My sister thinks it's dementia, doctors say it isn't
I'm not sure I'm at the right place or not, but I'm at my wits end and thought I'd start here. My mother is in her early 70's, and has always been in excellent health - until the past year or so. About a yer ago, she started having hallucinations, thinking there were people in her yard that were in her yard that no one else could see. We begged her to get to a doctor for months, but she refused to go.
Finally, she had somewhat of a breakdown at work this spring. We were able to get her to the ER at that point, They gave her some testing, C/T scan, and the like - but basically did nothing for her except give a diagnosis of "psychosis" and sent her home. Then, we found a mental health facility that admitted her. They cleared her of dementia and related diseases at that time, and again diagnosed it as psychosis, but they did give her a medication for the hallucinations. She took those for a while, but is now refusing to take them. She is currently under the delusion that she is not having hallucinations. She has told us some things which demonstrate that she is though (i.e. - she recently told me that a friend had passed away - I checked with him and he was fine).
All that was background to my question. My sister still thinks it's dementia, even though the doctors have cleared her of that. Since the doctors have told us it wasn't dementia, I'm thinking it may just be some sort of late onset mental illness as the doctors have indicated. I wanted to check here with some who had experience dealing with this to see if I could find any insight. Whatever she has, I want to make sure she is getting the right treatment.
I will say this - she has some minor memory problems, but nothing really major. She still holds down a job (25 hours / week), and actually seems to do better on days that she is staying busy with that. The main issue we're having is with hallucinations and delusions. Any insight would be appreciated. I'm about at my wits end, and am just trying to figure out how to best help her. I will say that getting her to a doctor is a major issue - she still refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong. That kind of has us in a catch 22 as well.
Have you consulted a Geriatrician Doctor? a doctor that specializes in geriatric medicine?
We had similar problems with our mother at age 72, and after a friend recommended this to us we scheduled her an appointment and told her the appointment was for my brother, but that he wanted her to come and meet his doctor (doctor was aware of this approach and he played along), when we got her there, my brother went in first, then the doctor came out, and introduced himself to mother, and asked her to come in and sit during the appointment ,so she might add to his evaluation of my brother, she agreed to come into the office . he proceeded to interview my brother, as the patient, but also would ask mother to do same test for fun, so that he could compare the results to get a better insight into making a better diagnosis.
At end of visit he left with both test results for about 5 minutes, then came back into office and then spoke directly to mother and revealed the results of both responses and told her the meaning and his diagnosis and then told her she was the actual patient.
But also showed us that some medicines she was on were on the geriatric drug lists that people over 55 should avoid.
ex... bentyl, valium, aleve, etc...
Ask her if she would quit these drugs and gave replaced meds for the issues that were approved for elderly and requested she take a vacation from her job and stay with her son for 12 weeks to allow safe withdrawal from these unapproved meds.
long story short
ONCE SHE QUIT THE MEDS HER DELUSIONS AND OTHER SYMPTOMS DISAPPEARED
She was able to return to her home and function independently for 2 years until she had a stroke that left unstable in balance at intervals and mental decline so we assisted her to relocate to a senior assisted living facility. she chose her apartment and allowed her to decorate it with things from her home. we kept her home for 3 more years then finally put it up for sell this year. Yes her mental decline has gotten worse but she is still mobile and does self care but she is where she has assistance as needed and availability to move her into a more skilled section at same facility when her needs deem it necessary.
We also researched vitamins and started her on B12 and Multi B complex 100 vitamins twice a day this helped a lot.
She is now 87 yrs old and very stable she has started having trouble to verbalize her needs but if given extra time and encouragement and suggestions she is able to express her needs.
1) EVALUATE MEDS - valium, aleve, sleep meds ask about or research for this med list for geriatric patients.
2) rule out stroke, brain tumors, hypothyroidism and other diseases etc.
3) suggest senior assisted living facility- she can leave daily to go to work if desired.
Gradually get her involved with assisting in activities at the facility and making friends in which she can assist them with their care. then quit her job because she is too busy to do both jobs ???
If she’s on other medications, check for side effects, even if they’re uncommon. Doctors don’t always look for those. We had something similar with my mom. She rarely took medicines. When she became diabetic, she began taking Metformin. A year or so later, she began having panic attacks, forgetfulness, etc. We took her to the doctor. They said she was fine. But they put her on a blood pressure medicine. She started having swelling in her feet, so.....another medication. She kept getting worse. My sister and I finally decided perhaps she was sensitive to most medications. We discovered that Metformin destroys vitamin B12 - the effects are cumulative, so the problems don’t show up immediately. So we got her on B12 tablets. And found a doctor who listened and took her off of all but her diabetes medications. And she improved immediately.