My partner of 20 years was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago. Around 21 years ago, he was also diagnosed with Lewy Body disease. He weighed 212 pounds when first diagnosed, but now he weighs 129 pounds, is totally bed-ridden, and speaks very little. He eats well most of the time and sleeps as soon as he has eaten. Is this normal? He is still taking Namenda, twice daily, one Zoloft 100mg daily, 1/2 of a 10 milligram Norvasc daily, and one K DURx daily. Does the combination of these drugs cause sleepiness? [ 06/20/13 ]
Your partner has survived for an astounding number of years despite serious illnesses. I am not sure how his clinicians have distinguished between his Alzheimer’s disease and his Lewy Body disease, but both of these can interfere in so many ways with cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physical functioning. As these diseases progress, an individual may require more hours of sleep each day, and sleep may be more fragmented. It would not be unusual to sleep after eating. The medications he is taking are not typically associated with increased sleepiness, but individuals can react idiosyncratically to medications so it is not impossible that his Namenda, Zoloft, or Norvasc might increase his sleepiness. Progression of his disease(s), however, is a more probable explanation.
My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease around seven years ago. She is currently living in a nursing home and I noticed lately she has been sleeping more than usual. Last night, while visiting with her, I tried to wake her and she wouldn't wake up. Even the nurse shook her and took her vitals. She was fine, but had a slight fever. I also noticed that her breathing was more rapid than usual. Does this mean she is shutting down? Her medications have been reduced and she still sleeping as if she is in a coma. [ 06/20/13 ]
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it is common for affected individuals to require more sleep. Fever and rapid breathing, however, may indicate the presence of an infection. The urinary tract, the lungs, or the skin are common sites of infection in people with advanced Alzheimer’s, and the clinicians caring for your mother may wish to assess for the presence of an infection affecting her temperature and breathing.
My mother-in-law has dementia, which was diagnosed about two years ago. She takes Aricept, two Advil PM at bedtime, and melatonin to help her sleep through the night. It doesn't work. She still forgets what she said or asked, and forgets if family members have passed on or not. As her primary caregiver, I work full time while she goes to adult daycare, which picks her up each morning. She wakes up several times at night, gets dressed and waits by the front window watching for the bus at all hours. I've placed brightly colored sticky notes throughout the house, on windows, mirrors, and clocks, saying "Mary: The bus comes at 8 am. What time is it now?" I've placed the notes on the clocks and placed clocks everywhere in the house. She takes the notes down, but still waits by the front window watching for them in the dead of night. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep her from waking up and staying up all night waiting for the bus? We've taken her off any caffeinated drinks, but that [ 06/20/13 ]
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have profound effects on sleep. Alzheimer’s, in particular, is known to interfere with the continuity of sleep, so many affected people wake intermittently during the night. You’re right to eliminate caffeine and other stimulants from her diet. Prepare a restful sleeping area for her, too, and avoid excessive emotional stimulation before bedtime. Controlled release melatonin helps some Alzheimer’s patients remain asleep longer. Other medications are sometimes used, but please consult your mother-in-laws clinicians about this because they will balance the potential benefits of increased sleep with the risks that these medications bring, which include increased confusion and fall risk.
My wife, who is 59 years old, suffers from severe and rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s disease. From the onset, her eyesight has been compromised. She sees, but can no longer watch the television and walks with great difficulty. Our doctor indicates nothing is wrong with her eyes, but there does appear to be a problem somewhere between her eyes and her brain. I would appreciate any perspective that you have on Alzheimer’s disease and loss of vision. [ 06/19/13 ]
The process of vision places demands not only upon the eyes but also on the brain. The eyes are the sensory organs that take in light and convert sensory input into the nerve impulses that are transmitted to visual centers in the brain. In Alzheimer’s disease, and particularly in the posterior cortical variant of this brain disorder, visual function can be greatly disturbed. Even though nothing is wrong with the eyes themselves, the brain’s inability to understand the signals it is receiving can produce symptoms such as you have described.
