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MIL has some sort of dementia. What happens next?

(10 Posts)
bumface Fri 18-Mar-11 12:24:29

I'll be as brief as I can.

MIL (88)has always been quite demanding but was showing signs she wasn't coping with life on her own very well. So we moved her to a house 3 doors down the road from us, last May so we can help her with stuff easily.

Whan she first moved it took her quite a while to settle in. She thought she still had to move. She wanted to pack and was expecting a van to arrive in the morning. That settled down but she still has short periods where she is in a complete state of confusion.

Generally she has very bad short term memory, doesnt know what day it is, asks the same question over and over, that sort of thing, but is mostly lucid and we can have a normal pleasant conversation.

The things I want to know is does this sort of thing follow any sort of pattern? Could she stay the same for some time? Or will she definitely get worse?
Also we talk about the episodes she has and what happens to her, how she feels etc. Quite often she speaks as if its the first time it has happened. Should I tell her that this happens quite regularly and might be the beginning of her being like this much more, so she can make any plans she wants to while she is still able to?

She has always been an intelegent independent woman and I feel she is entitled to know what is going on but I'm not sure what is. I have spoken to the Dr. who says that there is no treatment other than occupational therapy and I think I cover that side of things as much as I can and my MIL wouldn't respond well to an OT.

I didn't keep it very short did I.
Sorry x

ineedagoodsolicitor Fri 18-Mar-11 14:33:09

In the case of my grandmother, it was only at the point where she was a danger to herself, even with a carer visiting twice a day, that the relevant support services got their act together.

It was pointed out to them that she was likely to eat mouldy food or turn the oven on and leave it on.

Eventually a mental health hcp came to assess her in her own home and ran through a series of "cognitive" tests that clearly demonstrated that she needed to be looked after 24/7.

The move will have unsettled her memory, elderly people in hospital can get very confused even if they were lucid until admission. It's lovely that you have moved her nearer to you to look out for her and you may need to start documenting her behaviour to support a proper consultation with her GP.

I do think it is sensible to plan with her involvement whilst she is still mostly lucid. My Grandmother could chat about stuff from way back in the past as if it was yesterday but ask her about yesterday and she couldn't remember.

I alos think you need to prepare yourself and dh for the fact that although there will be good periods of lucidity, she will get worse over time.

bumface Fri 18-Mar-11 17:53:55

Thank you for that.
MIL is the same. She has more and more detailed memories of her childhood which she enjoys telling me about. So it's not all bad.

At the moment I don't think she is in any danger living on her own with our help. We will just have to see how she gets on.

Jdore Sat 19-Mar-11 18:57:02

My mil has vascular dementia, first noticed something was wrong 6 years ago. At first Dh visited every evening, then twice a day, then worked from her house so he could be with her all day, finally she is now living with us totatly dependent on us for everything. Please feel free to ask anything oh and do be careful regarding her use of gas/electicity and running baths.
Hope everything works out for you all

3littlefrogs Sat 19-Mar-11 19:02:02

She should definitely have a proper assessment via her GP.She may benefit from some of the newer drugs (Aricept), and it is really important that her current health is documented so that she can be reassessed for help if she deteriorates.

Also, if she has a proper assessment it is easier to access other services, such as carers, occupational therapy, day care etc.

bumface Sat 19-Mar-11 21:25:26

Thank you.
She has a sore eye and I plan to get the GP. to come and see her on Monday. I'll ask her (the Dr.) about an assessment then.
I have been keeping a diary for a couple of months now, so I can look back and see how she has changed in the future.
Luckily the only cooking she does is in her microwave which turns itself off and she doesn't have baths unless I'm there.

Do people deteriorate at different speeds?

Jdore Sun 20-Mar-11 10:01:49

Yes they do deteriorate at different levels, I have noticed that men seems to deterioate faster though. Would your Grandmother enjoy a day centre a couple of times a week, the Gp can help you with that.

bumface Sun 20-Mar-11 22:50:12

We have a very good Age Concern day centre in my town. I have taken her a couple of times in the past but I can't seem to get her to go any more. She puts everything I suggest off.
"we'll get this week out of the way and then I'll try" Is her standard reply to my suggestions.

bumface Mon 21-Mar-11 17:12:43

Well the Dr. came out today and looked at her eye. We discussed MILs memory problems. MIL played it down and didn't think she was as bad as I was making out. In fact the things I mentioned were just the tip of the iceberg.
The Dr. was very understanding and is going to get the district nurse to come out and take some blood for a blood test.
The memory clinic the Dr was talking about sounded very daunting to MIL. I am going to have to talk her round to the idea.
It's hard when she has forgotten all the confused episodes. she doesnt think she has a problem. So it is hard to get her to the memory clinic to help her.

This must be a very common problem.

primalero Fri 13-May-11 14:16:04

Her dementia may be a degenerative issue of the nervous system e.g. Alzheimers, or it could be that the dementia is secondary to other health issues. (e.g. vascualar dementia). If vascular dementia, then getting the primary issues sorted - which may be one or several cardiovascular issues e.g. irregular heartbeat / high cholesterol / diabetes / high BP... - then the demetia could plateau for a while and she may deteriorate very slowly if at all. (I.E. at her age, and depending on the other health issues, the dementia may progress so slowly that it's irrelevant.) Also, if vascular dementia, getting her meds sorted could actually mean an improvement in functioning (once the brain is being fuelled more effectively it'll work better.)

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