Do Alzheimer's patients lose the ability to tell extreme hot or cold?

Pokey7 asked...

Do Alzheimer's patients lose the ability to tell extreme hot or cold, for instance, during bathing?

Expert Answer

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

There is data that supports that there is such a phenomenon as Alzheimer temperature sensitivity. The question seems to be whether it is an actual physiologic change or if it is simply another example of how the brain ceases to interpret information as Alzheimer's disease (AD) progresses. I am in accord with Everdebz response related to bathing. A rule of thumb is to always use a removable shower head and begin from the feet slowly working your way up the body. Wnever possible, do NOT use shower spray on the AD person's face but opt instead for separate cleansing with a cloth outside of the shower. Likewise with shampooing - try a dry shampoo available at drugstore chains or simply apply baby powder or corn starch to the hair gently massaging into scalp and gently brushing it out. These methods work well and eliminate unnecessary fear or agitation. Good luck!