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Does "mental decay"/dementia show on brain scans? - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

Does "mental decay"/dementia show on brain scans?

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
Have you ever thought that the reason she doesn't help herself to a G&T or change channels on the TV is simply because she's a 'visitor' in your home and doesn't think it right to just help herself ?

After all she is of an age when you waited to be asked if you would like a drink; equally the reason she doesn't change TV channels is maybe, in her mind, it's your TV and that you want to watch the next programme ?

When my own Mum was alive (pre-dementia) and would spend the day at my flat she would rather have gone thirsty than have taken the 'liberty' of making herself a cup of tea - it was all to do with the way she was brought up, you didn't just walk into someone else's kitchen and help yourself !
Good point Susie, and very important. Older people have been brought up to respect other people's homes, and not to impose themselves, instead they abide by good manners and politeness.
it's a fair point, but in her 'pre-dependence' days, whenever she visited she just went and made herself a cuppa, or got herself a G&T, and made her own breakfast, etc etc. This change now on waiting for me to do everything really only dates from her declaration in September that she couldn't face another winter on her own in Glasgow anymore....

The thing is, if anyone is 'trapped' by a feeling of having a houseguest, it's me! I'm the one who is trapped in being a 'dutiful hostess'! I do try (a bit) to get her to do things for herself. I was having my weekly Saturday meet up with my friend (who has her elderly father live with her, so we swap weekly 'moans'!), and when I got back I asked MIL 'would you like a cuppa' and she was very vehemently 'YES!' and I did say to her, twice in a row, 'oh, please feel free to come and help yourself - don't wait around for me!'....but she still does....

As I say, I just cannot distinguish between her 'not bothering' to help herself and 'not being able' to help herself.

I sort of feel that it's not 'inability' as she can make her own tea and fix her own G&T when she is on her own in her flat in Glasgow (and presumably make her own meals, since she turned away the carer I organised for her sayign she didn't want her!). So why won't she at least make her own tea and G&T when she is with me????

I know they're only 'little things' but they are symptoms of the whole 'driving me nuts!' stuff that simply feeds into my perpetual sense of resentment of her!

Yet then again, there are some things she does do - she will bring out her empty tea cup to the kitchen.....so then I go back to thinking that she is 'impaired' rather than 'lazy'!

I do think, though, that a significant part of whatever explanation covers it includes a sense by her that when I am 'ignoring' her, she feels 'unsafe' and when I am paying her lots of attention and 'cossetting' her, she enjoys the feeling of being wanted and paid attention to and 'valued'......she finds it reassuring. When I don't pay her attention for 'too long' I can see that she gets 'cross' - it's blatently visible in her expression! Her 'bootface' as I call it, disappears if I then go into 'cossetting' mode and make a solicitous fuss of her needs! If I dedicate myself to her she is as sweet as pie!
Dear Jenny,

I do so enjoy reading your posts, but right now I'd give anything for my mum to demand a T & G. I'd serve the damn thing in a tu-tu tap dancing, if it meant she'd actually drink it. Might do her some good... don't go giving me ideas!

This is purely my personal point of view. I don't think an awful lot of those tests tell you anything. I denied several times that anything was amiss with mum, UNTIL I stayed with my parents for about 10 days over one Xmas and New Year. THEN I could see it, and it broke my heart.
Dementia is what dementia is. And mum quickly forgets stuff like me losing my rag at dad. Oddly enough, I never lose my rag with her (yet I'm the least patient person I know.) I think that might be transference too. I'm losing my rag at him, because I can't at my mum.
What do you think?
Jenny,

Have you tried making the G&T together? Maybe you are now a bit forgetful Image and can't remember exactly how much gin MIL likes etc? You can then see exactly how she gets on.

Incidentally, I give mum jobs to do, ie washing up, peeling veg, sorting out drawers etc. It takes twice as long and double the mess but it does keep her occupied and make her feel important. I have learned my lesson though from getting her to sew a button on my coat. I had to redo it when I got home. Frankly, it is all a case of trial and error. It is certainly quicker to do everything yourself but I think MIL probably needs to "help" you, as you would do with a small child.
Thank you both for your wise answers and reflections!

Sajahar, I can see where you're coming from, and maybe one day I'll be where you are, and there won't be the slightest doubt that MIl has become incapable.... (ie, rather than unwilling)

Re 'transference' - must say, that makes sense to me! I think it's very natural to transfer what we feel towards one person, on to another. I suspect it happens all the time in families! I know I've transferrd some of my anger and resentment at my MIL on to my bro and SIl because 'they won't help me!' (absolutely no reason why they should - it's not their MIL!). Do you feel, perhaps, that given your father's state of mind, his alcoholism and the fact that he is now in sheltered accommodation, you can 'afford' to 'vent' more on him, as that takes pressure off you in respect of your mum, who is more 'vulnerable' to you being 'at your mercy' more (so you're scared of scaring or distressing her??)

