Mom had a sudden shift in her appearence of Symptons in Mid Stage dementia. Is this common?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 17, 2016
Octaljunky asked...

My mom was diagnosed with Mild Dementia of the Alz type several years ago - we started her on medication immediately (Galantamine). She seem to recover a bit after that but did begin to slowly decline. Her physician added Namenda to the mix about 8 months ago. That helped considerably and she seem to stay on the same plane for a long time.

Now very recently, she has had a major shift in behavior - very quite, unsteady on her feet, seems very uninterested in anything, stares at her food, etc. This behavior has come and gone, only to return again in the past 24 hours. Can the changes come on that fast?

We did notice a fever and she had a recent UTI. We are returning to the Dr this afternoon. Other vitals are fine and she has none of the classi stroke symptoms either.

Is it common for dramatic shift in a 24 period?


Expert Answers

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Hi, sorry to hear you're dealing with the challenges of Alzheimer's disease.

What you described, and I'm not a physician, may be behavioral changes that resulted from the fever and UTI. That is not at all an uncommon side effect of a UTI.

However, rapid changes in behavior are possible with Alzheimer's, especially after someone - as you described your mom - has been on a "plateau" for a while.

Also, while you state that she had none of the "classic" signs of a stroke, she may have suffered one or more TIAs, and you're seeing some of the residual effects of those.

The neurologist can help determine if that's a possibility, although by definition, those events, while a potential precursor for a serious stroke, tend to be transient in nature.

Your visit to her doctor is very appropriate here. When you talk with him/her, assuming you're seeing a neurologist for mom's Alzheimer's issues, ask to have ALL your mom's meds "“ prescription & over the counter - reviewed to determine if one or more of those may now be causing some unintended side effects as her decline continues due to the Alzheimer's.

You're reacting to your mom's changes in condition quickly and appropriately "“ good job. As a caregiver, there really isn't a great deal more that you can do to treat the disease. Her condition while it may plateau at times, it will continue to decline. The speed at which it does change is always unpredictable.

Illnesses "“ colds, flu, and pneumonia - and events like a UTI can completely upset her mental & physical processes, and create new behaviors and/or declines that may be temporary or may become the new baseline of her condition.

Best of luck on your journey - take very good care of yourself so you can continue to care for your mother.