How can I get my mother with Alzheimer's to stop holding saliva in her mouth?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Mom has had AD for a number of years now. Recently she has been holding her saliva in her mouth and I cannot get her to spit it out. Any suggestions?

Expert Answer

Jytte Lokvig, PhD, coaches families and professional caregivers and designs life-enrichment programs and activities for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Her workshops and seminars help caregivers and families create a healthy environment based on dignity and humor. She is the author of Alzheimer's A to Z: A Quick-Reference Guide.

Because of her disease, your mother may not grasp the concept of spitting. Rather than trying to get her to spit out the excess saliva, give her a bite of something she really likes, so she will automatically swallow the saliva along with it.

Many medications cause problems with either dry mouth or extra salivation. Have a long talk with her pharmacist or go to an online resource such as or for interactions and side-effects of all your mother's prescription and over-the-counter medications.