Mom Makes up Stories, Adamant They Happened Then Gets Angry


Asked by DMarie

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 Alzheimer's.

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 with 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"!

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 with this and seen the incidents pop up now and again, but I believe he's in denial. My parents live 4 hours 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 and 2 years 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 with her Uncle while she waited for him in the waiting room. My heart sank.

She is suffering with fibromyalgia and and she is also dealing with other conditions of which she is secret about concerning her neck/spine and nerves. Her overall health is poor. She does not exercise and does very little beside going to church and going out to eat with 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!




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.

You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.