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Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 8:59 AM
Joined: 11/2/2019
Posts: 59

Hello all,

I think my Dad might have dementia. He is 75 and lives with my mom 

He has had insomnia for at least 20 years and sleeps mostly from about 7:00 pm to midnight. 

About 2-1/2 years ago, he had a few health problems and needed minor operations. As a result, he started taking sleeping prescription sleeping pills. They seemed to help, but his personality seemed to change. He became much more talkative and outgoing and emotional. Almost manic. 

He also had his first ever traffic accident after never before getting a single ticket. He went out and bought a new car two days later without even telling my mom.  Shortly after that, he picked a relative up at the airport and then drove in the wrong direction for two hours before realizing the mistake. 

Talking it all over with my mom, we thought the combination of sleeping medicines was to blame and he stopped one of them. Things seemed better for a time. 

Then maybe a year ago, he started spending money in a way that was totally unlike him. He also told me that he was buying stocks on a whim, based on liking the name of the company. This is the diametric opposite of his previous financial perspective. 

He did recently agree to get hearing aids after years of denial, and he has agreed to retire from work after saying that he never would. But he has become obsessed with a person at work. 

I have been reading about the stages and symptoms and what’s odd is that as far as I can tell, his memory does not seem changed. 

He doesn’t want to get assessed nor does my mom want to have him assessed. She thinks it is.cruel to subject him to this. 

I worry about what could happen and that this will only get worse. 

There are more strange things but I don’t have the strength right now. I live several states away but talk to my mom almost daily. 

I am glad to have found this group. 


Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 9:21 AM
Joined: 11/2/2019
Posts: 59

He also does not seem to have a give and take in conversation, which I thought before had more to do with the not being able to hear. He had several set topics that he likes to hold forth on. 

He will spend hours vacuuming a rug, even using a flashlight to make sure all hairs have been removed, but then right next to it he misses things on the floor. 

Or he spends hours in the bathroom picking at his face. And he has started cutting his own hair and not well. 

The person he is obsessed with at work, he claims is manipulating him. His boss has ordered the two of them to avoid each other until his retirement. 

He also seems very sensitive too cold now and wears a jacket even if it’s hot out. He will also open the windows and yet put on the AC, which again is something he was stringent about no one ever doing previous to now. 

I have gotten more info about the finances and have urged my mom to look into that more as well. I have one sibling who lives even farther from them and I don’t think he is going to be much help. 

My mom feels guilty for having supported him in getting the sleeping pills to begin with and distrusts the medical world in general. 

I would appreciate any suggestions for next steps. 


Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 9:31 AM
Joined: 4/22/2017
Posts: 335

Suzy, is your father continuing to take one of the sleeping meds?

Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 9:37 AM
Joined: 11/2/2019
Posts: 59

He has prescriptions for trazadone and ambien. He was taking both, but now she says he takes only one or the other. Sometimes two ambien. And now he is trying CBD oil as well.
Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 9:40 AM
Joined: 11/2/2019
Posts: 59

Before the car accident, he was taking temazepam and trazadone. But I believe the dr advised to stop the temazepam as it can cause confusion. 

I have read that Ambien can also cause odd behavior. His main sleeping problem has always been waking up after a few hours and not being able to go back to sleep. Falling asleep is not his problem. 

Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 10:58 AM
Joined: 6/12/2016
Posts: 1669

Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 10:37 PM
Joined: 4/22/2017
Posts: 335

Is the same physician prescribing both the ambien and trazodone? IMO, your father should see a geriatric psychiatrist. Geriatric psychiatrists can diagnose and treat both dementia and mental illnesses in the elderly. Perhaps your mother would agree to have your father see a geriatric psychiatrist if both you and your mom refer to the doc as a geriatrician, rather than a geriatric psychiatrist. Just a thought...I'm trying to brainstorm here.

Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2019 11:06 PM
Joined: 10/27/2019
Posts: 33

Suzie:  I am not a physician, and I'd be curious to know what others think, but it doesn't sound like dementia to me.  I wonder if something happened to his brain during the surgery, or if it is the medicine?  The spending money thing you mentioned reminded me of something I read a while back.  It was posted by someone who was recovering from pain pill addiction/dependence.  She said it took away her inhibitions away and she started spending a lot of money that she normally wouldn't spend.  The vacuuming also sounds like OCD.  I think the prior poster suggested a geriatric psych evaluation, I would second that.  I know temazepam is a benzo and those can be really addictive, as in even if he isn't taking them for "fun", the body gets dependent on them and when you stop taking them you go through withdrawal.  In other words, even if you are taking them correctly and not to get high, you can still go through withdrawal when you stop taking them....withdrawal can be as much a physical thing as a mental issue depending on why you got started on them in the first place, or this is my opinion.  I really hope he can get the help he needs.
Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2019 2:20 AM
Joined: 3/12/2017
Posts: 295

Suzy, sorry your family is going through this. I'm not a doctor either, but I've been around a lot of dementia patients and a few psych patients too.  I agree with Freaking Out, the first thing I thought was it doesn't sound like the usual dementia behaviors, more like psychosis, or again, drug reactions.  Hopefully you can convince your mom that leaving him like this is more cruel (not to mention dangerous) than having him assessed.  Does the prescribing doctor know about these changes? That's probably the place to start.  Good luck, let us know how things are going.
Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2019 3:46 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 2843

I'm going to be the outlier. 

