I'm sure you will have given this information often before so please forgive me for asking for your help. I have read the forum and altho' there is a great deal of useful information, I still need to ask the following questions.
My parents are aged 82 (mother) and 80 (father). They are just about to go into hostel care (supported living) together. My Dad is chronically disabled with numerous health problems and my Mum is no longer able to care for him physically. Mum is fiercely independent and will allow no help from me or my 3 siblings, unless she asks for it. Sounds OK, but in real life it has just meant she is over-taxed and cannot cope.
However, my questions concern onset symptoms of Alzheimer's. My Mum is the person I have concerns about. Can you tell me if the following signs / symptoms are consistent with the onset of Alzheimer's, please?
- forgets words and phrases (much more so in the last few weeks)
- eats very little and expects everyone else to eat very little too - can't understand why others want more food
- cooked one chicken breast to feed 3 people and thought we were being unreasonable when we asked for salad and bread and butter (this is the same woman about whom we used to joke that she was always ready to feed the 5000!)
- cannot remember some things at all, and remembers other things (usually from long ago) very well.
- repeats herself continually - this used to happen from visit to visit - she'd forget what she told you last visit - but now happens within the same visit.
- tries to "cover up" memory slips or forgetfulness
- couldn't find an address when she was driving, despite it being a straightforward street address and having been to the house just the week before
- constantly forgets her PIN number and has the Bank asking us to "do something about your mother"
- sometimes leaves taps running (altho' hasn't left the stove on yet as far as we know)
- when she feels overwhelmed, says "I can't deal with that now" and refuses to consider things - even urgent matters. So far we've been able to cajole her into letting us take necessary action, but this is getting harder to do
- has always been very strong intellectually but now has difficulty with simple addition - forgets to "carry"
- has always loved playing Scrabble but now sometimes puts down a word that does not exist and / or misspells a word. This might sound paltry, but is unheard of in my mother previously!!
- is overwhelmed with anger about simple things not going right - for instance: refuses to use the microwave to cook porridge because "it makes the porridge too salty". Also, very upset because her favourite brand of underpants has been discontinued - very cranky about this and could not be consoled
- highly suspicious of people's intentions (this is excacerbated - she has ALWAYS been very suspicious of people). For instance: very angry that the Hostel requires her and Dad to have 10 changes of underwear, for example. "Why do we need 10 changes of underwear? We've never owned 10 pairs of underwear in our lives. They must be going to steal them." Seems to understand when we explain about laundry times, but goes back to same complaint almost immediately.
Do these things sound like early symptoms of the disease? We feel they probably are, but she will not see a doctor for a check up, so it is hard to get any confirmation.
As the carer in their relationship, she has always dealt with the business matters and has been highly competent (ran her own business for years). Now she forgets to ask for vital information or, if told, forgets it immediately. Examples: times of appointments; locations of places she needs to be. If she is asked about these things she'll "cover up" and say "oh, that is at ........... place" or "at ....... time". Needless to say, we then have to check up and, on finding she is mistaken, try to tactfully tell her what the true situation is. Naturally she then gets upset and says things like "I'm just stupid". We say things like "Oh well, you,ve got a lot on your mind at present - it's not surprising somethings slip".
Should we try to "excuse" her behaviour - ie. collude with her efforts to convince us there is nothing wong? Sometimes she will say to me "I think I'm getting Alzheimer's" - I respond by asking her to tell me more, but she always clams up then and changes the subject. Should I tell her I think she might be right?
Dad is a dear but his health problemns and his long term reliance on Mum mean he is no use in this situation. I asked him if he thought she was getting "more forgetful" and he said he would probably agree with that.
I'm very fortunate to have 2 sisters who are very good and a brother who doesn't do much but is caring. The family are very supportive of my parents and spend a lot of time with them. We feel lucky that they have found a place together in a Hostel, but we also feel guilty that none of us are taking care of them.
I guess I just need to have my concerns either validated or refuted. Any advice anyone can give me about how to go forward would be very gratefully received. My parents both think I'm "bossy" but I know that it is often only due to my intervention that important things get done at all. I hate them to be in the position where they are partly grateful for my help and partly resentful of my "interference", but I can't see any way around this.
I'd better stop before you all have eyestrain! Please help me!