mom and dad

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normal mom and dad

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My dad passed away two weeks ago. My mom suddenly, and I do mean suddenly (the next day) went from being able to dress, shower, feed herself... to unable to use a spoon or find a toilet. We (the children gathered for the funeral) rushed her to the emergency room where they said she had Alzhiemers and Atrial Fib. She was moved to a conv. hospital after three days. We are stunned. She does not know us sometimes, just accepts our being there. She babbles on about cotton balls and stairs - and other things nowhere to be found.
Who can we ask about all this? The doctor said we should hope she dies soon. Your site seems friendly enough to ask for information.

Posted on 2002/10/23 11:50


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Posts: 0
Dear Daughter...

We are saddened to learn of your father's death and of the very sudden, and major, change in your mother's health. We can't imagine how hard this must be for you....

I don't know exactly what your questions are, whether they are concerned about the diagnosis, treatment options or how you should cope with your grief (or all the above...). I will try to imagine some of your questions and invite you to reply here with other ones.

Does the diagnosis of the doctors seem correct to you? Did you have any hint of Alzheimer's or some other mental deficit? You say that she was able to "dress, shower, feed herself" to the condition she is now in. So, she was able to do ALL activities of daily living?

I guess I'm kind of stunned, to use your word, by what the doctor said:


The doctor said we should hope she dies soon.

What kind of a doctor or doctors examined her? Was this done at a teaching hospital? Aside from the fact that the change was so major and so sudden, do you have any reasons to feel like the doctor's diagnosis is right or wrong? Was she examined by a skilled neurologist and/or psychiatrist? Did the doctor recommend hospice care or indicate that she was hospice appropriate?

If your questions are primarily about the nature of the diagnosis, I have to say that I would be concerned about it, too. I think that I would certainly want a second opinion, especially under the circumstances. I think it would be good to visit with both a neurologist and a psychiatrist, preferably at a major teaching hospital (like a university hospital, that has a specialized Alzheimer's program - like UT Southwestern here in Dallas...Barb's employer). Alzheimer's almost never comes on that quickly...

I think the linkage between your father's death and the sudden change in your mother's condition, and the psychological trauma of bereavement, need to be looked at, both in terms of more completely understanding what has happened to her, and as a way to help develop a treatment plan for her. I will say that the WELL spouse in a relationship where Alzheimer's (AD) exists often covers for the ill spouse, so that others don't see the extent or existence of the AD. I wonder if she experienced increased impact from his death due to the sense that she no longer had this person, your father, to cover for her? In short, the explanations you seem to have understood from her physician leave me unsettled. It seems like you need to know more.

I don't know if these thoughts, random as they are, fit what you are wanting to know, or if they're completely out in left field. But, I do want you to know that we'll be glad to keep talking with you about all this. And, we do want to help. I hope you'll write us back here.

Any thoughts from our other visitors, professionals and otherwise????

Posted on 2002/10/24 0:00

normal Info from doctors

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Quite a regular
From: Rowlett
Posts: 56
Dear ElderHope Reader,
I, like Mike, am so sorry for your loss and for your mother's current health status. This must be a very difficult time for you right now.
With the sudden change in your mother's level of functioning, I agree that you all need and deserve a doctor who will talk with you and your family about the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease - and of course, the heart problems. It's true that Alzheimer's Disease does not usually progress that quickly - perhaps ask the doctor to explain about the signs and symptoms of AD and how this sudden onset relates to what is generally known about AD.

It may be that perhaps your mother was showing some signs of early AD and then she experienced some sudden change in her health status, as well as coping with your father's death . . . this might relate to the sudden change in her functioning and thinking ability. If your mother is experiencing a temporary "delirium" relating to the change in her health or medications, or all of the above, then some of her symptoms may diminish . . . However, only a qualified physician could diagnose her present status and then decide which medications could help, if appropriate. If you feel that her diagnosing physician is qualified and your mother does, indeed, have Alzheimer's Disease, contact the Alzheimer's Association in your area, especially if you are considering a facility for your mother.

