My 93-year-old mother has several episodes of hyperventilating during the day. Does anyone else experience this? - AgingCare.com

My 93-year-old mother has several episodes of hyperventilating during the day. Does anyone else experience this?

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Her "episodes" are about an hour long most of the time. She gets so that she passes out. Then she comes out of it and is often disoriented or paranoid. Then she cries and prays to die. Loud noises does this to her also. This happens on and off all morning until the afternoon. It is so frustrating to me because there is just so much I can do to help her when she is like this. I just took her to a geriatric doctor. He took her off the Lexapro she was taking for two months. (one of the side effects). Her physical showed nothing wrong with her. She is physically healthier than I am. Does this sound familiar to anyone??????????

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I agree with Jazzy. I also like the paperbag thing. I agree about the meds taking time to get out of her system. But, if it's still occurring, u need to find out why.
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Has she been evaluated for congestive heart failure?
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Seek out a geriatric psychiatrist who can give her some anti-anxiety meds.
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My husband was having those problems with lexapro and Parkinson's meds. I'm a city girl but I moved him to the country, called hospice and took him off meds. He is doing much better.
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When I took first aid, they said that place a paper bag over nose & mouth - but some people don't like this so an oxygen mask not connected to oxygen works well too - check it out but buying a special 'breathing mask' for her might help her - when it works first time then each new time the 'magic' is re-enforced

Hyperventilation is caused by an unbalance of CO2 & O2 - this is why when she passes out her balance rearranges itself back to normal as anxiety will bring on episodes & anxiety ends when unconscious - try soothing music that she loves to prevent them happening ... worth trying
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@Dontask4handout--One must keep in mind that prolonged loud noises can damage the hearing, so the volume should be loud enough to have the desired effect but not at the highest level.
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Forgive me - do you mean hyperventilating or fibrillation.

My Ray thought he was doing deep breathing but he was breathing so fast that he was hyperventilating himself.

Fibrillation is when the heart starts racing. I ask only because you mention loud noises affecting her. I know that on me, it will cause fibrillation. Scary movies/music do the same thing to me.

If it is hyperventilation, the HomeHealthCare Nurse said she tells them to slow down their breathing - even going so far as to tell her patients to hold the breath for 10 seconds (I think she said 10 seconds) and it calms them down. We did manage to get Ray to stop doing it and he's 95. I look Ray in the eye when we do it so I know I have his full attention and then breathe with him.

Yes, it can be terribly scary for both of you.
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When I lived in a group home when I was a ward of the state after my rescue from abusive parents, I only knew one person who hyperventilated during a stressful situation. After she fainted, I recall seeing staff having to drag her unconscious body through the house and to a safe area so they could take proper steps to arouse her. There was some kind of very heated dispute between her and the staff when this happened. I don't recall what it was but I don't recall anyone in the group home ever having hyperventilated before. I don't recall if she did this on purpose, she may very well have because the group home had people with various types of issues, including behavioral issues. This was the very first person I ever knew to hyperventilate. I recall this same person tried to hyperventilate on another occasion and the staff caught it the second time and was able to stop this same person tried to hyperventilate on another occasion and the staff caught it the second time and was able to stop it before she passed out again.
What you want to do is deal with root causes causing the hyperventilation because most likely there's an issue going on causing the person to become overly anxious to the point they hyperventilate. It sounds to me like the person you're dealing with is going through some very serious anxiety issues and she really needs to calm down before she faints. Perhaps an antipsychotic medication or some other kind of relaxation pill to help calm her down to the point where she won't hyperventilate is probably going to be something she needs if she's not already on something. It sounds to me like she has behavioral issues since she has dementia, this is a very high likelihood especially if she's doing this during a dispute. If she's doing this to get her way about something, this is most likely deliberate.
Sometimes people can even do things to get attention, I had an elderly friend who kept causing himself illness or injury to get certain kinds of attention. He was a lonely old man who is family wouldn't even come around much if at all no thanks to how he was toward them. I recall a time I was washing his dishes for him and I only looked away for a split second before he rammed himself into a piece of furniture with his power chair on full speed, causing a very nasty cut that required medical attention. There was an awful lot of blood and he had to go to the hospital. There were other times I think he was neglecting his breathing treatments so he would have episodes that required the squad to be called. They eventually wised up to this and started occasionally treating him on the spot by giving him his albuterol or encouraging him to get on his own machine and use his own medicine. They would sit with him until the episode ended and they were able to leave on those occasions. Then he started getting other problems from self-neglect such as neglecting to drink enough water, causing him internal infections. And then may I say there was some kind of incident where he was ordered certain exercises for his neck or other area and he refused to do them, prolonging the problem he was having.

