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Get free professional answers to your Alzheimers and Dementia questions

Recent Alzheimers and Dementia Advice

    I am no longer a caretaker to my parents. Both had, and died with dementia. Are there any exercises or activities I can add to my lifestyle that might help keep dementia away a little longer?
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    Linda F. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    The best way to "stave" off dementia is to keep a heart healthy diet, stay socially engaged, exercise and try to learn new information - such as a language or hobby that might mean taking classes.

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    Are Geriatrics and Dementia related?
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    Cheryl A A. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    Dementia does not always come with aging, however, with the statistics out there, the probability can increase (www.alz.org). As Carole L. so aptly pointed out, dementia in many forms can come at a much earlier age.
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    Carole L. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Technically, not really. The definition of geriatrics is simply "relating to older adults". There for a "geriatrician" is a doctor who treats older adults. Dementia is the term for symptoms of a large number of diseases ( over 70!) that attack the brain. Symptoms like confusion, memory loss, changes in personality, etc... Older adults have these diseases, but so do some younger adults (30's, 40's and 50's). Many older adults DO NOT have these diseases! Don't be fooled by the media Hype! Dementia IS NOT NORMAL for older adults! Dementia is signs of a disease!

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    My aunt, 82, has had Alzheimer's for at least 8 years. My grandmother also had Alzheimer's. My mother, 91, has been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. Her symptoms are vastly different than those of my aunt and grandmother (who died many years ago). I know that the caregiving issues are pretty much the same (at least they seem to be), but do the medical treatments differ? Will Alzheimer's research benefit other forms of dementia?
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    Lisa M. , answers:
    The treatment for Lewy Body Dementia is different as well as keeping in mind each patient is different and responds differently to treatment. The best thing to do is communicate with the doctor about the major symptoms that she is having and he will address them with various medications. Best Wishes!

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    My mother is almost 92 years old. She has dementia and has been a patient in a nursing home for 4+years. She grinds her teeth constantly! Because of her teeth grinding, she is losing her teeth at a significant rate. The staff at the nursing home respond that there is nothing to do for her teeth grinding. Is this true is there nothing we can do? Is teeth grinding typically associated with dementia? ....
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    Laurel F. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    There was a research study done years ago that showed positive response to an old anxiety medication, Buspar for behaviors such as this. Marinol, the active ingredient in marjijuana in tablet form has also showed some improvement for repetitive harmful behaviors such as this.

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    2 months ago, I tried riding my bicycle. I was unable to ride and couldn't hold my balance. Is this due to dementia? If I have dementia, can I ride my bicycle without falling?
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    Lisa M. , answers:
    Hello, Dementia would not cause you to have a lack of balance. Balance is lost with aging but can be improved with Physical Therapy. Dementia depending on the type and stage of the disease can affect motor skills but you will need to have a doctor assess you for it and have them refer you to a PT to gain balance back. Good luck!

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    If a person has breathing problems from advanced dementia, how does this disease eventually present itself in death? What's next after the breathing issues?
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    Carolyn V. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Has the breathing issue been assessed by a primary physician? It is important to rule out a possible underlying condition that is treatable. Is the elder person on oxygen? If this individual is at the end of life then perhaps hospice services may be helpful. Best of luck.

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    The person has early stage Dementia, but is able to take care of themselves, drive, has income and lives alone in home. The diagnosis is non-Alzheimer's related. No order has been made regarding control of "body/person". Can this person get married?
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    Debra J. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Of course this person can still marry. It would be prudent however, to ensure that all legal documents are updated beforehand to make sure that, while this person still has capacity, he or she assign her beneficiaries before getting married.

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    Can a person with dementia be restrained from leaving his room in a nursing home? This person disturbs other residents by entering their rooms and going through their personal items.
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    Reva H. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    It depends where person is. In an assisted living facility, if they have a dementia unit, that is where he belongs. If not, perhaps the staff can redirect the person with dementia. This is a common occurrence in facilities.

