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mum and i worried my dad has start of alzheimers/dementia. advice needed!

(14 Posts)
belcantavinissima Mon 18-Aug-08 10:21:41

he is 66, his mother developed dementia at the age of about 75 following, we believe, a UTI and a series of mini strokes.

my dad over the past year or so has become more and more confused by things he used to know for example he drove himself and my mum to london (this is a man who has driven to scotland and back in a day and many times to london in the past). he couldnt even find his way to the motorway and they got lost.
he cant remember names of plants in the garden that he used to.
he cant remember how to get to differnt places in town and i have to direct him.
he does strange things eg yesterday he ripped the neckline of his jumper. he refused to let my mum take it to sew it and instead mum later found out he had superglued it and hammered it together hmmgrin. which is quite funny but not very 'normal' is it?!!!

there are lots more things but generally its stuff he used to know, basic everyday stuff that he doesnt seem to know any more.

he can also be very lucid with the stuff he does everyday eg he goes to the gym every morning with the same friends. i have seen him there with them and you wouldnt know there was anything wrong.

he seems aware of his confusion and that things arent right but of course point blank refuses to go the dr. i think we should go the gp ourselves and tell them what is going on and see if they will come out and see him. i have heard that it can be delayed by certain drugs if it is caught early enough. mum is not in the best of health with chronic diabetes and she relies on him to make sure she keeps well too.

i am an only child and i am getting worried about how we will deal with this as it progresses. mum doesnt know how she should deal with him ie if she should agree with the things he says (humour him) or as she wants to do, to correct him all the time to try and 'beat' it.

any advice or experianes greatfully recieved smile

hughjarssss Mon 18-Aug-08 10:32:29

sad belcantavinissima.

My mum has dementia so I know how hard it can be.

It started with small things, like not remembering what day the bin man came and then the confusion began.

The worse thing is that my mum knows something isn't right, she knows she can't remeber things and this is very upsetting for her. I find the best thing to do is try and make her laugh, try and find the funny side of things that she says or does. I don't think it can be beaten, just dealt with in the best way possible.

Routine helps my mum, so regulary going to the gym will be a big help.

You're dad does need to see the GP, I don't know if they will do anything if he wont go himself though.

Sorry I havent been much help

belcantavinissima Mon 18-Aug-08 10:38:19

thank you. any thing helps really. dh keeps saying theres nothing wrong with my dad bu ttthere clearly is. its weird how he can be fine then totally not the next minute.

how long has your mum had dementia? how old is she? does she live alone/with your dad/ with you? is there a time when she will have to live in a home do you think? sorry aboutth e personaly questions, you odnt have to answer them. i justt need to know what the future brings. i wan tmy dad to look up and say yes i have a problem, lets go to the gp and sort it out and we can sit down and work through finances etc aawhats going to happen with the house, my mum, how he wants to be cared for etc. i need it to be planned NOW before its too late sad. but how the hell do i bring that up? i feel like we are tiptoeing aropund him when actually stuff needs sorting. afaik mum already has power of attorney in place for when it is needed so thats something.

hughjarssss Mon 18-Aug-08 10:47:06

Just to add that my mum recieves help with careers that go in and help her.
This is vital for us as I can't go over to mums first thing in the morning to make sure she takes her tablets. They also go in the afternoons.

If your dad is diagonsed with demintia he might also recieve this help as well. Esp. if your mum is also unwell and unable to care for him herself.

My mum had to go for a day centre for a number of weeks and they watched her behaviour and asked her to perform a number of tasks such as making a cup of tea. They then called us in for a meeting and diagonsied her with dementia and not alzihmeiers. They said it may have been caused by a series of mini strokes.

Lcy Mon 18-Aug-08 10:52:47

This must be so upsetting for you. You can contact your GP on your fathers behalf to get advice or call the Alzheimer's Society Dementia Helpline 0845 300 0336

www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=696

If it is dementia there is a lot of help out there (psychological, medical and social). Also sometimes people can look like they are starting to get dementia but it can actually be something else - such as a UTI - which can be easily treated.

igivein Mon 18-Aug-08 10:57:18

FIL just been diagnosed, he's 70, but it's been going on for 6 or 7 years. You can speak to your dad's GP with your concerns. In FIL's case a community worker came out and did an assessment in the home rather than him going to docs (he wasn't keen either). It's really important to get a diagnosis because then he/your mum will have access to support, and there are drugs that can slow progress in some cases, so the sooner he gets a diagnosis the sooner he could have access to treatmant.
In the meantime, routine is good, familiar things are good. Don't keep trying to get him to remember things/work things out, as he'll just get frustrated and feel even worse
Good luck!

hughjarssss Mon 18-Aug-08 11:04:55

You are completely right. You do need to sort things out now.

My mum is 78, she's had dementia for about 5 years now. She still knows who everyone is, although it might take a while for it to click in. She covers by calling everyone 'sweetheart' or 'darling' until she remembers their name! This is one of the things I have to laugh at, else I could find it very upsetting.
She much better when she is in her own house, surrounded by things she knows. The confusion is much worse when she is in someone else's house.
She cannot retain information for more than five minutes and we write everything down. A conversation with mum now mainly consists of the same five or ten sentences repeated over and over as she justs ask the same questions again and again. She can't remember having asked the question in the first place, let alone the answer! It is definitely a test of patience.

