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early signs-where to start??
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.
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.
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. https://www.alzconnected.org/discussion.aspx?g=posts&t=2147523850
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
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.
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.
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