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Wow! What a decline


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In just one short day my mom has rapidly declined. I was with her Sunday morning and we had breakfast and everything was fine. She was living at her apartment. By Sunday afternoon, I got a call saying she was wandering the apt. complex lost.

My husband and I went over to help her and I discovered that her meds were messed up and some were possible missing. Off to the hospital to make sure she did not take them. (she is a Hospice patient and we are not even supposed to go to the hospital anymore but I did not know what to do!)

Hospital did a cat scan of her head while we were there and nothing was found much to my surprise. My mom as of now, has no idea what is going on. Doesn't know who I am, the day, date, month, year or just about anything. How can this happen so fast?

Hospice says sometime a decline can happen very fast, but in 1 day?

I had to move her out of her apt. yesterday and into a hospice residence where she can be watched 24 hours a day. She is suddenly very restless and agitated about things. (That started while she was still at her own home)

Sorry to ramble. I feel so lost and scared right now. No one will tell me why or what all of this means. How can one's mind go so quickly when no mets or swelling is found?


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My mom as of now, has no idea what is going on. Doesn't know who I am, the day, date, month, year or just about anything. How can this happen so fast?


I had a severe bout with confusion and short-term memory loss last summer. I drove and got lost, ran red lights, forgot how to answer the phone at work, couldn't remember the names of those around me, nor what I was going to do when I got up and moved around... I had problems speaking because I "lost words" or thoughts while trying to express myself. It was all very frustrating, because I could see that I was mixing things up and I couldn't fix it!

Had an MRI because I'd also been having headaches - nothing. I was sent to a neuropsychologist for "brain mapping". Lo and behold, he tells me that I have white cell damage. Seems cancer is a little toxic waste dump in the body and while it's in there, it can cause all kinds of problems with the wiring - and then there's the medications taken for the disease...

My symptoms did not begin in one day, they just came to a head the day that I could not answer the damn phone. I had been getting lost a lot, but I'm hardly ever in the car alone so it wasn't too noticable (all kinds of backseat drivers asking me where I'm going or telling me when to turn - I knew I was lost, they didn't). Of course, the day I made a left turn at a red light and didn't even slow down, my husband was in the passenger seat and almost passed a gold brick!

I still forget things when I have stress. I have to write notes on projects at work so I don't forget where I am in the project and what still needs to be done, and I forget names. I'm doing better on word recall. Thankfully, white matter in the brain can regenerate - it just takes time.

Good luck with your mother, she may just get past this phase and be fine.

Take care,


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I can tell you that medication or combination of certain medications can cause confusion, agitation etc. in what seems to be overnight. My husband had it happen to him a few months ago. His was a combination of high dose prednisone plus other meds . He was able to function fine and then one day got so confused about everything. His lasted quite a while, as he was gradually taken off the prednisone etc. I'm only commenting on this to let you know that yes, meds can very rapidly cause this kind of memory loss and confusion. There could also be other causes. At the time, doctors did not know the answers to why my husband had this happen. He had an MRI and CT of the brain -both normal. Three doctors gave 3 different guesses and none of them ended up correct. After 2 months time he had gradually come back to normal. I'm just sharing this to let you know that it can happen. My heart goes out to you. I know how frustrating and upsetting that situation can be.


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I just want you to know that we went through that too. In a week or so, my Mom went from being up and around, playing trivial pursuit, and able to at least get up and sit in her chair for a bit, to being bed bound, to losing words, to losing language entirely. I dreaded waking up each morning because each day the change was even more dramatic.

I'm so sorry this is happening, and I hope and pray that the confusion is temporary.

Whatever happens, we're here for you.

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As Sue said, medications can cause this, especially combinations of medications. Combining Decadron/Prednisone with morphine, Ativan, etc., can cause some really bizarre side effects.

When Dad starting having problems like this, I called a pharmacist and went over the list of meds with him to see if he could tell me what might be causing it. That was very helpful.

At this particular time, don't just assume this is disease progression. Take a hard look at the meds first.

Kind thoughts,


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Every cancer patient is so different in this journey. The ups and downs are sooooo confusing to the caregivers. It's not easy to know what is what.

In my mom's case, she had confussion one day and the next day she was in a coma and 9 hours later she had passed.

My dad was in a lot of pain for 6 months, and he too had a day here and a day there of confussion. Yet when he passed away he was sitting and watching Lucy on TV and then his head dropped and he was gone.

My sister had some confussion a few months before she passed. We know it was drug related. However, her last few days she spent in a coma and the just drifted off.

Things can change in a blink of an eye.


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Linus -

As with everyone else...make sure you have the meds checked. My mom had a horrible reaction to Ativan with Duragesic patches - I thought she had completely lost her mind in a matter of hours...the confusion lasted about 3 days and then stopped...we have not used Ativan since...and she has been pretty clearheaded since then.

Your mom will be in my prayers,


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I had problems the first few weeks of chemo. I was taking xanax for nerves and lost track of when and how many I was taking!!! Needless to say the family took them away from me.

My mom had nsclc in '92 and died in '94 from it. She had brain mets tho and on a Fri morning she was doing well, no memory problems, that night she could not talk anymore, the next day she just garbled and by Mon. she went into a coma, she died Tues.

PLEASE asak the Dr about an MRI it is better for detecting brain mets.

Prayers for you and the family


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My husband Alan had issues with his medication. one day he was fine, the next he was seeing imiages and thought he was frozen inside and I had to defrost him before he would eat. after many CT scans and MRI's to his brain, it was the drug Decadron that was the culprit, it caused him to go into an organic psycosis. very very scary at the time, but once the Dr.'s slowly took him off the drug, he was himself again (at least mentally).

I will pray for you and your mom


Husband Alan dx small cell lung cancer Jan 10th 2005

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Thanks everyone for all of the advice. I think that the medications are, indeed, the issue. The main culprit being a patch for motion sickness called scopalamine. Hospice gave this drug to my mom for nausea because nothing else was taking care of that.

Well, it worked great for the nausea but had some pretty bad side effects!

She is doing much better today. For the last couple of months, she had been declining and pretty confused but nothing like this.

Thank you all for your prayers and advice because without the advice, I probably would have continued to put that patch on her!


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Hi Linus,

So glad you seem to have found the problem and your mom is doing better.

I remember when my husband was on a Fentynal patch, he became like a zoombie. I know he does not do good with morphine. When I reserched it on the internet, I found out the patch was morphine. So I took it upon myself to discontinue it, and got my hushand back.

Hope she continues to improve. Keep us posted.


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I'm so glad your Mom is doing better. Some of these meds can be pretty wicked, huh? I had a high dose prednisone burst for 10 days a couple of weeks back. I did great the first two days, but then.... :twisted: LOTS of confusion, agitation, sleeplesness (At least I got a lot of house cleaning done :shock: )

Yep...those meds can do a number. Glad you've got her back on track. She's lucky to have you looking out for her.

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