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Is this a symptom of dementia?

(21 Posts)
Ticktacktock Fri 29-Jan-16 20:13:48

I have posted this on the dementia board too....

Mum has been diagnosed with dementia, but so far is just forgetful, apart from this.....she didnt get her 2 grandchildren a Xmas present, and has been making excuses like hasn't had time, couldn't find them. I have been reminding her a lot, as its not like her to not get them a present. I asked if it was a money problem, and she said yes, she doesn't have much. I told her she has another account but she said it was all gone.

A friend said this is classic dementia. Does anyone know if it is?

Thanks

florentina1 Fri 29-Jan-16 20:40:05

Yes I would say this is one of the early signs. Losing cognitive thought. Your mum probably can't answer the question properly. She just picks up certain words in your question and then gives an approximate answer to the best of her ability.

If you make a suggestion, "Is it because you don't have the money" she will agree because that is easy.

It is very stressful for dementia suffers to be asked questions. Far better to say things like, Lets get some money out and buy some presents.

Gentle handling and not challenging misconceptions is the best way forward. Also try to read up as much as you can.

Dementia presents in many different forms. Each suffer finds their unique way to deal with it. You will find that she will be fine one moment and lost the next.

Sorry you are going through this. Is your mum getting any help?

bilbodog Fri 29-Jan-16 20:44:40

You need to look on the dementia website and read up. It can present in many ways - forgefulness being only part of it. Quite often losing the ability to do your normal every day functions is more of a sign I.e. Can't remember how to make a cup of tea, putting shoes in the fridge. If she has been diagnosed then there must e reasons for this. Does she live on her own? Does anyone have a power if attourney in place? You need to think of all these things if she has this diagnosis - if it's not too late already.

florentina1 Fri 29-Jan-16 20:45:50

Also, and please do take this the wrong way, I mean it kindly, but, 'Reminding her a lot' is not a good idea. Dementia suffers also can have a very heightened sense of fear and the feeling that they have 'done something wrong'.

In the later stages my mum would say over and over ,"I am really scared" but she could not articulate what she was scared of. I think she knew all the time that she should be doing 'this and that' but did not know what 'this and that' was supposed to be.

Themodernuriahheep Fri 29-Jan-16 20:51:30

And get terribly upset. DM was terrified we were going to lock her up. The result of this fear was that she became extraordinarily upset if she couldn't remember or if her memory was at odds with the position. She accused me a lot of saying she was senile or lying.

I used to have to be v careful with words and ways round. It's grim.

Needmoresleep Fri 29-Jan-16 20:55:59

How old is she? Making excuses for not doing things is very common. Also defensiveness.

Look out for hoarding. Is she buying the same things over and over again as she forgets she already has plenty at home.

Also struggling to do basic administration, including worrying about how much money she has and where it is. And slowly retreating socially or giving up things she used to enjoy. Indeed a loss of curiosity and a greater focus on herself rather than taking an interest in others.

I agree. Don't ask open ended questions. If things need doing perhaps offer to help. That sort of thing.

I hope it is not dementia as it is really horrid.

florentina1 Fri 29-Jan-16 20:56:01

Sorry posting again. 7 years experience. I agree with getting PoA,as,soon as possible. You have no idea of the relief this gives.

Every Utility, local council, bank, doctor, hospital, etc asks if you have authority. Every minor problem escalates when the person cannot answer questions.

My SiLs mum refused to sign one and my SiL has had a breakdown with the stress she is suffering trying to sort things out.

She has been unable to access accounts, has a fortune in back rent to pay on the sheltered accommodation and DWP overpayments.

Ticktacktock Sun 31-Jan-16 21:51:46

Thanks so much for your replies.

My mum is 80, and apart from a dreadful memory, I cannot see any signs of dementia. She does suffer from depression though and has done for bout 40 years. Think that is why she can't run her house. She does have a very active social life tho and is out in town everyday meeting friends.

I keep meaning to get PoA, thanks for the reminder. I know though that she will be very resistant, as she won't accept there is anything wrong and wont accept help of any kind.

mamadoc Sun 31-Jan-16 22:16:31

Inability to make decisions and to plan things and problem solve is one of the earliest difficulties alongside short term memory so that might explain it. She may not exactly have forgotten but can't decide what to get, plan a trip or budget how much to spend.
I agree that in future you might have to tell her fairly concretely 'get this and this' or take her on a trip to get them or buy things yourself on her behalf.
Persuading her to make an LPA is a really good thing and avoids a whole world of pain long term. Remind her that it is a precaution and you can't interfere until it is registered if she is worried.

bibbitybobbityyhat Sun 31-Jan-16 22:19:56

Interesting that you can suffer from depression and yet be out every day meeting friends. That is unlike any kind of depression I have ever heard of.

Ticktacktock Mon 01-Feb-16 21:07:22

That is interesting in itself bibbity.

She was diagnosed with clinical depression many years ago. She has citalopram but only takes them sporadically. Looking back, she def had depression when I was a child.

