• August 15, 2008 at 1:49 am

    I was just wondering if anyone with experience with dementia in their family etc, can tell me how difficult it has been to diagnose the type of dementia or deficit? or dispose of any words of wisdom on the management of these things?

    I have a friend of the family who is an ex neighbour of our family and who is 68 and becoming increasingly dependent particularly on my mother and I in the last year. He has been having frequent episodes of confusion where he would be unable to recall what day it is, where he is, what is happening around him and will talk jibberish for anywhere from minutes, up to possibly hours. He has never been married and has no family.

    He was diagnosed with lung disease and heart valve failure earlier this year and had a heart valve replacement operation a few weeks ago. We had been attributing his “episodes” to lack of oxygen reaching his brain as a direct implication of his heart problem (and possibly his lungs).

    He has been in and out of hospital for probably the last 3 months and has developed severe anxiety that is constant and unrelenting and every time i am there he paces, rambles and says the same things over and over again, usually about what he has to do for the rest of the week, appointments, and how terrible he feels.. “ive never felt like this im my life…this is terrible…i cant settle down…i can’t be alone…i feel like jumping out the window…so and so said they’d be here at 11 o’clock, wehre are they? (when its still quarter to 11 usually)…etc”. He still has episodes of confusion and disorientation frequently…yesterday he had no idea who my mother was.

    He essentially refuses to be alone in his house. He has admitted himself to hospital twice in the last 3 days for anxiety and panic attack related issues, one of them in so much distress he was in tears, and then when the social worker at the hospital sent him to a homeless mens hospital because he refused to go home, he asked a bloke there to move in with him on a reccomendation from one of the hostel workers. The bloke moved in the next day but works for much of the day and my neighbour is so anxious he now wants to get someone else to move in aswell that can be in the house with him 24/7 ( i doubt he would find anyone willing anyway…they’d probably go nuts) and had to phone me to ask if i thought it would be okay to do that…his ability to make informed decisions about anything seems to be rapidly declining.

    More often than not he speaks coherently, but is becoming less and less able to function from day to day and can’t seem to plan things for himself or get any pleasure from anything he used to anymore and insists he wants he “can’t get interested at present and i just wanna wait til this is all over”. I was supposed to take him grocery shopping this morning but i got there and he said he “had taken another turn” and was dizzy and had diarrhea and couldnt understand why he felt that way (he must have had a stomach bug before!?!?!). He wanted to know if he should call an ambulance (believe it or not) and i told him to go to bed and rest even though he instisted he couldnt settle down.

    Mum and i (and many others) have tried to talk him out of the self pitying, poor me mindset to which he tends to get edgy and annoyed ‘I know! dont start on me! i cant help it!) although not aggressive, and he also tends to mooch around doing nothing in his “hospital” payjamas all day.

    My apologies for this story being so damn long….i was just wondering if anyone has advice or has seen a similar case…i know that severe depression, anxiety and attention seeking is playing a major part in this, and he has an appointment with a psychiatrist or psychologist next week and has stopped taking the morphine based painkillers that were probably making him more batty…but there seems to be something more…

    Does anyone think this sounds like Alzheimers? or another form of dementia?

  • August 15, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Lucinda—Your neighbor’s problem sounds as if it could be Alzheimer’s (or some other form of dementia) or other things like: a thyroid condition, chemical head from anesthesia (there are some that should be avoided by the elderly), an ongoing urinary tract infection, dehydration, and plain old depression.

    Getting a diagnosis is relatively easy…but…Time consuming. Visiting a GP that has been clued in to the reason for the appointment usually is the first step. He will administer a quick test (consisting of some questions). If they indicate a potential problem…He will either give additional lab tests or suggest that an appointment be made with a neurologist.

    The neurologist will ask more questions…Get a history…and.. if he believes that there is a problem arrange for further lab tests and an scan or MRI. Once the preliminary work has been done, there should be a diagnosis.

    It is none of my business and you did not ask for my opinion…but…The thought of your neighbor sharing his home with total strangers does not appeal to me. Friends and family have been known to take advantage of individuals with A/D…The situation would be even more tempting for strangers.

    I don’t know how much time you and your mother can devote to the neighbor. If you think that he may be a danger to himself…I believe that a call to Social Services or Adult Protective Services might be required. They can send someone out to evaluate the situation. (I believe that they do not have to divulge who placed the initial call.)

  • August 21, 2008 at 7:43 pm


    Don’t take all this on yourself. Try to find your friend’s closest relative. It sounds like he needs to have someone appointed his guardian. If you can’t find a relative, then call your state welfare agency for help. They will give you some advice on what you can and cannot do from a legal standpoint. They can help determine if Medicaid and Medicare are available.

    It sounds to me like your friend needs to be in a group facility–nursing home or old age home (cheaper). His guardian is the one who would make all the arrangements for that.

    This is not an easy thing.

    Good luck,

  • November 21, 2008 at 4:38 am

    Considering the health problems he has recently had, you might want to consider TIAs, also known as mini-strokes. Also, what medicines is he on now that might be counter acting w/ each other. He nedds a full exam by an Internal Medicine Dr.

    Best Wishes, Joyce