My mother has been living alone for three or four years. My brother would stop by her apartment in the morning before going to work, and after work on a daily basis. She would question who he was, and do strange things – hide knives under her pillow, food items in her room. She would not take a shower, but insist she just took one, nor brush her teeth, things she was always fussy about. She gets to the bathroom on her own ok, does not need diapers. She fixes her own meals, which consist of raisin bran, and ice cream, and does not use the stove.
My daughter moved in 6 months ago. She noticed that at certain times of the day, my mother would have moments of clarity, and she seems 90% normal. They have great conversations. This occurred after giving her a special pillow. As soon as my brother comes by in the morning, she doesn’t remember who he is, or how she got where she is, again. Sometimes we watch a tv show or movie together and she seems to understand everything, then it goes back to not remembering who I am, or who my daughter is. What is this stage? It seems to vacillate from normal to middle and late stage. Is it just her arteries clogged with slow circulation?
Jeanette, Honolulu, HI
What you’re describing sounds like the middle stage of dementia, although not recognizing family who are with her regularly also suggests that the disease is advancing. At the middle stage, the impairments are quite noticeable and impact multiple areas of one’s life. In addition, the classic sign of middle stage dementia is that the person’s short term memory is gone. He/She can’t remember what they had for breakfast or whether they showered. And just as you describe, there are moments of clarity when it seems as though everything is connecting, only to lose that content just a few minutes later.
I’m glad to hear that your daughter has moved in with your mom and that your brother is a regular presence. She absolutely should not be alone.
Below is one of the best videos I’ve ever seen on what the middle stage of dementia “looks like” in case you’d like to compare it to what you’re witnessing.