Hindsight is a very good teacher. I learned a lot through observation, and sometimes there are incidents where people do stuff to themselves by causing self harm for attention or when they don't get their way.

I must say that your situation with your love ones hyperventilation episodes sound all-too-familiar to me. Your description makes me immediately remember the only person I ever knew who hyperventilated during a huge dispute. If you happen to be enabling her in some way, stop doing it and stop babying her when this happens, you're only prolonging the cause and enabling her. It sounds to me like she keeps doing this and she knows what she's doing is OK because she keeps getting away with something, this is exactly what it looks like to me. I don't know exactly what's going on because I'm not there but you can bet your bottom line there's something going on over there. Even my elderly friend developed some level of dementia, he was also doing stuff to himself and causing pretty much most of his issues, we found out later. It sounds like this person needs some very tough love because true love must sometimes get tough. It sounds very much to me like you're going to have to untie the apron strings and throw down the apron and stop catering to her. What you're describing sounds more like she's throwing a childish fit about something, very similar to the children breath holding when they don't get their way. Loud noises? Get used to it, noises are everywhere and it will never be completely quiet so she needs to snap out of it and get used to the noises or she's going to be miserable, And I wouldn't be a bit scared to tell someone this to their face because it's the truth and the truth doesn't change  just because someone doesn't want to hear it. In other words, just because you don't want to hear the truth doesn't change it from being truth. Just tell her to get used to the noises because sounds are everywhere and tell her to just snap out of it, I sure would if I were faced with a situation like this because I saw it firsthand. I saw what happened and I know staff at that group home successfully dealt with and stopped that other person from hyperventilating in the future because they just didn't cater to it nor would they tolerate her behavior, and the hyperventilation quickly stopped. Yes, they had to get a little bit tough on her because she was  doing this hoping to wake up in the hospital and away from the group home. She was actually from Cleveland Ohio where some of the hard nuts to crack came from. Some of Cleveland's toughest kids often landed there at that group home, and yes she was a very hard nut to crack. She was a hard nut to crack but not impossible because they were able to stop her from hyperventilating by nipping it in the bud before it became more of a serious issue. 

It sounds to me like you're going to have to just  expose her to the loud sounds because sounds are everywhere, especially when you live in the city. She's just going to have to get used to it and people need to stop catering to her and enabling her behavioral issues because she's only bringing the hyperventilation and fainting episodes on herself. I can spot this a mile away because I've seen it and know how it's dealt with in order to stop it from ever happening again. If I was given your particular situation to deal with, I would simply crank the TV or stereo volume for eight or even 12 nonstop hours and get her over the anxiety because loud sounds will not hurt you, sounds don't hurt you, they are just sounds and she would get the hint that what she hears won't hurt her and she'll snap out of it once she gets used to the sounds. It sounds harsh but I came from a family of battleground fighters who were tough birds during times of riding horseback to battle, and they didn't put up with no crap and they were tough. German, Irish, and Indian are all very tough people and they are no nonsense kind of people who don't take crap from no one and they know how to resolve issues and keep them from being prolonged. Believe me, if faced with your type of issue, I would know how to stop this problem and nip it in the bud right where it is and I wouldn't play around
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Go back to the doctor, or find a geriatric psychiatrist who can treat her anxiety.

Are you saying that the geriatrics doctor thought that the hyperventilating was a side effect? If she's still doing it, then that's not the answer.

This needs to get fixed; passing out, becoming disoriented and paranoid is not good for either one of you.
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Meds are the problem, they cause more harm than good. The issue must be dealt with. Take her outside near nature (it is calming) is she watching news or negative tv? also her diet no sugar. The key is looking at the cause not medicating it.
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