One blessing in disguise is that mum has bad athritius and cannot go out without a wheelchair. I hate to think of where she would end up if she wander freely. There is no way she would remmeber her way home.

I have power of attorney over her finances and this was a fiasco surrounding her bank account a couple of years ago. She's not able to deal with things like that now. She's happy as long as she has a bit of money in her purse and she knows I sort all her bills out.

She lives in sheltered accommodation, although to be honest if I had my way she would be in a home as I don't think she is capable of looking after herself anymore, I actually think its dangerous.
But she doesn't want to move and the doctors said moving her into a home, away from everything she knows could cause the dementia to progress even faster.

HTH a little bit

blackrock Wed 20-Aug-08 20:54:54

My father started to develop dementia at age 50, and is now in a residential care home where he is safer.

We found my father was, to start with unaware he was changing and content. My mother needed more support as she was painfully aware that her partner for life was changing.

Age concern and alzeimers society were great even though my father wasn't really within their remit. They gave us clear advice - and directed us to charitable trusts and respite care associations when we needed them.

Before we organised respite my mother was struggling and she felt happier once Dad had a carer for a couple of hours weekly - she also had a massage once a week to help her relax.

Start by contacting your GP, and ask your mother to find out from citizen's advice about her mortgage and finacial situation as my father's doctor would not sign a form so my mother was in control of my father's finances. This needs to be done whilst your father is able to decide to to this of his own will. My father had just got to the point where we were unsure of his decisions.

Write lists about the day to help your father, get him to keep a diary of what he needs to do. Put labelled photos of familily and friends up to help him keep their names for longer.

My father was very ill when my first DS was born, but by using photos he shows a flicker of recognition when we visit the home. My DS is two and I regularly visit my dad in the care home. DS hugs him and talks to him, and is very relaxed in a room full of very ill people.

Ask questions. My Dad has benfitted from my mother constantly trying to find out information about his condition. People with dementia don;t have a voice, so we are their voice. Thinking of you.

belcantavinissima Wed 20-Aug-08 22:33:43

thank you all for your advice. i had a long talk with dh last night about it all and we both said we need to organise a family meeting asap to discuss my (our) concerns and to find out my parents wishes ofr the future and how we can sort them out if we need to. still keen to get him to see his gp. its difficult as we arent a great family at 'talking' iykwim, we just get on with things whilst burying our heads in the sand. sad i spoke to mum about it today but it seemed to make her sad, she doesnt seem to consider herslef 'old' despite the fact she is nearly 70 and in failing health let alone the issues my dad seems to be facing. i am hoping that by my saying its causing me alot of worry they might agree to sort it out for 'my' benefit just to kindo f humour me.

belcantavinissima Wed 20-Aug-08 22:34:23

btw what is the difference between dementia and alzheimers or are they one and the same?

Ripeberry Wed 20-Aug-08 22:40:35

My mum's mother developed dementia at 70yrs old and we started to notice her doing strange things and being angrier than usual.
The worst bit was when she started to hack off all her plants in the garden one day (in summer).
And then she would refuse to wear any clothes.
She went into a home and was dead within a year.
My Mum has developed dementia as well, since DD1 was born in 2002, but well before that she used to forget things and repeat herself frequently.
She must have had some mini strokes as she got worse and worse and it made her Manic depression much worse and she ended up spending over £30,000 in stuff off the shopping channels on TV!
She seems stable at the moment but now has an obsession with smoking and worrying that she has cancer sad.

Springflower Wed 20-Aug-08 23:04:17

Sorry to hear about your dad. Alzheimers is one type of dementia, there are different causes e.g. strokes can cause dementia, but they all cause a deterioration in memory and loss of skills.

Like other people have said it is important to find out if this is what he as in case there is treatment that he could be having, planning for the future, and access to services. It is difficult to confront though and if your dad is reluctant to go to a GP it may be that someone could come and see him to assess him. Alzheimers Scotland or his GP surgery should be able to advise you on this. Good Luck.

blackrock Thu 21-Aug-08 12:36:22

My father has a genetic form of frontal lobe dementia. People in the home have many different types from strokes, alcohol addiction, Picts, old age vascular (narrowing of the arteries to the brain), alzheimers, accident related, etc and all have different treatments and care. It does take time to get a clear diagnosis - and knowledge about the care requirements do make a difference to their quality of life. My father's diagnosis took over four years and went from being one to another and a clarified diagnosis won;t came along until post mortem.

cmotdibbler Thu 21-Aug-08 12:44:10

Sympathies - my mum is prob in the early stages of dementia: she has great difficulties with her speech and can't get the words out about things, she has memory problems, and has had personality changes in that she can be quite aggressive at times (was never ever agressive before).

I was reading an article the other day that said that by going along with things, it made the care of people with dementia much more pleasant for them as they are just trying to make sense of the world, and can't accept the new (for them) information. So if they have a dead relative that they keep asking about, instead of telling them each time that they are dead (and them getting distressed about it each time), tell them that they are on holiday or something like that. Seemed to make a lot of sense

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