimer's Disease or another form of dementia that cannot be cured.  If it is the latter, there are still drug therapies that can improve your mom's quality of life.  Encourage your family to have her checked out.  I hope it's an easy fix rather than something more serious!  Best Wishes,   --  Joe  --

Reply
DMarie, Community Member
3/30/10 12:19am

Thank ALL of you for you insight, and helpful suggestions.

Unfortunately, I'm 4hrs away and unable to oversee what the outcome

of any appointments are.  My father is a very observant man...but sometimes he just ignores things if she tells him she's going on an appointment "alone" ...he'll just agree and let her because she's "stubborn" or he'll say..."she's being secretive because she's just a private person when it comes to certain things"

How much denial is that???  

Half the time, i don't even know that's she's scheduled for anything until after the fact.

My mother is not in such a "mental" state that she has to have adult  day care. 

She drives regularly and socially sound.

 My parents would absolutely disown me if they knew I was consulting anyone about this...they would think I was disrespectful and accusing..

My father is much more physically active than my mom and he has continued to

encourage her to be active....even daily walking..but she says' she can't.  but then she'll  go walk around a mall for 3 hours with her sister.

She does have a regular physician and she is always having routine checkups..  But if no one tells a doctor about things like what I'm experiencing with her... and if my dad just passes things off as her "stretching the truth" or exaggerating a story....then how will anything get resolved?

I certainly can't try to force my dad to see what he doesn't want to see.

My mother is intelligent and has a natural gift of "caregiver" and looking after the needs of others.. She's been helping an aging uncle who is failing physically... it is wearing her out...but good for her at the same time...

The only true means I believe I have would be to discuss this with my aunt, her sister, who she spends alot of time with.  She is 9 years older than my mom, but she too, has noticed some pretty concerning issues...  She told me recently, "your mom is not well, Donna"....but then she cried because I think she's afraid to truly "tell" why it is she says this.   My mom has degenerative disc disease as well as other ailments.. she has regular B12 shots.  

My aunt is a very sound, healthy woman...but she has been very careful in her comments.... It's almost like she doesn't want to "breath" out...    She has talked to my dad in the past...which is huge because she would NEVER just go to him about her if it wasn't huge..

I can't start trying to point out something medically that's going with my mom to my dad without stirring up anger in everyone...they'll start accusing me of being 'over-reactive"

I guess if anyone is going to see a worsening of this..it will certainly be my

father and aunt..   

perhaps I just need to keep quiet and see if I witness anything more than what I have lately.

Reply
Joseph, Community Member
3/30/10 12:50am

I understand your concerns.  Perhaps printing your question and our answers for later review would come in handy in the future.  The problem will get worse if it is dementia and you will have evidence that you recognized it earlier than the others.  They may respect your discretion and waiting for an appropriate time to discuss the subject.  I can appreciate your desire to avoid conflict and also your concern for your mother.  Give this some time and when others become more aware of the problem, you will have had ample time to study it and offer suggestions.  Feel free to write to us for support in the meantime if that would be helpful.  Best Wishes,  --  Joe  --

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DMarie, Community Member
3/30/10 1:24am

dear Joe...

how very kind of you to reply and offer this type of suggestion. It would probably be a wise thing to do....printing questions & responses.   I guess I'm looking for a way to address this without my father becoming angry at me and maybe i'm just not going to be able to avoid it. 

I'll give this more time and pray i'm wrong about it all...and that she just

wants to exaggerate and remain stubborn when questioned.  I think I know in

my heart there is more to this...and it's also hard for me to go there to...

I feel like a "traitor"... or that I'm disrespectful or something...

I'm still confused about the different types of dementia...so I'm just going to take this time to research it all.

thanks so much Joe!  Appreciate your time and efforts!

Donna

Reply
Joseph, Community Member
3/30/10 3:15am

Dear Donna,  You're very welcome!  These issues are quite emotional ones, for sure.  Nobody wants to suspect dementia in a loved one and dealing with those feelings can be very awkward.  You aren't being disrespectful or being a "traitor" in any way, just because you've noticed some behavioral discrepancies.  You obviously love your mother or you wouldn't be looking for an answer to your questions about her.  Do the research to be better informed about dementia and if the time comes, you'll be the family expert.  Your father will be comforted by the knowledge that you have taken the time to learn about dementia and can educate him about what to expect and what can be done about it, if that turns out to be the diagnosis.  Please keep in mind, that until a doctor rules out other medical conditions, dementia is just speculation.  I wish you and your family well!  --  Joe  --

Reply
DMarie, Community Member
3/30/10 10:34am

Thank you Joe...once again...

