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Elderly parents

Dementia and fake new "memories"?

11 replies

rumbelina · 19/09/2013 14:04

My granny is in her 90s, she is very disabled and in a care home but she's hanging on in there (albeit by a string) physically but we think she has some slight dementia and it seems to be worsening.

For the last couple of years she has been prone to confusion here and there - often because she dreams things. We'll be having a normal chat and then she'll say 'all the girls dressed up today and did a french opera in the garden' but she seems happy so we say 'oh how lovely' and move on.

Sometimes she is distressed and will say things like 'the decorators weren't really decorators and they stole all the tvs, I saw them putting them in their van'. We will say 'I think you might have dreamed that' and sometimes she says 'oh yes silly me' and sometimes she says 'NO I did NOT dream it'. But we know that it isn't true, whatever it is.

A couple of months ago she started to say that she thought my uncle (60 years old and happily married) is having an affair with his aunt, my granny's SIL, who is 85 (just giving ages so you can see they are from different generations). It is so far off from being true it's unreal. They live 100 miles away from each other but he does sometimes stay at her house when he is over. We just shrugged it off and said 'NO WAY' and made a joke and she was ok.

Yesterday she got really upset about it. She insists it's true. She now says that my uncle TOLD her, and that he is signing all of his money over to the aunt and that he is waiting until his wife is 'out of the way' before marrying the aunt (not in a murderous sense, just waiting til she dies or something - it doesn't make sense). She was very upset but very resolute. My mum was trying to talk her out of it and gave her a big hug and she just said crossly 'ok, fine I won't mention it again'. I wasn't there for the start of the conversation but my mum said she could see her 'switch' almost into a different mindset - would this be like the dementia kicking in?

A colleague has mentioned that in her experience it is the new, fake, 'memories' that are the hardest to dispel in people with dementia.

I don't know anything about dementia at all. We were wondering whether to get my uncle to speak to her to say that all this is not true but we don't know if that will upset and confuse her more.

It's so hard to see her upset like that. She's such a lovely, patient, woman who has given us nothing but love through her life. And food :)

Anyway if you've got this far, well done. It has helped to write it all down even if no one replies!

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BeerTricksPotter · 19/09/2013 14:16

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rumbelina · 19/09/2013 14:29

Thank you, BeerTricks. That's what we were thinking might happen - I mean re the mind resetting itself.

He is also not the best at empathy with (for?) his mum, although he is a lovely person, I just don't think he always gets what's going on for her and can almost be dismissive. I guess it's hard for him too to see this happening to her.

She trusts us, particularly my mum, so hopefully while she still can she'll keep listening to her.

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pudcat · 20/09/2013 07:56

My Mum is like this. Her dementia has been caused by illness. She talks about a wide variety of weird things. She has said that her father wasn't her sister's father, that her Mum had an affair, that I have been married before (I haven't) etc. The nurses in the NH have said to just listen and go along with it as contradicting makes it worse. Then they forget it and start on something else. I would ask her carers to check for an UTI when her confusion becomes worse at different times. This is the case with Mum. HTH

magimedi · 23/09/2013 17:43

DH's aunt (99) is like this & we've been advised just to change the conversation as soon & easily as we can. It does work.

Notquitegrownup · 23/09/2013 17:49

Yes, yes, yes to checking for a UTI. I used to work with the elderly and it was scary how often this is overlooked.

There was a fascinating Horizon programme on years ago, showing how the older we get, the more likely we are to believe that things we think about really happened. We think about something, or dream about it, then later on in the day our mind has filed it in our memory under "real memories" rather than vague wonderings. It is a natural feature of getting older, but is more exaggerated in some people than others. It doesn't mean that she is completely losing her hold on reality however, just that reality for her is a bit bigger than it is for the rest of you. Agree with others you can gently correct her, but if she is convinced she is right you can only accept that for her it is real - and sympathise/empathise.

pudcat · 23/09/2013 19:24

I find it hard to change the conversation with Mum as she gets agitated and cross, and thinks I am not nice to her. So I let her ramble on, saying odd comments. She went on for 20 minutes yesterday non stop about how she was waiting for her name to be called out and my d in l had her called lots of times. Not a clue what it was about. And then she suddenly stopped and asked how all the invalids were. She had remembered that my son is going into hospital and my other d inl having a scan etc for breast cancer as she has found a lump. Doesn't make sense does it?

rumbelina · 23/09/2013 21:19

Yy we discovered the uti thing a few years ago, off the scale bonkers at those times!

Thanks for all your advice and interesting about the horizon programme.

We generally agree, nod or try to move on but it's hard with this affair thing when she's so upset about something untrue. Bit of a breakthrough the other day when she said, unprompted, that she might have dreamed it. It's a horrible thing that people get to the end of their lives, often lose their health, their independence, their dignity and then have to suffer being upset by things that aren't even true :(

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rumbelina · 23/09/2013 21:21

Although she did think shed been to Buckingham Palace on a day trip and had really enjoyed it :)

(Turned out it was a dream)

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Notquitegrownup · 23/09/2013 22:44
pudcat · 24/09/2013 07:28

My mum often says she has seen me/her on the TV

rumbelina · 24/09/2013 12:21

pudcat my granny often realises she doesn't know what she's on about and will trail off and is happy to change the subject as she's embarrassed, although there have been times when she's been cross if we've questioned something. She's always been quite self-deprecating though and although she could talk for England she likes the attention being on other people.

She has 2 great grandchildren now, we take DS (nearly 3) at least twice a week to see her and I think that's really helped her cling on to life (has had a v dodgy ticker for a while and her body has almost disintegrated), she has always got so much joy from great/grandchildren. He can be a really good distraction at difficult times, he makes her so happy

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