Loading discussion content. Please wait...
MIL with anosagnosia and/or denial
I am new to this site and welcome any advice or thoughts. We have noticed decline with my mother-in-law for several years, and others are coming to us now with their concerns. My husband, his sister, her husband and I all agree with what we are seeing and have tried talking with her - to no avail. We recently learned about anosagnosia and think this might be the issue. She has not been diagnosed with dementia as she refuses to see there are issues and will not seek medical help. She is having difficulty tracking her schedule and finances, she has lost interest/ability in doing things she previously did (cleaning her house, planning/cooking meals, reading, etc.) and we've seen some personality changes. We currently feel she is safe.
I have two main questions:
1) I am feeling extremely stressed and frustrated with her symptoms - repeating things, not tracking her calendar, calling incessantly, forgetting obligations, overstaying her welcome, etc. I am a person who likes to take action and I am frustrated at the lack of action and persistence we are taking as a family. My husband and I have two young children and I'm feeling very angry at my MIL for not admitting the issues and getting help. Now that I believe she has anosagnosia, I am trying to have more empathy. I'm just so angry at the whole situation.
2) At what stage do we begin to insist on things? Moving out of her home (which she no longer maintains or even likes to stay at), going to see a neurologist, etc. My husband has health POA and financial POA.
I sincerely appreciate any advice, thoughts or resources you might be able to provide.
She is having difficulty tracking her schedule and finances, she has lost interest/ability in doing things she previously did (cleaning her house, planning/cooking meals, reading, etc.) and we've seen some personality changes. We currently feel she is safe.
Welcome adm. I'm glad you already know about anosognosia. It is a part of the disease. A person with anosognosia is unaware of her limitations and unaware of safety issues. So she is NOT safe. She will put herself in unsafe situations, as you are describing, and she will be unable to react to situations in a safe manner. Please read the safety section on alz.org.
Due to anosognosia and impaired executive functions, your MIL will be unable to carry out what needs to be done. YOU (the family) will have to learn what to do and learn work-arounds to get them done. Learn from the members. Best wishes.
Does your mother's health care insurance include emergency house calls if she needs it?
Medicare might even cover that....
If so, you might be able to have a doctor come to her and get you a formal diagnosis.
Several years after my wife was diagnosed, her insurance included House Calls.
Thank you to each of you for taking time to respond with support and information. I will discuss safety with my husband and his sister. To answer a few questions, my SIL does also have POA as well. Thankfully, this was set up a few years ago. MIL lives several hours away and about halfway between our families. SIL has encouraged MIL to move closer to them but she isn't interested. MIL does have LTC - thankfully. I previously worked in the insurance industry and did some checking on this - she took it out in 2014 when more grandkids were born. Max benefit amount isn't very high, but it will at least provide a little relief when it's time.
SIL and her husband (both bright physicians - I only say this to indicate they are well versed with medical issues) took her to a geriatric physician 6 months ago. Some memory issues were discovered and some recommendations were made that really haven't been followed (ex. no Benadryl at night to sleep, less wine - she loses track. Prior to this appointment, she was extremely anxious, refused to make the trip to the doctor, etc.
* How/when/how far do we push a neurology appointment? We do not feel comfortable "tricking" her into going. Again, anosagnosia - and this whole process - is new to us, so please advise of strategies and timing. Do we take her now? I have this feeling that something "very bad" is going to happen (maybe even have to happen) before we take action.
Again, thank you. We are supposed to go to her place this weekend and she's called my husband and me five or six times in the past 24 hours to clarify the plans. It's just so exhausting, especially being the parent of two children under age 5.
I want to first speak to your comment about not feeling comfortable tricking your MIL. I get it. I was the exact same way. I never thought I would be comfortable about something like that but now am I not only comfortable about it, I understand it is one of the best survival skills there is for this disease.
Tell your husband and SIL that they need to make decisions on her worst day, not her best. Great piece of advice from this place. The other great piece of advice is that to truly assess the situation with mom, they should stay with her 24/7 for a length of time. I will add to that advice and suggest you make sure mail comes on those days and that there are bills to pay and reconcile. It is eye opening to see our loved ones struggle with the basic understanding of these things (junk mail, real mail, bills, information only) and scares the heck out of us (or at least me).
Sorry you have to deal with this. It just freaking sucks...for everyone.