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  • FIRST POST
    • downshifter
    • By downshifter 17th Apr 18, 6:58 PM
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    downshifter
    Old lady - dementia or just awkward?
    • #1
    • 17th Apr 18, 6:58 PM
    Old lady - dementia or just awkward? 17th Apr 18 at 6:58 PM
    Dear all

    I'm asking about a friend's situation with her grandmother. This lady is 90 and lives on her own. She's physically strong, and manages at home fine. However to me she's showing signs of dementia/Alzheimers. A relative of mine had this for a few years before his death and the symptoms are exactly the same - accusing people of stealing her money, telling everyone that nobody ever visits her and so on - perpetually angry and paranoid. However when she's bees assessed she always seems to turn on her sensible head and smiles at the medical staff, answers all questions well enough and so on. They all think she's lovely and wonderful. To her own family though she's horrible - her own grandchildren/great grandchildren will only visit her under duress and only one of her own children will have anything to do with her now. As an example she says that she isn't included in family birthdays (she's always invited but refuses to go so they go round with cake etc). She then says the cake is horrible, put it in the bin, why do you bother bringing me such rubbish and so on. All very familiar to me.

    I suggested they could maybe try another assessment so that more help might be forthcoming but they're all convinced she's just pretending and play acting but it's dividing the family and she's managing to set them against each other. They say she's always been like that since a young woman, bitter and unloving, and doesn't know how to behave any differently now.

    My friend has been unburdening herself with all this today but I don't really know what to suggest or what help might be out there. At the moment only she and her aunt has anything to do with the grandmother. My friend walked 3 miles in snow to get to her a few weeks ago, as she said her heating was broken (she had turned it off) only to be met with a torrent of abuse and even she, the kindest soul ever, is beginning to feel she can't take much more.

    Can anyone give me any pointers towards help that I can pass on to my friend?

    Thanks

    DS
Page 1
    • Detroit
    • By Detroit 17th Apr 18, 7:11 PM
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    Detroit
    • #2
    • 17th Apr 18, 7:11 PM
    • #2
    • 17th Apr 18, 7:11 PM
    If the tests are saying she's fine, she may well be.

    However, she may be depressed, lonely, full of aches and pains, feel she's had enough of life, and taking it out on those closest to her.

    Or she may just be a nasty piece of work whose reached an age where she feels she doesn't have to pretend anymore.

    Not sure there's much anyone can do. At least given her age it won't go on much longer, and it sounds as though there's a few relatives to share the burden.

    If it gets too much for your friend there's no law saying she has to keep in touch.


    Put your hands up.
    • newmee
    • By newmee 17th Apr 18, 7:14 PM
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    newmee
    • #3
    • 17th Apr 18, 7:14 PM
    • #3
    • 17th Apr 18, 7:14 PM
    doesn't sound like dementia to me especially as she has always been like that. Just cos she's old doesn't mean she is nic e. Sounds like a horrible woman to me. Feel sorry for your friend
    The greatest gift you'll ever learn,
    is just to love and be loved in return
    Nature boy - Eden Ahbez
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 17th Apr 18, 7:17 PM
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    Savvy_Sue
    • #4
    • 17th Apr 18, 7:17 PM
    • #4
    • 17th Apr 18, 7:17 PM
    There's an Alzheimer's Society which your friend might find useful.
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 2 hats 2 balaclavas for seamen, 1 balaclava for myself ...
    Current projects: Poppies, mohair cardigan pattern arrived and going strong!
    • dawyldthing
    • By dawyldthing 17th Apr 18, 8:05 PM
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    dawyldthing
    • #5
    • 17th Apr 18, 8:05 PM
    • #5
    • 17th Apr 18, 8:05 PM
    Id still pop in once a fortnight if they are local but if it's becoming a headache then I'd stick to drop in sessions. If they aren't wandering about or anything and are mainly just being rude, sadly it's how some folk are, so it's either put up with it or just pop in every now and again to check they are ok. I wouldn't cut all ties though as we only have one set of grand parents
    roll on end of April 2019 *8 done* = *32 to go*
    • Fireflyaway
    • By Fireflyaway 17th Apr 18, 8:17 PM
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    Fireflyaway
    • #6
    • 17th Apr 18, 8:17 PM
    • #6
    • 17th Apr 18, 8:17 PM
    You say she has always been that way. Sometimes older people do become more impatient and intolerant so maybe the behaviour that she has always displayed is just magnified because of that. Age is no excuse to be rude! Do the family members challenge her about her rudeness? How does she react?
    The accusing people of stealing seems odd. Not sure why anyone would make that up. We had a neighbour, very fit and agile but at around 92 he suddenly changed, became agitated and got the present and last muddled up. Forgetting his nan had died and crying when he found out or believing he was a firefighter and telling very detailed accounts of missions he had been on. He also started being too flirty around woman and a bit aggressive around men. Totally out of character, he was such a lovely gentlemen previously. The reason I say this is has this lady started acting out of character or convinced historical events are current?
    I'm no expert but I'd say not much to be done unless she is a risk to herself. Visiting is probably not fun but necessary to ensure her safety.
    • Red-Squirrel
    • By Red-Squirrel 17th Apr 18, 10:22 PM
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    Red-Squirrel
    • #7
    • 17th Apr 18, 10:22 PM
    • #7
    • 17th Apr 18, 10:22 PM
    If she's always been horrible I don't know why anybody would expect her to be any different just because she's got older!
  • archived user
    • #8
    • 17th Apr 18, 10:24 PM
    • #8
    • 17th Apr 18, 10:24 PM
    Nope doesnt sound like dementia to me... just a bitter and twisted old woman.
    • LandyAndy
    • By LandyAndy 18th Apr 18, 9:47 AM
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    LandyAndy
    • #9
    • 18th Apr 18, 9:47 AM
    • #9
    • 18th Apr 18, 9:47 AM
    The accusing people of stealing seems odd. Not sure why anyone would make that up. .
    Originally posted by Fireflyaway

