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early signs-where to start??
Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:06 PM
Joined: 10/12/2017
Posts: 2

I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall.

I am the adult child (one of three) of a very proud and intelligent father. For the past year or so, my family and I have observed some changes in his behavior and memory. I saw enough to be worried starting in May. 

The changes I am seeing are a HUGE departure from the man I have always known. He can no longer pay bills. He gets lost going on trips and has apparently started getting lost in his hometown now. He has asked me the same question more than once many times. 

My mother told me about the bills 5 months ago, thinking I would not have noticed any differences. I told her that it was not news to me, I had seen the difference for myself. I asked her to take him to a doctor. That has not happened. She has spoken to doctors, but claims that they told her that it would only make him angry to share with him these concerns and nothing can be done anyway. I can't see how this could be true- that there is nothing to be done. No one has done a thorough check for underlying medical conditions that could be the cause of memory loss, or that could be exacerbating it if not caused by a medical condition. 

I have offered to speak to him myself. She adamantly declined this offer. I explained my concerns and she dismissed them all saying he is getting along just fine. He only gets lost going to new places and she is with him then anyway. He has seen a specialist for a chronic illness and that doctor knows what is going on-NOT the right kind of doctor for these issues. Finally, she just made me feel guilty by saying he would be so devastated if he knew we were talking about him behind his back.

I feel like we are wasting precious time. But I know that when dad gets angry, my mom bears the brunt of it. It is easy to understand why she doesn't address the memory loss with him, but I feel strongly, as well as my siblings and our spouses, that it does need to be addressed-even if simply getting him to a physical and letting his doctor take it from there without ever mentioning "memory loss" to him.

I don't know what to do next and my brother and I are trying to come up with a plan for next steps, and then get input from our sister. I feel trapped by my mom's denial and fear, and my fear and worry.

I appreciate your input.

Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:54 PM
Joined: 8/24/2016
Posts: 115

There are things than can be done. Changes in diet and some medications can slow the progression of the disease. Also as you note, there are other potential causes of the changes seen.  You know them best, I would try talking to your mom again, maybe all 3 kids together. Your mom is in denial right now. State what you see, and the importance of figuring out what you are dealing with. Stress the positive, that if a diagnosis is made it may cure the problem, but if not, will likely keep him 'with it' longer.

 Is is possible to talk to your dad about it? Sometimes they are more receptive to ideas coming from their child than a spouse. 

D in law
Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:55 PM
Joined: 4/24/2017
Posts: 188

Hi welcome.  Sorry to say but even if you had a diagnosis at this juncture it may not be accepted by your mother and possibly other family members.  Having said that, I believe she is the place to start.  I would give her as much information as you can, and continue to point out changes in his memory loss and his behavior.  They will happen.  Hopefully at some point very soon you can then as family start to move forward with plans of future care.  There are many resources here, I wish you well.
Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:08 PM
Joined: 8/10/2016
Posts: 896

It may be more about not wanting to deal with the consequences of his wrath than denial.  She may already be dealing with a lot of things she don't talk about.  The reason I am saying this is because I have been there, done that.  She may be trying to protect herself.  Even though you see enough to understand things aren't right you may have no idea what she is enduring mentally and she may feel like she can't take too much more.  i understand how your mom feels about going behind his back. I have that battle also. This disease is a strange long journey that is hard on PWD and caregiver
Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 5:05 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 14939

Please print this out for your mother because 1) there may be a very treatable cause for what you are seeing and  2) if it is dementia you will want to know what kind since meds are not the same for all.

Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 5:48 PM
Joined: 10/12/2017
Posts: 2

I absolutely agree with you. She has shared some of the "what goes on at home" with me. I believe she is protecting herself both from the reality of what may come next and from the anger he would express from a confrontation, for lack of a better word. However, he is already angry. He is already yelling. I am afraid that it will only get worse for her if the issues are not addressed. I hypothesize that he is angry and yelling because he is frustrated that he is losing control and doesn't understand why. My brother has offered to speak to him, knowing that they have a special relationship and his words may be better accepted. 

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.

Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 12:15 AM
Joined: 8/10/2016
Posts: 896

Socialworker,  I think you are thinking right.  It's probably just scary for her.  She's lucky she has a son willing to try and help.  Sometimes I wish I had a brother for that reason.  

Take care and hope things will smooth out for you.


Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 1:15 AM
Joined: 12/17/2016
Posts: 68

You say he is seeing a specialist for a chronic condition. Is this a Dr.? Any physician can give a simple memory test in the office and then recommend a neurologist . His memory problems may be from something that can be helped. Best to get some sort of diagnosis so the family can make plans for the future. My DH was diagnosed a year ago and he has been on Namenda since then. He hasn't become dramatically worse so I feel at least we are doing something that may slow down the process.
Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 8:32 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 795


Bright, proud and frankly unpleasant bully showing signs of dementia and wife who tolerated his nonsense and ignored my concerns until he basically crashed and I took him into a teaching hospital ER which led to a mixed dementia diagnosis. 

My mother ignored my suggestions, and then pleas, to have dad screened for cognitive impairment based on his behavior and personality changes from 20008 and 2016. He was always a difficult personality, but he was trending into unfiltered bastard territory.

The consequences of playing along with dad's notion that "this is part of the normal process of aging..." were horrific. Dad blew almost $400K day-trading and squandered the chance to have a say in when, where and how he would spend his remaining years which was a bitter pill for someone who always called the shots and thinks he's smarter than those around him.  

