My mother seems to have odd symptoms with her Alzheimer's.

6 answers | Last updated: Oct 17, 2016
Orangeunsub asked...

My mother has Alzheimer's and every night complains of nausea and being sick to her stomach, sometimes after a meal, sometimes as soon as she gets out of bed. In addition, she wants to urinate all the time, sometimes legit and sometimes for almost no reason at all other than company.

Is this unique? Her doctors are befuddled.

Expert Answers

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.

Although some behavior may seem odd, it is most always not intentionally designed by the person with AD to bother the carepartner. It is understandable how a loving carepartner can feel befuddled by behaviors that do not seem to be the norm.

You most likely have already done this but if not, the most important first line of coping with this behavior is to have an appointment with a medical professional to rule out any treatable causes of the aberrant behavior. Might she have a urinary tract infection? Does she have an underlying digestive tract problem or other physical reason for the nausea?

It is not unusual to see this behavior as the disease progresses and the patient becomes less able to articulate real physical distress. She may not want to be incontinent and is fearful of having 'an accident' which leads her to urinate often. Likewise, she may confuse hunger with nausea and not recall whether or not she has, in fact, already had a meal. That information may not have been stored leading to her inability to remember what she has done during the last moments or hours.

With these basic guidelines stated, let me address what is most likely the more concrete reason for her seemingly odd behavior: She craves companionship! It is rather common for people with AD to feel most secure when near a loved one - a person who makes them feel the most secure. Your loving concern about her need to urinate or her feeling of nausea provides a kind of companionship for her.

I suggest you support her by not attempting to reason with her or explain when she last urinated or felt nauseous. Instead, attempt to refocus her to something positive that includes you (or another carepartner) each time she relates these physical issues. "Let's have a cup of tea together, Mom" or the moment she arises try, "Let's go to the bathroom and then have breakfast together". Some folks with seemingly repetitive behaviors are simply looking for something to do to help them feel they are still needed. Perhaps the next time Mom expresses nausea you smile and say, "That's too bad Mom. Can you help me fold the laundry?" If she states she has nausea, try "Here's some cool water. Will you help me put the dishes away?" Refocusing her behavior may help to break the repetitive pattern while helping her to feel that she is still a functional and needed adult.

Remember to take care of you!

Community Answers

Orangeunsub answered...

Dear Ms. Coste,

I have long thought that there was something going underneath all of this.In the past, mom was a bit of a martyr. A lot of drama for any type of attention. It seemed as if it was an obvious progression that even with the disease devouring every last bit of the woman I called mom, in to this frail, sickly woman I don't feel like I know. As some loving lucid beautiful moments come through, I expected the same could be true with the Martyr , self pity part also.

I am apparently very wrong. Actually thankfully.

I know I can help this now and due to your advice itseems so simple. I have been in denial for almost all of the 3 1/2 years I've been taking care of mom...until recently. Not to sound demeaning to mom, but my dog trainer taught me a similat technique with my lab, to stop jumping on us when we got home. We'd say go get us a toy, cause she was so excited. It took her mind off us coming home and by than we were in the house, had mom ok and could deal with the doggie.

I know your ideas will work. She is always asking for things to do. I cannot wait to try them out. Yes she has been to her DR, but has a urologist app't this week too.

I am so glad that I may have a way out, so to speak of this dilemma. I was losing my cool from time to time. Like watching the clock, you went 3 times in the past hour, etc. I didn't like what I was becoming. The stress is finally getting to me I think

I cannot wait to try out these simple tasks, plus I have a ton of laundry backed up, it looks like I am taking it in for some extra cash!!!

Thank you so much.


PS. regarding the nausea as a cry out for help or need. My family is about 1 mile away and not seen or heard. I know this belongs in another section, but ironically, my sister was to come by this weekend but never showed or called. It was only going to take place because mom called her Tuesday when not feeling well.

Melvinchun answered...

my wife is allways going next door and picking on my neice and her kids its usually inthe evening when she has sundown and agitation sets in do you have any ansers or suggestion?

Orangeunsub answered...



Hopefully you'll find a bit of humor in that and make a smile happen. If not,it was intended that way!

A fellow partner incryin


Judith16 answered...

Dear Orangeunsub,

I'm very sorry to hear about your mom's Alzheimer's. I actually knew a man who was having beginning of Alzheimer's. She actually started to take natural supplements who are absolutely amazing!! These products are based on Pharmacy Technology and renew cells! Amazing no other product out there does this. When I heard of this lady later I was so happy to say she was doing so great she was improving each, every single day. If these helped her I'm pretty sure they'll help you mom as well. You have nothing to lose and so much more to gain. You will be astounded and your mom as well. I'm sure your mom would be happy that she doesn't have to depend on everyone else as much. You have nothing to lose.

Sincerely, Judith

Sofe answered...

I am stunned by the exact symptoms my Mother with dementia is having. We have ruled out everything else with different specialist, and we have no relief. I understand the hunger and the urinary frequency, but the nausea is real. My Mother gets so distress she cannot function. I wish there was a different answer. The only thing that minimizes her acute attacks is a cup of ice.