Can an Alzheimer's patient "think" they are sick and actually not be?

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My husband and I take care of his grandfather who is 88 and has Alzheimers for about 2 years now. He has always been the type to like attention and this seems to have just gotten worse.
I have tried to research a certain situation that had happened the other day. He complained of a "sour stomach" . He had no typical symptoms of a stomach bug. No vomitting or diarrhea. Kept saying he could not hold anything down. He drank lots of water and held it down as well as a sandwich. The next day he was in a complete panic and said he was hot and sweating and his stomach hurt. He refused to go to the ER. He calmed down and slept. LAter that day he complained again and would not eat all day. We took him to his Primary care dr. Nothing was wrong and it seemed like he almost did not know why we were there. That night I made him eat some soup. He was fine. Late that night he frealed out. Refused ER again. The next morning same thing, this time he had no choice and we spent 5 hours in the ER and nothing was wrong. No UTI, no virus etc. He had an xray and a catscan, blood work and urine test. He ate fine that night and took a long nap. He started complaining the next night again..............not as much in a panic but I do not know what to do................... help

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Thank you vstefans
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Nettie, short answer is yes, of course, why do you ask...but long, more accurate answer...this is hard... and at some point, he will have a more serious illness and things will get worse for him as time goes on despite the best care and efforts you can make.

Sometimes people having cardiac (heart) troubles will experience the pain as being from the "stomach" and it could help to check that out - sometimes medications will help with that at least for a time and make him more comfortable, while just acid blocking meds for "sour stomach" won't really do as much if that's the case.

Your being there and caring and trying to help him make any sense at all out of what's happening is probably the best comfort to him...at LEAST as good as getting the right medicine for it.
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Country mouse, thank you again :)
Yes the contrast I was referring to was the catscan. His GP is horrible. Seriously in denial about the alzheimer's. Does not listen to me until i keep correcting my grandfather in law answers . Yea hes my husbands grandfather . Not father . So anyway his GP treats my FIL MIL AND BIL and so my GFIL wont go to anyone else. I usually just nod and agrew with him like you suggested, which is great advice . I learned that the hard way. I correct him when he says he has not eaten or something like that. I oniw what ge eats because either myself or the aides give it to him. Hes diabetic and was eating everything so about 6 months ago i had to not leave any food around . He lives upstairs so I bring up.wgst heceats for the morning. The aide gives him lunch and i cook him dinner .
So update - tonight at dinner no complaints and ate all his dinner. ....
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I need to apologize FOR ALL those typos..... yikes . Sorry I'm using my phone . Pamstegma, how do i find his chart ?.
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I expect the ER doctor who didn't think the contrast was necessary was talking about a contrast CT scan, when they inject a dye into the veins to clarify the image; this would show up the structures in and around his kidneys, among other things. If his creatinine levels are normal then that's something to rule out, I suppose?

A barium swallow (again, this could be really old-fashioned, I'm not sure) would be to do with the x-ray, and would show up any anomalies from his throat down to his stomach - literally, you glug the stuff down and it highlights all the bits it coats. They use it to show up hernias and obstructions and so on.

Your poor FIL is catching hold of any shreds of memory that fit his limited picture of what's going on. So when he was talking to the friend, he knew there was something to do with a hospital and he grabbed the nearest memory he could, which was well out of date but roughly a fit. I know it can drive you to drink; but don't contradict him - just agree, and then add the accurate information to remind him. Or just agree! - if it doesn't really matter :)

If I were you I should ask your FIL's GP to review the test results from the ER and reassess his current prescriptions. There's no point in his going in to hospital unless they have a better plan than poking him with a stick and seeing what happens; but there could be other investigations the GP would like done. Maybe keep a food diary meanwhile? Give you something to do besides wring your hands, and you'll have an accurate account to give the doctor. I'm sorry, this must be very worrying for you.
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Look at his chart, if there is a diagnosis code 300.9 he has somatoform disorder, meaning he has complaints that have no physical basis. Very common in many dementia patients.
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Thank you all for taking the time to try and help. He is on a prescription medication for tefkux . Tbe generic vetsion of Nexium. Hes been on it for a while. The ER Dr. Said he did nit feel he needed to.do a contrast . One reason he saud was because of his "creatin" levels . forgive me for the spelling. Its probably wrong I'm still learning a lot about all these medical issues that have to do with his kidney numbers or something like that . He did it again tonight at dinner. Starting eating then said he cant eat it all. His stomache hurts . When I was at work, the aide that was with him said he didn't really complain. He ate cereal in the morning and a sandwich for lunch . tonight he only sat at the dinner table for about 15 minutes. yesterday when it started again at dinner i said if you dont rat we have to go to tbe ER again to see whats wrong . He started eating and stayed at the table for a while and his mood improved and he acted normal. His mood and level of pain is all over the place. he does not always remember day to day . Gets days mixed up . It is hard to explain it's up and down and never gets better but sometimes it kind of evens out like he keeps saying he didn't feel good since yesterday when really this is been going on for the last 4 days he also keeps telling everybody he had a hamburger and fries yesterday and he thinks that might be bothering him but that was a week ago. The day we came home from tbe ER he apologized and. I said it was fine I got him to eat and he was fine he ate lunch and dinner that day and was completely fired he even left me a message but I ran to the store saying how he had a bowel movement and ate and slept and is doing great he was very confused I think because then when his friend called he told them that he just got home after a week of being rehab . He was in rehab after breaking his hip. (He broke one hip then the other 6 months apart) that was 2 years ago..... if something wrong I will feel terrible but what else can I do ??? The ER said if he keeps complaining to call his doctor and they will send him back to the ER and then they will have to admit him because they won't know what else to do
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I agree with trying the antacids, not Alka Seltzer though as it contains asprin one of the tablets should help. he could have an ulcer that would not show up. Keep his diet plain and soft minced chicken,mashed potatoes things like that well cooked with no spices Keep his diet plain and soft, Any of the protein drinks are good supplements. he may need some anti anxiety meds and pills to calm down the acid in the stomach
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Is his Alzheimer's gotten to the point where he does not recall hour to hour or day to day what has happened? If so, you would think his complaints of stomach pain would be real since he does not remember he complained the day before. Intestinal distress can be caused by many things including stress and anxiety, and a lot of GI issues don't show up with the type of testing he had. Have you tried giving him an over the counter antacid? His age group will relate to Alka Seltzer. Is he drinking enough water? Have his bowel movements changed? The other side of the coin is that this is all in his head, which could be possible since memory loss can also lead to delusional thinking.
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Reflux? Could that be what he means by "sour stomach"? If the sphincter at the top of his stomach has slackened for some reason he could be getting stomach contents coming up into his gullet, which would feel very unpleasant and wouldn't necessarily show on an x-ray unless they did a barium swallow (or modern equivalent - don't know if they even do those any more). Did anybody mention the word "contrast" in relation to the x-ray and the scan?

And whether or not he noticed the symptoms could conceivably depend on a) what he was eating or drinking and b) whether or not he'd taken prescribed or over-the-counter antacids. That would explain the on-off aspects.

It's terribly difficult when you can't get sensible answers out of a person. My mother's GP remarked tongue-in-cheek (I didn't take offence because I understood what she meant) that we were "getting into the realms of veterinary medicine…" That being so, though, all you can really do is watch him and make soothing noises meanwhile. But if he's got Alzheimer's in full swing, then even if you were the type to say pull yourself together and stop making such a fuss you'd be wasting your breath - pointless as well as heartless! I'm sorry you're having this worry, hope it proves to be nothing sinister and settles down before long.
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