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Confabulation and memory lapse

(51 Posts)
M1ssunderstood Sat 11-Jun-16 13:39:30

Just wondering if this is start of dementia for MIL. The memory lapses could be explained by alcohol dependency - drinks excessively every day, hides alcohol and rarely is compis mentis.

However she took it to a new level this week. Her DGS was receiving an award at school, invited her (and FIL- but he does actually have korsakoffs) and she took ticket and enthused how she wouldn't miss it.

Guess what they didn't turn up. No word until today and she phones DH to apologise, no explanation just defence. DS did say she seemed a bit too enthusiastic at the time. However I think she actually didn't take in the conversation as she was too drunk which is obviously worrying. She must have then found the ticket and thought oh **!

Do we let it go or intervene? The confabulation is her making up things that didn't happen - mostly to do with the DGC- and maybe she wishes they had happened. Also rewriting history to suit. MIL has always been indifferent to DH but he thought she might make an effort for her only DGC - his DC. Also she offers money on a pay per view basis and that is probably only reason why boys still go to see her.

DH is past caring but I can only see situation getting worse as FIL is also alcohol dependent but supposedly had been rehabilitated (DH took him to GP) but MIL buys him alcohol or they go out for liquid lunches.

pippistrelle Sat 11-Jun-16 14:22:37

What a horrible situation. It's possible, I suppose, that it could be dementia but the most likely explanation is the alcohol, by the sound of it. Is it possible to talk to her about that, or is it very much the elephant in the room?

I think what to do is probably your husband's call but I don't think I'd be in a hurry to encourage my children to have any sort of relationship with her unless and until she can knock the booze on the head.

M1ssunderstood Sat 11-Jun-16 15:51:03

Thanks she just cries if anyone mentions her drinking. I will see what DH wants to do re contact. He does have poa but only for financial affairs so can't force an intervention.

whataboutbob Sun 12-Jun-16 20:52:54

This sounds very hard especially for your DH. Confabulation is a symptom of Korsakoffs and of Wernicke's encephalopathy, both of which are caused by alcoholism. It can be made worse by B vitamin deficiencies, which are common in alcoholism. It usually requires injections of large doses of B vits to correct. At this stage it's probably all about damage limitation, making sure your kids aren t negatively affected and supporting your DH. And if I may say, keeping an eye on yours and DHs alcohol intake. We are all vulnerable, your MIL probably didn't think it would come to this when she was the mother of young kids. Alcoholism can creep up on you.

LanaorAna1 Sun 12-Jun-16 23:19:44

Following with huge sympathy and fellow-feeling interest as DF is doing the same. Drinks 15 units a night.

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 16:21:35

Thanks all but for as long as I have known them, drinking has been their thing. FIL more so but MIL now on a par with him. I am conscious that

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 16:30:27

Sorry posted too soon. That it's a slippery slope but Mil say what else do people do with their time! Lots of things but even when Fil was drying out she said she had to live her life and obv that includes alcohol so he never really got a chance to be rehabilitated. Though he had a stay in hospital and it was noted that Mil drank to excess too.

There is a detachment from reality in that she knows she is alcohol dependent but is in denial. I used to see her giving money as being nice but now I see it as proving what a good grandparent she is and using as control.She can't/won't spend the time but she can buy things. DH knows it isn't a good situation but is sticking his head in the sand as last time he tried to help, look where it got him confused

ElspethFlashman Mon 13-Jun-16 16:31:18

Could she have Korsakoffs too? I once heard that an initial symptom was appearing drunk even when sober. Mind you, that's very difficult to ascertain when someone is basically never fully sober.

I cannot imagine there is a damn thing you can actually do. Eventually you are looking at care homes for both, on locked wards where they can't wander off looking for drink. And that can happen as early as 55 years old in some cases. It's terrible for the family but at least they're safe.

I believe another symptom is the inability to make new memories. So all the persons references stop at a certain point. Does she show any signs of thinking the kids are younger than they are?

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 16:37:03

No she gets their names mixed up with her own DC though! Lost the ability to empathise as it is beginnjng to affect my DC and onset of dementia fot FIL was more repeating himself and asking same questions over and over again. She doesn't do that but doesn't listen to answers either so possibly doesn't make new memories.

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 16:42:09

it's a shame we are all going through these situations. I will let DH know about medical intervention re vits etc but tbh BIL who is a nurse is prob a better solution. Problem he and DH have a purely textual relationship and this needs to be said in person.

ElspethFlashman Mon 13-Jun-16 17:22:23

It's thiamine which is what's given and your can def take it orally in table form in a high enought dose. Tbh though it doesn't rectify damage already done, just helps prevent future loss. And she may not be able to be compliant with meds or see the need to take a vitamin every day if she's in denial. It's part of the regimen in hospital/homes though.

