Where to begin?

My mom is 73 years old and lives by herself. In the last year, she has been having trouble remembering appointments, telling the same story over and over, etc.in the last 6-8 months, she has begun thinking the neighbors are in her yard, letting their water run in her yard, cutting her ivy, etc. She gets very angry with me if I tell her I believe this is wrong thinking. Now, the neighbors are calling me and she is confronting them. I need help on how to best approach her and have a full medical exam. I am at a loss. What is sad is that I am a practicing RN with 30 years of experience at a loss on how to deal with this situation! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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I need help, too, Bhop. I'm having similar problems with my 86 yo Dad.
He has gradually become more forgetful over the last year or so but in the last couple of weeks he has started exhibiting frustration and anger - for example, when we do something he has forgotten he asked us to do - and his short-term memory is suddenly (but intermittently) just gone. He completely denies that anything's wrong, refuses to see a doctor about it, and remains undiagnosed.
Also in the last couple of weeks he has started exhibiting irrational and paranoid thinking. His only real physical problem is his balance - he staggers badly when he walks but doesn't complain of dizziness. So safety issues are cropping up too - he's convinced he can do things he's not physically capable of, including driving.
In addition to the increasing dementia (he is 86, after all) we're afraid he may have had a mini-stroke because of the sudden personality change but I can't convince him to go to the doctor for that either.
I'd appreciate any suggestions on how to get him to see a doctor for a mental evaluation...

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Hi and Welcome to both of you, Bhop and LOwens. It seems that you both have similar problems with your aging parents. I know this is not easy on anyone, however you both need to make sure they are safe, not only themselves but everyone else around them.

I hope that neither of your parents are still driving? If so, I would try and make them end that ASAP, as they may harm someone else. I know it is easier said then done. I was very lucky with both of my parents. When Dad retired his Alzheimer advanced greatly. He just handed over his car keys to my Mom & said I am no longer going to drive. She was fine with that as well. He passed away in his early 70's. My Mom, would forget appointments as well, so I started making sure that I made all appointments and took her myself. Along with all her running needs and grocery shopping. Then after about a year she realized that she did not want to drive any more and made me sell her car. I said that would be fine and that will save you some money as car insurance was not cheap. When she heard how much she would be saving a year that made her happy. More to spend on her crafts that she did.

I have several suggestion for you both. One, make sure that someone in your family has the Power of Attorney now. Also make sure you or someone in the family have financial responsibility of their accounts. You may need to see an elder lawyer about all the things that should be in order, such as POA, Living Will and so on.
Second, I would make an appointment for both of them and take them yourselves. I would first talk to the doctor and explain why you want the appointment and he may suggest that they go for additional testing and ask who he would recommend.
Third, since I have been on this site, it has been recommended to me to get the book called " The 36 Hour Day". Please get the book and read it. It is very helpful in many ways.

I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. It is very tough to go through all of this. I know I have been dealing with my Mom for probably the last 25 years. It never gets any easier. Keep the faith and please keep coming back to this site for answers and letting off some steam. Best of luck to you both. You and your families will be in my thoughts and prayers.


I have

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Thank you so much for the support and the information on the book! My brothers and I are going to me with mom as a united front and tell her our concerns about her health. I am going to talk to her doc. beforehand, in order to tell her about our concerns. I hope and pray my mom will listen to us! LOwens, As a nurse, with you dad staggering, he needs a full medical evaluation also. A CT scan would be in order. Anybody with changes in personality needs an extensive medical work-up. It is easy to give you advice when I am in the same boat! Good luck! I never knew this would be so difficult!

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Bhop,

It is great that your brothers are going with you to tell your concerns to Mom together. I also pleased that you are discussing all of this with her physician as well, they must stay informed.

Good luck and please keep me informed as to how all is going. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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Thanks so much, everybody. Dad is being treated by the VA (God help us), and the earliest appointment I could get is a month away. According to them, if we suspect a mini-stroke we should bring him to the ER but I know he won't go. He has told me "I have NOT had a stroke!!". (sigh)

I wish I could stage an "intervention", but none of his friends are around him often/long enough to see the full extent of his mental changes. I probably wouldn't be able to get any of them to participate, and there are only two anyway. He won't listen to me or my husband and there isn't any other family nearby.

I'm supposedly going to get a call from the MD before his appointment so I can discuss Dad's problems but I have my doubts that'll happen. And I doubt that Dad will allow me to actually go in the exam room with him because he knows what we think and denies it so vehemently that he won't want me to even bring it up to the MD. (However, I'm reasonably confident that he'll go along with whatever tests the MD wants...)

And - am I overreacting? Isn't it true that an early diagnosis can make a difference? Based on what I've read, Dad is already mid-stage. If there's anything we can do to slow the progression, don't we need to start it ASAP?

And finally, he absolutely refuses to stop driving even though we won't ride with him anymore except very rarely (when he seems most lucid). We insist on driving if we go somewhere with him (which makes him very angry), but he drives himself around a lot. My husband has had to literally grab the steering wheel to keep the car from wandering into oncoming traffic. I can report Dad to the state's Dept. of Transportation, who will revoke his driver's license and offer him a hearing, but wow - that's a rotten thing to do. It's my only recourse short of hiding the vehicles (not just the keys!). Any opinions?

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LOwens,

With regards to his doctor appointment, I would suggest that you make a list of your concerns. If Dad will not let you go in with him, then make sure you give that list of concerns to the nurse so she will give it to the doctor. Also, MAKE DARN SURE your DAD signs the HIPPA papers, stating that the doctor can speak to you about Dad's health. If he does not then they are not required to tell you anything. If you don't get that call from the doctor make sure that list is available to take with you for the appointment.

At least you think Dad will go along with any test the doctor prescribes and that would be good. No, I don't think that you are overreacting, you are just a very concerned and thoughtful individual that wants the best for her Father. I am not sure of any medication issues. That I would suggest you bring up with the doctor. My main concern would be to ask the doctor after his visit if he thinks your Dad can still drive. If he says NO, ask him if he will right a letter to that fact that you can give to the Dept. of Transportation. This way they will have to inform him that he can no longer drive and it won't be coming from you. I have heard of other families doing it this way. Plus, if I am not mistaken, I think VA has a ride service to pick them up for appointments.

I hope this helps some what. Please take care of yourself and you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Please keep in touch.

Mary Ann

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You may try talking to the nurse after they take your dad back to see the doctor. See if the doctor would talk to you before he talks to your dad.
I don't know how true this is, but I was told, if you are aware of how bad his driving is, you could be responsible for allowing him to drive. I have heard about a woman who parked her car and forgot where she parked it. Family member pick her up and said they would report it to police. Family member, found the car and sold it, they didn't call the police because she would park it and forget. She was reckless when she drove. The family decided this was one way to get her off the road, she couldn't afford another car.
My husbands doctor told me to drive with him, if his driving was that bad to take the keys. The doctor wouldn't tell my husband, he couldn't drive, the doctor put that on me. I asked my husband how he would feel if he hurt someone. He told me he wouldn't hurt anyone. He was in a accident which only involved him and a tree. I told him that tree could of been a person. It took about a half hour to convince him to give up the keys. Two and a half years later, I have to hide my keys. He has tried twice to take my keys to leave.
Good luck I know how hard it is to come up with something to convince them

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