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How do you answer your mom when she asks that question, then again the next day, and the day after, and so on. She's worrying herself sick that she has this. She's still functional, just forgetful, but is taking the news like it's some debilitating terminal illness.


Also, is there some field of mental health care that provides for mental/psychiatric counseling or treatment?

I tell my Mom that she has brain damage...she has vascular dementia and has had strokes. So, if she asks me about how she got brain damage, I tell her she had strokes.
all are honest answers but somehow people put such a moral failing onto dementias. It is an organ failure, no different than kidney failure or heart failure...damaged organs don't work great.
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Reply to Cashew
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"Debilitating" was a poor choice of word on my part. No good word for how she's taking it, embarrassment is closer. And yes, she's been diagnosed, at least the middle stage.
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Reply to willmckee
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Has she been diagnosed with ALZ or she just thinks she has it?

Your profile says she has had a stroke so there is probably damage to the brain which will cause the problems you describe. ALZ and a stroke don't usually go together. ALZ effects the brain differently than other Dementia and IMO is hereditary. Runs in my Dads side of the family.

Is Mom getting any type of therapy for the damage to her brain. Seeing if maybe the other side of the brain can be taught what the damaged part of the brain has lost? They found when my Grandson was operated on for epilepsy, that if damage was done during the operation, his other side of the brain could be taught to take over.

Like said, since Moms short-term is effected, you may not be able to convince her she doesn't have ALZ. What you can tell her is her stroke caused some damage and that is why she feels she has ALZ. Whether she will remember that...

"Alzheimer's disease (AD) and stroke are common disorders of aging, but the relationship between these two disorders remains uncertain. Recent evidence recognized that they frequently co-occur and are influenced by each other, while other studies have produced inconsistent results."

Just my opinion. I can see ALZ contributing to a stroke but not a stroke causing ALZ.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Alzheimer’s and every dementia ARE a debilitating terminal illness. Always. Rather than focus on that, it’s best to say something like, “we’re getting you the best help we can,” or “the doctor says you’re doing well with your physical therapy.” In other words, redirect with something positive. They’re going to forget what you say anyway. Then you say the same thing again tomorrow.
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Reply to Fawnby
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I would have your mom seen by a geriatric psychiatrist.

"Counseling" for someone with no short term memory doesn't sound like it would be useful, but if, as your profile states, mom is prone to self-pity, meds may help.

Dementia seems to rob the brain of some of the neurotransmitters that make life bearable. Replacing them is an act of kindness.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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She keeps asking because she has short-term memory impairment. Unless she has a specific diagnosis of ALZ (which is one type of dementia) then you can tell her "no" and then redirect the conversation or get her into an activity. If she has the beginnings of dementia then telling and re-telling "the truth" will only upset her each time. This is cruel. You can tell her any "therapeutic fib" that you think will satisfy her and keep her calm. If she asks when she can get out of the facility, I tell my own MIL "when you can show your doctor that you can do all your ADLs on your own because that is what he is requiring". Then she can get upset with the doctor, not you.

You should learn about memory loss and dementia by watching some very excellent videos on YouTube by Teepa Snow. You will need to learn strategies on how to better engage with your LOs with dementia so that interactions can be more peaceful and productive. A person with dementia and memory loss is losing the ability to work from their reason and logic -- it's diminishing every day. So, they need external help to keep them calm and feeling secure.

Rules for engaging our loved ones with dementia: 1) Agree, do not argue
2) Divert, do not attempt to reason
3) Distract, do not shame
4) Reassure, do not lecture
5) Reminisce, do not ask “Do you remember...?” 6) Repeat, do not say “I told you”
7) Do what they can do, don’t say “you can’t”
8) Ask, do not demand
9) Encourage, do not condescend
10) Reinforce, never force

The overall goals should be to:

1) keep them as calm and peaceful as possible
(because they are less and less able to bring themselves to this state on their own)
2) keep them physically protected in their environment and from predatory people
3) keep them nourished with healthy foods that they will accept without fighting or forcing
4) keep them in as good a health condition as is possible, that their financial resources will allow and within their desires as expressed in a Living Will (aka Advance Healthcare Directive)
5) keep them pain-free as possible and within their desires as expressed in a Living Will (aka Advance Healthcare Directive)

The caregiving arrangement needs to work for both the receiver and the giver. If it is onerous to the caregiver, then the arrangement is NOT working. Alternative types of care must be considered to avoid caregiver burnout.
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Reply to Geaton777
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