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I am curious if lack of emotion is normal in Alzheimer's patients? My mom gets agitated if my sister is behaving badly, but we just got news that my cousin's wife, in her mid 50's has terminal cancer.

I made sure to tell my mom in a more appropriate place than I found out. But it just didn't seem to phase my mom at all. My mom can tell me back what I told her, but I don't know if it is registering or not. I don't know if she gets it or if she has just accepted the passing of others as a matter of fact.

It is just such a weird reaction that I am curious if it is normal or not?

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I think sometimes there is more emotion than we see. Their faces have that particular "blankness"(from unresponsive facial muscles?), but if they are still able to talk you often find that a lot more is going on inside than you would have guessed by the facial expression.

I do also wonder if the dealing with all the emotional pain a normal person would have just from dealing with having AZ (the grief, fear, loss, inability to communicate) doesn't leave the AZ person with some mild form of numbed emotional exhaustion. I remember a book written by a Nazi concentration camp survivor, where he describes the utter lack of emotion shown by the prisoners after a certain point. They had been through so much that nothing mattered anymore.
I will say that I've noticed the emotions seem more basic (not wanting to be alone, WANTING to be alone, fear, frustration, etc), but we can still get some humor sometimes, some happiness, some enjoyment of songs, food, weather, animals, & trees, though he is much more easily overwhelmed, and has fewer ways to communicate it.
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Dear Twin Laura,
Call hospice right away. They will get there in a day or two. Maybe the same day! They are wonderful and will take over for the really hard stuff. Sounds like he should be in a hospice house with no feeding tube or anything else. They will give him pain meds if he shows the need for it. They are so great. You need a rest and you deserve a huge break! God Bless you for your care. Sounds like you have done way more than you should have had to do. Call Hospice right now!
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Dear Twin Laura,
Call hospice right away. They will get there in a day or two. Maybe the same day! They are wonderful and will take over for the really hard stuff. Sounds like he should be in a hospice house with no feeding tube or anything else. They will give him pain meds if he shows the need for it. They are so great. You need a rest and you deserve a huge break! God Bless you for your care. Sounds like you have done way more than you should have had to do. Call Hospice right now!
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lack of emotion for an alzheimers patient is a stage that is hard to accept. I have been thru every stage, and they are heart braking to the family.. do the best u can do god bless
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hello everyone, i haven't been on here in awhile due to dad's worsening condition. within the past 3 weeks dad has been in the hospital. due to vomiting, and his colostomy braking at least 3 times a day with watery diarrhea. He has been home for a week, and yesterday started with an olive green liquid coming out of his J tube (internal feeding) I cleaned him up, and with in 20 min it happend again. My twin, who doesnt come around, happend to be there when it happened again. She spoke to the visiting doctor, who is a wonderful, caring and intelligent older man, and he said keep an eye on it, stop the feeding, start an antibiotic, and he will see him in the am. I have changed it 20 some times since yesterday at 11 am. Dr. told my mother that dad has been in the hospital too many times, which i definetely agree with. This man has been suffering since she decided to put a feeding tube and a suprpubic cathetar in him. She did the feeding tube because she was getting agrivated due to him not eating... she would yell at him, and just be plain mean. Well, over the months, she has taken everything out on me. It is in dad's will that there were not to be any artificial means of keeping him alive. she went against it. Now when he goes to the hospital, she finally has him listed as no code, dnr, I know when dad is in pain, i have taken care of him for over a year now, he is on ativan, and seraqual three times a day. The body is shutting down, i know, and i think she does now know it, and that she made the wrong choice. my agenda today is to get him on hospice, no more feeding tube, and just make him comfortable and have a dignified passing. I have been thru every stage with alzheimers. I believe now he either has mrsa, staph or another bowel obstruction with the feeding tube. No, i do not have a husband, and i understand in the beginning why she did what she did, but now, in late stage alzheimers, the best and human thing to do is to let him go. I have no one to talk to about this, but most of the family agrees, he has done to much suffering, He lays in a bed, cant walk, talk, of course does not recognize anyone but me, she wont even go by him.... ? i dont know what will happen today, but i have a pregnant daughter, and grandaughter living with us, and it is not safe anymore for them to be around the infections, and possible mrsa, staph, and i forgot to mention C diff. I was in the hospital thurs due to a terrible pain in my head for 3 days that would not go away, doc said it was a stress and tension headache due to my situation at home. Has anyone experienced the last stage of alzheimers, or the stage of dying? I have read it is peaceful on hospice...I need help with this, my health is not well......laura
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Yes, the absence of emotion can be strange, and disturbing to us caretakers. Personally, it has taken me a long time to come to grips with this. My husband was always thoughtful, and expressive. It's still in him, but only shows up very seldom, and I treasure those moments. I have a story to share from last Valentine's... We were in the store, and I walked past the cards... he never forgot an occasion, and I simply stopped and asked if he wanted to look...... his response..... WHY ? .......... I said, no reason, and kept moving on.
Later, I cried. I knew those days of cards and roses were really over. So, our loved ones may not be able to show their affection or love through emotions, cards, or words, but somewhere, in side them..... they are loving you very much. I just know it! God bless us one and all~~
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twinlaura I have noticed the reluctance of people close to a loved one to give them what they consider to be "dope" even if giving it to them may be of some benefit. There is generally a lack of knowledge behind these fears. Have you suggested starting your dad on a very small dosage of haldol or ativan in order to determine how he reacts to this kind of medication ( just now I stopped myself from saying "this kind of drug" due to the negative connotation the word drug has these days which is exactly my point) ? Maybe she is concerned he might become dependant on them. Whatever the cause, and it does seem from your note that perhaps you haven't inquired of your mother as to what is behind her fear other than she doesn't want him 'all doped up' What exactly does this mean to her? Maybe if you opened up that kind of a discussion you could get at the root of her reasoning at which point you may be able to provide information to help alleviate her (understandable) concerns.
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My dad has been on seraquel since last october. He is in stage 7 of alzeheimers His dosage is 25 mg at night. I believe his body has gotten use to the dosage and it needs adjusting. I am not a doctor, but i am a Medical Assistant, plus I am with him 24/7. I am going to speak to his doctor about adjusting his meds. My mother refuses to give him ativan, or haldol because she doesn't want him doped up. With her refusing to give him meds to relax him at night,, she doesn't sleep nor do I,nor does he. I think her refusing relaxation meds is sellfish for him, and I, and her. One night of good sleep for all of us would be wonderful...but what can I do. I am the designated person to take care of ma and dad's medical. But she just does not understand the disease like I do....Any suggestions?
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My mother is almost 87 and is also in the middle stages of dementia. She doesn't express much emotion any more. One of her brothers passed away 4 months ago and when I tell her that he passed away with cancer, although she says she is sorry to hear that, there is no emotion like there would have been in the past. Occasionally, she might have tears in her eyes (twice since he has passed) but in general extreme emotions of sadness or anger are a thing of the past.
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My husband has frontal-temporal dementia (FTD) and about 2 years into it, his father suddenly died of a stroke. He was well aware of what was going on and who had died but couldn't express any sorrow to his mother or sister and actually walked out of the funeral before the service was ended because he said he didn't drive all that distance to go to church. He was on no medications at the time.

