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I've heard that with dementia the body "forgets" things.

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LadyCoco: I agree...excellent post!
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As a person's Alzheimer's progresses, there an indeed be digestive problems. The brain is the body's command center....EVERYTHING we do is because the brain is sending a command to do it...eat, sleep, eliminate, talk, blink, etc. As the brain signals deteriorate as with Alzheimers, the body does not function as it should. Vital organs do not function properly because they are not getting proper signals any longer.
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typo, 8/19. not 6/19
See how much we need AC to fix the date stamps?
Today is 8/21/2016 1:25 a.m. PDT
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Babalou, I would be very interested in reading more about the Mayo Clinic studies about Celiac and dementia, could you send me some links?
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Send: There was nothing except a date from June and a time.
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6/19/2016 4:45 p.m. PDT
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Aging and Digestive Health
By Brenda Conaway
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Andrew Seibert, MD
WebMD Feature Archive

Getting older has pluses and minuses. On the plus side, you get more time to relax and enjoy life. On the minus side lie many health challenges -- including an increase in digestive health disorders. Of course, problems with digestion can occur at any age. Yet nearly 40% of older adults have one or more age-related digestive symptom each year.

Here's an overview of common digestive health problems that may arise with age. Learn why they occur and what you can do to keep your digestive system running smoothly well into your later years.

Digestive Problems as You Age

Constipation. One of the most common things we see, certainly as people are getting into their 60s and 70s, may be a change in bowel habits, predominantly more constipation," says Ira Hanan, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Symptoms include difficult or painful bowel movements, infrequent bowel movements, and hard, dry stool. There are a number of age-related factors that can cause constipation in older adults.
Changes in the digestive system. Your digestive system moves food through your body by a series of muscle contractions. Just like squeezing a toothpaste tube, these contractions push food along your digestive tract, Hanan says. As we age, this process sometimes slows down, and this can cause food to move more slowly through the colon. When things slow down, more water gets absorbed from food waste, which can cause constipation.
Medication use. Older adults take a lot of medications, says Ellen Stein, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. And as we age, we start to have more health problems that require medications. Several common medications can cause constipation. One example is calcium channel blockers, used for high blood pressure. "Very good for blood pressure, very constipation causing," says Stein. Narcotic pain relievers are another common culprit. An older adult who has knee or hip replacement surgery will often be given narcotics for pain. "Narcotics have effects directly on the bowel," Stein tells Web MD. "They actually slow the gut."
Inactivity. People often become less active as they age, says Stein, and being inactive can make you constipated. Bed rest during an illness can cause real problems. If a person has joint-replacement surgery, for example, it takes time to recover and be fully active again. Add narcotic pain relievers to the mix, and "that might change manageable constipation into something that's much more of a problem," Stein says.
Not drinking enough fluids. Staying hydrated helps prevent constipation at any age. It can become more of an issue for older adults who take diuretics for high blood pressure or heart failure. Diuretics lower blood pressure by causing you to lose excess fluid by urinating more often. Some people may avoid drinking too many fluids so they don't have to run to the bathroom all day long. Between urinating more and drinking less, you can become dehydrated.
Diverticular Disease. About half of people age 60 and older have diverticulosis. This occurs when small pouches in the lining of the colon bulge out along weak spots in the intestinal wall. While many people don't have any symptoms, gas, bloating, cramps, and constipation may occur. "I tell my patients its part of the aging of the colon," Hanan tells WebMD. "As we get older, we're more prone to developing these pockets." Why they occur with age is unclear, he says. While most of the time they don't cause a problem and don't require treatment, they can cause scarring and irregularity. If the pockets become inflamed, it's called diverticulitis, which can cause abdominal pain, cramping, fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. Antibiotics, pain medications, and a liquid diet treat diverticulitis.
Ulcers &NSAIDs. Many older adults use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control pain from arthritis and other types of chronic pain. Regular use of NSAIDs increases the risk for stomach bleeding and ulcers. So while aging alone doesn't make your stomach more prone to ulcers, the chronic use of NSAIDs does raise your risk. More often than not older patients don't have pain from ulcers, says Hanan, but they can have painless gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. If you notice any type of stomach bleeding, such as vomiting blood, passing dark stools, or noticing blood when you wipe, tell your doctor right away.
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The brain controls the body. So, for a better word, as parts of the brain die so does the function of that part of the brain. The first thing that seems to go with dementia is being hungry and thirsty. The brain no longer signals these. So u have to make sure the person eats and drinks. With memory loss they don't remember if they did or not. Some lose taste and smell. Stomach problems come with getting older. A person may not be able to tolerate foods they used to eat. Things like acidity foods and coffee may contribute to acid reflux which needed to be doctor because can cause cancer.
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Wow....awesome discussuin...explanations. Hats off to all the professionals, veterans, and infantry folks who respond to our questions on this site. You are my daily early morning read with coffee.
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@Fisherman..a question for you...
What specific digestive problems are you asking about.
Is it about constipation, diarrhea, eating in general...? A little more info might yield a more detailed answer.
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I do believe that with advancing Alzheimer's , patients lose the ability to recognize the cues that healthy people know mean they need to get to the toilet. This is what I've experienced and been told by the workers caring for my elderly relative.
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In the later stages of dementia, as the body slows down everything slows down.
I am currently dealing quite a bit with constipation..(my husband's constipation). It has gotten worse since he stopped walking a year ago. It has been more difficult to manage now that he is in bed 99% of the time.
As the body slows everything slows. It is not that the body "forgets" it is that it takes longer for the body to process since fewer muscles are being used there is less activity to push things along.
As to eating in the final stages there are a few things going on.
The body is tired and more time sleeping is less of a chance to eat and drink. A lot of the constipation can also be caused by dehydration.
Also the body has less need for fuel so hunger is not as evident as it would be in you or I.
In the very last stages when the person shows no desire to eat that means the body is shutting down and trying to feed it does more harm than good. Food will either come back up possibly causing aspiration or the food will sit in the gut creating a blockage that could be fatal. the body is not going to spend time and energy digesting food when it needs to spend the energy breathing and keeping the heart going.
So when a person stops eating in a case like this a feeding tube is usually going to do more harm than good. The body is not going to feel hunger.
So it is not a matter of "forgetting" it is slowing down and depending on the stage a variety of other things can be going on that cause more problems.
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A brain in our gut? That explains the phrase: "having your head up your zzs."
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If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain. Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.
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Neurogastroenterology is a cutting-edge field that studies how the brain and gut interact in order to better understand and manage digestion and digestive disorders. What scientists have discovered is that these two areas of the body are closely connected, and this relationship is referred to as the brain-gut axis.
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Truth is, there is some concern that if anyone answers wrong, or not according to your expectations, your response will be to attack sarcastically.
Second, there is some concern that you are literally 'fishing' for any answer that can lead to you advertising a miracle product.
Everything I know about tells me NOT to answer this question.
Answer:
Yes, there is a connection. You can learn about it online by searching for:
"gut/brain". Start there. There is research, but I am wondering if this can translate into better care for your wife.
Example of research:
Tremendous progress has been made in characterizing the bidirectional interactions between the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system, and the gastrointestinal tract. A series of provocative preclinical studies have suggested a prominent role for the gut microbiota in these gut-brain interactions. Based on studies using rodents raised in a germ-free environment, the gut microbiota appears to influence the development of emotional behavior, stress- and pain-modulation systems, and brain neurotransmitter systems. Additionally, microbiota perturbations by probiotics and antibiotics exert modulatory effects on some of these measures in adult animals. Current evidence suggests that multiple mechanisms, including endocrine and neurocrine pathways, may be involved in gut microbiota–to–brain signaling and that the brain can in turn alter microbial composition and behavior via the autonomic nervous system. Limited information is available on how these findings may translate to healthy humans or to disease states involving the brain or the gut/brain axis. Future research needs to focus on confirming that the rodent findings are translatable to human physiology and to diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, autism, anxiety, depression, and Parkinson’s disease. reference omitted.
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Autonomic, not automatic, i should have said.
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But really, keep in mind that techniquly there are no "automatic" functions of the body - which I think is kinda the confusing part in this question. Even reflexes are a product of the brain. For instance, once someone is declared "brain dead" all functions of the body cease. Confusing matters is the fact that occasionally a brain dead person can take up to a week for the body to fully shut down if there is no medical assistance like a ventilator. However, in every function of the body it is the brain in control giving the impulses for peristalsis, production of digestive enzymes, matter to be pushed through the intestines and then ultimately elimination from the body - control of the sphincter muscle etc. So yes, it absolutely depends which area of the brain that is dying determining which body function is lost. Evidently there are common patterns of deterioration which accounts for the commonalities in specific dementias - with typically the brain stem going last and it is the brain stem that controls the most basic body functions such as resperation, digestion, elimination. This is I believe, what gives the impression that some body functions work on autopilot - when in fact the brain is in control of everything. Okay - my head hurts now...must find coffee!
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There is some interesting research being done at the Mayo clinic on the connection between Celiac Disease and Dementia.

