Author Topic: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?  (Read 4421 times)

MayDay

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I have googled and can't find it. If someone wants to link it I will delete this and move it.

My question is about dementia/Alzheimer's symptoms. I have googled the generic lists and he doesn't line up with the classic symptoms. BUT, 1. We don't see him much so we might miss things, and 2. We have noticed a few concerning things. They might just be aging in general though.

Concerns:
- doesn't clean, like at all. He used to keep his house normal levels of tidy. Now he literally hasn't cleaned the bathroom or swept in a year. And it is disgusting, and very noticeable.his eyes are fine. It is strange because it was a pretty sudden change.

- seems to be losing his interest or ability to manage his IRA. Instead of taking regular RMD's, he took out a whole bunch because he didn't want to be bothered.

- clutter has taken over the house. His hobby and also general paperwork and mail is covering surfaces in every room, scattered on the floor, etc. This is atypical. He used to have a messy workroom but the guest room,living room, etc were completely clear. He has never just had weeks of mail spread out on every table in sight.

- apparently forgot we were visiting, despite telling him 6 months ago and sending him an email with flights. Now to be fair he might just be lying about this, because he didn't want to see us much. That would be typical for him.

He is 74 I think and generally in good health, retired but working a hobby job 30 hours a week. He doesn't talk to us about details of his life and is 100% not interested in any help from us. Thus I am mostly asking so we understand and know what might be going on, not so we can take some kind of action. We won't be able to take action unless it gets bad enough that we have to take over completely, and it could involve ugly legal battles, etc.

Most likely scenario is he lives in filth/spends all his money, never telling anyone or accepting help. He has a pension and at least 100k in an IRA, so he is fine for cash flow but not wealthy.



Aunt Petunia

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2017, 08:21:27 AM »
Could be depression. Depression and dementia have a lot of overlapping symptoms in the elderly. A good psychiatrist will also check for possible organic causes of the symptoms (medications, electrolyte imbalance, tumor, etc.).

SecondBreakfast

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2017, 08:24:03 AM »
Everything you've listed are secondary symptoms unfortunately, so there's no way of guessing what the underlying health problem might be (or even if there is one!). He might be struggling to adjust to dementia, he might have picked up back problems meaning he doesn't want to clean/tidy up, he might just be getting old and lazy.

Symptoms of Alzheimer would be a lot more noticeable through direct interaction - does he struggle to find words, does he repeat himself without realising, does he get suddenly confused by otherwise simple or day-to-day tasks, etc. Jumping from "messy house" to Alzheimers is a bit of a stretch, even if he is in the right age range. Old people are also susceptible to depression for instance, and that leads to a messy house too.

o2bfree

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2017, 08:38:45 AM »
If he's still able to keep going at his hobby job, Alzheimers or dementia seem less likely. The loss of interest and withdrawal you describe could certainly be symptoms of depression. Depression can cause some cognitive decline and memory troubles as well, including slowed speech and action and trouble finding words.

aperture

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2017, 08:47:06 AM »
Alzheimer's is a diagnosis of exclusion.  That means that when all other causes (including reversible causes) have been ruled out, then Alzheimer's diagnosis is made.  As a previous poster mentioned, depression is a common reversible cause of the symptoms you report. Prescription drugs can sometimes cause problems, but alcohol would be among the more common problems I would rule out.  Best wishes, aperture

honeybbq

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2017, 09:23:53 AM »
I have no experience in this but if he forgot he had an IRA at all, that sounds more like Alzheimer's.

Definitely sounds like depression or another sort of mood disorder. How is his mood?

Greenblatt

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2017, 10:05:27 AM »
I agree the non-cleaning of the house sounds more like depression. Although I am no expert.

In my experience people with dementia had personnality changes and started to be confused. Ex: changing topic mid-sentence, asking questions that had just been answered, saying something that was just plainly weird. Try to talk to him and see if something seems odd.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 11:08:49 AM by Greenblatt »

MayDay

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2017, 10:56:57 AM »
He can hold up a conversation fine, so I am guessing you are all right about depression or other mood disorder.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. There is no chance he will do anything about it, but still helps to have a clue about what might be underlying. And maybe we can point him in the right direction.

I think he got quite depressed and reclusive when he first retired, and that motivated himto get the job as a museum attendant. He loves art, but being a museum attendant is boring and solitary, so I don't know how much it really helps. But it is definitely better than sitting at home.

Sibley

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2017, 10:58:05 AM »
There are multiple types of dementia. Most people think of Alzheimer's and its attendant memory loss, but it is only one type. My dad's memory isn't impacted, but he's losing executive processing abilities which can turn into memory issues, or speech or movement difficulties. I was told by the woman who leads the support group I occasionally attend "all dementia patients start differently, all end in the same place - apathy."

OP, you say you can't do anything, but that's not quite true. You can talk to him and let him know that you're concerned, and you love him and if there's anything you can do to help, you'd be willing.

clutchy

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2017, 11:05:44 AM »
I have googled and can't find it. If someone wants to link it I will delete this and move it.