Just two years earlier his brother had died and it was a totally different story. He had helped with the funeral arrangements, talked to people and shed a few tears during the service. He offered to stay in Colorado at that time to help with our nieces and really showed he cared.

He is on Serequel now, but not because of his personality changes. He is on it because he yells and hollers for hours. I told his doctor either hubby gets meds or I was going to need some.
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To castle, Bill is not on any mood changing or depression drugs. I should say that he still enjoys laughter. Which is great. He frequently makes jokes and people do laugh with him including myself. His speech is very limited and he can't find the words to express himself. But I do feel alone emotionally most of the time. I know I should enjoy what I have yet. He is still healthy, happy and taking care of his basic needs . I would have to say if I weren't there he would not eat until he became starving. I leave him a sandwich to eat if I go out.(yest I can still go out for a few hours!) He never remembers to eat unless I call him at lunch time and tell him to get the sandwich and eat it. I know i am still lucky!
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My Mother is devoid of sad emotions. She doesn't have Alz. She is just old. She has never shed a tear, in front of anyone.
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My husband with dementia seems to not care about much, especially when it comes to me. For example, He remembers his parents anniversary, but not ours which is the next day. I miss the loving caring person he used to be,but hope he would of taken care of me if the roles were reversed. Very sad and lonely for me.
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My husband shows no emotion....he cannot speak so I try to see something in his face, in his eyes. But there is nothing. I forget sometimes, try to talk about something or ask him a question. I get zilch from him, and I get upset and cry. But I know it is not his fault. There's just nothing in him anymore, his brain can't be stimulated in any way.I get mad and raise my voice at him sometimes. Five seconds later I feel horrible. But as I said, HE cannot help it, the way he is. And I cannot help MYSELF sometimes.
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Thanks Castle,

My mom knows my cousin well and growing up the two families had a close relationship, but this isn't the first time. When my mom's sister lost her husband, she didn't seem to emotional about it at all or when any of her friends passed. When I told her the other night about my cousin's wife having cancer, I began to think about her reactions and realized that she just doesn't seem to get emotional much.