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    My friend's elderly mom needs more assistance with daily living and is resisting help. She also might have the beginning of Dementia. What can be done to help her with daily activities and to provide her with companionship?
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    Linda G. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    need to contact someone at your company. I have relocated to The Villages, Lady Lake , Florida 32159 and am interested in being part of your professional team and referral resource in this area. Linda Goldsmith
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    Arleen S. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    This is very often the reason Geriatric Care Managers like myself are called in. There is a change, someone is able to do less and is not accepting it easily. What to do? Our role in this situation is clear- we spend time with the friends and/or relatives of the person, then the person in question to assess the difficulty/overallsituation. Once we have a good idea of the difficulty, we contract with the family and begin work toward a resolution. We're able to be helpful because we have good solid training; we have a lot of experience, and also it's not our family so we we are not emotionally involved. If the family live in Manhattan or close by, they should feel free to call me:
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    Ronald F. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    This is a common occurrence. If your friend's mother is resisting needed help, we find it best to send out our care coordinator who will assess the situation and implement a plan to make sure that she gets the care she needs and is safe at home. This is typically done in coordination with drafting necessary legal documents so family members will be able to make important decisions on her behalf. Feel free to have your friend contact our firm.

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    My Mother is getting weaker and losing weight, but will not eat more than a bite or two. She can't remember she hasn't eaten. She is 95 years old and has atrial fibrillation.
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    Carole L. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    You are right to be concerned. Not eating, and rapidly losing weight are signs of possible malnutrition and maybe even possible dehydration. It is common in the dementias, and it takes a whole program and change of your thought process to turn it around. the answer is much longer than I can go into here. Call or email me.

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    My mom has dementia and lives by herself. She is against moving out of the house she has lived in for 25 years. Will her health get worse if she is forced to move into an assisted living community?
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    Daniel P. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    In my experience, there is probably more risk of decline in health with mom with dementia remaining in her home as opposed to a facility with the appropriate level of care and opportunities for social interaction. Of course, it's difficult when you know that what is in mom's best interest is against her wishes. There is a fine difference between trying to maintain dignity and risking injury or worse by allowing someone to continue living in a situation that is unsafe. If necessary, you may have to obtain a guardianship in order to get your mom into a safer place. This can be done quickly on an emergency basis if the situation warrants it. Also, I have seen many cases in which a senior has resisted moving into an assisted living facility but then blossomed once they get the appropriate level of care and experience the social opportunities. I hope that this is helpful.
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    D. Rebecca M. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    I am an attorney and do not have the required expertise to answer your question. I recommend that you consult a geriatric care planner. I also recommend that you seek legal advice regarding the relevant legal issues and procedures if you decide to attempt to force your mom to move.
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    James S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Unfortunately your question is nor one that really applies to me. I am an Elder Law Attorney and can advise you as to the law, such as the necessity of you having properly prepared up to date Durable POwers of Attorney for your mother. Depending upon her capacity, it may be difficult to force her out of her home or if her capacity is bad she could be forcible removed from her home for self-neglect. Each situation is different and it is impossible to give you an answer based upon the little information provided. I will point out that it has been my experience that is not uncommon for seniors health to improve upon moving into a community. Frequently seniors who live alone are isolated, and moving into a community provides them with socialization which is lacking in their lives. If your mother is a social person this could result in a great improvement in her mood and outlook. Good lucl.
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    Joan B. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Quality of services is more important than location of services. That said, individuals with and without dementia, often do their best in their home environment, as long as they have the services they need. But that is not always possible for a variety of reasons. Health can mean mean things, but it is assumed you are referring to her mental health and whether she will become more confused. Changes in environment for persons with dementia is often associated with some increased confusion which subsides when back in a more familiar place, but if the place provides quality services, she should adjust to her new "home" with minimal problems.
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    Donna C. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    The move to the assisted living may upset her initially, but in the long run is likely the appropriate decision. If she has dementia she will be in need of a monitored environment to provide her a safe home. If you have the assisted living staff help her become acclimated and pair her up with another "resident buddy" to show her around to reduce her stress level. I would discuss your concerns with the facility's staff and take her to see the place and even dine with the residents before the move. Consider a 2 week to 30 day respite stay there before making the move. It gives you some time to prepare things and her time to see how nice it can be.

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    I have siblings who live in the same town as our mother. They have been abusing our mom through exploitation of her funds. She has alzheimer's disease and really should not be living alone. I confronted my siblings to no avail. I'm willing to take her into my home. I took her to a physician who declared her incompetent. Should I go to a judge to get a protective order or some other type of legal intervention? The situation is very serious. Please advise.
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    Cheryl A A. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    Yes, find a good elder law attorney to help you obtain guardianship, which is done through the courts. You can also contact Adult Protective Services to file a complaint (anonymously) against your siblings & they may be able to start something as well.
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    Carole L. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    this question should not be answered over the internet. Call me or email me privately. Thank you.

