My Mother who suffers from mild to moderate Dementia has had some extremes of emotions that I have never experience with her even. She has always been very much in control of her emotions, but lately she starts laughing so hard that she grasps for air. She was also so touched by something I did for her that she was brought to tears. Very unusual for my Mom. Is this caused by the Dementia??

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Karen-there is much to be said on this subject and I have found some information that may be of help to you--while on your caregiving journey~

Dementia Patient's Emotions
Understanding Them, Dealing with Them, Accepting Them and Validating Them
The dementia patient's emotions can be unpredictable. They can be difficult to understand, difficult to handle, and difficult to accept. But they are real nonetheless.

Learning how to validate a dementia patient's emotions will not only serve to help the patient to feel wanted, needed and loved, but will also help you to feel more in control.

Having some knowledge about dementia and the normal progression of dementia symptoms will make your job as a dementia caregiver somewhat easier to handle.

Dealing with our Mother’s emotions was, perhaps, the hardest part of her care. It was very difficult for us to include her in conversations, especially when discussing her care, because she didn’t understand what we were saying, but she knew we were talking about her and she would get angry with us.

The following list is of the most common dementia patient's emotions that your loved one may experience. After the list we have included possible ways to help them to deal with the emotions and to help you to be able to handle yours.

Apathy and Indifference
We would make plans to do something and then tell our Mom about them and she would often reply by shrugging her shoulders and saying, “Whatever.” We imagine that she must have felt out of control since she no longer understood the logical sequence of making plans so she just resigned herself to do what she was told.

Depression and Sadness
This emotion was most evident when our Mom was hospitalized. She spent quite a bit of time in the hospital during the last six months of her life treating the blood clots and related complications. She would cry especially when we would have to leave her. It was one of the hardest things we have had to do.

Lack of Inhibition
This emotion doesn’t seem to be as prevalent in Alzheimer’s victims and our Mom didn’t experience it. A dementia patient's emotions can be extremely inappropriate including sexual behavior, inappropriate touching and saying things in public that should be kept private. It is helpful to be aware of and prepared for the possibility of needing to deal with this kind of behavior.

Euphoria and Elation
Mom seemed to react the opposite to this symptom. She was always very fun-loving and playful before she got the disease and she lost most of that as the dementia increased. (Our Mom was so fun-loving that we chose to sing the children's song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” at her memorial service!)

We noticed that Mom would become very withdrawn when she was around a large group of people that she didn't know (actually they were friends and family that she didn’t remember.) She preferred to be at home or at a certain restaurant that she and her husband frequented.

Mom would get very irritated when her husband had to leave her in someone else’s care. She would spend the majority of the time complaining that he just dropped her off and didn’t even say where he was going! That wasn’t true, of course, but in her mind it was.

Mom did like to do things herself, but often realized that she couldn’t so she would revert to being apathetic instead of aggressive. This symptom does seem to come in the later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease so it is possible that Mom died before she got there.

A misplaced object or being confined to a hospital bed were two things that would cause Mom to become very agitated. She would not stop looking until she found the misplaced item. While in the hospital she would lie down then sit up over and over again. She also picked at the bed covers and would take them on and off repeatedly

A dementia patient’s emotions seem to stem from the main problem— confusion . They have lost the ability to organize their thoughts so they act inappropriately.

Art and music are two things that may help your loved one to express themselves so that they will be better able to deal with challenging emotions that are raging in their mind.

Our Mom loved it when we would sing the old hymns to her. And, surprisingly, she would often sing along, remembering the words! It was incredible to hear her sing “Amazing Grace” when she sometimes couldn’t even remember our names.

A dementia patient's emotions deserve to be expressed. It just takes a little creativity on the part of the caregiver. One way to do this is to participate in various activities with the dementia patient.

Painting is an easy to do art medium that will allow the dementia patient to express themselves freely without restraint. The colors, the texture, the ability to create something that they have complete control over . . . imagine the freedom for a confused mind.

Finger painting can be easier to do than brush painting. Make sure that the surfaces and clothing are protected and have fun! If you participate with them it will be even more therapeutic. Try playing music while you paint for an added benefit.

Although it does require a commitment on the part of the caregiver finding constructive ways to allow the expression of a dementia patient's emotions will ultimately be rewarding.




Helpful Answer (4)

My Mom is the exact opposite. While she may be happy to see you and grin and laugh, she reacts to "news" without emotion. My niece had a miscarriage, she said oh. Then back to whatever she was doing. My Aunt died, same type of response. She is just in a zone somewhere. Interesting to hear that your Mom is so different.

I'd be interested to see other responses.

Good luck.
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