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Early onset symptoms-don't know what to do
Ive noticed for a few years now my father becoming more explosive with anger, shorter attention spans, losing track of his tools (I have to manage them now), forgetting how to write words in his native language, blurring his sentences together, not remembering appointments even after reminding him several times, depression that leads to spoken thoughts of suicide, increased concern for my well being in a controlling and/or paranoid way, constant fear of people watching him in the safety of his home(duct taping every computer camera, refusing to watch videos after a certain time, fear of people seeing us through our closed curtains at night), and VERY erratic driving. I looked at the 10 signs of dementia checklist and he fit all of them easily, which is why I'm concerned he may have early onset (he is 57). I'm also concerned for the well being of my pets, a pug and an indoor outdoor cat, since he threatens to throw them out of the house and sometimes spanks them with newspaper if he is feeling agitated by their presence. My cat has become skittish when he is around since he has chased my cat around the house yelling for no reason.
He has also had times where hes said "I should just quit my job and drive to California and live there" and "I don't know why I married your mom I shouldn't have done that" and "do you have a mental problem? Why can't you just close the door?" (He hates the bathroom door being open but this time he left it open without realizing it and didn't believe it was him instead of me.) Has anyone else experienced these things with early onset?
Ive brought these issues up to numerous neurologists and Neuro psych doctors before in written lists and they have dismissed all my concerns. They said it was just a language barrier but that wouldn't explain the anger outbursts, depression, and forgetfulness.
Misty, everything you have described certainly points to some form of dementia. And I'm really sorry that the doctors you have spoken to haven't been any help. I'm assuming the way you wrote this information, that these doctors have not examined your father? Has your dad been examined by anyone? Do you have a good geriatric internist, who may be able to order some tests? This is where I would start. This early part is always the hardest. The parent thinks they are fine, but children often know they need help.
I'm going to include a page that I wrote, in hopes that other children will know what to look for. Hope this helps, and apologize I had some difficulty with my copy and paste. Some of the lines moved a bit. But from your description, your father seems to fit every item on this top ten list.
YOUR LOVED ONE IS NOT FAKING OR HIDING
The top ten early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease
(My dad was frequently repeating himself, and asking me to call and remind him about the family Sunday lunch.)
(My prime example was his property tax protests that he asked me to handle. In the past, this would have been easy for my dad.)
(This is why he stopped reading, wanting to play cards, and why he didn’t take his keyboard to Florida in 2004.)
(I had to remind dad about my kid’s birthday, time for get togethers, and any family plans.)
(I first noticed this with the political conversation with my cousin Mike at a family holiday get together.)
If you ever find yourself stopping to think about your loved ones recent behavior, it is best not to dismiss your concerns. Initially, family often believe their loved one is faking, hiding, or just getting older. THEY AREN’T, these are the early warning signs of this disease process. The sooner you can get help and identify the cause of unusual changes in behavior, the better. You will never be able to recapture these lost years. And the longer you postpone diagnosis, the more you have simply allowed more brain damage, financial loss, damage to important relationships, and limited their ability to participate in care decisions for the future.
This disease process is incredibly unique. What we need to understand, is that this is the only disease process, where your loved one is unable to help themselves. Initially, they may privately question changes in themselves, however parents often don’t want to bother or burden their children, they want to remain self sufficient. In addition, no one ever wants to believe they might have a brain disease. So they often just tell themselves that they are simply aging and that it’s normal to occasionally forget things. But as the disease progresses, the disease itself limits your loved ones ability to recognize a problem or to get help. (Medically called anosognosia.) Therefore, it is imperative that we become their attentive advocate.
These doctors have examined him before for a concussion about 6 years ago and hydrocephalus. We have follow ups with them as well to track the hydrocephalus. We don't have a geriatric internist. I've had specific appointments addressing my concerns with the Alzheimer's symptoms and the first appointment, which is usually just me discussing my written concerns is later followed up by another appointment with my father. He of course denies everything except for minor memory issues. When it is just me and the doctor, they seem to take me seriously but don't request any tests. When it is with my father and I, they believe his claim of minor memory issues and dismiss everything else I have told them. There have been no tests requested even from second opinions.
I'm honestly so relieved that these things I'm noticing are actually...real. Since my father has constantly claimed he was never experiencing anything abnormal besides the memory slips I guess I have started to think I was imagining things. Thank you so much for your reply I'm glad I'm not alone right now.
There are tests that doctors can give to detect dementia. These tests are a series of questions. See if the doctor can give these tests to your dad. The PCP should be able to do it. One is called the Mini Mental State Exam. There is another one which has a name I can't remember. These tests include asking questions like saying three words, and doing a few questions then asking the patient to repeat those three words again. There is also one part where the doctor wants the patient to draw a clock. The score can tell you if your dad has dementia and it gives a general idea of what level he is at. There is also a geriatric psychiatrist that may be able to help with this and may be a good fit for your dad with his problems you mentioned. Ask your PCP to test him for dementia. If the PCP does not test him for dementia, then find another person who will such as the geriatric psychiatrist.
From what I've been told, whether it is Alzheimers or Parkinson's or Lewy bodies, the treatments are the same. Keep dad active physically and mentally. Treat all of his health problems as best as possible to keep him from getting worse.
Consider adult day care or adult day health as a way to keep him busy, and active. If he is combative I'm not sure if adult day care may not accept him. If you can find an adult day care that has some people like the staff that speak his language that may make him feel more comfortable there. If the other clients at the center speak his language that is good too but the clients will come and go, while staff may tend to stay at the job.