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Sudden turn for the worse? - Carers UK Forum

Sudden turn for the worse?

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
Hi Everyone.

I have made a post on here before but dont seem to get the time to contribute much as I am looking after my elderly mother who is suspected to have dementia and has heart failure problems which has been diagnosed.

I have my own heart problems, namely heart failure too and a few mental health issues which are stable for the moment.

But mums been pretty poor with her memory for a couple of years now. She has never looked after her own money as they say that is the acid test for dementia. Dad always looked after that side of things but he passed away in May 2 years ago and is a big miss.

I live with my mum and do most of the chores and make sure she takes her tablets and eats. I usually sleep all night and day and tend to be around at meal times as I have severe tiredness and I try to catch up on my sleep after I have fed mum.

But recently she has been washing her sheets 2 days in a row saying whoever slept in them must of made them filthy. To be honest there was nothing wrong with them but she doesnt seem to recognise her own bedroom anymore. She also thinks she has just moved into the house she has been living in for 40 years, and tonight thought her sister was in our kitchen who used to live in Birmingham, we live in North East, but also she has passed away a couple of years ago too.

I have to say it is a bit distressing to see my mum deteriorate like this and its difficult to cope on certain days. She also thinks our neighbour is hopping over the fence and doing things in our garden and I should do something about it. Things like putting poles in the lawn and opening up the fence so he can spy on us. He is doing nothing of the sort, but she wont be convinced, to her it is real.

What sort of help could I get locally, we have savings and are keen not to see them disappear, also we own half the house each. I am getting ESA and DLA and mum has 2 pensions (state and work) and we are doing ok, but with this sudden turn in her personality I am not sure I can cope. You can hold a conversation with her but after 5 minutes it is gone. She is being seen by a Heart Nurse every 3 months and has been assessed wrt this but that is all.

Sorry for the mish mash of information above but its 1AM and I am not thinking straight myself. If anyone replies to this I will be amazed as it is all higgledy piggeldy.



PS. We have a German Shepherd who is as good as gold with her and she loves to talk to him and he rolls over on his back when she does. I dont know why I added this just one positive out of a lot a negatives I suppose.
Tim, hi - just a quick response for now, though I know that those who have a lot more experience than I have in caring for someone with worsening dementia will be here soon.

Yes, it is distressing, and frightening, when we start to see the more obvious signs of 'derangement' or whatever one might describe the 'eccentricity' of those with deepening dementia. From what I've read here on the forum already, there is something that can happen that is called 'confabulation' - if I've understood it correctly, the person realises they are becoming increasingly forgetful about their own lives, so their minds seeks to compensate by 'making things up', or resurrecting people and events from the more long ago past...it's a kind of 'self-mending' that the dementia-mind invokes, but obviously to outsiders it appears weird and 'wrong'. Also here, I've read that in these instances it's best not to try and convince the person they are wrong, or argue or reason with them, but to find comments that neither refute or agree. So maybe if your mum wants you to do something about the neighbour spying on her, you say 'I'll sort it out tomorrow' or something like that, that may calm her, but then of course you don't actually do anything.

As dementia deepens, it becomes increasingly a question of accommodating bizarre behaviour, and keeping the person as unagitated as possible. It's a steep learning curve, emotionally distressing and wearing, and you have to adapt continually as the disease progresses and changes behaviour yet again.

The best now for your mum is for her to be not agitated or upset, and if she can be kept in a 'peaceful zone' then her quality of mental life, even as it deterioriates, will be the best it can be. My MIL has what I think I could label 'calm dementia' and I am most grateful for it.

It's great your mum has you to care for her - it is, after all, your final gift to her. I hope, though, that you are able to look after yourself as well, and learning to 'pace' yourself is essential.

Kind regards at a troubling time - Jenny
Hi Tim
I remember when Mum started doing these sort of things. She thought her friend of many years was stealing from her and that children were coming in and re-arranging everything. She thought she had remarried (she had been a widow for 25 years), but her husband was having an affair!