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    There is a term used when and elderly person goes through drawers, pocketbooks and drawers. I have forgotten what this term is called. Do you know what term is used for this behavior?
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    Paulette M. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    The word we use for this behavior is rummaging. Generally, the reason for this type of behavior is that the person is looking for something familiar, something that is important to them. In a world where nothing is familiar, nothing is out of bounds which can become problematic.
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    Kathleen H. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    This term is called Rummaging

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    My father was placed in nursing home and has been there for 37 days. I planned to make this permanent and am awaiting medicaid decision. I got community mediciad so I'm not sure what else medicaid reviews in order to get institutional medicaid approved and/or if I will incur any penalties for withdrawals made over 2,000. My father paid everything with cash or money-order so I had to use what receipts I had (my daughter and myself are on all the accounts). He also has a distributing IRA that went into one of my mother's accounts I am named on and I cannot provide receipts for 2,700 a year that went into that account for the past 5 years. (I am in NYC). In the meantime I thought I had 100 days of medicare coverage while waiting for the medicaid decision. Now medicaid says they ended coverage for skilled nursing. Meanwhile the home says he needs 24 hours supervision and doesn't advise he go home. This is his 4th fall and the police have found him wandering the streets due to sundowners syndrome. He takes aricept, namenda, prozac, depakote and trazadone. Obviously if I am applying for medicaid I cannot pay privately. What options are there for people like this who need 24 hour supervision? And can I fight medicare. IPRO has also declined and I am doing 2nd appeal. Is there anything I could provide that I could provide change their decision? Why wouldn't a person like this need skilled nursing? When you go on alzheimers website they say people like this need skilled people so they can be redirected, etc. when they have mood swings. My father had also threatened to kill himself in front of the social worker and she said I had to go to the hospital or she would call ADP. That led us to adding a psychiatrist to list of people we were seeing. In the meantime, I had to take all these days off to do these things and at this point, I can no longer afford to keep doing that. Help!
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    Barbara P. , Geriatrician MD answers:
    This patient appears to have chronic care, custodial needs which are covered by MedicAid, i.e. long term nursing home, home attendants. Medicare covers skilled needs - which means a nurse, or therapist need to help the patient intermittently. Redirecting a dementia patient is not a skilled nursing need. To help expedite and understand Medicare and Medicaid entitlements - i recommend an elder attorney or the NY Legal Assistance Group (a not-for- profit).
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    David T. , Financial Planner answers:
    Hello Theresa, I'm sorry for what you're going through and I know it's not easy. First off, Medicare only pays for 80% from days 21-100 in a Nursing Home and if there is a skilled need. Community Medicaid will not cover the remaining 20%. You mentioned that you've applied for Nursing Home Medicaid through the Nursing Home. There is a five year look back. What are they expecting based on the assets and transfers he had in the past 5 years in regard to the penalty period? If he's not going to be eligible for nursing home Medicaid or it's not going to make sense financially then another option is 24 hour home care, although there's no guarantee with that these days.

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    My father with dementia is what they call 'emotionally labile'. He acts scared of the nurses at his residential facility and he also has some bruises on his legs. After my recent visit, the staff could not explain those bruises. I am considering abuse, but given his physical and emotional fragility, due to Alzheimer’s, how can I evaluate whether this is a case of elder-abuse, or perhaps just his normal wear and tear and his emotional changes?
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    Jordan R. , answers:
    Thanks, David, for pointing towards that resource. The link for the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform can be found here here.
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    David K. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Although it depends which state you are in, this has signs that physical or emotional abuse may be occurring. You may want to ask the ombudsman or other agency to investigate. A good resource for informaiton on nursing homes in CA is CAHNR which has a great website