When we had our family Christmas, one of my sisters was behaving badly, my mom was getting very agitated about her behavior, but when it comes to death I am not sure she gets it.

I figured I would take mom out to my husband at the doctor's and ask to speak with him. Sometimes I can even talk with mom around because she doesn't seem to get it.

When I talk with mom, I try to explain things in the simplest of forms and terms. I try not to go too in-depth or else she gets lost. I know when there is a lot of noise and talking she gets lost in the conversation and will not hear any of it.

Mom has a hearing loss, just not sure how much is the hearing loss and how much is the Alzheimer's at this point. I try to make things so mom can follow it, but it is challenging when others are around because they do not grasp the situation.

My mom doesn't want her siblings to know about the Alzheimer's and she won't let me tell them. This was told to me on a good day and for some things I do try to respect my mom's wishes. I believe in respecting her wishes, whether I agree or not, that is what I did for my dad when he passed. I believe that is better than doing what I think should be done. I have no guilt over it either because I did what dad wanted.

My dad's passing was tough and I thought that was enough to put a person through, but Alzheimer's is going to test me I know. At night, I give myself attitude checks so that I remember to focus on the positives and forget the negatives. But there are moments, but for the most part I do ok. I just know there are many in this group that have gone down the path before and I have learned that I prefer to learn from others lessons rather to make mistakes. :-)
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You have to understand that this disease is affecting their brains. The disconnect is what is causing the strange behavior in them. It's all part of what is happening. The lack of emotion or the emotion roller coaster is due to the fact that all the chemicals in their brains are haywire. As puzzling as it might be at the time...just try and go with the flow. Sometimes correcting them or trying to make them understand is more upsetting. I know it's embarrassing..but people will understand when they know it's the disease that makes them that way. Dementia/Alzheimers
is a frustrating disease...and it's horrible to watch our loved ones suffer. Good luck and God Bless.
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Sounds like you are going through transitions and that is a challengd dkjellander, and that period is also a challenge for your mom. Was she close to the cousin's wife? to the cousin? I find that as people's strength and skills lessen, and they can do less, they have worries of their own, and they are more able to let worries of others pass by - they often wish them well, but they have plenty to cope with, with their own losses, and sudden inability to make plans they can anticipate. As far as getting your mom out of the room so you can speak to the MD alone, I find it works best to first, begin the exit with your mom, so she is planning to go out, and even leave with her, but signal the MD that you want to speak with him or her - then be as straighforward and open as you can, for your mom will react negatively to sneakiness that she fears - and just say, just a minute Mom, I have another question I want to ask the MD, I'll be right back - and leave her as you go back. If you are pressed later, you can say, Mom, I'm trying to look out for your care, and I want to ask the MD a couple of questions. If needed, you can call and alert the MD office before you and your mom arrive, so the MD will know to hold the next pt a minute so they can talk with you. You can tell your mom, you just want to understand what the MD is saying, and you'll fill her in later. It takes some courage to change roles with our elders, but trying to be brief, matter of fact, friendly and open about the need to explore with others or do what's needed. If you had a roofing contractor, you could just say, Excuse me mom, I want to talk with him a minute - well, in this case, you are trying to explore care options, and you have a job to do also, and your mom is trusting you with it, so making moves, always ready to apologize and explain, but still make the moves, may work best.
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My mom laughs at things and almost everything, but when I told her my cousin's wife was terminal and dying she just didn't react at all. It was like not registering yet she could tell me back what she said.

I don't know if it is the disease or not, mom is not on full meds yet. They started mom out on 5 grams of Nameda because they wanted to see how her stomach would do. We were to go back in 30 days but because of us taking her to the south for the winter, the doctor said to come back when we got back. So we will see the doctor on April 12th and my guess is at that time she will go on the full dose of 10 mg's of Nameda. Mom also takes grapeseed vitamins, 2500 mgs of B12 and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day. Those are what the doctor has agreed to.

