Are Mom's mood swings getting to the point where she needs to be placed in a nursing facility?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 26, 2016
Corliss asked...

During doctors office visits, my mothers mood-swings "kick-in". she yells out loud as if shes trying to "curse" the doctor out. When questions and concerns are asked about her health. However, when i ask questions to the doctors about her medication and any other questions i may have at the time, she then become IRRATE and begin to cry. its becoming an imbarassment to me and other family members, im at the point that i have to do something. Meaning, allowing the professionals to handle it..My questions is how do you know when it is time for professionals to intervene? is it time to find placement in a nursing facility?

Expert Answers

Helene Bergman, LMSW, is a certified geriatric care manager (C-ASWCM) and owner of Elder Care Alternatives, a professional geriatric care management business in New York City. She consults with nursing homes and daycare programs to develop specialized programs for Alzheimer's patients.

Mood swings are very common with dementia and can be unpredictable. Often patients cannot sustain socially appropriate behaviors when they misperceive reality or have impulses they cannot control. These outbursts can be managed pharmacologically and I suggest you contact either a psychiatrist or neurologist who is very familiar with dementia. You may need to begin with a low dose and then titrate it progressively until her outbursts lessen. These behaviors can also be treated environmentally- that is, avoid putting your mother in anxiety provoking situations. If going to the doctor is such a situation, then schedule them when less people are there or arrange for in-home physican visits. This would lessen your sense of embarrassment and perhaps create less stress for her. These mood swings are not necessarily a precipitant for nursing home placement but if you attempt these interventions and they are unsuccessful you may need to consider other options. Remember that behaviors change along the progression of dementia and these may dissipate in time.