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 17:55:18

Is that like milk thistle? She might if BIL advised it though to take Meds though be would be better just not buying her alcohol as he takes her shopping.
Everyone else seems to minimise the situation and I think it's reached a crisis point. There are other instances of episodes of memory lapses and both DH and BIL know this. BIL didn't get involved with FIL rehabilitation as they don't get in. That is why MIL is still able to ply him with alcohol.

ElspethFlashman Mon 13-Jun-16 18:13:21

No its vitamin b1.

ElspethFlashman Mon 13-Jun-16 18:14:05

You can get it in Holland and Barrett etc.

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 18:39:24

Thanks will look out for it.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Mon 13-Jun-16 18:45:49

Oh OP, I do feel for you. I've known people with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and it's bloody horrible.

B vitamins bought from a health food shop aren't likely to be in high enough doses - you really need to take MIL to the GP to get them on script. Has she had liver function tests performed? If her liver has become cirrhotic, then she could be experiencing hepatic encephalopathy, which causes confusion and memory lapse, often at a very distressing level.

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 19:42:57

Thanks it's a tragic situation as everyone else thinks it's normal in their family to habitually drink every day, and if she couldn't be sure if having a drink where there where she was going she brought her own! At one point we let her collect DC from school not because it suited is, but to try to get them together. She was drunk by i got home as she had drank at lunch and then after school in the house. There hasn't been any lft. . However until we involve gp don't know extent of damage. I know to suddenly stop drinking is dangerous so would have to be medically managed. That is if she is willing and to do that would need to admit there is a problem. Ipso facto.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Mon 13-Jun-16 20:08:26

If she's developing some form of alcoholic dementia, then there's a high chance her liver is going to be in a worrying state. Cirrhosis can stay silent for many years. Of course, it's going to be an ordeal getting her to the GP in the first place.

Cold turkey withdrawal for a very heavy drinker can be life threatening, so yes, she'd either have to go through a medically managed tapered withdrawal (gradually reducing the amount she drinks over a given period of time, until she's weaned off), or a medicated withdrawal using benzodiazepines. Has she ever experienced DTs, or has she never been without a drink long enough for the booze to start leaving her system?

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 20:39:45

I have seen her shaking but think it was nervous. I know from FIL withdrawal that he got detoxed gradually and was given food and vitamin supplements. Ironically Mil went to AA for families involvement so has a selective memory about that too. There is an element of brushing it all under the carpet and they think alcoholics live on the street not in nice warm homes.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Mon 13-Jun-16 20:50:37

Ah yes, the old 'we couldn't possibly be alcoholics, we don't drink cider out of brown bags' way of thinking!

As sad as it is, it sounds to me like Hell would freeze over before she'd admit there was a problem. Unfortunately I've known people who denied there was an issue, right up until they were rushed to hospital having lost litres of blood from burst oesophageal varices. It's a dreadful way to go, but sadly it happens a lot with alcoholics who refuse to face up to it.

It must feel like you're banging your head against a brick wall.

whataboutbob Mon 13-Jun-16 20:58:48

It really sounds like damage limitation now. I'm sure she's no longer doing it, but just in case (and forgive me for being so bossy) never let MIL be alone with the kids. If she really wants contact with her GC it should only be when a (sober) 3rd party is present. If nothing else, her erratic/ bizarre inebriated behaviour could be confusing and upsetting for them.

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 20:59:30

Exactly having been through it all before it's like déjà vu. Mil enables Fil and Bil enables Mil. Poor Dh is on anti depressants for other issues too but basically he doesn't have a support mechanism apart from me and DC. It's a shame as they have no shortage of money and could do so much with their time. I think they have given up but they aren't my parents so am limited to what I can do. Just suggested all these solutions to DH - he doesn't know about thread- and he changed the subject!

M1ssunderstood Mon 13-Jun-16 21:09:51

Yes I know whataboutbob there is minimal contact with supervision. Usually a duty visit by DH accompanied by DC for support as he indirectly thinks he will be more welcome with them than alone. Last overnight stay nearly 2 years ago as Pil got into a fight and threatened to stab each other and Dc told us about it not pil. So reading into that Dh must have said something as they have never asked for a sleepover since. Last babysat 18 months ago and she wasn't interacting with Dc so I decided to engage a teenage babysitter who does. No school holiday contact - Dh and I split it between us- and tbh I have reduced contact since she was rude to me at her birthday meal and Dh had to intervene. Dc ask if they can adopt gps as they are the only ones they have shock

M1ssunderstood Wed 03-Aug-16 15:11:46

Just to update on this thread. Confabulation seems to be worsening MIL phoned DH yesterday to say FIL had said DH had phoned and asked them to babysit! Complete fabrication but hard to tell who is making it up! One of them is though.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Wed 03-Aug-16 15:31:19

Has there been any progress regarding her drinking, OP?

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