My husband with Alzheimer’s has started getting nighttime diaphragm spasms. Like hiccups, only not as frequent…meaning he’ll spasm every 15-20 minutes. Seems like regular hiccups come every 3-4 minutes or so.
So these spasms keep him and me awake. We try sitting up a bit, walking around, patting on the back, small sips of water, OTC gas medicine and OTC digestive medicine, massaging the diaphragm area. It seems the only thing is time. That makes it difficult to get a good nights rest. With his Alzheimer’s, he is real bad the next day (as am I), we both are walking zombies.
To add to the situation, my husband is very overly dramatic, saying it “hurts so bad”, and then in the next minute he says he’s ok. For example, l ask if he’s better sitting, standing or lying down and he can’t tell me. I try to determine what exactly he’s feeling, but it’s impossible to get a straight answer from him with his dementia.
I've read that these spasms can happen with neurological disorders, such as dementia. Any experience with this? Anything work to alleviate?
I would try and give him teaspoons of sugar that would occasionally work, and try all the other remedies listed online. We had the best luck with the sugar, but even that didn't work every time, and we would just have to ride them out.
He even had them while he was unconscious on his death bed, and that was heartbreaking to witness, as there was nothing I could do to try and help.
I'm not sure that there are any foolproof answers to this problem, but wanted you to know that it is very common with those suffering from dementia.
I'm sorry you & DH are experiencing such a terrible thing. Have you spoken to his doctor about it? I don't imagine the doctor would have anything useful to add to what has already been mentioned by grandma or online, but you never know.
May God bless you and help you both through such a traumatic addition to what's already a difficult journey to navigate.
My husband is suffering, I am too. When he goes into a rage because he had to have a ham sandwich rather than turkey; when he dissolves into tears he needs to change into fresh clothes, yes, it’s overly dramatic. His mother who had dementia was the same way…everything was a horrible disaster. It is the dementia.
Yes spasms can be painful, I know that. My husband was the most wonderful, easy going, fun man. This disease plays such horrible tricks on the mind.
If you noticed, in my post I asked how to help my husband. Thanks for your “help”. I will just assume you are having a bad day and felt the need to bash my choice of words not only once, but twice.
Next time, don’t waste your time responding if you can’t help.
Wishing you both good luck and a fast resolution.
In my case, it always happens when I haven’t hydrated enough that day.
When it happens I will have a little water because I don’t want to pee all night either, applesauce does help, but the next day I get back on track with hydrating.
I’m not sure if it happens when I eat spicy food too but you may consider that.
I normally start the morning with a tumbler (16 oz) of water. Maybe you could place a good looking tumbler in front of your husband while you’re preparing breakfast.
Refill his tumbler every time he finishes all day long. Let him drink at his own unforced pace. Enjoy a glass with him. Place a fancy napkin with it. He’ll love the service/attention. Stop 2 hours before bedtime. A sip or two before bed is okay. This will help from interrupting sleep with trips to the bathroom
There may be a number of other causes but dehydration is definitely the reason for me.
Regarding drama, boy do I empathize. Sneaker shopping…my husband is a perfect 11 medium but he will want 10.5 wide to 12 quad E. I know different brands and styles fit differently but almost everything hurts. I adjust the shower and the temperature is as perfect as perfect can be but to my sweetheart it’s scalding or freezing so I tell him “Oh no, I’ll adjust it”, pretend that I have and he says it’s much better. He tells me he has a blasting headache. I say Oh no and tell him to come to the kitchen table for a peach and with the first bite I ask how's your headache and he say it's much better. I'm vigilant, very vigilant, but as long as there aren't arms or legs, blood or an eyeball on the floor I don't jump.
There are scores of other imagined sensations that has me always on my toes to ambush preventatively any eventuality before it happens. I always have nearby, in a bag or in our car; sunglasses, an extra windbreaker (in 97 degrees weather because there may be a chance we have to walk by the freezer section of a supermarket), cold water in a thermal bag, hard candy, a wet wash cloth in a ziplock, etc. Every slight change in sensation is magnified as with a toddler.
Luckily on the other hand, every meal is the very best he’s ever eaten, every (old time) singer is better than every other, each and every piece of music is absolutely the best, the birds never sounded better, every ugly baby, couple and dog is incredibly beautiful.
I wish there was a free sanitarium health spa in a beautiful mountain area that steamrolled, burnt out, exasperated and bonkers caregivers were required by the government to attend for three weeks every 4 months.
Additionally with the dementia, as I stated, it’s hard to get a straight answer. One minute he says he feels the best he has in a long time. 15 minutes later, he’ll say his foot hurts so bad and it’s been terrible for the past few weeks. So, I listen to him, however, I do more “observing” than listening. I’ll watch him…if his foot hurts, why isn’t he limping? So I just observe and then act on what I see. I just try to use a combo of common sense and what I see with my own eyes, with what he says and a grain of salt.
So much of coping with dementia is just “playing along”. Don’t even try to argue or correct or demonstrate anything. It’s just not worth the aggravation and the stress it cause the dementia person. The mind is such a complex and amazing thing. This dementia changes their reality.
I try to put myself in the dementia persons shoes.
How weird/maddening/frightening would it be for someone to correct you and argue with you when you think you are right…when your mind is playing tricks on you so realistically you’d bet your life on what you are experiencing? And yet someone is trying to convince you otherwise?
Its such a scary and frustrating disease.
Yeah…someone needs to send me to “Happy Acres”. I’d gladly go!
Im getting my husband to eat slowly and no carbonated beverages at night. He’s not big on spice so I don’t think it’s that. Also, he seems to stay pretty hydrated, so I don’t think it’s that either. I’ve read where there is a connection with diaphragm issues and neurological disorders. We do have a wedge to raise him up. We are seeing Dr for a check next wk so I will see what he thinks. It’s just when my husband is overly tired, his dementia is so much worse, literally zombie like. It’s just hard when neither of us have a rested night. It’s only happened a few times so far, so maybe the Dr can see what he thinks, but the nighttime spasms caused enough issues the following day, I’d really like to get a handle on it.
Thanks for your response.
You may already be doing this… I have found I can not give my husband choices anymore. In this case, I would have him stand then ask him if that feels better… yes or no? I would then have him sit down then ask him if that feels better…. yes or no? I would then have him lay down then ask him if that feels better… yes or no. Asking yes or no questions has helped me better understand my husband especially when he is feeling bad because his mind can no longer “analyze” choices to give an answer even when it seems simple to me. Even with this approach I have come to believe he has trouble interpreting his pain level. This sometimes results in him being dramatic when it shouldn’t hurt then being nonchalant when it normally would be very painful. Another thought is a spasm can be very painful but as soon as the muscles relax he probably does feel fine just a few minutes after complaining.
My Dad used a wedge to keep him elevated which helped.
Perhaps you could try sleeping in another room? When I am in trouble with pain in the night, I shift to another bed to avoid disturbing my DH. If he can't help, there is no point in keeping him awake.