1. Expert Q&A: Protecting a person with dementia from financial abuse - Weds 26 June, 3:30-4:30 pm

    Financial abuse can have serious consequences for a person with dementia. Find out how to protect a person with dementia from financial abuse.

    Sam, our Knowledge Officer (Legal and Welfare Rights) is our expert on this topic. She will be here to answer your questions on Wednesday 26 June between 3:30 - 4:30 pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

  1. VIB35

    VIB35 Registered User

    Oct 15, 2007
    Hello, my mother is 63 and has severe AD. I would say nearly every day she complains of excrutiating pains in her stomach/bowel area which sometimes even leaves her in tears. She has been seen by so many doctors and carers who all say that there is nothing wrong (in those areas). She did genuinly have pain about 3 mths ago and we are wondering if the pain she feels now is psychological and her brain reminding her of the pain that she had, if you see what I mean. I hope this makes sense. The reason we think that it may all be in the mind is that, sometimes, it passes as quickly as it comes on. I think it could be related to anxiety - ie when someone new comes to the house or when we talk about going out somewhere etc, or she's feeling particularly muddled, but it does happen every day and is just so hard for those around her to know what to do and it's awful seeing her in such 'agony'.

    One doctor thinks it is connected to depression but she takes anti-anxiety pills so i'm not sure. Perhaps they aren't strong enough?

    Does anyone else have experience of this?
  2. DeborahBlythe

    DeborahBlythe Registered User

    Dec 1, 2006
    My mum complained of various pains, usually in her stomach area but was sent off to A and E by the home she was living in at the time who claimed to be worried that she was havinga heart attack. After full investigation the hospital concluded that she had constipation however the home tried to resist taking her back again despite the trivial nature of my mum's upset. ( Sorry, that is a bit of a diversion, but I suppose it paints a picture.) Is someone checking whether your mum is constipated?

    My mum still gets tummy pains now after food sometimes but she usually seems better after a chocoaltae biscuit or a digestive. ( She does have some medication for indigestion and can have laxatives when needed). I'm not trying to minimise your mum's distress but sometimes the obvious things get overlooked. Forgive if you have already considered this. Best wishes Deborah
  3. VIB35

    VIB35 Registered User

    Oct 15, 2007
    Hi Deborah
    Thanks for your reply. Her diet is really bad - she just won't eat and is not interested in food anymore so she is already taking lactulose and senna to combat any bowel problems as we get her to drink those horrid fortisip milkshakes that are full of vitamins/nutrients etc. So yes, whilst that was a problem a few months ago, it isn't any more...... Thanks for your msg.
  4. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    #4 jenniferpa, Nov 7, 2007
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2007
    You know, I've typed several responses to this but have deleted every one. Is this (the fact that the pain may be psychosomatic in origin) something that has been suggested to you, or are you trying to make sense of the symptoms? I ask because I'm afraid to say that doctors are oh so inclined to pigeon hole pain they can't explain, or do anything about as being pyschological in nature, since it lets them off the hook. If I sound slightly bitter about this, it is because I have dealt with this issue in my own family, only to find out that the pain was very real. Actually to be fair, pain that is pyschosomatic is real - what I mean to say is that in our case there was an actual organic, treatable cause for it.

    I assume that the previous cause of the pain has been ruled out? Properly, I mean, not just someone saying "I don't think it's that"? Something that I think does/can happen when someone has dementia is response to pain which is akin to what you would see in a yound child - pain is all encompassing and then, suddenly, it isn't. I think that much of the way an adult deals with pain is based on personal experience and social conditioning, and of course, when somone has dementia, all that is lost. When I, for example, stub my toe, it might bring tears to my eyes, and foul language to my lips, but I know that it's transitory - the pain will dissipate, but for a child or an adult with dementia, that knowledge isn't necessarily there. Thus any pain is an entirely unexpected event which has no rhyme or reason. No wonder it reduces someone to terrified tears.

    That is quite apart from the fact that all pain messages are processed in the brain. When there is an organic disease of the brain, I think it is entirely possible that the brain receives mixed messages from the nerves in the body - a message is sent that shouldn't be interpreted as pain but is misread. Also, I would also think it is entirely possible the the gate mechanism (which, simplistically, is where the brain receives as message of pain, and then effectively says , OK, I've heard this, I don't need to keep hearing it) becomes faulty. That failure is the origin of many neurgogenic pain syndromes.

    None of which help you or your mother. What does her doctor say? If it's possibly related to anxiety (and while a change in enviornement might produce mild anxiety in a well person, one can see that such a change might produce truly gut wrenching anxiety in your mother) could not an anti-anxiety medication be given a trial? Alternatively, if the pain is of short duration (and assuming she then does not remember it) I think you'll have to experiment with various comforting techniques, as you would with a child. A stuffed animal to hold on to, reassurance that this pain will pass, simple human contact can all act as distractions until the pain has passed.

    You will note that from what I've said that I think that it is unlikely that the pain is truly pychosomatic in origin. I think it is more likely that there is some level of discomfort which is magnified in her mind, and all you can really do is provide the reassurance that she needs that this too shall pass. Actually, even if it was psychosomatic, I doubt there is anything that could be done medically anyway, except possibly anti-anxiety meds. She could hardly cooperate with the normal "talk therapy" approach to such illnessess.

    best wishes

    Edited to add: I note you mention senna. Now this is very much a personal issue, but I find that I get severe, and I mean severe (as in stabbed in the stomach), cramping when I take senna. You might want to investigate an alternative.
  5. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006

    I`m sorry if this is too obvious, but has your mother been tried with analgesics, to see if the pain decreases, or alternatively a placebo, just to see if it could be psychosomatic.
  6. VIB35

    VIB35 Registered User

    Oct 15, 2007
    Hi, when the pain is really bad, we give her a paracetamol. And with lots of reassurance that someone will be coming to help her etc (the carers), she feels slightly better, but at times nothing will ease her pain. It is really hard to know whether it is real or not......

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