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Signs of Dementia.

448 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Prodigal
A preamble: I realize that most TAMers are too young to face this problem as direct participants, however, I'd value opinions from younger readers identifying with the 30ish son.

The story: A woman I've been seeing for two years is increasingly showing signs of dementia. Let's call her "Heather." She's 70. I'm 77. This comes at a critical time. She's thinking of selling the family home and her furniture/art collection. I don't believe she's aware of her condition and would likely deny and object if she were told without some special steps being taken to frame the discussion.

Her son lives in the same town as she lives in, about 300 miles from me. They are oddly distant personally. His mom has been staying with me and I've been caretaking for two months now following extensive hip/leg/foot surgery (I live near a university medical center providing advanced/specialized care for her condition.) The son hasn't seen her during that time...not even Mother's Day. They talk when she needs something done on her property and although he's involved in real property acquisition/management he only does the absolute minimum to help his mom. She pays him for his help. He is not hurting for money, is single but with a female long-term significant other.

My history: I know what dementia looks like in various forms. I have dealt with it in five cases involving family while continuing as head of my own family/ wife/two kids/and career. My mother had early onset Alzheimer's. She died at 72, 10 years after initial diagnosis. During that time I looked after her, took care of medical issues and relocated her from her home to assisted care, to full time nursing care. To a lesser degree, I dealt with/cared for my brother who had HIV induced dementia, my father who died at 88 after several years of old age dementia, and my step mother who needed in-home care for 6 years. I am now helping my kids as they deal with their mother's (my ex's) increasing Alzheimer's-related dementia.

I began seeing Heather 6 months after the suicide death of my second wife. Details of my wife's passing are dramatic and poignant and left me looking for someone healthy and dynamic. Heather was, although can be hyperactive and can be compulsive. She is intelligent, had been an English literature major in an elite southern university and she had taught middle school for a couple years before her marriage to a super salesman who provided a big house, sports car, and financial backing for her interest in art and antique/early-American/primitive furniture and furnishings. Things stopped going well when he cheated on her. They divorced. She lost status things, but gained and retained independence. Her son was 12 at the time and she raised him as a single mother.

She says that until we met, she had had no other long term relationships and that seems borne out by facts. At first things went well and we were sweet and attentive to each other, but not "linked." We traveled together across the country and abroad. She was independent, well-spoken and a good partner. And, yes, the sex was good and frequent. This was especially welcome for us both. We were like kids again. Then she started saying that she "adored me," and tossed around the love word. I didn't toss it back, most likely due to the emotional callouses caused by my late wife's problems and death.

The Lobster Pot: Now, working with her, driving to docs' appointments, medical treatments--and caretaking her during her recuperation from surgery, it is increasingly clear that she's looking at me and my home as her landing spot. Degree by degree the lobster pot has gotten hotter and suddenly, doh!! I've become aware that while I was just being helpful, I was helping myself into a situation I didn't want to be in. And, now because we've been together 24/7 for two months, it's clear to me Heather has age-related mental problems. She forgets things, lives in the past, tells the same stories over and over again, has trouble speaking using the right word, but will reconstruct sentences with language that conveys the point, but is just plain off. And, she's driving me crazy.

I don't want this. Not again. And, I need thoughts on how to get myself out of the pot before it starts to boil.

And, what's the role for the son? I'm thinking that I'll telephone him and ask to set up a more extensive discussion one that would let him know what's coming. That would include encouraging him to find a way to be involved in his mother's financial matters, sale of the home, and selection, I would hope of a home in her city near his house.
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Does "Heather" have a will and/or POA?
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Does "Heather" have a will and/or POA?
Yes. About a year after we started seeing each other, and based on my recent experience with my late wife's estate, I asked if she had an up to date will and a POA. At that time, She did get both and her son is the executor and agent. Thanks for reminding me about that.
I feel for you.

I'm a tad older than the son in your story but my mom had dementia. I moved heaven & earth to care for her but she was MY MOM. That is not your situation but I can judge her son for his absence.

My mother in law currently suffers. It's a horrible condition. My MILs BF has stuck around as things got worse. They weren't together long before he realized & Covid hit. Part of me wonders why he stays; another part thanks heaven he's there.

You are not obligated to stick around. You get to have your happy ending, especially after the shocking death of your 2nd wife. I also had a SO die from suicide.

Do talk to the doctor. If you can get a diagnosis, get it in writing & send it to the son. He's in denial. My husband was.

IMO as long as you get Heather safely back into her house, alert her PCP & her son you have done enough. If you REALLY want to be generous invite the son to meet & then leave Heather while he's there. You are sweet to do what you did but you are not obligated to be invested much beyond what you have done.
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I asked if she had an up to date will and a POA. At that time, She did get both and her son is the executor and agent.
Discuss the situation with her son. Ultimately, he has to make all the decisions. Regardless of their relationship, he has the responsibility to execute her will and make life decisions for her if it is determined she is unable to do so. This is the time you need to let him enter the picture. You do not have to be her caregiver unless you and her son decide together this would be the best route to pursue. She needs to see a doctor who can assess her condition. After that, her son may decide assisted living would be the safest and best option.
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