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    I am afraid to let my mom drive because she has Alzheimer's disease. She insists that she wants to drive by herself. Can I let her drive when she is lucid? Is there any way that her physician can forbid her from driving as an official medical decision?
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    Lee R. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    There is form that physicians can submit to the State in which the attending doctor states that the patient is no longer capable of driving. It is called, a "Medical Reporting Form", and it is issued in accordance with Fla Stat 322.126 (2) (3). The State can and revoke the patient's license. Moreover, the inability to drive is one component of "incapacity", which is the prerequisite to a guardianship. It may sound harsh to threaten a guardianship, but that is a superior alternative to involvement in an accident that can kill and maim others, or the driver.
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    Jordan R. , answers:
    You may want to get your Mom tested every six months. But at the end of the day, the state may certify your Mom to drive, even though you may come to a different conclusion. Please, check out this NIH Medline resource on driving and dementia. This article suggests, perhaps, taking a proactive step and taking away the keys, disabling the car, or selling the car. Intrusive into your demented Mom's life, I know, but may be safest for your Mom and others on the road.
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    Jayne G. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Driving skill tests are routinely given by Pinecrest Rehab in Delray Beach, Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the VA and occupational therapists. Medicare, unfortunately, does not cover this cost. However, you will get a written report on the abilities of the driver vs. the cognitive impairment. You may need an RX from her primary doctor to arrange for the driving skill test. Any questions, please call. This is always a very difficult issue to resolve for an elderly parent.
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    David S. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    it is probably not safe to let her drive alone as even if she is lucid when she leaves she could become confused at any time and therefore be a risk to both herself and others on the road. Speak with her doctor who can advise and perhaps write a report that she can no longer drive safely. Lastly, I suggest contacting the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. I believe that they can suspend her driving privileges based upon her doctor's report.

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    My elder who is 80 years old, has had some health issues lately, her blood work was very low & she had to be in the hospital. She is now taking B12 shots and had an MRI done yesterday. We are waiting to have a doppler done. She has always been very active, maintains her own home, & has always been on top of things. I just need to know how to help her with her trouble understanding some things.
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    Annice W. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    It is good that you are having you mother seen by a physican and getting some test done. However, she may need a full neurological exam. performed. Also, you may benfit from a geriatric care manager in your are to assist in helping your mother.

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    My Dad is 91 years old he frequently asks the same questions, and has also lost memory about some things. Could this be the start if dementia? Is this what to expect because of his age? How often should he be seen by a doctor? He does not, at this time, take any medications.
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    Marty B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    It may be dementia, but the important thing to remember is that dementia is not a "normal" part of aging. There are many causes of dementia, some are treatable, for example dementia related to: infections, side effects from medication, depression, alcoholism. Other dementias are not curable, but there are some treatments that may slow the progress: Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's, etc. For all forms of dementia the best recourse is the Alzheimer's Association ALZ.ORG. Everything is free and there is a lot of great information.
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    Joseph D. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    At that age I would say he is doing very good.

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    I need to know the best flooring for an elderly to prevent falling. The person in question has problems getting to the bathroom and when needs to go walks on carpet. Sometimes, however, they don't make it and goes a little on the floor. Are there non-absorbent options that are still safe when it comes to falling?
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    Denise D. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    They do make rubberized flooring that you can buy in squares to lay easily. You may have to ask for flooring that is used commercially (this kind of floor is sometimes used in professional kitchens) rather than just going to the home section at the Home Depot or Lowes. These floors are easily cleaned and are not slippery as many laminate or tile floors are.

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    My dad is 87 and has Alzheimer's. He sometimes stays awake for 48 hours without one bit of sleep. Any ideas for this. I have tried sleep medicine -ambien melatonin xanex ativan rispardal- but am still looking for more ideas for his sleepless nights.
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    Denise D. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Sleep disturbance is often associated with moderate to advanced Alzheimer's and many time drug therapy does not help, as you have discovered. It can help to make sure he does not nap during the day, keep him as active as possible during the day and keep to a routine throughout the day and especially a bedtime routine. This can be a very frustrating and exhausting problem for everyone. Best wishes!
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    Paul R. , Geriatrician MD answers:
    A drug that may help address these issues is something called Gabapentin. Of course, however, you should consult with a physician before beginning or altering any medicine protocol.
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    Vivian S. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Try to have a very active daytime routine, coordinate activity with day/light/active and night/dark/inactive. Calm music , lavender scent, sometimes helpful. Good luck

