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Suggest treatment for senile symptoms in an elderly person

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Posted on Tue, 19 May 2015
Question: I have an 83 year old sister who has just moved into a retirement community where she gets her nutritious meals and there is plenty of activities offered, transportation to whoever she wants to go, (she was about to loose her license due to several minor accidents) She moved from a rent-free apartment where she was alone and very lonely, poor diet and incurred several falls resulting in a broken arm,, leg and finally a fall the resulted in broken vertebras. Her walk or stairs were never kept clear by a landlord that wanted her gone. It took a while for her to start liking her new and beautiful apartment BUT it costs in excess of $3,600 per month. She is a millionaire and when I remind her of this she pretends that she cannot hear. She won't thank her family for moving her, it's as though it just happened. She keeps her apartment dark, goes to bed before dark so that she would use electricity (average coat per month is $20.) She doesn't fix her hair and wears unmatched oldest clothes she owns. When I tell her to fix herself up before joining her fellow tenants her answer is "I DON'T CARE HOE I LOOK, I;M NOT OUT TO IMPRESS ANYONE, IF THEY DON'T LIKE IT, TOO BaD.She was always a proud lady. I don't know how to handle her. I've tried to show her how much money she has, she won't listen, she's playing the poverty role. she is receiving an accepting money from one of her daughters who is herself in need. PHEW! I don't know what to do. Can you help me? Thanks, XXXXXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan (3 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Your sister is undoubtedly becoming senile

Detailed Answer:
Hello ma'am and welcome.

Thank you for writing to us.

I have gone through your query with diligence and would like you to know that I am here to help. Yours is more of a situational problem, than medical. The first thing we need to accept is that your sister is with age, growing senile (which is normal and not a bad thing), except that it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with senile people.

My late grand-father became senile during his last few years, he started parading the house naked, throwing all his healthy food on the floor and requesting our family driver to do him a favour by buying him street food and chocolates saying that he would return the cost for all that he purchases much later. We only found out, when the driver requested us for the money my grand-father had lent from him with his quarterly pay.

Firstly, the issue with her not worrying about her appearance is a typical symptom of becoming senile, and I am afraid there is absolutely no solution for this in all honesty. Becoming senile is not considered a psychological issue, nor a medical one at all. There are no medications that can be prescribed to change or reverse this.

I understand how you find her financial situation not matching her appearance, but individuals like this will never realise they have money, and at the same time they will never fully spend what they have, even if it is in excess.

But I would although like to point out one thing, please do speak to your niece who seems to be under the idea that her mother needs financial support. Explain to her your sisters financial situation and how she really does not need any financial support. Your niece needs all the money she can get, and so in a manner you think best, speak to her about discontinuing this habit.

Taking your sisters mental state of affairs, she may take offence with the discontinuation of the financial support her daughter seems to be providing; which is why it may be a good idea for her to speak to her mother and explain to her how she needs all the money she can get right now and so only temporarily will be discontinuing the financial support. And that besides, her mother has all she can ever want and more.

I am truly sorry if you were expecting to get a diagnosis, but I am being brutally honest with you which I think is the best way to approach any patient instead of beating around the bush. She most certainly is becoming senile, and being a miser is quite possibly part of it as well.

I hope you find my response helpful ma'am. Please do not hesitate to write back to me for any further clarifications, I am always here to help.

Best wishes.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Shoaib Khan (3 days later)
Dr. XXXXXXX .I received your comments but you forgot to answer my question. How do I handle my sister? Do I show disdain, anger, do I agree with her, do I sympathize with her? WHAT? My sister has many very lucid moments...she is, though, forgetful. By the way, please define "senile". Is it dementia? Does it lead to Alzheimers? It seems to me to be an unhealthy condition rather than a "situation". Should she see a psychiatrist or should I consult one? I don't want to give up on her, I'd like to help her! This is why I donated $15. to get answers in order to bring some XXXXXXX to her life, not the despair I felt after reading your reply. I realize the elderly do lose some abilities due to age but in todays scientific atmosphere surely someone has addressed this frightening concern. I find it difficult truly to agree that it is an expected "situation" as one grows older. Our Mother lived to 98 1/2 and was sharp as a tack to the very end..I hope there is a procedure or consultation available to address this condition, I simply don't know where to look Awaiting your reply, Thank You, XXXXXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan (7 hours later)
Brief Answer:
I have provided an honest opinion ma'am, not want to mislead

Detailed Answer:
Hello once again ma'am.