My father and several aunts had Alzheimer's disease and it concerns me greatly. I understand that some studies are showing the presence of metals in the brain and I've heard we should not be cooking with cast iron. Is that true? If so, what is the best material for cookware? [ 06/19/13 ]
Because the ultimate cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not yet certain, the search for modifiable lifestyle risk factors is very compelling. There is research exploring the risk-reducing value of addressing medical disorders such as diabetes, paying attention to nutrition, engaging in appropriate levels of physical activity, and maintaining cognitive stimulation and social connections. The relevance of various environmental exposures has also been explored, and the possible role of cookware in increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s has been debated for decades. Cookware made of cast iron, stainless steel, or aluminum has the potential for exposing users to trace amounts of metals. Concerns have also been raised about zinc and copper. A definitive link between exposure to metals and Alzheimer’s has not been established, though concerns about the toxicity of these metals, most frequently aluminum, have not been entirely laid to rest. Enameled cast iron or stainless steel has been recommended as most safe, but the food that you eat is probably a much more important risk factor than the cookware you use to prepare it.
How can I convince my family to see that my Grandma is ready to go to heaven and end her suffering? She is on a feeding tube. [ 06/18/13 ]
If you are suggesting that your family is not ready to realize that your Grandma is at the end stage of life, perhaps it would help to ask for a family meeting with the physician, nurse, or social worker. The professional may be able to explain your Grandma’s medical status and help your family understand what will probably happen in the upcoming weeks or months.
If, on the other hand, you are asking how to suggest your family end life support (feeding tube) and let your Grandma pass away, it is important first to determine your Grandma’s wishes. If she is unable to communicate them, you may find them in a document called a “Living Will,” which she had prepared and had witnessed. Your Grandma may also appointed someone (Health Care Power of Attorney) to make medical decisions for when she if she is not able to make them herself.
After you determine your Grandma’s wishes, suggest your family meet with your Grandma’s physician to discuss them. If it is impossible to determine your Grandma’s wishes, you may suggest a family meeting to discuss with the physician what you believe your Grandma would have wanted.
My husband is 62 years old. He was diagnosed five years ago. For last eight months, he just chatters and stutters. I can no longer understand him, and wonder if this behavior is a normal part of Alzheimer's disease? [ 06/18/13 ]
In Alzheimer's disease, the structure of the brain changes, including the area responsible for speech. In late-stage Alzheimer’s, the person often loses the ability to speak in clear, understandable sentences. Sometimes, the person with the disease is mute. Other times, they repeat words, phrases, or sounds. While each person is different, it sounds like your husband’s speech pattern is typical. Your challenge as a caregiver is trying to understand your husband when he is trying to tell you something of significance. Being aware of his body language and other cues may help. What is important is that you reassure him and show that you are listening and being sensitive to his needs.
My mother-in-law is no longer able to live alone due to Alzheimer's disease. She lives with my sister-in-law and sometimes understands that she can no longer live alone. Sometimes, however, she insists on going home and becomes agitated when she is told that she can’t go. Her home (rental) and belongings are still intact. We would love for her to go through the house and let us know what to do with her belongings. We have been advised that bringing her back to her home may do more harm than good and she may not want to leave. But we have also been advised that it could do helpful for her to have "closure." What should we do? She is in stage 4 or 5 of the disease. [ 06/18/13 ]
It is difficult to advise you on this situation without having more knowledge or understanding of the situation.
If you do decide to take her back home, I am not sure if you will want to ask her about her belongings or if she will be able to tell you about them. Instead, you may want to ask about them in an indirect manner, such as “If you were to sell the house, what would you like to take to your new home?” or “Have any of your children shown a particular interest in that lovely vase?”
If, on the other hand, you decide not to take her to her home, I suggest that you say “later” rather than “no” if she asks to go home.