My Dad has Alzheimer's and Yells Profanities. Is this Tourette Syndrome?


Q: My elderly father with Alzheimer’s sometimes yells profanities. Could his Alzheimer’s cause Tourettes?

A: Profanities and other episodic psychiatric outbursts are a part of the "decompensation" challenges associated with Alzheimer's. Though this question may be more geared toward a physician than a social worker or psychologist, caregivers need to understand that they cannot and should not take any outburst personally.

Psychiatric challenges occur as the stages of Alzheimer's progresses and certainly it should not be construed particularly with another condition as Tourette Syndrome. Caregivers should have a good psychiatrist and neurologist work in tandem with the elderly parent as symptoms emerge over time. They should be in close communication and the necessary confidentiality releases need to occur from the outset.

Of course, not taking things personally is easier said than done. I usually suggest to my caregiver clients to read our book "Take Your Oxygen First" and add Miguel Ruiz's book "The Four Agreements." In his book, he has a wonderful chapter for caregivers to try their best to be able to understand that what is in front of them is a loved one who happens to have a disease. It is not the loved one speaking, but the disease itself.

Dr. Jamie Huysman, LCSW

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Dr. James Huysman, PsyD, LCSW, CAP, CFT is an authority on caregiver burnout, compassion and addictions. He blogs for Psychology Today, and is on the NASW committee aimed at establishing national standardization of caregiving. With a practice in South Florida, he runs wellness workshops for professionals and family caregivers.

Dr. Jamie

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