Dealing with your sister is indeed going to bw difficult, and would be more a matter experiementing depending on the situation.

But I would request you not to show any anger, do not show disdain, but at the same time do not agree with her as this would be encouraging her. The best way to deal with her would be to stay calm, do not agree with anything she does, and do not point out her mistake as this will only make her more rebellious. But show her that you clearly do not support her behaviour, but will not let it affect you.

The term 'senile' refers to a group of people who with age change their lifestyle, principles, mental state of reasoning, a decline of mental functioning, physical state, loss of memory, being extremely difficult to deal with, etc. This is more of a definition I have come up with, rather than what may be found on text.

You see XXXXXXX I do agree with your reasoning that this is not seen in many elderly. My grandmother is 92 years old and shows no sign of any such deterioration. But my grandfather on the other hand, grew extremely difficult. His children and spouse found him to become a totally different person towards the last few years of his life. He stopped trusting our cook, and began to cook himself. Refused to entertain guests because he though we were stealing from him, and so on, it is a long list and I do not wish to bore you with it.

But from a few previous cases, I do concur with you on it not being completely situational and something expected. Studies have found most of these (not all) cases to be with brain deterioration (possibly associated with Alzheimer's disease) and/or depression.

The use of anti-depressants and medications to prevent the progression of Alzheimer's can be tried sucessfully (although expectations should not be high) like donepezil, galantamine, etc.

But the main issue here is going to be convincing your sister she needs help. It is extremely difficult to get patients to agree they need help. They are almost always in denial, and this will most certainly be an issue. Visiting a psychiatrist may be time consuming, as the psychiatrist will take time to reach a diagnosis after which treatment can be initiated. It will be your duty and responsibility to encourage her to continue her sessions and go about them religiously.

I appreciate your interest in wanting to help her, and would like to do my best in guiding you towards this goal. My grandfathers brother had Alzheimer's for the last 5 years of his life, and despite treatment, he got worse. Alzheimer's can be controlled to a certain extent, but further deterioration is inevitable if at all this is the case.

Best wishes.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Shoaib Khan

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Practicing since :2009

Answered : 9409 Questions

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Suggest treatment for senile symptoms in an elderly person

Brief Answer: Your sister is undoubtedly becoming senile Detailed Answer: Hello ma'am and welcome. Thank you for writing to us. I have gone through your query with diligence and would like you to know that I am here to help. Yours is more of a situational problem, than medical. The first thing we need to accept is that your sister is with age, growing senile (which is normal and not a bad thing), except that it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with senile people. My late grand-father became senile during his last few years, he started parading the house naked, throwing all his healthy food on the floor and requesting our family driver to do him a favour by buying him street food and chocolates saying that he would return the cost for all that he purchases much later. We only found out, when the driver requested us for the money my grand-father had lent from him with his quarterly pay. Firstly, the issue with her not worrying about her appearance is a typical symptom of becoming senile, and I am afraid there is absolutely no solution for this in all honesty. Becoming senile is not considered a psychological issue, nor a medical one at all. There are no medications that can be prescribed to change or reverse this. I understand how you find her financial situation not matching her appearance, but individuals like this will never realise they have money, and at the same time they will never fully spend what they have, even if it is in excess. But I would although like to point out one thing, please do speak to your niece who seems to be under the idea that her mother needs financial support. Explain to her your sisters financial situation and how she really does not need any financial support. Your niece needs all the money she can get, and so in a manner you think best, speak to her about discontinuing this habit. Taking your sisters mental state of affairs, she may take offence with the discontinuation of the financial support her daughter seems to be providing; which is why it may be a good idea for her to speak to her mother and explain to her how she needs all the money she can get right now and so only temporarily will be discontinuing the financial support. And that besides, her mother has all she can ever want and more. I am truly sorry if you were expecting to get a diagnosis, but I am being brutally honest with you which I think is the best way to approach any patient instead of beating around the bush. She most certainly is becoming senile, and being a miser is quite possibly part of it as well. I hope you find my response helpful ma'am. Please do not hesitate to write back to me for any further clarifications, I am always here to help. Best wishes.