The worst part of all of this is that one of the dementias dad has is actually a very treatable vitamin deficiency. Dad did improve somewhat with treatment, but had he been treated earlier we likely would have been able to preserve more short term memory and the ability to learn until the Alzheimer's kicked in.

A lot of dad's challenging behavior is driven by depression and anxiety; psychoactive medications have helped him be less anxious and nasty. 

Stephanie Z
Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 10:24 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 4112

Hi Social Worker and welcome to the forum.

     I'm so sorry your mom is not taking your advice and having him seen by a geriatric psychiatrist or a neurologist who diagnoses dementia.  There is a lot that can be done for him. For instance, if he has Alzheimer's, Aricept and other Alzheimer's meds can help his brain function more efficiently. These drugs do not cure Alzheimer's but do help the person who is in the earler stages, maintain their independence for a longer time and help with their quality of life.

    Does your mom have a good friend that she trusts? Does she or your dad have siblings that you can appeal to?

    One of the previous responses mentioned having an "intervention" of sorts with all of your family and your mom there. Perhaps someone can entertain your dad while this is going on.

     Short of getting their cooperation, you will have to wait until your mom asks for help or something happens making that necessary.

Meantime, please let me give you a link to a lot of information for dementia caregivers.  

This link has  an updated (6/20/2017) list of other links about information care givers will need  

    The first is a very helpful article is:  "Understanding the dementia experience"  It will give you an idea of what your dad is going through, and what he needs to have a good quality of life.  "Communication skills"  demonstrates better ways for you to communicate with him by encouraging  his cooperation  and reducing  the chance of negative behaviors.

   There are many other links included which will be more applicable, and very helpful as your dad's dementia progresses.

It is also important for you to use the 800 number at the National Alz. Assoc. if you run into problems we can't help with. The 24/7 Helpline is: 1 800 -272- 3900  Ask for a care counselor. This service is free.

      Please keep in touch and let us know how your dad is doing.

 Take care,

 Stephanie Z



Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 10:26 AM
Joined: 10/29/2016
Posts: 249

   Your Father should be seeing other Doctors if they indicate nothing can be done.  Your Father's symptoms will worsen and his anger will not improve so your Mother may start to be both physically and emotionally hurt by your Father---if he is not diagnosed soon.

   If your Father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, medication will help delay both aggressive behavior and other Alz symptoms.  My Wife was diagnosed 4 years ago and her almost immediate intake of Alz medications delayed her subsequent symptoms aor about 3 years.  We were able to cruise extensively to the far corners of the earth with no major problems.  I was told to keep her focused on something and we used travel.  

   Sure her symptoms worsened in her 4th year and she recently passed but the choice is yours and your Mother's.  The longer your Father is in denial as well as one of his Doctors, quality of life will worsen too soon.

   Readers of this blog will read that there are some Doctors--including neurologists---that do not want dementia patients n their practice.  They are to be avoided.

   Your Father may have to be legally forced into the Hospital for diagnosis and proper treatment started to help both your Father and your Mother.

   Please obtain "36 Hour Day" which both you and your Mother should read.  You will read somebody has to be your Father's advocate and the sooner the better. 


Posted: Monday, October 16, 2017 5:12 PM
Joined: 2/8/2017
Posts: 582

Hey Socialworker,

Welcome to our not so little world.  And I'm sorry you had to come here.

You have gotten some really good advice from those that have been down this road.  One thing that has not been addressed is how are your parents' bills being paid now?  Who is doing the finances?  Hopefully mom so that bills will be paid in time and that will be less headaches you will have to deal with later.  If it is still dad and he is messing things up, someone has to step in and help out.  Otherwise you will have troubles. 

 Are all their accounts held in both names?  If so, use that to your advantage.  Have mom put one of you kids on the accounts so that eventually one of you can handle that part of the caregiving.  Mom will probably become overwhelmed and this will allow you kids to relive her of one responsibility.  And it can be done online which simplifies things more.  Especially if you all live in different cities and away from mom and dad.

Do not feel guilty about talking about dad behind his back.  It has to be done.  Your new goal is to keep him safe.  And mom also.  It will be like dealing with a child at times.  The time has come where children will need to do what will keep parents safe.  Roles will reverse.  It is the nature of this beast we call dementia.

One way to get dad to his primary doc is to tell him that their health insurance now requires an annual checkup.  You and your siblings are now needing to learn about "fiblets" and "validation" techniques.  Validation may help with some of dad's anger.  Look in your local library for any book by Naomi Feel with "validation" in the title.  You can search "fiblets" here on this board.

A united front by all 3 kids and spouses will help a lot.  But beware, this disease affects everyone in the family differently and can drive some wedges.  This board is full of examples.

This place offers great things for you and your family.  You are not alone because some one(s) have been down the same road.  Other different roads but know of techniques or ideas that can work for your situation.  Come just to vent.  We all do.

Best wishes and good luck, Greg


Posted: Monday, October 16, 2017 8:57 PM
Joined: 3/22/2017
Posts: 307

I too was Afraid To confront my DH about his problems, because I was afraid of his wrath. I discussed it with my therapist who advised me not to confront my DH about it but to deal with it in a round about way. What i did was call My Dhs psychiatrist and tell him my concerns,  including my fear of Dhs Wrath. It took a few visits  but eventually the psychiatrist told DH he had OBSERVED  concerning  behavior and recommended to DH that he get tested which advice DH amazingly followed with little resistance.  I would advice that you and your family NOT confront your dad but work on  a way  for a doctor to recommend testing. Good luck.
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