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Coping with elderly parents – particularly Alzheimer’s Rant

Discussion in 'Personal' started by lindenlea, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    Not to go into lots of detail, but Mum is 87 and widowed 5 years ago. Physically fairly well and determined to "live independently". Nearest family (me) live two hours drive away, call or email daily and visit about every other week, staying for a few days. Take her to hospital appointments etc.

    However she has recurring issues with "funny turns" which aren't medically conclusive, Another family panic tonight, luckily she has fantastic neighbours who have looked after her.

    We feel these episodes could be related to anxiety and/or depression. More than just feeling a bit lonely. I am wondering whether to call her GP to talk about this? Mum is absolutely resistant to any suggestion of any mental health issues, I suppose it's a generation thing, a stigma attached. How do I approach this with GP, or should I?
  2. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    Hi sad scientist. When we suspected mums memory loss was not just normal forgetting, I wrote a very long email to mum dr explaining my concerns and giving examples of things we were finding. To be honest, they sent her a routine appointment within a week. Dad made sure he went with her. That started the ball rolling but it was still nearly 6 months before she got the Alzheimers diagnosis.

    I suppose for your mum, you need to think about what the funny turns do, eg is she passing out and potentially coukd fall down the stairs or something else?
    Do you have Power of attorney. I contacted mums gp before I had poa but you might want to broach that subject at some point.
    sadscientist and agathamorse like this.
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    my own mother suffered for the last 8 years of her life with similar 'events'. We came to the conclusion that they may well have been mini tias, which unlike a full stroke tend to be transient. She had always been somewhat a 'worrier' and anxious and in the early days we thought she was 'putting them on to get attention.

    Symptoms ranged from a general 'out of-it' non-reaction similar to an epileptic 'absence', to full loss of consciousness up to several hours. Hospital never 'found anything' and in the end we spared her going as it was so upsetting and told us no more. Though on one of the visits they did a scan and found 'vascular lesions/ small vessel disease. Probably a result of a 'myocardial infarction (heart attack) in her mid-forties so there were heart issues.

    However after an attack of Bradycardia, (excessively low heart rate) they stopped her heart medication and she lived a further 5 years with no heart medication whatsoever. o_O

    If she is resistant to going to the Dr/s and they may not be able to 'find a reason', I like grumbeweed's suggestion of keeping a record and when the time is right to contact Dr with at least some evidence/:)
    sadscientist likes this.
  4. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    Just typed a long post and lost it somehow, never done that before. Thank you so much for listening and your replies. I'd just got home from an emotionally exhausting few days with Mum, (another long story I'll not go into detail) only to get panicked phone calls from the neighbour three hours later.
    Mum has had numerous suspected TIAs, and a minor stroke over a year ago. She's constantly at the GP with minor (not to her, obviously) health issues, all physical. Apart from that she copes quite well physically and practically with everyday life. It's just that since my stepfather died, she has no one to meet her emotional needs, and as soon as she's alone she often dwells on how empty her life seems and fear of the future. She has always been an anxious person (although she is dismissive when we "accuse her of being a worrier"!) and a rather self-centered only child type personality. We've never been particularly close, to be honest.
    Anyway, my brother has just called, she's seeing GP today and he thinks he has persuaded her to mention her mental state. So we shall see. Thanks again!
  5. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I am glad you have a brother to share your worries re your Mum. Hopefully she will open up to the Dr today but do come back on here for more advice and support if needed. Many have found this thread invaluable, me included, although a few years ago now, and are all indebted to @Lara mfl 05 for starting it.
  6. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    Just got email from Mum, she says doc's were dismissive and just told her to call 999 if she feels unwell. Which may or may not be true. And so it goes on.
  7. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    @sadscientist It's just one step at a time but don't despair. It can be a really difficult time but keep your chin up and keep asking questions about what the options are. Ask the doctor, research online, phone Age UK, ask on here. The better informed you are, about how other people do cope with aging relatives who are beginning to struggle, the easier it will be to see a path through.
    best wishes
  8. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    Might the doctor speak to you on the phone. You might need to set this up by giving him / her written permission from your mother which is a nuisance but worth it in the long run. He / she might speak to you without this of course.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  9. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I feel for you. Really I do . My Mum is very demanding and we are not v close ( I am an only child ). She worries about everything and is anxious a lot of the time - like this before my Dad died @11 years ago. She too ‘ fears for the future ‘ although copes well physically . She is a total hypochondriac. It was her birthday yesterday she came for lunch , we shopped and I took her home and stayed for a chat - so prob 5 hours in total . My difficulty is that she does not stop talking , repeats everything, asks for advice but does not listen, changes the subject - eg I asked if she had made a decision about some dental work she may need to action- ignored me and started taking about her eyesight .... She is very judgmental and detrimental about ‘foreigners ‘ . I get so angry BUT I have to reign in because there really is no one else . My husband is very helpful and our son when he is home. Sometimes I feel like I am going mad .... and yes good folk of TES I apologise because you have read all this before !
    emerald52 and agathamorse like this.
  10. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    A lot of that is soooo familiar, thank you for posting!