Anne - yes, I can see that point is a good one, and very valid. Trouble is (from my self-obsessed point of view!), doing what you suggest in terms of 'helping her help herself' takes time and effort and patience by me, and then it's me who 'can't be bothered'! I think that's the basic problem with my entire situation - that I don't want to be 'bothered' by having to look after someone! As I've called it elsewhere, what drives me most nuts is the 'companion caring' - the having to spend time with the caree, and pay attention to them! Given the choice, I'd far rather be on the phone sorting out her financial affairs and changing her electricity account, etc etc!!! (Or, even better, to be doing what I'm doing now - hiding up in my bedroom tapping away on my laptop, and letting her sit downstairs staring at day-time telly with another cup of tea and a hotwater bottle.....)

(Which is also why, WHEN, dear God!, she is finally in her own flat near me, I will only be spending 'quality time' with her, and because she won't be 'in my house' when I'm with her (at times more of my own choosing) I will be 'dedicating' myself to her and being much, much more 'companion caring' - but, with the magic condition of 'not always'!)

Anyway, thank you ALL so much for your answers - I'm sorry this just had turned into me going into my favourite self-pitying endless moan moan moan about MIL, and to teach me a lesson I'll go and read one of Eun's posts, to remind me what caring-nightmares are REALLY like! I feel I've occupied (yet again!) far far too much 'air time' here. And it's time for me to stop 'hiding' up here and go and do some useful household chores! Even better, get some gardening done this lovely sunny day. Image

PS - Sajahar - yes, I see what you mean about not really 'needing' medical tests - just being with someone can let you see pretty quickly what mental state they've reached. I guess after then it's a question of whether it can be 'reversed' to any extent, or just to stand back and let mental decay take its course.
As always you've been given some very good advice on your situation Jenny. Obviously one size doesn't fit all, but perhaps you could adapt some of the advice and then tell us what works?
It could be very helpful to others.
Dementia can affect people in so many way's it can be difficult to get a definitive diagnosis. Three years ago my mum started to become increasingly anxious,we thought it was just stress from moving back to the UK after five years in the USA. As an ex nurse she was convinced she was seriously ill, although,her blood tests came back normal as did a colonoscopy, endoscopy, and ultrasound, our GP put her on some antidepressant/anti-anxiety meds and referred her to the local mental health nurse. When we saw her I mentioned that Mum was experiencing some confusion so the nurse did a memory test, she only scored 14/30 and was referred to the Memory Clinic. She was sent for brain scan which showed she had both Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia. She was put on Aricept and within a few weeks her anxiety and confusion had improved dramatically reduced. She scored 28/30 on her next memory test (six months later) and I was told if she had scored that on her first test they would not have referred her for a scan (which clearly showed that she had dementia). Her dementia is slowly progressing and her confusion is worse when anxious or in pain.
Mum can hold a conversation and is surprisingly lucid most of the time, although she struggles to follow a simple knitting pattern or operate the DVD (she can manage the TV !) and she forgets where she put things (and usually blames me !). She likes to stick to a set routine and is unwilling to change it even if it might help with her pain management (she had osteoarthritis in her spine).
While the tests can be a good thing in terms of diagnosis and treatment, they can be a double edged sword. It took quite a while to convince Mum she couldn't return to her own house as she would be unable to look after herself (and I would be running two homes). She now lives with us, which is working (at the moment). It is important to understand the ramifications to Carer and Caree once a diagnosis is made (unique to those involved)
Jenny:
As I say, I just cannot distinguish between her 'not bothering' to help herself and 'not being able' to help herself.
Same here, Jenny, when dealing with my mother. Mum has no obvious signs of dementia, but her memory is definitely getting worse and her odd ways are getting odder with each day that passes. Mum is physically quite capable of using the kettle but hasn't made herself a hot drink for months. It's as though the more other people do for her, the less inclined she is to do anything for herself, and between visits from the carer and me she barely moves from her chair these days.

I think it's been made worse because since January Mum has received a lot more visits than usual from the carer and I, due to having to put in her eye drops several times a day for weeks on end after her cataract operations. Each visit to put in eye drops has also involved making her a hot drink and generally pampering/encouraging her in any way that we can, so whilst the operations have vastly improved her eyesight, she has taken a step backwards in other ways. The trouble is, it's almost like she's making herself into an invalid, as her leg muscles are wasting away and she's more wobbly on her feet now. We try to get her out for a walk around the block or even just around the garden, but she is very resistant.

So, there are no easy answers. I think once they get into their 80s I think many people just want an easy life and waitress service.
I have only joined today, been reading this thread. shewolf, maybe mum just
wants your company. after all she brought you into the world.
and Jenny ,
may I ask have you read this about the test for the mind. my dad is very confused.
have you had any of these tests done on yourself .
I ask this as you seem very
in the know about them.
very interesting thread.