My mom has regular doctor care..and i know she is being treated for fibro-myalgia(sp?) as well as degenerative disc disease.  She has hypothyroidism and follows the meds accordingly.  She's receiving ongoing medical care concerning her physical heath..  She's always at the DR's...she and my father...She's 68 and he'll be 70 in July.  He has always been a very strong, healthy man..but now, even his health issues are mounting..

I am thankul to GOD for my aunt, (mom's sister) for her oversight and extreme wisdom and advice to them and myself.  At least I know if anything truly alarming happens....she will inform me.

The biggest concern I have regarding this...if NO one is to report any of these

"incidences" to a doctor.. they aren't going to be monitoring or examining an area they aren't aware of.

Will continue to wait for now...research and pray.\

God Bless you Joe and thank you for your advice

~Donna

Reply
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
3/30/10 7:45am

Hi Donna,

You are right that you may have to sit back until your dad has had enough. Everything the responders have suggested should be done. However, if your dad remains in denial, you may not be able to change anything. Since your mom goes to church, is she close to her pastor/priest? Often someone outside the family can convince people they need a physical (he doesn't have to say it 's for mental issues). Family dynamics are so complicated that head-butting is often the result, where a third party may be listened to.

 

If this doesn't work, there is bound to be an incident where your dad will have to see reality. It's a shame, however, in that your mom could be suffering from any number if illnesses which could be helped with medication.

 

Take care of yourself, too.

Carol

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DMarie, Community Member
3/30/10 10:50am

Dear Carol...

Thank you for your reply and advice concerning...3rd party.  I know my aunt is near enough and around often enough...and she would have the grace to deal with this and alert my father or even talk w/my mom.  She already approached my dad over 2yrs ago...because she was seeing some serious things...like i mentioned in my initial comments/questions...

My mom does not always present with these issues or incidents...there seems to be  spaces of time where she seems fine..very normal behavior..  My parents have alot of friends and dine out and visit back & forth...but overall, my mom can appear sluggish and will sit for hours and hours and hours and do Suduko puzzles... I had never seen her in such an addictive state.

It's hard for us to visit and plan to do anything, because she will sit..and instead of just engaging in conversation...she will sit and open this puzzle book and fill in numbers for hours.  It dominates her time now.

I began pondering whether or not she is doing this to keep her mind active?  I don't know but it's the strangest thing I've ever seen.

We can't seem to motivate her beyond enticing her to go out to eat.

It's heartbreaking truly.

I'm just going to follow through w/advice and do some more research and just wait things out..  I know my aunt will be the first to see any significant changes.  She is very active in the church they attend...Actually she just retired as the "Senior Pastor/Director..  and she was also employed for many years at a Nursing Home/Elderly Care facility as the Social Director.  She knows all the signs..she's fully acquainted with the visible signs & aspect of this.

Right now, our 89yr old uncle is failing and in & out of the hospital...both she and my mom have been trying to care for him & help w/all the dr.appts..home visits..and hospital stays.   I believe as much as this has been taxing on my mother physically...it certainly has benefited in certain ways...   She is actively caring for and nursing and using her abilities.  She has been so dormant and lax...so as much as it's hard seeing my uncle fail...he's got 2 wonderful angels looking after him.

Thank you Carol for your advice.  You've all been very supportive and helpful in this matter and I appreciate your insight.

Have a blessed and peaceful day

~Donna

Reply
NC, Community Member
3/30/10 11:23am

DMarie,

 

We could not do anything about my FIL who has late moderate stage of Alzheimer's back in 2004/2005/2006 either. He was really forgetful and needed caregivers to stay with him. Like you, we are far away from him. We sort of waited until accidents happened. Well it happened. He fell in late 2005 and he was on pain killer. One night he was confused and needed the neighbor's help.  Well the neighbors came over and made my husband fly over right away. He went for a special same day operation on his end of spine and recovered. Well, my husband then hired the home care people when he was there. We have used this service ever since. The neighbor even said she would call social worker if we don't do anything. Neighbors are some force! Now we need to send him to an assisted living home because he lives on delusion and/or depression. He thinks the neighbors owe him and should live with him and etc.

