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Is this dementia, selfishness, or something else?

8 years ago

My Mom is in her late 80's and is a spectacular example of excellent physical health in an elderly person. She also has her doctorate and taught university until she was in her early 80's. Because of her love for traditional continued education, it's been a disappointment for her that most of her children and none of her grandchildren (except one) have not pursued their bachelor degrees.

However, her only grandchild (my son) to matriculate received his bachelor's degree in engineering last month. None of the other grandchildren are in college. Even if they started on their degree(s) right away, it's unlikely she'll live to see another grandchild graduate given her age.

Through-out my son's senior year, she expressed enthusiasm about attending commencement in May. A week before graduation, she joyfully informed me that she'd arranged a car pool with other relatives to attend. Then, ONE DAY before, she called me to say she wasn't coming. The other relatives came without her and were also puzzled as to her about-face.

Her shoulder and hip hurt, she said. She was depressed at being old, she said. She didn't want to be away from home for so long (3 days), she said.

However, when I called to check on her the next day, she was cheerful as all get out and said she'd just come in from washing and waxing her car in the driveway!

A few days later, she called to ask if I would accompany her on a cross-country trip to attend a family reunion in July. Her shoulder and hip were fine, she said. She was feeling great, she said. The reunion would last 4 days, she said.

If that wasn't upsetting enough, she also has expressed ZERO interest in my son's commencement or what he's doing now that he's graduated.

In addition to this episode, my Mom has demonstrated some forgetfulness and confusion periodically over the last two years. For example, she mixed up the dates of my upcoming visit to her 3x now, and my nephew who sees her for lunch about once a week has reported she is repeating the same stories or comments 7-8x during the same lunch.

So, is her weird "turn about" about attending commencement a result of dementia? Or is was simply selfishness? Or, is something else going on?

(I did ask her to explain how she could justify attending the reunion when she didn't attend commencement, and she couldn't. Her response was, "I guess I don't know.")

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