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My mother walked around for 2 days holding her arm and groaning loudly in pain with every step. We decided to take her to the er and she wouldn't let me change her top. She had spilled food on it and I wanted her to be clean but she would yell in pain if I tried to lift her arm so we just took her that way. As soon as we got there and they put her in a bed there was no more groaning or complaining of pain. When asked if she could raise her arms she raised them both high above her head with no complaints. They did x-rays and found nothing but a little arthritis. We thought maybe she had fell and hurt herself. My son wheeled her back to the car and the very minute he tried to get her in the car she was yelling in pain again. She is still doing it. I sleep in a recliner because of my scoliosis and she was in her chair close to me last night. The room was dark cause we were going to sleep. She was very quiet. As soon as I remembered I needed to set my alarm on my phone and turned my phone on and the light lit up my face she yelled "Oh it hurts so bad". When my phone was back off again she stopped doing it. I feel like I want to treat her like a child throwing a tantrum and just ignore it. One night at 4:30 in the morning I was still awake because of this so I turned on the light and got her up and got her in bed so I could get some sleep. Am I treating her unfairly by ignoring this or should I run up a bill each time in the er...I'm afraid if something does happen I won't believe her and she will actually be ill.

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Dementia patients are notoriously bad at localizing pain. The pain may actually be somewhere else entirely.

I would schedule an appointment with her geriatrics/internist and investigate all possible sources of her pain.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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My mother wants to do the same thing, going to the ER gives her the attention she so desires. No more, we just placed her in AL, she tried her con game, they didn't fall for it, they reconfirmed the behavior with us, yes, she has done this before.
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Reply to DollyMe
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In her mind she is in pain. Don't think she is pretending. May be something that happened to her as a child? Or the arthritis hurts a little and she is blowing it up. My Mom did that.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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It isn't made up. It is her perception, which of course, due to dementia, is faulty.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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The trouble with what I call The Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome is that one day, there WILL be a true problem that requires the ER. But the vast majority of the time, the ER is NOT required, so it's up to US to figure out WHICH times we should take them and which times we shouldn't. Right? So.......you took mom to the ER and there is nothing wrong with her arms. When she complains of more pain in her arms, give her a couple of Tylenol and call it good.

Like the others have said, dementia patients are bad at being able to pinpoint their pain. That doesn't mean, however, that your mother should be taken to the ER every time she complains. I am 62 years old and wake up every single day of my life stooped over in back pain; it takes me 1 hour at least, and 2 ibuprofen to straighten up. That doesn't mean I need to be seen in the ER; it means I have chronic pain due to arthritis and that can't be 'fixed'. It is what it is. I don't have Alzheimers, however, so I keep the pain to myself and do what I have to do to minimize it.

In your case, take mom to her PCP for a full physical. If he deems her to be in fairly good health, then reserve the ER trips for what YOU deem to be true emergencies. I will never forget my mother insisting on going to the ER for black & blues she'd had on her arms. Honest to God. She would not stop carrying on until I took her; my father was getting surgery upstairs in the same hospital for a broken hip, and my mother was downstairs in the ER being seen for black & blues (while on blood thinners, I might add). The doctor looked at her and said, "What are you doing here, Josephine? I've never heard of a person coming to the ER for bruises. Go home." She had just started down the dementia highway when this incident took place. She is now over 4 years into it, and I've had her in the ER about 10 times since, but never for nonsensical reasons. Just last week she showed me about 4 black & blues on her arms and kept repeating, over and over again, what are these from? Oh my God, these are BAD. And the ER incident came to mind immediately. I told her to wear long sleeves and she wouldn't be reminded of the black & blues which were harmless. True story.

Wishing you all the best in sorting the real from the fabricated. Sending you a hug, too, because you probably need one.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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They are not intentionally trying to deceive or get attention. Their reality is the pain is real and exists. Their brain is sick and broken as Teepa Snow often says. They cannot control their words or behavior and they cannot manipulate; that cognitive act of planning manipulation does not work with a broken brain. Take her to the ER each time, it becomes documented and part of her medical record and disease progression. It will help in getting her placed in NH if/when times comes. Lots of patience and compassion are needed; and the caregiver needs rests to be able to give both. Sounds like you are doing a great job; hang in there & take care of you too.
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Reply to Caregiving2
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I know what you are talking about. For years, grandma complained about how her knees hurt too much to get up. She would go on and on about it trying to get up halfway and then sitting back down. The thing was she only did this with an audience. I noticed she didn't have any problems if there was no one else in the room. Even while she did this, if I walked out of the room 5 minutes later she would be walking down the hallway.

Those were the good times. Now she screams out loudly in pain saying her knees hurt all the time. She lets out that exact same scream if my hands are cold when I change her diaper or if she wants the drapes closed. It's just her way of saying "hey".
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Reply to needtowashhair
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My mom does the same, but to a lesser extent. We were finally able to get her qualified for hospice. Now, when she begins to complain and want to go to the hospital, we call the hospice nurse. If it is necessary to go to the hospital, fine, but we have a qualified person making that call. Usually just the attention and a Tylenol stops the pain.
Please see if you can get your mom qualified...it is a huge help.
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Reply to Judysai422
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When my daughter was young, she would cry with pain in her arm. I took her to the Dr. and he x-rayed the arm and did not find anything. I noticed certain movements made her cry, so back to the Dr.. I showed the Dr. how she would cry, so he x-rayed the clavicle area and sure enough, she had a hair line fracture on her clavicle. The Dr. put her arm in a sling and tied it around her chest so she wouldn't move it and in time she was well. Also, I had a fall and my arm also hurt really bad, but only with certain with movements, the x-ray did not show any fractures, but then an MRI was ordered and it showed I had a rotator cuff tear and had to have surgery. Just thought I would give you something else you might look into. Hope you find a solution.
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Reply to chill47
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As their Alzheimer's disease progresses, they are going to revert more and more into a childlike state. Perhaps, as she knows her family, she is acting this way. I don't know if she has the ability to alter her mindset to act differently to medical professionals. Her mind is broken and hard to discern if she has that capability. My late mother did not have Alzheimer's, but there were a few times when I was living with her that she said "Call 9-1-1, my pain is SO bad." Then there was nothing found at the ER. Strange....
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Reply to Llamalover47
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