My mother pretends to be asleep and then jumps as if startled when we walk by. This happens 40 or 50 times per day. Is this normal?

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My mom (with Dementia/Alzheimers, 87 years old, pretends she is sleeping, and then when we walk by she jumps as if she got startled. It is so obvious that she is pretending. This happens 40 to 50 times a day EVERYDAY!!! It drives my husband nuts. He always turns the TV off when he sees her pretending to be asleep and then she opens her eyes and is really mad that he turned the TV off. I just ignore the behavior, but it does aggravate me. Does anyone else do this, or is she unique with this little habit.

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My mom has fainted since 1960, and now with the alzheimers she will tell us she is going to faint, but then will be out for several hours. Doctors have said as long as she is not unconscience, to leave her along because she just doesn't want to communicate. She will not answer or awaken, but if for example I say I am going to call 911 and take you to the hospital, she will wake up and say no-- so she is hearing me trying to wake her up, just is being stubborn. The wierd thing is that she can be in a very uncomfortable position, and will stay there, and then later say, my arms really hurt (and it was because of the way she is laying) Anyone ever have this along with the sleeping?
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The best thing to do is keep the tv on. My mom always sits in her recliner and has her eyes close she tells me she just resting her eyes. But if you watch closely she either moving her fingers or her feet. Sometimes she is really asleep.
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I guess we do not want to believe that something is wrong and so then we blame someone who cannot understand what is going on. Please get help for her and for yourself s. hugs
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The most important thing is take steps NOW to take care of yourselves. I waited too long and I am getting depressed and sad over all of this, but help is now coming with Respite and they will help us to understand and help....I can hardly wait...Do not wait as long as I did...It is not good on your helath or marriage. And she does not understand..truly...But take care and God Bless...call your local area agency on aging and get help now...HUGS
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Trying to "show her" by turning off TV or reason with her and expect her to respond normally is unbelievable. Whatever happened to respect your elders especially when they have no control over what is occurring in their brain? WHY would a caring person do this with someone who has a physical mental condition is beyond me. Perhaps your husband doesn’t know about Alz/dementia enough, is cruel or is in desperate need of mental health help. Yes, it can be excruciatingly annoying and frustrating at times. In order NOT to get to that point, look into respite (Home Caregiver can come in once in a while or regular basis to give you time off from her behavior.) You are not alone. Millions of people are dealing with these types of issues. If you take care of yourselves, you’ll be better equipped to take care of her properly. Good luck.
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Ics, I don't know this particular experience, but I do know the frustration of trying very hard to do everything I can think of and still not being able to "get it right" and help the loved one. This is not your failure -- it is the disease process. Especially those of us who are problem solvers by nature and maybe by profession have a hard time bumping against a problem we can't solve. I've learned not to give up. Your talking to your husband from a distance as you approach him was a good try and probably helps at least some time. But I've also learned (sort of, it's hard) not to take lack of success as a personal failure.

Getting dementia diagnosed in the very early stages can be very helpful. For one thing, all of drugs aimed at dementia seem to work best in the early stages. Might as well get as much value from them as we can! For another, it is very helpful to the caregiver to find out as much as possible about the type of dementia that is suspected, so we know what to expect, perhaps learn some stratedgies for coping with various behaviors, and we can stop beating ourselves up for not getting it right. Also, certain drugs make certain kinds of dementia worse, so the sooner doctors realize the patient has a dementing condition the safer for all concerned. If your husband has dementia, finding out soon won't change the dementia, but it can help the situation in various ways. It sounds like you have had some up close and personal exposure to dementia. Another frustrating aspect is that no two people have exactly the same symptoms in the same order and same severity. Even people diagnosed with the same kind of dementia will differ in their symptoms. So if Mother and Grandfather and Husband all have dementia, they will have lots of similarities but lots of differences, too.

In my opinion (and I don't have any professional credentials as an opion giver) it might be useful to start tracking in a notebook all the behaviors and sympoms that are out of the ordinary or that you think might indicate dementia. It sounds like your husband must have doctors he sees frequently. Discuss your notebook with his PCP and ask if a referral to a specialist is in order. Maybe the doctor will have other explanations for some of the symptoms -- drug side effects, symptom of one of the diseases he is known to have had, etc. That could put your mind at ease somewhat. Or maybe the doctor will agree that it is worth pursuing further.

Best wishes to you as you continue to do your best for your husband, even when you can't seem to "get it right."
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If jumping and yelling when I "startle" my husband is a sign of dementia, then I am hoping some of you can tell me at what stage of dementia this starts to happen? I hope at a very early stage because my husband started doing this about a year ago. He has always attributed the startling to the fact that "I sneak up on him" because he didn't hear me coming (he has hearing problems that seem to vary) so I try always now to speak to him before I approach him (but when I do this before entering a room sometimes I startle him anyway by waking him from a snooze). I can't seem to "get it right". And I must admit that I find the jumping and yelling upsetting (some times more than at other times) because his jumping and yelling sends almost an electric shock through my system and it is very jolting. My husband has always needed a lot of my attention and at times I must admit (although it seems very suspicious and unloving of me) I wonder if his jumping and yelling is an attention-seeker. My mother who had dementia and hearing problems was never startled by me and she never jumped and yelled. My husband has gone from one illness to another for the past several years so I suppose he could just be stressed from all the illnesses (as I am) and this is why he startles so easily. I have suspected for a while that dementia may be my husband's next illness as he has shown some signs of its approach (and he is so much like his grandfather who had dementia) but I have always put all the signs down to the effects of his illnesses and tiredness and the many drugs he takes. I was so interested to read the question that prompted all the above responses. I have never encountered anyone else who was facing the problem of the "jumping and yelling" family member. I agree that it is not a BIG problem compared to the other things that go along with dementia but sometimes it's things like this that can be the straw that breaks the camel's back. As caregivers, we are all under a lot of stress so let's keep supporting each other.
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LisaSmith - Very good post. What really caught my eye was the depth perception and judging distance part. My husband is still driving and I think this is part of his problem with his dementia. I can't seem to push any of the doctors to help me get something done. I am afraid to ride with him and won't if I don't have to. He seems to think he can do it. All everyone tells me is to contact the DMV. I have and they won't cooperate either. I don't want anything to happen to him or anyone else because of no cooperation.
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Thank you EVERYONE for answering me. I think after one year with only a 4 hr break every 3 months when my brother comes, it is getting to me. I need to take a walk and get it together. Like a few of you said ... what does it matter to me if she has her eyes closed ... pretending or not? She is not bothering anyone. I just wish I was more patient these days.
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Caregiverdiary, its so nice to read your reply. I cannot imagine it being comfortable to keep jumping like that, or, someone doing it on purpose even! Poor thing cant help it, I'm sure. Thank you for posting.
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