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marinelife's avatar

What is a good way to talk to my mother-in-law about this?

Asked by marinelife (57939 points ) December 28th, 2009

The nurse from the retirement community where she lives called to say that they have noticed that she is having short-term memory problems. Obviously, we are concerned that she could leave a pan going on the stove or something.

The nurse said that when they have dropped by to check on her that she has been defensive. She tends to be defensive about things anyway.

Any ideas on how to address this? We have been wondering if having her doctor do some cognitive testing would be a good idea?

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10 Answers

willbrawn's avatar

I think that is something that you just need to suck up and address. If she is losing her memories she will probably get more defensive at first. But honestly I would want to know what’s happening to me. I would also want to spend a lot of time with family before all of my mind left me.

Its a rough situation. Hope all the best for you in handling it.

SarasWhimsy's avatar

We just went through this with my Grandma. It worked for us by pointing out things that we were noticing as we noticed them. That way, it didn’t seem like we were slamming her when something big happened. Her short term memory is now pretty much gone so it’s almost impossible now. We did small things like check to see if she’d taken her medicine. Ask her if and what she ate for dinner, lunch, etc. For quite a few years that worked. Also, for about two years she worked on things that helped her memory and did things to improve it.

My suggestion would be to go with her to a doctors appointment to ask about memory testing. If she won’t allow that, call the doctor before her next visit and share your concerns.

StupidGirl's avatar

Trust? God?
The better you get at something the more automatic you can do it.
So maybe old people at some point they go into cruise as everything goes automagically?

dpworkin's avatar

Not everything that manifests with these symptoms is dementia. Often it is something transient which can be treated. I would absolutely have some testing done, and find out.

MagsRags's avatar

Hopefully, you’re already involved in her life on a regular and friendly basis. That makes it much easier to say something along the lines of

“Mom, have you noticed that you’re having more memory lapses than usual? Here’s what we’ve noticed: ___ and the staff have noticed a few things too. You’ve probably been a little worried about this yourself. Let’s get you scheduled for a visit with your doctor. They can check to see if you have a vitamin deficiency or a medication interaction causing problems.”

Pandora's avatar

Start with telling her that the care proffessional has some concerns and that it will put your mind at ease if she would go get checked. Arrange to take the time to see her doctor to speak of concerns. Tell your mom that you are concerned that if she let’s her health slide it may be to late to do anything. Memory loss can be signs of many illnesses. It can even be a side effect of med.

Mavericksjustdoinganotherflyby's avatar

I concur with pdworkin. Have some testing done. She may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. If caught early enough they can usually at the very least slow it down.
It is key to get an early diagnoses before more damage is done.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Where is your husband in all this? Is the decision is up to you alone, you may need to get named her legal guardian in order to request assessments to be done if your mother-in-law will not cooperate willingly. These are tough challenges, carry out you responsibilities with love and respect for your mother-in-law and you’ll never have to live with regrets.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

The memory test screening is something they should be doing at least once a year. It’s usually 10 really simple questions. I was amazed the first time my mom flunked it.

Darwin's avatar

Indeed, have some testing done. Short-term memory loss can be due to many different things, ranging from “polypharmacy” (too many medications) to physical illness (my mother’s gets worse when she has a bladder infection) to inadequate oxygen to brain damage from strokes, Parkinson’s Disease, or Alzheimer’s. You need to find out why she is having this problem. Only then can you and her doctors figure what, if anything, can be done to help her.

My mother is suffering from memory problems because she has Parkinson’s, and because she has heart and clotting problems that periodically drop her blood oxygen levels to 40%. It gets worse when she has a bladder infection. We help her by keeping her on medications to regularize her heart beat, coumadin to prevent clot formation, oxygen as needed when the first two meds don’t work, Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic as well as Requip, a dopamine agonist that directly stimulates the receptors in nerves in the brain that normally would be stimulated by dopamine, and we have her checked periodically for infection, which we then treat with antibiotics.

The combination helps her a great deal, although eventually, even with our best efforts, she will have to go to a nursing facility. I hope your mother’s problem is either transient or easily treated.

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