My mom has dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. Does the death of a family member affect the brain of a patient with these brain disorders? [ 11/13/12 ]
Losing a family member does not physically affect the brain. However, the death may affect your mother emotionally. If your mother was with the person regularly, and she enjoyed and/or depended on him/her, she may sense the absence. If there is a routine time when he/she was normally with your mother (for example, while she is dressing), your mother could show some confusion. If this happens, it will be helpful to reassure her (that you are there to help her dress, for example) and possibly redirect her.
My wife has advanced Alzheimer's disease. She often refuses to eat, and if given solid food she chews it, but does not swallow. She chews anything she can get in her mouth, which might include soft toys, her fingers, or her clothes. We got her a baby teething ring and she spent at least 30 minutes chewing it. Is this a normal behavior at this stage of the disease? Is she using this as a way of relaxing or relieving some tension? Should I be concerned about this behavior? [ 11/13/12 ]
People can develop problems with eating in the advanced stage of Alzheimer's. They may lose interest in food, refuse to eat, or they may have difficulty chewing or swallowing. A speech and language pathologist may be able to help your wife with swallowing. You could ask her physician for a referral.
As far as your wife's chewing on objects, it is not uncommon to see this type of behavior. Your wife is using her other senses to experience the world. Since she does not remember the past or consider the future, and is living each day in the present, similar to a child. She is probably not using the chewing as a way of releasing some tension; she is probably just enjoying the sensation. You could let her chew objects as long as the objects are safe and there is no risk of her choking.
My mother is in the mid-stage of Alzheimer’s disease and lives in an assisted living facility. Approximately twice each month my sister and I take her out for a day or two to stay at our homes. Is this harmful to her in any way? A few of our other siblings seem to think it is. [ 11/13/12 ]
How does your mother seem to react to the trips? If she seems to enjoy the time out and, more importantly, does not show any signs of agitation or distress as her environment changes, it seems the outings would be only a positive experience for her.
My nan has Alzheimer's disease and has been unable to speak "real" words for a few years. She has recently been ill and was taken into a hospital for an infection. My mum rang her care home to let them know what the hospital had said, and they told her that my nan had spoken and told them that she was not well. Can she speak if she wants or needs to? Was it just a coincidence and does she understand when we are speaking to her? My granddad recently died and when my nan was told about his passing she appeared to show concern for a split second; she usually just has a blank expression on her face. [ 11/13/12 ]
In the later stage of Alzheimer's, language decreases, but language can vary greatly from one person to another. Some people don't speak at all, others have some meaningful sentences. The amount a person speaks can also vary. It sounds like this may be the case with your grandmother, in that she is speaking a little recently after a long period of being silent. It is difficult to say what may be the reason the language has broken through or how long it will last, but it is not a matter of her speaking when she wants to speak. Whether she is speaking or not, you should always assume she understands what you are saying to her. As language diminishes, other non-verbal means of communication can be powerful, such as touching the hand, giving a hug, or giving a light massage, if the person suffering from Alzheimer's disease seems to like it.
My dad has had eight injections for wet macular degeneration and has become extremely agitated during the visit, especially after the injection. He doesn't understand that he can't touch his eye. This seems to be making his disease progress and it isn't really helping his vision. Should we stop the injections? [ 11/12/12 ]
You don't say whether your father has dementia, and if so, how progressed it is. If he does suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's disease, remembering to not touch his eye will be difficult, if not impossible. Something clearly bothers him. By all means, discuss this problem with his physician, as this will help you determine how to proceed.
If your loved one has withdrawn from social occasions, should you force them to interact with friends? [ 06/22/12 ]
Social contact and connection are valuable aspects of the support process that can be offered to people with Alzheimer's disease, but don't push so hard that the loved one's experience is made painful or your efforts will backfire. Also remember that for you, too, it's important to maintain social connections. Caregivers are at risk for isolation and depression!
My mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's since 1999 and is now in a late stage of the disease. Due to a life of sun exposure, mom has numerous skin cancers. We recently learned she has two squamous cell cancers and two basal cell cancers. At this point her life she does not comprehend what is happening to her. The doctor wants to remove the skin cancers and do additional biopsies on some other suspicious areas. How much should we put mom through with regard to the skin cancer diagnoses? [ 05/16/12 ]
Many Alzheimer's patients have additional diseases that are found among older adults. The diagnoses of osteoporosis, arthritis, coronary artery disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, cancers, and other disorders often raise the question of how aggressively to investigate and treat. Taking into account the stage of your mother's dementia and the severity of her skin cancers, you may be able to decide the best way to proceed based on two important considerations:
- What choices do you think she would make if she did comprehend the situation?
- How does the discomfort of treatment compare to the discomfort that might be caused during your mother's remaining years by untreated skin cancers?
For some, the decision to withhold treatment of slowly-progressive and minimally painful conditions is appropriate given the progressive nature of Alzheimer's disease.
My brother has Alzheimer's disease. He has fallen asleep and they have been unable to wake him up. Is this a common occurrence with Alzheimer's patients? Since I have two brothers who suffer from this disease, am I at greater risk of getting this brain disorder? [ 05/16/12 ]
Alzheimer's disease (AD) does indeed affect sleep patterns, but your brother may have separate or additional problems with his sleep that could be addressed. Medications, too, can sometimes account for excessive difficulty awakening. Please consider seeking the advice of a sleep specialist. And, unfortunately, the presence in your family of two brothers could double or triple your risk of developing AD, though your risk is increased less if the onset of their illness came later in life.