    @lindenlea I have permission to speak to GP. Also have POA - at mother's insistence when my stepfather died. To be honest it felt like she was just saying that I'm officially responsible for meeting her needs now... :(

    I'll compose an email to GP, can't do any harm.
  11. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Ah interesting that you are asking some questions ? .... I have offered to attend the GP with my Mum but she won’t have it - her attitude is that they don’t care when you are old - simply not true ! I spoke to the physio last time she had an appt to make sure I got the low down directly . He said he had read her medical history ( War and Peace I joked ) and I suspect he was being professional but telling me he ‘ understood ‘. My Mum expects there to be a treatment for everything from which she ( allegedly) suffers and is totally unrealistic about what can be done . She is in a far better place than a lot of 86 year olds. All the best @sadscientist .Let us know how you go ?
  12. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Oh, believe me, most posters on this thread will recognise that feeling and was one of the reasons I started this thread, as somewhere 'safe' to let it all out', without boring our families silly. We're 'strangers' so less likely to react in a way which could lead to repercussions for you.

    And we've always had 'an unwritten rule' here, you never need to apologise here. Whatever you feel, is what you feel at that point in time, and 'voicing it' can often be a way of dealing with those feelings.

    Minnie me & sadscientist, I think 'phantom symptoms' for want of a better word, seem to be all too common. I used to refer to my mum as 'the drama Queen'!

    Thank you May2. Although the first 80 or so pages are missing from this thread my initial post to start this thread read
    'As some posters know I am coping with 'the long slow goodbye of Alzheimer's' with my Mum. Several poeple have posted recently they are having similar problems (often juggling our children at the other end too)either in separate posts and on the Bereavement thread.

    So following in the spirit of that thread, I wondered if we ought to have our own thread to 'rant' on occasionally or offer help and advice, use as counselling etc.?

    If so, perhaps you could post occasionally (so every now and again it comes to the top and gets noticed by others who might want such help) and bookmark this thread to alert you when others post and we can provide some support for each other.

    If there's no need we can quietly let this thread die. (Though I might quite selfishly use it occasionally)!'
    So you can see I did have a selfish motive for starting it. ;)
  13. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    My husband's auntie was living independently until a week ago. She had good neighbours and lots of relatives and friends who saw her regularly. She was getting increasingly frail and lacking in energy but her weight was unchanged. The GP gently questioned her and established that on most days he was no longer making herself proper meals. She was eating soup, cheese, toast, yoghurts and filling up on biscuits and cakes.

    She has moved into an Assisted Living Facility where she and 6 other residents have a bedsitting room with a small kitchenette and a large, easy access shower room. Everything is on the ground floor. There's a big communal lounge. Residents collect what they want for breakfast the night before and get up when they want and eat breakfast in their rooms. They then have two 2 course meals provided in the dining room. It's amazing the difference that a week has made to her energy levels and the strength of her voice. She has no worries over food shopping or bills. She pays £300 per week and the only extras are for the landline to her room, paying the hairdresser who visits weekly and any chiropody/optician costs (visit by appointment to resident's room). Laundry is washed and dried as part of the package.

    Many elderly people also restrict their fluid intake as getting to an upstairs WC is a chore. Dehydration leads to confusion and 'funny turns' and falls.
    lindenlea, cissy3, emerald52 and 3 others like this.
  14. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I have spent 6 hours with my Mum to day and now a 35 minute phone conversation. She is so so repetitive and talking constantly about anything / everything.I feel like crying out of frustration. Dearie, dearie me ....
    emerald52 and agathamorse like this.
  15. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Jubilee, that sounds like a lovely place. I wish my dad could have gone somewhere like that rather than a home, though I doubt he'd cope even with breakfast now. He's started having the most elaborate imagined scenarios, for example, that the home are taking him to New Zealand or that the owner is about to be arrested for smuggling rare wild animals into the country!

    Dementia is so hard to cope with and we were very lucky to get Dad into his home when we did. My mother in law is determined never to go in a home, which is good in one way but her increasing mobility problems are a big worry, and we're the closest of her children, at two hours' drive away, so not great in an emergency. Her independence is admirable but sometimes gets in the way of her having suitable help that would improve her life.
    minnie me, agathamorse and emerald52 like this.
  16. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    @minnie me i have no answers but you have my sympathy. I hope tomorrow is a better day for you.

    My mother is very determined to keep her "independence". Actually, it seems like she just wants to dictate and control every aspect of her dependence, to be as convenient as possible for her. :(
    agathamorse likes this.
  17. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    No answers @sadscientist but that ‘s absolutely fine. I think my husband is really starting to lose patience with me as I offload the day :( ..... soooo a quick vent here really helps :)
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  18. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Vent away!
    grumpydogwoman and agathamorse like this.
  19. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Exactly and one of the major benefits of this thread.

    Oh I remember doing the same. I had always been pretty much teetotal, but during those years, I did find a glass of wine after such days, plus chocolate of course ;), did help me 'mellow' and less likely to explode at Mr L and son at home.
    agathamorse and minnie me like this.
  20. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Caring is hard, but caring for someone with dementia is a whole different ballgame.
    My mum imagined all sorts of things and my friend's mother is still doing so now. usually upsetting things like a man's been in her bedroom, which although almost certainly fabrication, one never knows these days.
    emerald52 and agathamorse like this.

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