My question is about dementia/Alzheimer's symptoms. I have googled the generic lists and he doesn't line up with the classic symptoms. BUT, 1. We don't see him much so we might miss things, and 2. We have noticed a few concerning things. They might just be aging in general though.

Concerns:
- doesn't clean, like at all. He used to keep his house normal levels of tidy. Now he literally hasn't cleaned the bathroom or swept in a year. And it is disgusting, and very noticeable.his eyes are fine. It is strange because it was a pretty sudden change.

- seems to be losing his interest or ability to manage his IRA. Instead of taking regular RMD's, he took out a whole bunch because he didn't want to be bothered.

- clutter has taken over the house. His hobby and also general paperwork and mail is covering surfaces in every room, scattered on the floor, etc. This is atypical. He used to have a messy workroom but the guest room,living room, etc were completely clear. He has never just had weeks of mail spread out on every table in sight.

- apparently forgot we were visiting, despite telling him 6 months ago and sending him an email with flights. Now to be fair he might just be lying about this, because he didn't want to see us much. That would be typical for him.

He is 74 I think and generally in good health, retired but working a hobby job 30 hours a week. He doesn't talk to us about details of his life and is 100% not interested in any help from us. Thus I am mostly asking so we understand and know what might be going on, not so we can take some kind of action. We won't be able to take action unless it gets bad enough that we have to take over completely, and it could involve ugly legal battles, etc.

Most likely scenario is he lives in filth/spends all his money, never telling anyone or accepting help. He has a pension and at least 100k in an IRA, so he is fine for cash flow but not wealthy.
 


So unfortunately I have some experience with this... 

I tend to not try and lump it into any type of descriptor other than "cognitive decline." 


In older somewhat tech savvy adults it starts to manifest in playing repetitive games on their phones and they withdraw.  They tend to be messier and not clean up.  They don't take showers as often.  They'll pay less attention to food quality and if they make meals you may get some rotten food.

  In the initial stages you'll start to notice a thing or two here and there covered by generic excuses.  If they're still working it will manifest as messing up at work or even disciplinary action.  They'll become more superficial, have harder times making decisions.  They can and DO fall prey to scams. 


It's pretty hard to actually identify early on and you really have to look for patterns.  The couple of times I've witnessed it happening it took about 2 years for people to eventually pick up on it.  5 years for full blown dementia/alzh. 

It's extremely hard on everyone and I suggest you get their financial/legal affairs in order. 



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Jules13

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2017, 03:35:01 PM »
I think Clutchy has it right.  It can sometimes be a slow process/reveal of symptoms.  By the time we figured out that something was really off with my Grandmother, it seemed to escalate quickly.  She was victim to scams (she sent $7k to some guy in Canada who called her on the phone), she would drive somewhere and get lost and all sorts of other crazy things.  Sadly, my mother (who was an accountant) had to take her to court for control of her assets/money.  The first Dr who diagnosed her, wrongly diagnosed her with depression.  Yes, she was very lonely after my Grandfather died, but since hindsight is 20/20, her decline had been even prior to that.  She was soon diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer/s.  I would definitely keep tabs on your FIL if possible.  Hard to do, I realize, if you don't live close.  Maybe you could look into what services are available to seniors in his city.  I did this recently for my sister's FIL and there was quite a variety available.  Best of luck.   

MayDay

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2017, 07:03:31 PM »
It isn't that we aren't willing to keep tabs remotely, and H is happy to fly in for a weekend on the regular. FIL is extremely resistant to sharing any details about his life, let alone financial details. We have always known that he would be like this about aging related things, unfortunately, and as expected he has just gotten more stubborn as he has aged.

If anyone has advice about that aspect, I am all ears.

Like I would be happy to arrange a house cleaner, but he would slam the door in their face. I would love to arrange a Dr. Visit and have H go with him, but he would never go with us, let alone reveal the name of his doctor so we could arrange it. We gently pry into financial stuff in a "hey this is what I just learned,have you heard that kind of way?" and he will chat about generic rules or laws,but will call as soon as we try to get into specifics.

It is frustrating and we have honestly given up trying, but I am open to new ideas.


Lyngi

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2017, 10:51:16 PM »
Hello MayDay,
   Over on the journals is the Adventures in Dementia thread.  I see that you are not able to convince your FIL to see a doctor.  That sucks.  I was also thinking about depression as a possible cause.  Or social isolation, maybe? The work-up for memory loss can be quite extensive.  Depression, thyroid, low B12, other medicines, (such as bladder control medicines, sedatives, older anti-depressants.)  If your FIL is able to hold a job, that is reassuring.  Can you talk to his co-workers?  Make sure he is doing okay there.  Showing any symptoms they can see.

clutchy mentioned that the loss is sometimes manifested first by withdrawal into electronic games.  That is eerily true for my mom's case.  She would come home from work, spend hours playing on the computer.  She was able to stay on the job long enough to qualify for her pension, but the symptoms were there.  It took 5 to 6 years before my dad was concerned enough to look for an actual medical diagnosis.  And another 6 or so years for an "Alzheimer's" diagnosis.  My parents had become quite blind to the clutter in their home.  We kept saying to my dad that he needed to "baby proof"  the house.  It wasn't until things started happening.  (gas stove turned on).  And then really started happening (soap eating and knife wielding) that the real decluttering happened.  It was a butter knife.  But  the locked away areas of the house are awful. 
    Maybe consult with an Elder Care Attorney specialist in your area.   Do you have any idea whether there is a durable POA, heath care POA?   It can be such a mess, even if you think you've done everything right, sometimes it's not.   During our initial consult our attorney discussed the guardianship process.    Preferred guardians can be: the spouse> children (equally)> any interested party.  YMMV and I am no attorney.   