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    How do I handle living with a wife who does not know she has this disease? She has no idea she is suffering with this condition? She does not know how much she fantasizes about things that did not happen! Rather, she thinks up things then puts them into reality.
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    Julie H. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    Good afternoon! Unfortunately what you are describing is pretty typical for someone in the earlier stages of dementia. It is difficult for them to understand the changes they are experiencing, so their mind "makes up" explanations that make sense to them. It appear to others that she is fantasizing, but it is actually her brain trying to make sense of what it no longer can understand, or remember. You local Alzheimer's Association may have resources that can help you understand not only what is going on now, but what to expect in the future. A Geriatric Care Manager can also be helpful preparing the family for taking care of her, and the future changes that are probably going to arrive, and how to best cope with all of this!
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    Martha B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    It is hard to handle living with Alzheimer's Disease when your loved one is unable to understand reality. It is important that you make your loved one feel safe and secure. That is much more important than t rying to get your loved on to understand all that is around her. She has a disease which limits her ability to understand what is around her. Trying to make her understand what is around her will not work. Instead you will be very frustrated which will not help the situation. I would concentrate on making her feel safe and secure.
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    Leonard B. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    Hopefully your wife has signed a health care power of attorney - that allows you to speak with the doctor on her behalf. You or someone else must be able to gain her trust so that she agrees to a complete physical exam, which could include a psychological component. From your description is not clear that she has dementia - sometimes a good exam can disclose other reasons for her symptoms. Please contact the Alzheimer's Association for support.
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    Brian H. , Elder Law Attorney answers:
    There are probably two issues that come to my mind. The obvious issue is the management of the care of your wife given her cognitive deficits. That is something that is beyond the scope of legal expertise, and is more likely something that you would look for from someone like a Geriatric Care Manager. (e.g. Stepping Stones: www.caregiverhelpnow.com) The other issues, which is legal in nature, would be to make sure that documents are in place to manage her affairs as she declines. The most important would probably be solid Powers of Attorney. This is important for you to act on her behalf when she isn't able, and could be significant if she requires nursing home care and you are considering government assistance, like Medicaid, to assist in paying those costs. I would recommend meeting with and Estate Planning/Elder Law attorney to review these issues and plan for the future progression of this disease.

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    My mother-in-law seems reasonable in most ways but she swears that there are people coming into her house and living in her attic. No matter what we try do do to convince her otherwise, she won't believe us. The story is totally irrational and impossible but she sticks to it.
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    Debra K. , Geriatric Care Manager answers:
    Some persons with dementia exhibit same and similar symptoms of paranoia, delusions, and actual hallucinations where they hear people talking to them or see them in the attic (or elsewhere). There are possible other medical causes of psychosis including medical and medication problems. I would suggest that she be evaluated by a psychiatrist or neurologist. It is not productive to try to reason with her because for her it is very real. The most you can do is try to reassure her as best you can. It is likely very frightening to her.

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    What are tell-tale tell signs of a passing parent?
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    Cheryl A A. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    To begin with, I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this and hopefully your loved one is enrolled in hospice care for additional support. There are several signs that are frequently observed and of course, there are many variations depending on the diagnosis, age etc. of your loved one. Often there is a stopping of food, then fluids as it may be difficult for the person to swallow or because there is no appetite. There may be pain or not, again depending on the diagnosis - pain can be determined by groaning, moaning, restlessness, resisting care or turning & repositioning in the bed. Respirations may be variable with periods of no breathing, and breathing may sound wet or have a gurgling sound which can indicate an accumulation of fluids in the lungs. There is a decreased production of urine, as well as bowel movements. Eyes may be 1/2 shut and there may be little to no verbal responses to questions. Often there is a slipping into a semi-coma like state close to the end. All of that said, no matter what you see or hear, please continue to talk to your loved one as they may still be able to hear you, even if they are not able to respond. This is a difficult journey for them, as well as you, and I hope that you have support in place for yourself after your loved one has passed.

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    I am terrified that my moms forgetfulness is actually dementia. Can I find out if she is developing Alzheimers? If so what can we do now?
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    Cheryl A A. , Nurse and Care Manager answers:
    Your mother may benefit from a full examination to make sure it is not some other type of medical issue that may be causing her forgetfulness i.e. diabetes, medication interaction etc. Her physician should be able to do an evaluation for dementia or refer you to a specialist (geriatrician, geriatric psychiatrist/psychologist) who can. Hope this helps!

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