She needs to go to her GP to have this investigated. Before you can get help she needs a proper diagnosis. You will probably have to talk to her GP first as I bet she will say that there is nothing wrong with her :roll: Her GP wont be able to discuss your mum with you, but will be able to listen and make a note of it all in her records. He will probably want to do a blood test as there are quite a few things that can cause memory problems and if they are OK then he/she will probably refer Mum to the local memory clinic.
Hi Tim,
sad as it seems your mum really believes what she says, it is difficult but it may be time to get Power of Attorney if you can,especially as half the house is yours, your GP may do a mental capacity test to make sure she understands things. How is her health in general, as sometimes this confused state could be part of a UTI which needs treatment, that is what happened to MIL,
And others are right, don't try and correct her, agree with her and say you will sort the problem, knowing you can't when it's in her head.
If you are looking after her alone perhaps you should get carers alloqance or attendance allowance as she is a pensioner, also ask social services for a care assessment for your mum, you may get some help. I am sure others here will have lots of advice too.
you must take care of your own health and wellbeing aswell, don't forget that.
Hi Tim, that sounds very tough. What would help you the most? Would you like day care, or regular respite breaks? Whatever support you require depends on your postcode unfortunately. I would start with Social Services but also ask your local branch of Alzheimer's Society and Age UK I what support they have available. I used Age UK dementia befrienders for my mum. They stayed with her for 2 hrs a week when I wasn't there. I had to pay for the service though - I used mum's attendance allowance to do so. If Crossroads works in your area, they also provide dementia sitting service.

As for the sheets, and indeed any other delusions, I would tell any "love lies" you need to just to keep mum calm. My mum thought our step-father lived in the basement with his mistress, or "fancy woman". In fact there was no step-father, no mistress or even a basement :roll: I can smile about it now but at the time it drove me mad!
Thanks for the replies everyone.

Today she was asking our next door neighbour surname and suggesting she should rent a room on her own. This is a non starter as she couldn't look after herself.

How does power of attorney work, who do I need to see to arrange it?

At the moment I make her meals and do most of the chores at the moment. She doesn't seem to be able to make good decisions about things.

She's also saying she is going to discuss the next door neighbour with her heart nurse in two weeks. Hopefully she will have forgotten by then!
Hi Tim

I wouldnt worry too much about the neighbour, although it would probably be a good idea to explain things to the heart nurse about what mum is like (preferably when mum isnt there!) as quite often its their nearest and dearest that get accused of things.

Power of Attorney is a legal document which gives you the power to take control of finances and to be able to sign on her behalf. I know you said that you are in control of her finances, but does she have to sign for anything eg her pension? What would happen if she couldnt sign?
There are 2 ways of sorting Power of Attorney: you can either go through a solicitor, or you can do it DIY by downloading the forms, filling them in , getting mum to sign and a witness to sign and sending them off (costs about £100). Do beware that you have to do it while they are still able to understand what they are doing, if you leave it too late you cant get it.

Do get her to the GP. There are one or two conditions that give these symptoms - vit D deficiency, or thyroid problems - which are easily treatable. Even if this is not the cause and she does have dementia your GP can get the ball rolling for some help. Once she has a diagnosis of dementia then you can apply for Council tax reduction and you can also apply for Attendance Allowance. Your GP can request a Social Services assessment to see if something like Day Care attendance would be available - take any offer of help that you can.

Age UK can be very helpful with forms and sorting things out.
Hi Tim, crocus has given some great info there, I did the diy Power of attorney, look up the office of public guardianship and that has all the forms, and samples of what to include, I just used everything even if you think it doesn't apply to you, I also did finances and welfare which includes health matters, it means you can talk to your mum's GP about her, we also used our GP to witness OH signature, in fact it was his idea to do it from the start.
Honestly it is not as scary as it sounds as long as mum agrees to it, of course, and only you can judge that, does she trust her GP? if so perhaps have a chat to them and see if they will suggest it to her. keep us posted on your situation, we are here to help and support.