Good luck,  I feel for you.

okits

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2017, 11:39:46 PM »
Eldercare stuff is so tricky.  For extremely secretive, resistant people, you may just need to wait until they cannot care for themselves anymore (when they can be declared incompetent in a legal sense so you can help ensure a clean living environment, regular meals, medical care, protection of their assets from scammers, etc.)  Until then, if he's considered able to make his own choices you just have to let him, even if it feels like he's needlessly living in a bad situation out of sheer stubbornness.  In the meantime you can find out what threshold he needs to meet before you can intervene on health and safety grounds, and what steps you will take once you do.

You can talk to him and let him know that you're concerned, and you love him and if there's anything you can do to help, you'd be willing.

Even if the chance he will respond to this is zero, I would still give this a try.  At the very least, he gets to hear that someone loves him.

FiftyIsTheNewTwenty

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2017, 10:37:13 PM »
All good advice here.

Please try to get him diagnosed -- a full physical and neuro workup.  Keep trying!  Finding out what's really going on will help everyone manage the disease and prepare for what's coming.

There are many types of dementia besides Alzheimers, and people often have more than one.  Alzheimers.org also has good info on other dementia types.  Vascular dementia is very common!  Psychiatric issues like depression and chronic anxiety can mimic dementia or make it worse.  Basic health issues like diabetes and thyroid function can have a big effect too.

Best wishes to you and your family.  This is not easy! 

« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 10:39:18 PM by FiftyIsTheNewTwenty »

Greenblatt

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2017, 09:04:36 AM »
I was discussing this with a md I know. He told me that a lot of older people start losing their mental faculties due to hearing or vision problems. This is so unfortunate because those are, usually, problems that can be solved rather easily. Maybe something to look into.

Blackeagle

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2017, 01:50:37 PM »
I was discussing this with a md I know. He told me that a lot of older people start losing their mental faculties due to hearing or vision problems. This is so unfortunate because those are, usually, problems that can be solved rather easily. Maybe something to look into.

My grandmother suffers from this.  Failing to get hearing aids when she needed them meant a lack of interaction with other people that had negative consequences for her mentally.

MayDay

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2018, 08:12:18 PM »
His eyes are good-looking the eye doctor is the only doctor he goes to. Apparently he has always been on the ball about his eyes. Based on my regular interaction with hearing impaired people he either hears fine or is freakishly good at hiding it.

Update: talked to his sister today and she is very concerned it is some kind of cognitive decline. She stronly urged my H and other family members to have some kind of group talk with him, with a doctor appointment already set up, and basically drive home there and make him get a full work up.

H is going to talk to her tomorrow, and also to his uncle. Apparently he stopped going to family dinner weekly, has been lieong and using work as an excuse (works at a museum so it is easy to look up when it is open or closed) and also drinking a lot. All of which could also point to depression or something along those lines as well.

Either way it is validating to know we didn't imagine it.

Next steps are up to H, I am not going to push it.

I did peak at a bank statement he left put on the coffee table and his regular bank account is increasing and he has about 5k a month between pension and SS, plus his minimum wage income of about 800 a month. So I suspect things are not totally mismanaged financially, at least not yet.

Lyngi

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2018, 09:36:28 PM »
MayDay,  Drinking?  Oh boy.  There could be some nutritional deficiencies.  Thiamine, folic acid, B12.  I  Googled just to be sure and it came back with depression, depression depression.  (it was the Boulder Medical Center site, just FYI) 
Many attorneys will do an initial consult at no charge.   There are plenty who specialize, but the one we found was only one of three attorneys in our state "certified as a Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, the only elder law program accredited by the American Bar Association. " 
You are smart to let your DH and family take the lead, but you can do some supportive groundwork.  Oh, I feel for you!!
 

MayDay

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2018, 04:44:57 AM »
Yah, he has always been a guy who enjoys a drink a few days a week, but I guess he is pretty sly.

Seems like drinking fits right in with depression.


partgypsy

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Re: Where is the Alzheimer's/dementia thread, or, does my FIL have dementia?
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2018, 08:46:29 AM »
when I read your description I first thought depression. But honestly he should go to a doctor and get checked out. There can be so many things, really a doctor (to rule out medical causes) followed up by a psychiatrist, is the best bet. I hope if not your spouse can get him to a doctor in a non-threatening way. It may be something entirely treatable, but either way it is affecting his ability to care for himself.