Is it normal for people with dementia to constantly believe something is physically wrong with them? -

Is it normal for people with dementia to constantly believe something is physically wrong with them?


My mom constantly says "there is nothing wrong with my mind" but she always believes she has some physical ailment. She tells people she's had pneumonia...she hasn't. She says she had carotid artery surgery...she didn't. She says she has a bad heart...she doesn't. Before dementia, she never took any medications and rarely saw a doctor. Now she wants a pill for everything and is constantly talking about needing to see a doctor so he can find out what's wrong with her. Have any of you experienced this? I try to divert the conversation, but she always returns to complaining about all of her imaginary physical problems. I can never have a conversation with her that she isn't complaining. The staff at the assisted living center are having difficulty because she gets angry when they won't give her medication (that she doesn't need.

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In my experience people with AD or dementia obsess over things and the easiest thing for our elderly parents to obsess over is their health. My dad has dementia and is in a nursing home and he obsesses over the facility itself. He's convinced the staff is 'hazing' the residents, making them run up and down the halls. I figure that he witnessed PT and a seed was planted. He thinks he's going to be kicked out and have to go into a 'low-rent' place. These aren't fears, he's not afraid, I've asked him. He's just convinced this stuff is going on and he obsesses over it continually.

Maybe it's attention-seeking behavior? I've seen that in my dad. But I understand how the obsessing can drive you nuts. My dad's obsessing drives me nuts. It's exhausting.
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My mother-in-law did this too. She had health problems before Dementia kicked in, but it got worse after. If she felt a little "off", she'd complain something is wrong with her. Usually she couldn't tell you what, but she always thought she needed to be checked out by the doctor or go to the ER. We had to use our best judgment as to whether something was really wrong with her in whether we took her or not. Usually we'd just give her a Tylenol/Pepto/Etc. to alleviate whatever "symptoms" she was having and tell her we'll see how that works first. If she forgot about it and went on to the next thing, we'd know there really wasn't anything wrong with her. If she was still having the same symptoms the next day or so, we'd take her in to be checked out. It's totally frustrating - so I sympathize with you - but you have to remember (even though she doesn't know it) her mind is "altered" with Dementia and isn't working right and she's not the same person she used to be. Sad, but true.
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Abby, my Dad has periods when he complains about health problems which he really doesn't have. Sometimes I think someone says something, or he sees something on a TV commercial, and it strikes a chord. He has an appointment with his family doctor every six months and with the neurologist every four months and is as healthy as can be expected for his age (79) and the fact that he has AD. In his upper body he seems to be as strong as an ox, though he does shuffle when walking and his legs aren't very strong. Dad complains at times that his stomach is upset or he has slight heartburn. He knows, yet doesn't know, that this is a side effect of medication. He says that his stomach is 'tight', yet he eats like a horse and has gained weight in that area! About once a month he tells us that he has shingles. Mom had them several years ago so he thinks with every itch he has them, too. He got his flu shot in November and ever since then has complained that it itches and that his arm is splotchy, which it isn't.

My Dad always wants to go to the doctor, but we stick just to his scheduled appointments. As soon as one appointment is over, he starts asking when his next appointment is. I think he'd go to the doctor every week if he could, yet when he's at his appointments, he won't say anything! My Mom has to do all the talking. He'll just shrug his shoulders if he's asked something. For a long time, probably three or four years, he would stand in front of the calendar every day and check to see when he had his appointments. It got to the point where my Mom stopped putting the appointments on the calendar; she just keeps the cards tacked on a bulletin board that he doesn't look at. She stopped putting them on the calendar because for the two weeks leading up to an appointment my Dad would get so agitated, anxious, obsessed and downright ornery that she could hardly put up with him. Now when he has an appointment he is told that same morning, is given a shower and I drive them to the doctor's office.

Dad doesn't want a pill for everything, but he obsesses about the pills he does take. My Mom lays them out for him at each meal and he has to have her confirm the number of pills before he takes them, sometimes several times. He places the pills on the tip of his tongue and then won't swallow them until he's almost forced to or they start dissolving in his mouth. Then he worries that he dropped one. Then after the meal he wonders if he took his pills! He'll look for them under the table, and if he sees a crumb on the floor, its a pill he didn't take. Its a never ending circle.

I certainly understand your problem, and I know that we're always told to try to divert the conversation to something else. Unfortunately, I've found that in most cases this doesn't work with my Dad. He always ends up back where he started. Sometimes its just easier to agree with what the AD person says. Let her know that you'll have everything checked out at her next doctor's visit. Maybe this will help. I feel for you!
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Poor thing:( Frustrating for you, too. She knows something is wrong, but she is confused. She is used to having physical ailments off and on through out life--like all of us. She could be in denial, or past the point of knowing she is losing it. Seems to be a coping mechanism for her. Don't correct her, which will confuse her more. Focus on any positives and minimize negatives. So sorry:( xo
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abby, I have been living the same life for 3.5 years now. My mother has dementia that is in the moderate stage, but she won't address the problems with her brain. Instead she has all of these imaginary ailments that she wants to see the doctors about. We were going to the doctors so much that I finally had to put an end to it and say no more doctors unless something is really wrong. She also makes up things to fit her views of her world and her health. She makes up things the doctors have told her about herself and others.

If I mention going to a neurologist she becomes angry. There is nothing wrong with her ming... except that she has no memory and doesn't even know what day it is. She says that the doctors couldn't do anything about that, anyway. She is probably right, so I don't argue.

My mother starts the day complaining and ends it the same way. She also has obsessions about the house, the yard, and symptoms. Her obsession with her health is getting better now, but the obsessions with the house and yard are becoming worse. I do what I can to avoid financial catastrophe because of the obsessions.

I can't really talk to my mother, because if I don't go along with her view, she becomes very angry. So I do what I can do to keep her from doing things that would be bad. It can be very stressful, so I know how you feel.
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