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Mother counts everything. Cereal on her spoon, squares of toilet paper to tear off & how many times she uses it. How many times she pats the dog. Parked cars, semis and billboards along the freeway. Brushing her hair and her teeth.
I guess it helps keep her mind somewhat active. Life as her caretakers is nothing if not interesting and never boring. I've heard the horror stories of caretakers with difficult parent's. I guess we are lucky in that respect.

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Yea, OCD.....got the counting bug myself.....was always good with numbers, math, bookkeeping.....now I count clothes out of the dryer, dishes out of the dishwasher, certain types of cars while driving.......and it does keep my mind occupied. Not causing me anxiety.....yet.....so...a-counting I will go....a-counting I will go.......hi, ho, ooohhh, there goes another PT Cruiser!!!!!
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I should have specified that my mom was on 10 mg 3 times per day at the end of the three week period.

I also meant to suggest that you may want to do a little research on OCD as well. I am NOT totally surprised that the doctor you took her to didn't focus in on her condition. This is a common occurrence since THEY do not have to live with the person and watch with anguish on a daily basis the angst they go through!
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Both my mom and my aunt, who both had different forms of dementia, benefited from Buspar. It is an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medication which CAN but doesn't often produce dizziness or drowsiness or sleepiness like the benzodiazepines and doesn't have the many horrible side effects of antidepressants (which regardless, can be life-saving when necessary).

It helps the anxiety and frustration of dementia and can also benefit OCD, which it does sound like your mom has. OCD can substantially decrease a person's quality of life.

When Buspar was proprietary in 1994, it was recommended for my aunt (with alcohol dementia) by a neurological nurse practitioner who had recently attended an Alzheimer's seminar. It was very effective for her over a 5 year period.

My mom took it for the last couple of years of her life. She had drug induced dementia caused by anticholinergics, so there were many medication she was not able to take. When her anxiety and frustration increase, I suggested Buspar and the doctor agreed. It is generic now, and was unbelievably helpful. You can tell I am a big fan. Because my mom was a fall risk, we wanted to be very careful with dizziness and drowsiness. We started her on a low dose daily (5 mg) and slowly increased to 30 mg over a three week period, allowing her body to accommodate to any side effects.

I suggest you do a little research and ask your mom's doctor if you think it may be helpful. Please keep posting.
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This is a very common behavior and younger people are able to hide the compulsiveness. Every thing has to be laid out in a certain order socks put on before underwear. makeup in the right order on the bathroom sink. men do it with tools. Kids run sticks along railings. people won't step on cracks in the pavement and only take so many steps to cross the road. One thing you can help your mother with is not to move things around or change things in her environment. So she sleeps all the time be thankful at least she is at peace with herself and allows you to cope
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My mom did this too. She is beyond that point now and can't do it anymore except occasionally and only up to about 3 or 4. She used to count her steps and could go up to about 50 at the most, both because she didn't have the endurance to walk more and because she couldn't really count further. When she had the PT she would count it out. The Physical Therapists would often joke about it. My mom would also do things like reach for any speck on the floor or table. We would get her hands washed for dinner and look away for a moment only to find her scraping a speck on the floor. Sometimes it was irritating or worrisome but it all passes away. I think our loved ones lose more and more as the disease progresses. Maybe counting is an attempt to hold onto some sort of order? I'm sure your mom is counting all the wonderful things that you are doing for her even if she can't count that high!
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Thank you all for responding. Although I agree with some of what Lori1943 recommended, Mother was on anti-depressants for a while and we had a lot of trouble keeping her awake, so her Dr took her off them. She sleeps 10 to 11 hrs a night now normally and nods off on her couch most of the day. We try to keep her active, but she fights us every inch of the way. I think she has always been OCD, we just never connected the dots until she starting living with us 7 years ago. It has really gotten worse over the last 2 yrs. We had her tested with a neurologist earlier this year and he never addressed it. Several hundred dollars later, he did not tell us anything different than what we already knew. At the very least he confirmed her diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Some things I guess you just have to endure.
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This definitely sounds like OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder. She may have dementia as well, but this may be a dual diagnosis thing, with OCD on top of it. OCD can be treated with anti-depressant medication; it would be well worth it to have this behavior evaluated either by a neurologist or psychiatrist--both can prescribe the appropriate medication. This behavior is very anxiety-producing for the sufferer; if anti-depressants can help, this lady would be much more calm and comfortable. Do it for her as well as for yourself.
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My husband doesn't count but he picks up and examines things over and over. I think it helps keep him calm.
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Sounds a bit like OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) but don't quote me.
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