Last week was a bad one with my mother, so much so that I felt it was time to inquire into assisted vs. independent living at Atria. (It's done well, where she stays in her apartment and just has more people helping her with stuff.) She also had two mild anxiety attacks that made me think it might be time for anti-anxiety meds, but it was the week I was wrapped up in eye stuff and couldn't do much for her, and I figured it would not be a problem to wait a week.
Well, this week she is much better, calm, no signs of anxiety and when I talked with her the thing she stressed over and over again is that the thing she is most proud of is that she can be independent. It's like she knew I was thinking of getting her more help.
So I met with the patient services coordinator at Atria and we had a wonderful chat. She said she would do a mini mental health exam on her and decide if she needed further neurological assessment. That exam was today and she told me that "It is not too bad, however clearly there is dementia that has been masked by the routine Mildred is in. Also being so independent with activities of daily living and being quite 'recluse' has masked the ability for me to see this sooner." I hadn't though of the word "recluse" but that describes her life quite accurately. The coordinator sent me the form for the exam she gave her and I will forward to her doctor.
She also gave me a book on Alzheimers by their go-to expert on the subject. I thought I had read most of the major books on Alzheimers and dementia, but had not seen this book. The authors use the "Best Friend" approach to dealing with people with Alzheimers and dementia and there are lots of suggestions for how to interact as a best friend, not as a caregiver or relative, and draw them out to get more intellectual stimulation, none of which will work with my mother since she is so resolutely reclusive and determined not to be interested in anything.