Q: Dear Miss Regina, My mom has early to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and recently she has been expressing the desire for a companion. My dad passed in 1991. She has never talked about dating before. She is 83 and she says she is not too old to have a companion. I was wondering if you know of a situation like this. This is not what my mom would normally express. I just do not know if this is normal.
A: Your situation with your mom is common. I believe it is the frontal lobe that is affected and there is no longer that filter of the pressure of “how she thinks she should be.” She is now able to “just be”, if this makes any sense. Some people behave as they were taught, and they form their own standards of how things should or should not be, and will present a certain way. It is not always who we are.
For instance, If a person has been brought up to be positive, they were trained to always behave and say the right words. But, on the other hand while they are behaving this way, their thoughts are not always positive. Once the frontal lobe is damaged we no longer have the behaviour that does not match our thoughts. We behave in the moment. If the person was positive growing up and her thoughts always matched, her behaviour will pretty much be the same because it is her natural thoughts. If she had specifically had Frontal Temporal dementia and not Alzheimer’s, her personality would be out of character no matter what. This is just general and not an exact science. These are situations I have experienced over the years with different dementias and behaviors related to them. FTD usually have personality changes as one of the first symptoms. With Alzheimer’s it is a steady gradual change. Your mom seems to agree with Alzheimer’s structure.
As to your mom wanting a companion, she is correct… we are never too old to have need for companionship. The other thing that could be happening is that she may think she is in her 30’s. Companion is what the human soul thrives on.
Q: Dear, Ms Posvar, my dad has dementia and I just found out that he gave away his low mileage Outback for a golf cart. How do I get people to stop taking advantage of him?
A: This is a really difficult challenge. If you have a diagnosis for him, I would get legal advice for managing his financial affairs. He doesn’t seem to be making sound decisions. Talk this over with the whole family. There should be a system for families to help protect parents from elder abuse. Financial abuse should be included in that. If you are able to get control of it then you can still allow your dad to make decisions on what he wants to buy but large amounts of money will not leave his estates. He will give things away as this is part of the disease. Decide what you will let go and what needs to be preserved. Talk to the manager of the bank and let them know what is going on. Banks and other companies need to be aware as these things can cause havoc on everything.
You may need to visit with your dad more if he is living on his own so you can see interactions more. The situation needs to be evaluated more. There are a lot of variables that could be going on.
Families should agree on the roles they have for each person and communicate regularly. This helps make things go more smoothly.
You may need to have a family, friend or hire someone to make friendly visits without being obvious. This will depend on the stage of the disease he is experiencing.
I would recommend learning more about dementia and behaviours so you know a little of what to expect and be somewhat prepared. There will be surprises and hopefully the impact will not be so hard as you will have some awareness. Listed are two website to look into.
www.angelsofthewestindies.com ; http://iCareAssoc.com
Every moment counts ~ “My dear old grandma with dementia was a cranky ol lady. One day she said to me ‘I don’t know who you are but thank you for coming to visit me””
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