And, please let us know how your mother and you all are coming along. We will sure try to offer any information that might help - and we will keep checking our board to hear from you again . . . Please take care!!!

Posted on 2002/10/24 16:45


normal your responses

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All your questions made me feel better. Mostly knowing I am not the only one that thinks this was sketchy information is reassuring. I will contact the local alzhiemers group and get a second opinion. It is hard to know if you have done all you can, especially after just going through this with Dad's lung cancer. I was always sure there was something else. I came to realize I lost a lot of quality time with him worrying about what I could do better. I don't want to do this with my mom. I just want to know the truth and realistic expectations and accept them. Thank you.

Posted on 2002/10/29 18:49

normal A wonderful reminder!

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Quite a regular
From: Rowlett
Posts: 56
Dear " A Daughter":
What a wonderful reminder for us all - to not lose the present moment by overly worrying about the past (or future!)! By getting as much information as you can from a good physician who has experience in caring for the elderly, especially those with dementia, and by seeking realistic expectations, I think that you are doing all anyone could hope to do for their loved ones. This way, you are preparing for the future while experiencing and sharing the present with your mother. I think that we all do a little second-guessing when it relates to how well we cared for a loved one in the past. It's important to remember, however, that we probably did what we thought was best at that time, given those circumstances.
I do hope that your mother is coming along a little better.
Thanks for your message and we wish you all the comfort and support that you need during this time . . . blessings to you all - Barb and Mike

Posted on 2002/10/29 21:57

normal Re: mom and dad

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Just popping in
Posts: 1
My sincere condolences and prayers regarding the loss of your Dad,AND the apparent loss of your Mom as well.They must both have been wonderful people to have such a loving and giving daughter as yourself.God bless you.My mother was diagnosed with alzheimers 6 months before my Father died.while i had noticed her becoming forgetful and perhaps slowing down a bit for about a year or so, i never saw the alzheimers disease coming.In hindsight, i realized that Mom was struggling for a long time prior to diagnosis, and also that living with my Dad ,covered a multitude of sins for her as well.Additionally, she was NOT being treated properly by her general physician.At any rate, i must tell you that i am not only a registered nurse, i am a psychiatric nurse to boot! I had worked with a number of alzheimers patients in this capacity for almost 25 years, and never dreamt that my own Mother would suffer such a fate,or that i the "medical professional" would miss it. my point to you is that a diagnosis of alheimers disease is not made in an e.r.visit. If in fact your Mom had an abrupt onset of severe confusion and disorientation, then it is most likely that you are looking at something else. First, was she given a new medication, or failed to take an old one ?Has she been eating ?, is she dehydrated ?,diabetic ?,etc. Atrial fib can cause clotting and thus strokes and heart attacks. The elderly,like infants are very sensitive to such conditions and unfortunately, they are often dismissed as just old and senile when they present to an er with such symptoms. YOU are her daughter, YOU know if she was behaving the same yesterday or not.If You believe that this is an abrupt and profound change for her, then don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Many people, including "professionals" automatically and inappropriately use the term alzheimers, just because it's an older person.if you were instead bringing a teenager in, in this condition, they might assume it was due to drug use.Get my point ? your Mom needs to have acomplete neuro-psychiatric workup in order for you both to find the proper treatment you need.i know you've just come through one storm, but please, advocate for your Mom, she needs you now, more than ever. if i can be of any assistance, feel free to write. good luck and God bless.p.s. (July is also new intern month, not always a good time to go to the hospitals !)

Posted on 2006/8/14 23:16

normal Re: mom and dad

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From: Dallas
Posts: 262
Very thoughtful comments, Dorothy...



Posted on 2006/8/19 3:04

<strong><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="color:#990000;">For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution; and it is always wrong.<br /><br />--H.L. Mencken</span></span></strong> <img src="

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