    My grandmother was convinced someone was breaking in and stealing her whisky.
    • Robinette
    • By Robinette 18th Apr 18, 10:06 AM
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    Robinette
    Her behaviour sounds very much like that of my mother, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2008. We knew nothing about dementia at the time and just thought she was eccentric; for example, she would go out in the height of summer dressed inappropriately in a raincoat, boots and hat - and sunglasses!!

    We later found out that she had been hammering on the village hairdresser's door at 2am demanding a haircut, washing her car in the dark at a similar time, and sweeping her dog outside with a broom! It may be worth speaking to her neighbours to see whether they have noticed any strange behaviour - mum's neighbours also thought she was eccentric and didn't mention anything to us.

    The Talking Point forum from the Alzheimer's Society is a great resource.
    • marliepanda
    • By marliepanda 18th Apr 18, 11:00 AM
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    marliepanda
    Her behaviour sounds very much like that of my mother, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2008. We knew nothing about dementia at the time and just thought she was eccentric; for example, she would go out in the height of summer dressed inappropriately in a raincoat, boots and hat - and sunglasses!!

    We later found out that she had been hammering on the village hairdresser's door at 2am demanding a haircut, washing her car in the dark at a similar time, and sweeping her dog outside with a broom! It may be worth speaking to her neighbours to see whether they have noticed any strange behaviour - mum's neighbours also thought she was eccentric and didn't mention anything to us.

    The Talking Point forum from the Alzheimer's Society is a great resource.
    Originally posted by Robinette
    All of your mothers behaviours are odd and showing that she doesnt quite understand the world around her anymore, such as the hammering at 2am. (My grandad was similar, often appeared to be drunk as he was so disorientated, answered the door half dressed, poo'd in the wardrobe...)

    The OP describes a lady who has 'always been bitter and unloving' and is now, erm, bitter and unloving.

    The fact she can 'play nice' for medical professionals would not be a sign of someone experiencing dementia. I don't see anything in the OP that suggests dementia, there's no change to her patterns of behaviour, no out of character happening, no dangerous behaviour. Just an old woman being a bint.
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 18th Apr 18, 11:09 AM
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    PasturesNew
    Dementia can present itself in a variety of ways, some of which are what you've listed. They get ideas in their head and stick with them .... people they like/dislike, accusations, etc. For some others, though, this can just be manipulation to try to get more notice taken of them as they feel alone/old and sad about that.

    My mum had similar behaviours as part of her dementia.... yet could turn on the apparently "sensible head" where you'd only spot that things weren't right if you knew the truth. e.g. she was annoyed at not having a "sorry on your bereavement" card from my granny .... anybody hearing that would think that granny had been very mean .... but somebody in the know would know that granny had been dead 40 years, so that was a dementia moment.
    • downshifter
    • By downshifter 18th Apr 18, 11:28 AM
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    downshifter
    Thanks everyone for the responses. I think it's a bit of both - some dementia and some just being unpleasant. If anyone has any thoughts about how the family can manage the situation that would be great. They've now taken away her bank card (she's unaware of this) as there's a risk she will microwave it and set fire to the house, as she has done in the past. Unfortunately she thinks she has no money so stashes cash all over the place. Doesn't get that her pension is paid into her account automatically, if it isn't handed over the counter at the post office into her hand she tells everyone the man at the post office has stolen it.