As Rainmom says, as dementia progresses, the functionality of the brain deteriorates so that functions that were once automatic ( swallowing for example) are lost.
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Are we talking hypothetical here or do you have a specific problem you are dealing with Fisherman?
I do know that Parkinson's is well known to cause GI problems, I know that vascular dementia is related to brain damage from mini strokes and interrupted blood supply to the brain, so if the damage occurs to the part of the brain responsible for digestion it only makes sense that it could cause trouble, and I know that when I see a picture of the brain of someone with advanced alzheimer's I'm amazed that their body can function at all... no wait, it can't, that is ultimately why they die.
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That should read it's not uncommon not "in common". Sorry for the typo.
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"The body itself" has no autopilot - everything the body does is from an impulse sent by the brain. So - there is no muscle memory - for lack of a better term - when it comes to any of the digestive process beginning with chewing and ending with elimination. So I guess there are two ways to interpret "memory" and the loss of it in the case of dementia. There is the cognitive stuff; names, addresses, math skills and then the internal memory of the brain sending the body signals. In earlier stages of dementia it is not in common for the sufferer to begin experiencing trouble with swollowing. By the end stages often the body can not digest food - it is the brain stem portion of the brain that is now beginning to die so often other critical body functions are lost at this time as well and death is not long off. I don't know if this helps you, I hope so but if it doesn't please do not be unkind. We are all here to help and be helped - and do the best we can.
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Sorry for the sharpness of my reply.

But I know the disease in about more that memory loss.

I wouldn't know how to read a brain scan if I saw one.

My question involved the concept that with dementia .... THE BODY ITSELF forgets how to perform certain functions. Independent of the person's memory.

Based on anyone's knowledge ....does anyone here have information on that?
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Dementia and digestive troubles are separate problems BUT if the dementia person is eating junk food instead of real meals, Yes, they will have upsets, gas, diarrhea or constipation.
At the very end stages of life, the digestive system starts to malfunction, the liver malfunctions (jaundice) the kidneys malfunction (dark urine) and the bowel is unpredictable. It can either clog up (painful) or simply empty out semi-digested contents (abnormal odor). If you see black stool, you are seeing internal bleeding.
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Alzheimer's and other dementias are much more than memory problems. If you get a chance google to see a brain scan comparing a normal and Alzheimer's brain, you will see the tremendous amount of brain shrinkage and damage involved.
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