You have described my own dad's presentation of dementia. Intolerance to cold? Oh yeah- furnace set for 85F in July in coastal MD. Overly social but unfiltered? Check! getting lost driving? Pulling off I95 driving north from FL and the taking the wrong ramp and driving south for 3 hours before mom could convince him to turn around? Paranoia and vendettas that are a figment of his imagination? Sure. Irresponsible financial behavior? How about "losing" a $50 CD and daytrading away $350K before he got to a point where he couldn't use his laptop? BTDT while my own mom blew me off saying this was a normal part of the aging process

The drug use is a concern, but it's very possible this isn't an either/or diagnosis. I would urge you to convince your mom to get him evaluated at a memory center if possible- they will have a comprehensive team of neurologists and geriatric psychs who can sort through the diagnostic process. I would urge this sooner- not just to preserve assets, but because some conditions that mimic dementia are treatable. Dad had mixed dementia, one was eminently treatable. Had he been evaluated and treated sooner, we could have preserved cognition at a higher baseline until the Alzheimer's progressed. 

My parents also lived at a distance. This was not safe as dad could not effectively advocate for mom when she became desperately ill. Fortunately a neighbor happened to see her and got her to the ER and she survived. I had spoken with my dad daily while she was sick and all he could tell me was that she was either napping or out of the house (she was not) and that she was mean and wouldn't cook. Eventually I got a call from the SW at the hospital to come asap. She did survive but it was touch a go for a week during which time I stayed with dad becoming more alarmed by his decline. The first thing I did when dad was diagnosed was to get mom to a CELA to give me POA to make decisions for her. Dad wasn't up to the task.

OCD-like behavior is not an uncommon thing in dementia. There was a thread recently on the spouse's board. Several wives were sharing stories of their husbands getting hyperfocused on a specific chore- there was one who "had" to unload the dishwasher constantly (even if the contents were still dirty, another whose husband was torching weeds in sidewalk cracks, then the lawn, then the neighbors' lawns which caused some hurt feelings, one who got stuck on weeds and tore out all of the perennials she had just planted and half of the neighbor's annuals.
Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2019 3:47 AM
Joined: 10/9/2019
Posts: 41

Sounds like dementia but you have to talk to a healthcare professional.  It is not reasonable to call this "cruel" to "subject him to".
Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2019 3:49 AM
Joined: 10/9/2019
Posts: 41

I didn't realize you had a second post before I replied, sounds even more like dementia.
Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 11:29 AM
Joined: 11/2/2019
Posts: 59

Thanks very much to all who have replied. I have made suggestions to my mom that the Ambien could be a big part of problem and also said that at the least, he should be evaluated to rule out things that mimic dementia (low thyroid, low B12, medicine side effects). She is still not convinced. She did say that the same dr. prescribed both drugs and that he was recently reluctant to give him a third prescription (for Remeron). He has the idea that if he alternates the meds prescribed for sleeping, that will mean less chance of them either ceasing to be effective, or of him getting bad side effects.

They are moving to give me more access to the financial accounts and she seemed open to getting me POA, both of which are good.  The reason that he accepts is that if my mom were to die first, he would need help managing.

But I think it's going to take another incident to get her to have him evaluated, or even to admit he has an official problem. She says she can't keep obsessing about this and needs to protect her own mental health and to try to enjoy life now if something terrible is on the horizon. The thing that upset her the worst was his obsession with the person at work, and him lying to her and breaking promises about that.  She is hoping that now that they are under orders not to interact, and he is retiring soon, that the "temptation" will just be ended and he will somehow return to normal.

I have been doing a lot of reading and think bvFTD sounds a fair amount like my dad, especially increased sociability, impulsive behavior (spending) and also possibly lack of empathy and lack of awareness of how he has changed and lack of awareness of the feelings of others. He doesn't have memory problems right now as far as I can tell, which also lines up with bvFTD.  But on the other hand, he doesn't eat compulsively at all. If anything, he eats way too little. He is really thin and has been losing weight slowly but steadily for years.

I will keep reading these message boards and what I can find.


MN Chickadee
Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 12:37 PM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1264

Would your mom agree to let him be seen by a specialist if you took care of it? I can see how it might be daunting to research where and how, convince and/or manipulate him into actually going etc. Perhaps she doesn't have the strength do to do all that right now. I would keep up the "it may be something easily treated" angle as well as the fact that it would improve his quality of life to know the cause and therefore have mechanisms to deal with it. I know nothing of the sleeping meds, but it could also be dementia, a vitamin imbalance, a brain tumor, and a host of other things. You need her to agree more than him; if you read here there is good advice on cajoling a loved one into being evaluated. 

The financial piece should be a big motivation. If he spends their assets on nonsense and then something happens medically, such as he turns out he does need memory care or some catastrophic accident, they will have real problems and you as well most likely. Medicaid would not cover them because it looks back at 5 years back of spending and gifting and his actions would disqualify them. It could really leave them, and you, in crisis. 

For now, I would press on the POA process. The sooner you get that set up the better. At the very least, you might contact the current prescribing doctor. If dad hasn't signed HIPPA documents the doctor can't tell you anything, but you can tell the doctor things. You could explain all this strange behavior, some or all of which the doctor may be unaware of because dad certainly wouldn't report it and your mom may not be totally conveying the severity of his behavior. Some doctors are more responsive to this than others, but it may be worth a shot. Perhaps if his doctor suggested more follow up they would be more convinced. 

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 5:49 PM
Joined: 1/28/2013
Posts: 2660

Suzy, "dementia" is merely a symptom of any number of underlying causes, many of which are curable or treatable.  It is clear that something is not right in your father's head.  Wouldn't your mother feel horrible to refuse medical evsluation only to learn it was something like a brain tumor when it was too late to do anything?  It is not cruel to see what is at the bottom of this change in your father.
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