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Did your parent's dementia start like this?

76 replies

choisia · 05/03/2023 22:33

And how did it progress? I know everyone is different, but just trying to get some handle on how things with my mum might develop, and what we need to be thinking about for the future.

For the last maybe two years, we've been getting increasingly concerned about my mum (mid 70s). She's become more forgetful and more repetitive - telling stories frequently, losing things a bit more - but has also become more withdrawn and anxious, not wanting to go out much any more (having previously been fairly sociable). She's also developed terrible insomnia. I think the Covid period both exacerbated and masked some of this. My parents also moved house about 18 months ago, which was stressful but necessary.

More recently, perhaps in the last 3-6 months, things seem to have accelerated a bit. Mum's now sometimes forgetting basic words as well as facts or names - not all the time, but she's sometimes unable to 'find' a normal word mid-sentence. She's misremembering things that have happened (eg she'll swear blind that an event or conversation either happened or didn't, which we know is incorrect). She's repeating not only stories, but also questions, sometimes two or three times in the same conversation. She's increasingly flustered by things she would once have taken in her stride - eg we went over for lunch today and she was cooking a fairly simple roast, and I had to gently take over, as she was really struggling with how to get things ready at the right time, how to tell if the meat was cooked, getting very anxious over the whole thing. We played a couple of board games with the kids (games that she knows very well), and she was very confused about how to play. We were having a chat about my grandparents (her parents), and she didn't have the vaguest idea of what year her mother died (she would once have known the exact day without thinking). She also got quite cross with my dad over a couple of very minor things, which he was totally blameless about. But I don't want to exaggerate the issues - a lot of the conversations I have with her are still pretty normal.

I'm thinking this may be the start of dementia, but I want to know whether I'm jumping to conclusions and this might just be ageing, or whether others experienced similar symptoms with their parents. I feel so sorry for my mum - I know that's she's worried and unhappy about her memory, as she's talked to me about it. She's had a memory test and the GP has referred her for a more detailed test, but warned it could take ages to receive an appointment.

As far as I can see, there's nothing much immediate that I can do - except talk to her and see her as often as I can (I work FT and don't live that close, so it's not easy), and try to take any pressure off her by inviting them to stay with us, or suggest we go out for lunch when we visit. I try to suggest that she still tries to go out, see friends, and get a bit of exercise, but she's very resistant. We've done LPOA, so that's sorted. My dad is very capable, so she's in pretty good hands day to day (though his own memory is not what it was, and I do worry what would happen to mum if he suddenly died or became ill). I just have no idea really if my worries about dementia are justified, or how quickly things might deteriorate if I'm right. Thanks for reading.

OP posts:
Mirabai · 15/03/2023 17:12

It might help - but the dementia needs to be properly diagnosed by a consultant who then knows exactly what type, how far progressed, and what drugs in what combination would be appropriate.

Your GP would be prescribing randomly and blind. Bear in mind GPs have little mental health training, little training in dementia and are not qualified to diagnose either serious mental illness or dementia, and they don’t know the drugs and their effects as well as specialists who are prescribing them on a regular basis.

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