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My mother's getting dotty


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I've noticed that my mother's driving habits have been a bit sketchy... cutting people off, not merging properly, going the wrong way in parking lots, and a few other marks of sucky driving.

I just wondered if maybe she's always been a crumby driver and I'm just noticing now, but a few other things have pointed out to me that there's probably more going on than poor driving skills...

-She seems to forget things, and needs constant reminders. When she forgets something she blames other people.

-Yesterday we were touring a new condo she's purchased in her downsizing efforts (she'll be selling her house) It's still under construction. She wandered over to the roughed in electrical panel (which at this point is a hole in the drywall the size and shape of a panel) and asked in all seriousness if that's where she will access her washer/dryer. The realtor and the builders thought she was making a joke, and laughed. I could tell from her face, and reaction to their laughter that she wasn't joking, so I put my hand on her shoulder and said "no mom, that's where your breaker goes"

-We went out for dinner, we went to a place that she's been going to since before I was born. She's ordered the same thing since before the dawn of time. When the waitress came by to take our order, she didn't know the name of what she wanted and I had to order for her.


She always blames other people when she has a moment. Her getting honked at is always the other driver's fault, her forgetting something is someone else's fault for not reminding her or changing the plan (even if no change was made)

Thinking that her washing machine goes where her breaker box goes is a bit over the top, and I'm still shocked about that.


So knowing what I know, and seeing what I've seen, what's the next step from here? Do I keep watching and compiling more evidence? Do I confront her? If so, how? What do I say?

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Not jumping to conclusions or anything, but it sounds like your mom may be in early-stage alzheimer’s. Then again, it could just be a bit of senility. How old is your mom and what has her health generally been like?


I still remember feeling that same kind of concern about my grandma. She was sharp as a tack until she reached age 85, when she’d have moments of confusion. She didn’t recognize herself in the mirror once, and was chatting away to this “other woman” She figured out her mistake pretty quickly, but it was worrying. Sometimes these moments just happen, and other times, it’s something more important. Definitely keep an eye on her behaviour to see if there are any different patterns, and also keep an eye out for her feeling frustrated or victimized (ie. getting honked at for her poor driving.) If you can, you should probably do most of the driving for her if she is not particularly lucid. If you really feel concerned, I’d definitely recommend an appointment with a doctor.

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She's only in her 50's but has been a smoker since the age of 8, and other family members have hinted to me that she had some issues with drug abuse in her past (before I was born, I have no reason to believe she's been using since I've known her) She looks a lot (A LOT!) older than she is.

Driving for her isn't really an option, I'm a working single mom and I rarely see her in person. She drives ever day and I only get together with her every week or so. I don't have a car of my own, and she doesn't like to let me drive hers.

Suggesting she see a doctor won't go over well, which is my main problem. She normally reacts with extream hostility to anything that she sees as bringing down her integrity, and telling her I'm concerned about her memory (especially at such a young age) would be a huge hit to her ego.

I'll gladly bare the wrath if I know it means she'll get help if she needs it, but I want to be as smart about it as possible to minimize the shrapnel.

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I agree with DN.


It's extremely scary for the person suffering from it as well as friends and family - there are medications that CAN help a bit, but you need to know she's safe, as well as others being safe.


One of the suggested methods to get someone resistant to a doctor for assessment is to pick something physical that may have been a small issue - and discuss with the doctor before hand the other problems you've noticed. She's smoked for many years, maybe suggest getting a bone density checkup and/or mammogram "to give me peace of mind, mom."

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