 

The thing is you would need to wait for ugly things to happen if you just wait for your father to act. I guess the church people will notice eventually. The police may be called one day. Now she should not even drive. It could endanger her.

 

It is up to the family if you want to wait until the ugly moment. Or you can find the pastors or fellowship people to help out. Church people are nice and they can offer lots of support.

I understand you cannot betray your parents. Me too. Just wait until it happens.

 

Take care,

Nina

Reply
Dorian Martin, Health Guide
3/31/10 9:05am

Hi, DMarie,

 

I think everyone has given you great feedback. I just wanted to chime in that in our family's case, my father knew something was wrong, but my brother and I (both of whom lived far away) were clueless concerning some of the issues Mom was experiencing. Unfortunately for us, it took a mini-crisis to get us all on the same page.

 

Based on my experiences, I would encourage you and your family not to argue with your mom when she comes up with her "stories". To her, these are true, and would be consistent with someone who has some sort of brain disease, such as dementia. It is important to get a medical diagnosis of what is going on so that proper treatment can begin.

 

I also wanted to share my learning about arguments based on my experience with Mom. Getting her angry by continually rebutting her take on things caused a recurring pattern in which she would lash out verbally (and threaten physical action as well). When people (especially my dad) corrected her, she would often get a white-hot anger that didn't cool at all (which was very unlike her). Once her anger did cool off, it often would flare up again at a moment's notice when she was told she was wrong again (especially if it was the same person correcting her). My theory (although I don't have a medical degree) based on watching my mom is that the brain is so damaged by dementia that some people lose the ability to control their anger when told that they are wrong. Additionally, this anger can be stoked due to an increasing lack of trust as well as increased general paranoia. Therefore, if a person (or a group of people) continually disagrees with the loved one, the result can be a regular outburst of an intense anger that seems unfounded but that can become a bad habit that will be difficult for the loved one to stop. In our case, Mom was placed in a nursing home and Dad didn't see her for two months. By the time they saw each other again, Mom had forgotten about her anger and was able to interact with Dad again. And by that time, I had coached Dad on how to respond appropriately so as not to get Mom angry. However, Dad did have mental "scars" from the rage that Mom directed at him prior to diagnosis.

 

So please do get your mom to see a doctor! Getting a diagnosis will help everyone know what they're dealing with.


Take care and keep us posted!

 

Dorian

Reply
DMarie, Community Member
3/31/10 1:53pm

Dear Dorian,

 

Thank you for your helpful response....especially regarding the "stories" and how I respond..  Of course, I really have no idea how my dad deals with the incidents or stories since I'm not around.  I think he must just recognize when to "let it go"...I don't know what he's thinking actually.  He and I have a strained relationship and due to other incidents in the past where he "backed" her to the point of "accusing my daughter of lying" because she denied everything my mom was saying she had been involved in. This is one of the "first stories" that ever took on a sizeable nature of concern.   It's very involved and took on such am enhanced fabricated disillusion...  the only outcome was that either my mom had fallen off the deep end or my daughter was a liar.  That incident caused such division and hurt...I don't think my father ever forgave for the stance I took in trying to defend my 14yr old daughter at the time.  My husband and I proved that my daughter was not involved and even with this...my father remained in denial.   So.. I have not brought up any other stories to him.. and I will not.

I will leave that for my mom's sister to help with.  He respects her.

I truly have tried to refrain from reacting to the stories...but to tell you the truth...I can engage in normal conversations with her and she'll seem fine and then out of the blue..the next time we're talking or if we're visiting (rarely)...

she will begin elaborating about events during my childhood that never occured.

 

I began researching this form of dementia...and I came upon the term Confabulation.

There are different aspects of this diagnosis...that could stem from structural damage due to accident or other forms of nerve damage structurally unrelated.

 

I'm not a medical expert...but this i do know... either my mom has a psychological problem with lying and exaggeration to try and enhance her conversations and stories.. and she simply digs in stubbornly when "called out" or it's pointed out that it isn't true....or there is something physcially wrong with her.   And to tell you the truth....I dont want to think it's either one!

