Is it true that Alzheimer's patients can stop swallowing or eating?

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I feel better knowing that the kids may not see exactly the way i do or feel the same around my father . His illness is not contagious he has alzheimers and dementia ,he also suffers fr diabetes He has to be on a low sugar diet he dsnt need insulin. His sugar should be checked daily. I will often tell my dad i will pay him if he eats. He gives a hard time ,suffering biabetic shock episodes in the past ill do anything to make him eat .Will alzheimers eventually make him forget to chew or swallow

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Top Answer
Here's something for you Lori. I'm not experienced with Alzheimers but plenty of people here are. Perhaps this will help a little.

Alzheimer's Disease at Age-Matters
Behavior of Alzheimer's Patients

Thanks to Beth Creason at about.com

The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's Symptoms

Do you know what to expect during the course of Alzheimer's disease? There are seven stages that describe each phase of this debilitating disease. Not everyone who has AD will have all of these symptoms, nor will they necessarily have the symptoms in the order I have listed, but, by using this guide, you can get an idea of the progressive decline of the patient's cognitive functions.

Alzheimer's disease usually lasts from three to 20 years. During this time, cognitive function steadily decreases. In many cases, patients do not die of Alzheimer's itself, but other complications, such as pneumonia, heart failure or infections.

Let's examine the seven stages:

Stage One: There are no symptoms at all. The patient has no memory impairment nor does he have any visible signs of other cognitive decline.

Stage Two: The patient will notice some mild memory loss. He or she will usually start by misplacing objects or forgetting names that are well known to them. He or she may wonder about the memory loss, but will usually blame it on aging.

Stage Three: The victim will notice an increase in memory impairment. They may make a trip to the store and forget how to get back home. Their work performance may suffer because the patient may forget important details while working on a project. They may start trying to think of what a particular object is called, and the frequency of forgetting names of people they should know well will probably increase. Reading may become a problem, as the patient cannot remember what he or she has just read. At this point, the patient may lose or misplace something valuable, not remembering where they put it. Concentration will become very difficult. Most victims will go into denial during this stage, and will tend to have problems with anxiety.

Stage Four: In this stage, some long term memory loss will be seen. When asked about news headlines or current events, they may have difficulty in recalling what is happening. Travel becomes difficult because of the anxiety it causes. The person may not be able to handle their finances any longer because of confusion. The victim will usually start to withdraw from anything that presents a challenge. Denial is still prominent.

Stage Five: The patient now has to have assistance with some activities of daily living. They usually need help in selecting the clothes they wear, as during this stage they tend to dress inappropriately. They can still feed themselves and use the restroom without assistance. They may have trouble remembering some family members names, especially grandchildren or siblings, but can usually tell you their own names or the names of their spouse or children. They have trouble recalling such things as their address, or phone number.

Stage Six: The victim may now start forgetting the name of their spouse or children. They usually cannot recall any recent events in their lives. They may be able to recall things that have happened in the past, but cannot go into detail about the events. They are disoriented to time and place. When asked to count from ten, they will usually not be able to do this. They may even have difficulty in counting from one to ten. They may become incontinent, and will require help with most activities of daily living, such as bathing, toileting, dressing and sometimes eating. Delusions and paranoia may be a problem. They may start having some difficult behavior problems. Anxiety, agitation or violent behavior may occur.

Stage Seven: Most communication skills are lost. Speech is non-existent. The patient is incontinent. They will need help with feeding and toileting. They will become unable to walk or control other motor functions. During this stage, the person usually becomes bedfast.

It's been my experience that many patients will stay in stage five or six for a long period of time. Some patients that I met several years ago that were in these stages are still in the same stage. Not every patient is the same, so the stages and length of time in each stage will vary.