You see my mom was diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's in January, but I have been her caregiver for about 2 years. The reason is she broke her a bone below her knee, it isn't going to heal and she said no to surgery. The doctor said she could live with her broken bone, so we started out as her caregiver that way, but she went down hill.

So now we have Alzheimer's on top of everything. So some of the things mom does we are not sure if it is the disease or just her being stubborn. I am going to try and speak with the doctor alone so I can get more details, but I have to get mom out of the room and that might be the challenge.
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I have a question to wamnane - did your husband express emotions before? And when you say, "doesn't express" do you mean only verbally? Some folks don't believe in expressing emotions - they believe it is more dignified or considerate of others or manly, to take things on the chin without complaint or whine. But, seems to me that many of those people express emotions of joy on their faces, or concern. I just find that folks on those meds can often talk with good cheer, but I don't feel they are as vulnerable and fragile and responsive as those who are not on them. It's easier for everyone else to have their moods stabilized, but I find it more superficial to not learn how people close to me are reacting.
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My husband is not on any "mood" or depression meds! He just doesn't express his emotions anymore.
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No emotions can also be part of the medication that ALZ patients take, can't it? I know with my mom the moderate ALZ she has is tempered with seroquel (sp?) which seems to calm all the receptors- Her hallucinations/delusions go away and she doesn't get as upset about not driving, having someone else regulate her meds, and other things that used to set her off. It is such a difficult tightrope to walk between the meds calming effects and the lack of emotion (and sleepiness) it seems to bring along with it. I know I struggle with being able to have some of the "old mom emotion" back and knowing that it is just frustrating to her as the door opens and closes. Her memory does not seem to be the main symptom as much of that seems totally intact to me. In her ALZ, the paranoia, de socialization, insomnia, and delusions are the leading factors in her diagnosis. Just took her for testing by an independent geriatric psychiatric evaluation and got the prognosis of moderate ALZ with psychosis. It reminds me of depression/bi polar meds that level out moods to a flat line so their are no deep lows or high ups.
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I wonder if the lack of emotion is related to the meds they put people on - mood stabilizers to remove anxiety also remove many ongoing emotions, I think. I just visited an elderly lady with whom I've been close over 7 years, and she was recently prescribed Haldol because of agitation. I found her cheered up for the moment, but different. She did not react with the same depth or immediate feelings as before. I felt very sad, for I missed the more vulnerable but real person I have known. One other thing - most older people with dementia, do not remember people who are not in the room - that is a feature of dementia. This woman (and the others I've cared for), could not tell you who was in a photo album if names were not clearly marked. AND lastly - no, they do not react to news of death in the same way that younger people do - unless they are losing someone in close contact- think about it. As we age, we lose people. Meaningful people, and we know that we also are approaching the same. I think it's part of life, to feel loss and if the person was really close, to want to respect any old friends, but we come to realize this is where life is headed. Life is different depending on where we each fit on the caregiving tree - when younger, we depend on the care of older ones, or family network, but we don't feel the exact same way if we are older - we miss our own family network, and pray for the one we set up, but did not rely on it the same way younger people do. I'm saying things I've never heard said, and I'm just trying to say them from what I've noticed.
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Yes, my husband in in late middle stages. He has no reaction either to anything. I recently had surgery and he was always my best helper. Now he just doesn't have the capacity to show that care or to understand what to do. I feel alone and have lost my best friend and lover. But I realize it is the Alzheimer's and not his fault. I try to be loving to him and as understanding as I possibly can. By the way when I had the surgery, I totally lost it and yelled at him for not doing anything. Fortunately he forgot it quickly! I felt terrible, but that is what happens when I am in pain!
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My dad has alzheimers and my mom is handicapped, i take care of them both, i believe it is a normal reaction to have a lack of emotion. Dad is in Stage 7 (early) and I could talk to him and he could be looking right at me and not have any emotion, and yet other times he could have an emotion but then it goes away as fast as the reaction came. Please try not to get caregiver burnout. I did last week, and it was awful. My prayers are with you and your family...
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My Mom is the same way. It used to be she laughed about everything and we assumed it was because she didn't hear real well. Now, it seems as though nothing registers with her. She has hearing aids, but she has no reaction to anything, only once in awhile, and that is rare. I'm guessing it is another phase that they go through with this dreaded disease. We are experiencing this too, so I hope it makes you feel better that you are not alone. I know reading your comment has made me feel better. Hang in there!
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