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Re: Depression that was diagnosed as dementia

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@tw883237 wrote:

My Mother is 82 and was diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer's 2 years ago.  She and my step-father have been married for 19 years.  I have experienced their interpersonal relationships that are well hidden from everyone else, and I have felt for some time that she was actually depressed, which led to aggression and then surrender by just not participating in the relationship any longer. She is being treated with medication for Alzheimer's, but does not have all the symptoms.   I feel like I need to advocate for her, but this will mean challenging my step father, who, although we have an amicable relationship, is very stubborn and not willing to see the big picture.  Has anyone else experienced this, and when does the child step in?  THANKS for listening! 


Hi tw,

Your post made me so sad, for you and for her. Dementia or no dementia, she sounds like a very unhappy woman, and one thing she may have learned in 19+ years is 'learned helplessness'. You don't know for sure what's going on in her mind, and most 82 year olds have a little bit of cognitive decline at the minimum. But you also know that she's been with a man with a very dominant personality for a long time. 

 

Here's what i'm thinking for what it's worth. (I'm a clinical social worker with decades' experience working with old folks. Doesn't mean i know anything.) She needs you. So whatever you do first, the situation requires that you listen to her and hear her really deeply. Because if you find a lawyer or an advocate of some stripe, and she isn't at a place where she is ready to be advocated for, you could sever your relationship with her, or damage it, and that would be TERRIBLE.  So, I'm thinking, can you spend more time with her? Just doing things you both enjoy. Quilting, going to a rose garden, watching old movies at your house on Netflix, thrift store shopping... things that take the pressure off her and perhaps allow her to share what she's feeling with you, unbidden. She has a wonderful advocate in YOU. It's a start.

 

Who diagnosed her? Was it a neurologist? There are geriatric psychiatrists who work with demented people. There aren't enough of them, not easy to find. But even a regular ol' psychiatrist might be worth a consultation, with you going along. Not knowing if she has dementia, it's like a second opinion. Would she go? A psychiatrist is not (just) for crazy people, but also for people with brains that are not working optimally (same thing?)  Perhaps she or he can engage your mother,do a more thorough assessment of her mind and her spirits. Might work.

 

But be careful. 

 

I also wonder if you might not benefit from some support as well, some counseling. I'll give you an example from my life. My mom was a christian scientist and did not seek medical care although she was very ill and died at the age of 55. I spent much of my 20s trying to figure out how to get her to some kind of help. The effort of this was very hard on me and so frustrating. I began to see a therapist, who coached me. She'd say, offer this to your mom in a loving way, and then let go of it. It's her job to choose. You've given her the option, but it's her job to take or leave. At the end of her life i was looking into christian science nursing homes, and that's where she passed. But she knew i loved her, that in my own way (misguided in her mind, futile in mine) i was trying to help. My guilt was at least partly assuaged, and i didn't tear myself up as i beat my head against a brick wall. At least i had a helmet as i hit my head.... She knew i loved her.

 

Tell us more, if you're comfortable. A brave thing you are trying here. Thank you for sharing what you did. I hope for the best for you both, and even for the domineering step father guy.

 

Jane

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Depression that was diagnosed as dementia

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My Mother is 82 and was diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer's 2 years ago.  She and my step-father have been married for 19 years.  I have experienced their interpersonal relationships that are well hidden from everyone else, and I have felt for some time that she was actually depressed, which led to aggression and then surrender by just not participating in the relationship any longer. She is being treated with medication for Alzheimer's, but does not have all the symptoms.   I feel like I need to advocate for her, but this will mean challenging my step father, who, although we have an amicable relationship, is very stubborn and not willing to see the big picture.  Has anyone else experienced this, and when does the child step in?  THANKS for listening! 

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