    Not sure about neighbours, she often rings them to say she's run out of coal, or she has no food and that her horrible family won't give her any. The neighbours then ring the 'horrible family' who rush round with food only to find she has plenty. They seem to think she's a sweet little old lady though and that she is being neglected by the family.

    I wish I could help, it's really distressing my friend and none of the wider family seem to even want to talk about it.

    Thanks again
    • Out, Vile Jelly
    • By Out, Vile Jelly 18th Apr 18, 12:05 PM
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    Out, Vile Jelly
    My elderly relative with dementia accused a close friend of stealing a utility bill; that's when we first realised something was wrong. The dementia meant her world was getting muddled, but to pretend everything was ok she found it easier to make up a story rather than face the fact that paperwork was becoming confusing. I've also known a middle aged person with early onset dementia, who had very lucid days when you wouldn't know anything was wrong.

    I suggest the friend reduces visits to the bare minimum, goes expecting rude behaviour (and never takes it personally), and asks neighbours to keep an eye out for behaviour eg wandering at night.
    They are an EYESORES!!!!
    • bugslet
    • By bugslet 18th Apr 18, 12:16 PM
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    bugslet
    Accusing people of stealing money and squirreling it away in various locations throughout the house seems very common in people developing alzheimers/dementia. It was an early indication with Mr Bugs. He could also appear very reasonable with other people, but at home he had become very 'odd'.
    • MallyGirl
    • By MallyGirl 18th Apr 18, 1:49 PM
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    MallyGirl
    My grandmother (early onset in her 50s) would claim that no one called or visited so we got her to keep a book by the phone and the opening sentence of every call was "can you write this call down in your book Nan as we know you like to keep a record". That way we could stop the accusations of neglect pretty quickly. She was always a bit woolly and did things like forgetting that the chip pan was on when she was in her 40s. She progressed to getting lost in the town she had lived in for years, and also to randomly taking her clothes off or fiddling with fastenings till they fell apart. She remained a nice old lady for a long time.
    Her sister didn't develop dementia till much later (not sure exactly when as husband hid it for a long time) and her character changed completely. She did fool the docs for a bit as they didn't have the background knowledge to spot the mistakes. Once we made a fact sheet for them it didn't take long to spot that she thought she still lived in her childhood home with her sisters - one who had died aged 5 and the other who had died after the dementia reduced her to a catatonic shell of a person. She went into a home where she became aggressive, abusive, accused people of stealing her things and shouted racist abuse at the care workers. She was unrecognisable as the lovely great Aunt we had spent lots of our childhood with.
    • aloise
    • By aloise 18th Apr 18, 2:01 PM
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    aloise
    if she was unpleasant when she was young she will still be unplwaswnt when she is old. People dont change, just get worse. I know because i am an unpleasant old !!!!!! myself
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 18th Apr 18, 2:36 PM
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    suki1964
    I'm of the mind that dementia is a term too readily used

    When we were kids, older relatives , those few that did make it to old age, were often referred to as dottering in their old age. They would get forgetful, would lose things, hoard others, be rude, sometimes aggressive My husbands ex wife's granny was a great one for lashing out with her walking stick and thought giving you 5p to go out for the night was enough

    My own mother who has never been the most plesent or sweet natured of women is now 80 and is getting nastier as she ages. The poor lass next door, who has never said boo to a goose, is according to mother a s l u t and mother thinks she's perfectly within her rights to go walking over there when the lass is out, to poison the weeds that are spreading

    Shes also become as tight as a ducks bum despite being pretty wealthy and with 3 pensions coming in with no out goings

    But nope, no dementia
    if you lend someone 20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
  • archived user
    What ive found is that the unpleasant side that you rarely see when people are young, is multiplied tenfold as they get older.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 18th Apr 18, 8:10 PM
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    Savvy_Sue
    I have to say that FIL has become more emotional and kinder since the onset of dementia. He was never intentionally unpleasant, but could be very 'difficult' if things weren't the way he expected them to be (and knowing how he expected them to be was a black art because if you had to ask, you'd already blown it, because EVERYONE should know how thing should be!)

    I'd definitely tell the neighbours that although she says she has no food and no visitors etc, that's not necessarily the case.
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 2 hats 2 balaclavas for seamen, 1 balaclava for myself ...
    Current projects: Poppies, mohair cardigan pattern arrived and going strong!
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