My mother was recently diagnosed with moderate/severe Alzheimer’s. So far, she hasn’t wandered or become verbally or physically abusive or delusional. Instead, she’s extremely passive and shows very little initiative about doing anything.
Do most Alzheimer’s patients wander and/or become aggressive, as time goes on? Can the person’s behavior change suddenly and dramatically?
Hi Rhonda my Mom is about a 6 I am guessing out of a possible 10 maybe even a 7 now she like your mom is passive non violent or argumentive but kinda always has been. She does have a routine bedtime at 9:00p.m. and seems eager to go to bed early although I will not let her. Even if she remains on her schedule bed at 9 and up at 7 or 8 a.m. she can get pretty active at night . She likes to go through her dresser drawers and unfold clothes . It looks like she was robbed in the night when we go to wake her up in the morning! or she makes many frequent trips to the bathroom in the night( which is a good thing I guess) she does wander. What I did was bought a motion sensor that allows me to sleep in my room . When she gets up I get an audable alarm up in my room that wakes me and my wife so we can check on her. She can’t hear the alarm in her room as she just has the sensor. “Hey it beats sleeping on the couch which I have done for almost 3 years now!!!”. My cousin whos mom also has Alz. also uses this but has a camera set up in her moms room and a small TV screen monitor in her bedroom so she can see if she up to no good or maybe just sat up and then layed back down. She also uses a baby monitor so she can her if she is talking or singing or whatever. My poor Aunt has no privacy! you can buy these things at the alzheimers store .com I can not speak for most alzheimers people but I can say between my own mother and my aunt neither are argumentive, both can wander, both are confussed at times of their surroundings where they are or what they are doing or where they where going. Mostly childlike they enjoy laughter alot make it a joke and things get easier to do. My mom will complain of stomach aches ( sometimes not even complain but if I look over at her she will be making painful looking faces or hold her stomach. That when I remind her she needs to use the bathroom. At night in bed she might lay there moaning, thats when I remind her she needs to use the bathroom. She will hold it and not no what it is that is cause to her problems. Then I have to remind her to turn the light on. close the door, pull down her pants and her underwear , sit and push, wipe, throw toilet paper in toilet, sometimes she will carry it around in her sleeve, flush and wash hands. (That is turn the water on, add soap, rub hands together, rinse, turn water off, now dry, place towel here turn light offf , leave door open and then can come up to living room to sit here. step by step by step. I try to have her do, rather than do for her or she will lose it. “Talk through, dont do!” attitude. Also I have her fold laundry or sweep just to help keep her occupied. I know I will have to refold but who cares It makes her feel like she is contributing and helping. Hope this helps I do not know what stages your parent is at but I think they still carry the same personality along that they always had but it takes alot of patients and understanding. Gene
Mostly suddle changes, slowly but consistantly gradually declining,over a period of months. Also very little intiative about doing anything as well. Be sure and set set schedules, do not give choices, she wont never decide. especially eating. this is what you get just like the rest of us. exercise is good , walks around the block. or excersise videos that can be done in place like leg lifts while seated etc.. march in place. bend and stretch etc.. go through photo albums often or she will forget people. have pictures of relatives mounted in her room. It seems I have to intiate conversations ideas etc or nothing will happen. as I said I think my mom is a 6 or 7 so needs help in eating, dressing,bathing, just about everything she is like a child or 2. 24 hours 7 days a week.Gene
Rhonda—My loved one was diagnosed a little over 3 years years ago. The news hit me so hard that I spent a good portion of the next 6 months on the verge of tears frightened over what I was certain was going to happen next. That was so much wasted time…Not much has changed. He is is a sweet and kind as ever…but…for the most part gave up driving about 8 months ago when it became obvious that familiar landmarks were not always that familiar. He has almost no recollection of what happened 5 minutes ago…needs reminders on showering and shaving…and guidance on dressing for the weather…but…he has never become abusive or wandered.
Your mother’s lack of ambition, initiative, and passiveness are what I call Alzheimer’s inertia and are relatively normal especially during the beginning of the illness. The ability to plan and empathize also are lost early on.
No 2 people with Alzheimer’s are the same…but…Changes usually happen slowly. Abrupt changes in behavior or cognition tend to be caused by outside physical problems like dehydration and urinary tract infections (UTIs). When I see something strange happen over night, a trip to his GP is scheduled.
Good point Skericheri, I also noticed if there are some changes in my mom that she should see a doctor to pee in a cup as have found multiple urinary tract infections in the past . A very noticable change in her personality occurs, withdrawn even quieter wants to sleep longer. I think people (woman) with Alzheimers get these urinary tract infections because they forget how wipe after using the toilet not 100% sure but is main suspect.
My mom wanders, I think its called sundowning. But she is mean when I try to stop her. She doesn’t sleep, so I have to get up when she does. The whole thing is getting more and more stressful. I wonder what things are available.
frankklern—If your mother usually spends most of the night awake in addition to what you call ‘sundowning’ breaking the night time awake cycle often enables them to be rested enough to stop sundowning.
Some people have experienced success after 2 weeks by giving 6 mg of melatonin to their loved ones 30 minutes before bed. Please read up on Melatonin on the internet in addition to checking with your loved one’s physician before starting it or any supplement. Be especially alert if your mother is diabetic. Melatonin is known to have a tendency to raise blood sugar levels.
If you have not…Visit the link posted by Marcus. The thoughts and suggestions are excellent.
If your mother has a tendency to wander, try trying to divert her in some way…conversation…a snack…a chore of some sort that she can accomplish (folding cloths is a standby)…agreeing with her and suggesting that it is too late, too wet, too cold, to anything sometimes helps. Telling her flat out that she cannot go will usually only provoke an argument.
How to Reduce Wandering in People with Alzheimer’s
By Diana Kohnle
May 14, 2007
Wandering is a common but dangerous symptom of Alzheimer’s disease — a degenerative disease of the brain that affects memory and cognition.
Alzheimer’s patients may suddenly walk off and become lost, frightened and confused about where they are, and many do not even know where they are trying to go. Since many of these people can’t identify themselves or where they live, wandering in unconfined and unsecured areas can be very dangerous.
Disorientation, medication, stress, fear or anxiety, and restlessness may all cause an Alzheimer’s patient to wander.
To keep patients safe and minimize wandering, the Alzheimer’s Association of Los Angeles offers these suggestions:
Make sure the patient is always comfortable and doesn’t need to use the restroom and isn’t hungry or thirsty.
Try to make sure he receives regular exercise and activity to reduce restlessness and boredom. If he is still capable, let the patient help with daily chores like laundry or light cooking or housekeeping.
Tell the person often that you are there to help him, and make sure he understands he doesn’t need to be anywhere but right where he is.
Keep the environment quiet and relaxing — avoid noise and confusion that may frighten the patient into trying to scamper away.
If possible, keep doors locked and secured to prevent wandering into the street and getting lost.
Devise a plan of action in the event the patient does become lost — keep current information on hand, like height and weight, and a recent photograph. Also, keep a list of places where the person has wandered previously, or places he used to frequent that he may be trying to find.
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