You can help the patient by showing him or her a lot of love and patience. Learning the different stages and knowing what to expect, will help you, the caregiver.
They may aspirate food into their lungs. That took out a friend's mother. Mom has problems swallowing, probably due to dentures at this point.
A swallowing study can be done easily by a dietician in one nursing home my husband was in every new pt. even those for rehab had a simple swallowing study done by the dietician and if needed a more complex study can be done if a pt. can not swallow then a feeding tube has to be placed.
I really appreciate the information you all have given to these questions. I particularly appreciate the 7 stages Pamela mentioned. I recognize some of the stages my mother has moved from and into. I see her now in a combination of 3, 4, and 5. I think she may get frustrated trying to read, but she won't say so. One thing I read here too that made me feel a whole lot better, is that I may have to accept it when my mom refuses to take a shower. A co-worker said I must make her take a shower at least twice a week. I felt awful, because my mom is very stubburn! Anyway, thanks again!
Jodi,
My mom had the same problem with the shower. She was very good about it until all of a sudden she absolutely refused to go near the shower. We think she may have forgotten how to adjust the water temp at one point and it either got too hot or too cold. Too late we learned about this possibility from the Alzheimer's Association. They recommend starting the use of a bathtub chair and wand shower as soon as the Alzheimer's patient is willing to accept being bathed by a caregiver. The sooner this happens, the easier it is for her to adjust to the caregiver and to the new method of taking a shower. Once an Alzheimer's patient has a bad experience with something they instinctively stay away from it.
Has he been diagnosed with Alz or a certain form of dementia? There are actually several different types of dementia, and even though they all basically behave the same they have distinct differences. My gma has multi-infarct dementia, which means dementia from multiple strokes, and in theory she can have these strokes for the rest of her life. It is possible that she will have a stroke in the area of her brain that tells her she is hungry, and she will stop eating. Or it could hit the area that tells her heart to beat. There's no way of knowing. Check with your doc to see the specifics of his form of dementia, because it may behave differently from Alzheimer's. No matter which form he has, there's lots of hope and every day there's more research being done and more treatments available, so don't lose hope. Also, he might think he has already eaten, so he won't eat again-I've hit that wall a few times. I have a few tips on getting stubborn people to eat if you need them :)
Yes it is true...I experienced that my mom went from eating whole foods at the beginning, and as the muscles in the throat did not work properly, and his disease progressed, she finally ended up with having strained foods. I believe that the dietician can evaluate your mom's capability....so her meals can be prepared accordingly.Inasmuch as everyone with AD can react different...this may or may not be the case with you, and I would have a further evaluation.

Good luck~

Hap
Hi Jody,
Eating and dementia is often an eiither good or bad mix- it seems that you are now in the bad mix area. People with dementia are still with us so now you will have to try to figure out why mom doesn't want to eat.Knowing the stages of dementia is good, but most people travel within several stages daily. She may need food that is easy to eat such as finger food or she may no longer like what is being served. Give her two choices of meals that you can easily prepare.
Some people no matter what stage they are in may have swallowing problems. Have the doctor order a swallowing test. Sometimes a person may need to start again with pureed food and then gradually move back to table food.
What is going on when the meal is being served? A person with dementia might not remember what is in front of them. They may look to you for clues as to what to do. They may just need a gentle start from you. They may be confused as to which utencil to use. Place the fork or spoon in their hand. If needed- hand feed them.
Keep mealtime simple. Focus on eating. If you are hand feeding mom keep encouraging her and when the food is in her mouth rub your index finger on her cheek to encourage swallowing.
Hope this helps.
Lori--to follow up....It may be a good idea to contact the experts at the Alzheimer's Association as well----they have a 24 hour help line...or go online to alzheimer'sassociation.org, as they have an ongoing forum there as well.

The more you learn and know about this disease, the better you will be prepared. You seem to be off to a good start, by entering your question in this online forum.

Once again--Good luck :-)

Hap!
All this is very informative. Doesn't it make you think about prevention? When they find the cause, the real cause, then they can work on prevention.
An elderly person living with a younger person (daughter, son, caregiver etc.) should always be provided for> meals have to be served to them and bath/shower water started for them before they enter the bath. Clothes should be selected for them, and they should be groomed by the person caring for them. It was an absolute joy taking care of my husband during the last two years of his life. What I wouldn't give to have him back home here again.

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