Dad has dementia and is experiencing periods of unresponsiveness.

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Went to visit Dad at his NH. He was sleeping in his wheelchair. This isn't uncommon, but I couldn't get him to wake up. Nothing worked. I shook him, poked him and called his name. Finally he woke up. His speech was garbled, but he did answer simple questions. Back to sleep over and over. I had the nurse come check his vitals. BP was good, temp just a little under normal and his chest was clear. He's on pudding thickness pureed food and his liquid has to be taken with a spoon. He also has blockage of his carotid artery 70 to 90 percent. He also has hand tremors. Mostly his right hand. The blockage is on the right side but affected his left side. He had a slight stroke almost 2 years ago. At almost 97 there really isn't much that can be done with him, but I want to make sure that he is comfortable. His doc came yesterday and he was alert. She ordered blood work. I'm wondering if he's having TIAs or possibly dehydrated. He's not very verbal at times and sometimes he makes up a word if he can't remember what word to use. Just wondering if anyone else has had these symptoms with a Dementia patient.

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So glad you have an answer for your fathers behavior. Now, it may be a bit easier to know what's going on should that behavior return. My dad always had the same beginning symptoms when he was getting a UTI. My father was mentally as sharp as a tack up until about two weeks before he passed - and then it was likely all the pain meds he was on. - So when dad began talking a bit crazy, I knew it was time for a urine test.
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Yes, once they're put to bed, unless they're very restless, that's it until morning. Most are in the routine of an early bedtime. Dad, on the other hand, is normally awake until around 8, maybe even 9PM. The activity room is closed at 9. Snack time is around 6:30 to 7. Dad needs that snack to hydrate him and he needs to be upright for at least 30 to 45 minutes after due to his aspiration risk.

I had his doctor come check him out Monday night. He seemed OK to her. It was after 6, and he was alert watching a volunteer cut out papers. He said he felt fine. All his vitals were good. She left an order for a urinalysis. Bingo! Dad has a UTI. Some patients get agitated, he went the other direction. He was started on meds last night. I knew something was wrong. Finally an answer! I know Dementia rears it's ugly head often and every day I am ready for the next level to appear. Without the help of everyone here, I don't know how I would cope. Thank you so much for your good advice. God Bless us all!
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14 hours with nothing is - !?!?!?!?! Bonkers.

I used to take my mother Horlicks (still can't bear the smell of it) before *I* went to bed. Mind you, bed-time became a bit of an academic concept, really, for both of us. Do the staff really just put them to bed and then that's that 'til morning?
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He naps in and off in his wheelchair. I left word that if he seems to need to nap in his bed after lunch it's acceptable to me, but do to his aspirating, I want them to wait at least 45 minutes to an hour after lunch. He needs to be upright for this length of time. He also gets a snack in the afternoon around 2. His is either thickened juice or a Magic Cup. Dinner is at 4 , with a snack again around 6. One night I went to visit at 6...he was in bed. Why? Is he sick? No. He was sleeping in his wheelchair. Dangerous. What happened was that one of the fill in help wanted an easy night so they were all put to bed early. That meant that Dad had nothing from his dinner at 4 until they got him up at 8 AM. I flipped out. 14 hours in bed? No snack until breakfast? That won't happen again!!! He relies on these snacks for his hydration. I tell you, it just doesn't end!
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I do understand the horror of the idea of your father being left to vegetate in his room; and I do agree that getting up and dressed and moving around and interacting are all desirable things.

It's just... being kept awake when one longs to sleep is also a technique used by interrogators through the ages. Don't let the staff be too inflexible about his routine, will you? As in everything, it's finding the right balance, I suppose.
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Boy, am I glad I have this site! Thank you all for your responses! Dad is in a wheelchair, positioned between a wall and a table, so that he can stand when he wants to, and be safe. He is walked daily. At first he would walk to the nurses station and back to the activity room. The aide holds on to the back of his trousers. Lately he's been shuffling while trying to walk. His feet end up on top of one another if this makes sense. I asked that he not be left in his bed. I would rather he is in the Activity room where there is stimulation. As far as checking for dehydration by pinching the skin on his hand, it's very hard because his skin is paper thin and very dark, like bruising. I'm afraid of hurting him, or causing the skin to tear, which happens frequently. I'm leaning toward the carotid causing problems, but not being in the medical field, I'm often shot down at the NH with my theories. I have found people in similar circumstances here to be more helpful! Thank you!
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My mother was a lot like you describ in the last six months of her life. Mom was 89, had dementia and some minor ailments but nothing to serious for her age. Before the almost constant sleeping started mom had stopped reading- her life long passion - wasn't eating much and was speaking less and less.

When I arrived for a visit mom was almost always in her lift recliner. If mom was sleeping- usually all I had to do was lean in very close and quietly say "hi mommy" and she'd wake up - although it wasn't long before she'd nod off again. When it became more difficult to wake her I just let her alone, would hang out in her room for about an hour cleaning and straightening - to see if she'd wake. Occasionally she did.

Still - on occasion I would arrive to find mom awake and in the common area watching a movie or participating in an activity - these times always surprised me.
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You can check for dehydration yourself by pinching up the skin on the back of his hand. If it slides back down, good. If stays up, not good. Try it on yourself to see what I mean.
With blocked carotids, there will be times when he is non-responsive. Let him sleep; shaking him to consciousness is pretty upsetting. Learn to check his pulse and monitor breathing. A fingertip pulse oximeter would be handy to have. It reads in a few seconds.
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I certainly saw this sort of sleepiness in my great aunt, who did not have dementia but was 99. She was always briefly pleased to see us but spent very little time awake.

However, she was still able to transfer to an ordinary easy chair.

If you can catch your father on an alert day, I would check that he is comfortable sitting in a wheelchair; and I would also check with the Nursing Staff how long he is left in it. If he isn't very mobile, as well as not being very verbal, my major concern would be pressure sores. Repositioning might be easier if he doesn't spend too long out of bed, even though I apologise because I know this seems like a defeatist attitude.
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