 

As far back as when she was in her 40's she began elaborating on things she simply had no knowledge of ..and when someone says..."wow..how did you come to know that?..  she replies..."I read it in a magazine"..  This is her classic answer.  This however, is much different than some of the stories illuding back to the time of my childhood.

The whole thing is saddening.  I have noticed she does get lost midway into a conversation at times...or has a loss for words.  Last night, she phoned me to give an update on my 89 yr old uncle who is hospitalized with cong.heart disease.. they drained fluid from his lungs yesterday..  When she tried to tell me that he had gone in for the procedure....she was not able to "say " what they that they had drained "fluid".   Even though this procedure is not foreign to her...she was not able remember it was "fluid"..so she said they drained "water"...   You can tell she get's frustrated...and is searching for the right thing to say...

Well, I'm not going to "argue" with her..and I'm not going to "correct" her either...but I just don't know what is believable either!  If she tells me that her

and my father do something...I'm not sure if it has happened or not..

I will wait and pray that the LORD will help my dad deal with this as time goes on..  Everyone loves my mom.. she is a caring, gentle spirit...but what you mentioned about "anger" flare ups...this is very evident when she begins to see anyone question her fabrications or exaggerations.

I'm praying for the LORD to give me grace in dealing w/her.

Thank you so very much for the time you took to reply Dorian.. I appreciate your insight.

God Bless you and your family~

 

Donna

  

Reply
Annelie Easton, Community Member
5/ 5/10 8:03am

I can identify with you. My mother for years has compared me to  my brother. She brags that he does it this way instead of the way I do things with a smug look. He just bought a motor home and she has told me his in very comfortable, not like my old thing.  She has complained about his wife to me at times and has caused a riff between us all by saying things that create hard feelings.  Now, she is in full blown dementia.  She seems to thrive on saying "ugly" things about people. I wonder if there is any truth to her stories.  I have been wondering whether a dementia patient gets any euphoria from talking about such things.  She "dreamt" that she spoke to my cousin and my cousin sent her long lost friend away.  She mourns it hourly and we try to dissuade her from such notions, but she returns to that story and often adds a few extra details. Its as though she thrives on ugly or sorrowful things-as though it gives her some energy or vitality. Can this be true?

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
5/ 5/10 10:59am

Thanks for writing about this. It could be Alzheimer's but since this seems to be the main symptom and this behavior has been going on for years, it could be a different form of mental illness or it could be side effects of medication. Whatever it is, unless you can get your dad on your side, I don't know what you can do. It's got to be painful to watch.

 

Getting her to a doctor for a complete checkup would be best. If you can suggest it without any mention of her mental issues, and then write the doctor ahead, that may help. But sometimes, they won't even go to a doctor for any reason. And with a spouse in denial, that makes it worse.

 

Please check back with us. At least you can get it off your chest for a bit. Many of us have "been there."

Carol

Reply
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
5/ 5/10 10:59am

Thanks for writing about this. It could be Alzheimer's but since this seems to be the main symptom and this behavior has been going on for years, it could be a different form of mental illness or it could be side effects of medication. Whatever it is, unless you can get your dad on your side, I don't know what you can do. It's got to be painful to watch.

 

Getting her to a doctor for a complete checkup would be best. If you can suggest it without any mention of her mental issues, and then write the doctor ahead, that may help. But sometimes, they won't even go to a doctor for any reason. And with a spouse in denial, that makes it worse.

 

Please check back with us. At least you can get it off your chest for a bit. Many of us have "been there."

Carol

Reply
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
5/ 5/10 11:01am

Thanks for writing about this. It could be Alzheimer's but since this seems to be the main symptom and this behavior has been going on for years, it could be a different form of mental illness or it could be side effects of medication. Whatever it is, unless you can get your dad on your side, I don't know what you can do. It's got to be painful to watch.

 

Getting her to a doctor for a complete checkup would be best. If you can suggest it without any mention of her mental issues, and then write the doctor ahead, that may help. But sometimes, they won't even go to a doctor for any reason. And with a spouse in denial, that makes it worse.

 

Please check back with us. At least you can get it off your chest for a bit. Many of us have "been there."

Carol

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By DMarie, Community Member— Last Modified: 04/21/14, First Published: 03/28/10