Going out is the only thing that gives her relief from the prison/dungeon she calls home. Her words. Her depression means she cannot get round to tidying, cleaning, cooking, washing, bathing herself, gardening, anything that requires effort.

I hadn't realised that depression was something that means you can't go out...I have no experience of depression whatsoever. I need to look into that further clearly hmm

Themodernuriahheep Mon 01-Feb-16 22:11:50

Umm, it depends on the depression. It can get to a stage where you cannot face your house and the effort to clear up. That's one of the stages before you just retreat to bed.

opioneers Wed 03-Feb-16 17:45:52

Has she always been like this with regard to the state of her house?

Out2pasture Wed 03-Feb-16 17:57:35

Please note that a sudden decline in her cognition could be a sign of a urinary tract infection. So get to know her usual baseline behaviour and if a sudden change take her to her GP. There are some medications for dementia and treating the depression my improve her quality of life.

Ticktacktock Wed 03-Feb-16 21:25:44

She has always been unable to keep house, and everything associated with it. She has got gradually worse over the years but there has been no sudden decline. I remember being very embarrassed as a child that she was unable to manage as a housewife. Probably explains why I drive my own family crazy with cleaning and tidying!

No sudden decline in her cognitive processing either. She has refused medication for her memory, and has been discharged. She was offered a care plan to help take medication but she is not interested,and will not let me help with it. She has citalopram for depression but only takes it sporadically, which is no good of course!

She still has the capacity to make decisions even if they aren't good ones.

opioneers Thu 04-Feb-16 08:28:07

She still has the capacity to make decisions even if they aren't good ones.

It's the hardest thing, isn't it. My mother lived in a complete state for a very long time, and the more I tried to help, the more she dug her heels in. But she had complete mental capacity. And she would also not do easy things too: for example she asked me for a new clock radio as a present, but six months later it was still in its box downstairs because she couldn't get her act together to put it by the bed.

The reason I asked in my mother's case, I came across something called Diogenes syndrome (basically = capacity + living in complete squalor) which fitted my mother down to a t. It didn't change anything, but simply understanding it stopped me from feeling quite so guilty. But it sounds as if your situation is slightly different.

Ticktacktock Thu 04-Feb-16 20:17:36

Thank you opion.

How distressing for you flowers

My mother does live in squalor, but she probably would have done for most of her adult life if it wasn't for my father being almost her live-in CPN. She has just declined further since his death. Can't be bothered with anything, and has stopped using the washing machine completely. I went round to put a load in for her, and put the clothes horse up ready for her to hang up the washing. When I went round 3 weeks later, the washing had made it into a bowl, but she hadn't managed to hang it up to dry.

The worst of it is that I can't bear to be in the house with her. I don't even like taking the dog round as he runs around hoovering up all the food on the floor. The kids refuse to go round. Her siblings and in laws have gradually stopped visiting.

I think she may have some brain damage, as her brother confided something to me, but tbh she just comes over as someone with very low intelligence and it is very difficult to be in her company.

Last week at my house she insisted on making raspberry noises to my 17 year old, which is what she did when she was a toddler. Dd had to leave the room. Sad

opioneers Fri 05-Feb-16 08:00:40

flowers for you too. It's hard, isn't it.

I didn't go round to my mother's house once DD was born, it was just too much, although the chain smoking was the real reason. I felt so guilty, but I just couldn't.

It's interesting what you say about the brain damage though. I did a bit of reading up about Diogenes syndrome, and apparently it is often linked with frontal lobe brain damage. This is apparently quite common in long-standing alcoholics, which my mother was. So it might be worth you taking a look into it. Not that it offers any solutions, but I found it a great relief to know that it was a 'thing' if you see what I mean, rather than just my mother being miserable.

Ticktacktock Fri 05-Feb-16 10:02:01

Opion, I have Googled Diogenes syndrome, and there isn't much that fits with my mother apart from living in squalor. My uncle said my mum had meningitis at aged 3 and wasnt the same child afterwards. She is very child-like and cannot take part in a topical conversation for instance.

I so understand you not going round to your mothers with your child. And the associated guilt. I get that so much. My dd did when my father was alive, she spent full days there, but since he died, no. The place isn't suitable for a child.

How has the experience affected your dd? Mine speaks to her grandma in a very disrespectful way, and gets into bother for it. But its hard for her too as my mothers company is so difficult.

opioneers Fri 05-Feb-16 17:19:38

My mother was very distant with my DD, which was very sad, but I think a lot of that was down to depression. So they didn't know each other that well, and DD was sad when my mother died last year, but could cope.

The thing was you'd never have known there was anything wrong if you saw her outside the house; she dressed fine and was clean and behaved entirely normally. It's odd.

Will she accept any care at all? (My mother didn't ever)

Ticktacktock Fri 05-Feb-16 20:46:09

How sad. I get more sad when I see other grandmas and granddaughters having a lovely relationship, and mothers and daughters for that matter. Something we've never had.

No, at present she is not interested in any help. But having said that, if I asked her if she wanted to move in with me she'd be here tomorrow.

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