Good Morning, I have a very close friend 63 yrs old and she is exhibiting increasingly many symptoms of Dementia. At first we kinda blew it off, (friends and family) but now its getting to a point to where she really can't distinguish situations that are potentially very dangerous for her, ie: driving impaired, refusing to listen to experts for help, sporadically taking meds, unable to responsibly handle finances, etc. What do we do?
Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.
I believe that I can help.
Your friend may not be suffering from dementia, but more likely from depression caused by grief due to the loss of her mother.
She was most likely very close to her mom because she was her caregiver at the end of her life and is now in the stages of grief which is a natural form of depression that is best endured rather than suppressed with drugs.
You say that she has been driving while impaired. I assume that you mean that she is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which means she is probably self-medicating.
A depressed person loses focus and ability to concentrate and cannot complete tasks as well, which can explain her inability to handle her finances or to return to work. People give her advice, even wise ones, but that does not mean that she is ready or willing to follow that advice right now. Nothing you have described points to dementia, but rather to depression, which is understandable.
Or to the potential and imminent death of her mother. I had to reread a few times to realize that her mother may still be alive.
She is under a great deal of stress and is already seeing life without her mother, whom she will miss dearly. This is why she thinks about getting rid of her mom's possessions so that she will not have to face that further stressful situation when her mom actually passes.
Your friend is a woman in turmoil and she needs loving support rather than advice. Kind words will go further than anything and she will be most grateful for your support and tolerance.
Of course you cannot let her put herself (or others) in harms way, and may have to take the extra step of being her silent guardian and perhaps even her designated driver on occasions.
A person who is depressed has little energy, no enthusiasm, low self-esteem, few goals, can be very irritable, and may not care much about their own well-being or even personal hygiene. You must walk on eggshells a bit, be incredibly patient (which is the love you have to give her) and remember that she will come out of this when it is all over.
Here is a book that may help:
I wish her friends and family great wisdom and patience in supporting her. I shall keep her and her mother and family in my prayers.
Elliott, MAE, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC