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Question
Posted by: Woman | 2010/01/07

my mother - altzheimers? dementia?

Hello CS and happy new year to you!!

We visited my mother over the holidays. She has just turned 70. I am very very worried about her. She seems to have undergone a complete personality change over the last few months. She would not, for instance, let us do anything at all to help her (like washing dishes or cooking) she would literally jump up while we' re still eating to wash dishes. Problem is, everything in her house is filthy. The dishes aren' t done properly, there' s dust everywhere.

She has become rather strange. She will use the dirty bathwater to wash clothes. She has a big garden and works like a demon in that garden. She is very racist and won' t let us get her the help of a char or someone to help her mow the lawn. She chased people we have paid for away. She won' t let anyone of colour into the house at all. She even chased away the assessor the bank sent to asses damage to the structure of the house and roof. (it' s my house btw, I pay for it and i should keep it in good repair).

She can hardly hear, has back problems and sight problems and dental problems and she refuses to go to a medical professional at all. She calls them quacks and people who know nothing. She doesn' t have medical aid. My brothers don' t really see a problem with my mother' s behaviour - they say we should just let her be, she knows what is best for her. She will gossip about a person today, and if you bring up what she told you in a conversation, she will say the opposite. If you tell her she said the other thing yesterday, she' ll get angry and tell you she never said that. It' s obvious that she has deteriorated to such an extent that she can hardly look after herself. Yet she will swear at you if you even try to bring up moving to a smaller place. She refuses to take money from us. She truly believes we will suffer if we give her cash.

I have no idea what could be wrong with her??

I am the youngest in my family and my older siblings will push me out of the family if I try to do something. The only person who might help is my older sister who lives overseas. If I have an idea of what might be the problem, she might be able to speak to my other siblings and then we might be able to make a plan.

Please help, CS, I am so sad today, I wish I knew how to help my mom.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hello W,
The situation you describe is difficult and complex, and the only way to get a clearer idea of what is going on is to find a way for your mom to be properly assessed by a psychiatrist or perhaps also a geriatrician. There could well be a dementia ( and there are many causes for dementia, some of them fully or partially reversible if properly diagnosed ). OF course it can be very dificult to persaude her to see someone when she needs to do so.
One ca sek in various ways to persuade her that some form of help is needed and could be aceptable to her. Eventuallty, the degree of self-neglect can become severe enough to sinificantly threaten her well-being, and then sometimes a doc can help arrange for her compulsory admission to hospital for a full and proper assessment and to start treatment.
Tis can be easier with the active cooperation of family members, so also discuss your concerns, and the realistic basis for them, with your family members and sibs

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

2
Our users say:
Posted by: qwerty | 2010/01/08

I absolutely feel for you! My grandmother had alzheimers, and she did many things that were out of character. The thing is, she' d had it for years, in a lighter form, and when she got sick it suddenly made it a lot worse very quickly. (apparently illness can trigger or worsen it)
She would also get aggressive at times, ask repeatedly for headache tablets and not believe us when we told her she' d already taken some, then scream at us and say we want her to suffer. She' d start hiding food in tissues for " later"  in cupboards, and get really agitated because she was looking for something she JUST had and couldn' t find, and no matter how long you helped her search, it would just get worse, to the point where she was almost in tears. Also, using things for different purposes (e.g. dirty bath water for washing) was also something she' d do. (she once put toothpaste on her lips, thinking it was lip balm)
I' m not saying this is what your mother has, but it certainly sounds like there' s something wrong. A friend of mine' s dad started having these sorts of symptoms and we all thought it was alzheimers, but when they finally mananaged to get him to a doctor, it turns out he just had some sort of vitamin deficiency or something, and with some supplements he fully recovered.

I' ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers, because this is a very difficult situation. You can tell your siblings based on her behaviour and what you' ve seen, it is a very strong possibliity that she has some form of dementia, and if not, she certainly needs medical attention. If she deteriorates more, she could do harm to herself, without even meaning to.

Please keep us up to date!

Reply to qwerty
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/01/07

Hello W,
The situation you describe is difficult and complex, and the only way to get a clearer idea of what is going on is to find a way for your mom to be properly assessed by a psychiatrist or perhaps also a geriatrician. There could well be a dementia ( and there are many causes for dementia, some of them fully or partially reversible if properly diagnosed ). OF course it can be very dificult to persaude her to see someone when she needs to do so.
One ca sek in various ways to persuade her that some form of help is needed and could be aceptable to her. Eventuallty, the degree of self-neglect can become severe enough to sinificantly threaten her well-being, and then sometimes a doc can help arrange for her compulsory admission to hospital for a full and proper assessment and to start treatment.
Tis can be easier with the active cooperation of family members, so also discuss your concerns, and the realistic basis for them, with your family members and sibs

Reply to cybershrink

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