Maybe headache the precursor of downturn

Discussion in 'Younger people with dementia and their carers' started by LynneMcV, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    On Friday night I sat down with my husband at the computer because he was keen to fill in his 'picks' for an online football game which he has been doing for years.

    He can't manage the keyboard too well these days - so I call up the webpage and we go through the matches one by one predicting what the scores will be.

    He does struggle with concentrating on it - but we take our time and eventually he gets there - though I sometimes wonder if the mental agony he seems to put himself through as he tries to think what scores to give are not entirely worth it.

    After Friday's session he seemed while fatigued by all the thinking. He said he had a headache, which I put down to stress.

    Half an hour later he insisted on doing some drying up in the kitchen - but again mentioned that he had a headache. Despite my coaxing he refused to leave the drying up and come and sit down.

    It takes him long time to do things these days - so although there were only a few bits and pieces to dry up, it took him a good 30mins to complete the task before he came to sit down again.

    He was holding his head - he was obviously in pain and it was focused at his forehead near his left temple. He said the headache was bad and that he felt hot. It's really hard to judge because my husband's sense of pain is out of proportion these days - the tiniest of knocks can have him wincing and looking like he is about to double up in agony when it is quite evident that the level of pain that could be inflicted by such a minor knock could not be anything like he is expressing.

    His temperature was fine - so I gave him some paracetemol for the headache and he went to bed. He slept well and by the morning (yesterday, Saturday) the pain was gone - though he said he felt a bit 'fuzzy' at the front of his head. He was in good spirits though - and as the day progressed nothing more was mentioned about pain or fuzziness.

    However, during the course of the day he did become a bit confused about the money he 'saves' in a cup in his bedside cabinet. he said there wasn't as much in his cup as he thought there should be. I reminded him that we had dipped into it a bit over Christmas, but as he still looked worried so I gave him some more money to replace what had been taken out. This seemed to make him happier and he said it all seemed ok now.

    A couple of hours later he went to check his cup again - and after 20 mins or so he came back down and said he thought there was money missing again. I didn't go and check it - I just told him not to worry, that he'd put the money away and all was good. He seemed ok with that.

    Most of the rest of the day passed without incident - though I did notice that he forgot to flush the loo a couple of times and forgot to wash his hands (very unlike him, hygiene has always been very important to him).

    He went to bed around 11pm and was happy with no worries. I went up to bed around midnight and he was sound asleep. As I tried to get comfortable I was aware of something sticking into my back. I felt around in the dark and pulled a rolled up piece of paper from under me. I put the bedside light on and saw it was a £20 note. I guessed it had got caught up in the duvet when my husband was counting the money from his cup earlier (it's all £20 notes in his cup!)

    I tried to settle and soon became aware of something else under my leg. I reached down and immediately felt another bit of rolled up paper - even though it was dark, it didn't take much imagination to realise what it was - another £20 note. I put the light back on and put the money safely with the other £20 note I'd found in the bed.

    Before I turned the light off again I moved my pillows to get more comfortable - and under them were lots of £20 notes all folded up individually, tumbling down onto the mattress!

    By now my husband was stirring and when he saw what had happened he started laughing - saying "I wondered what had happened to them all - I knew I was missing some. I think I must have been looking for a safe place to keep them!"

    We gathered up the hoard (£240!) and stuck them back in his cup. He was content, I was bemused - and we went to sleep.

    Around 4am I was woken up by him crawling across the bed to peer down on to the floor on my side of the bed.

    "What's up?" I asked - only to be told that someone called Paula had come into the room and disappeared - and he thought she might be hiding on the floor!

    Fortunately he soon realised that this was not the case at all. We had a laugh again and went back to sleep.

    Part of me now wonders if this 'downturn' can be attributed to whatever it was that caused my husband's 'severe' headache on the Friday - maybe something happened in his brain and the unusual behaviour that followed was the result of that.

    He seems more himself today (Sunday) though he is still forgetting to flush the loo. I haven't bothered telling him, it's not a huge deal really - at least he is able to use the loo and know when he needs to go.
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    It does make you wonder doesn`t it Lynne.

    It could also be the dreaded UTI and it`s so easy to overlook infections if you think the change in his behaviours might be due to something else.

    It was the confusion about money which caught my attention. It brought back memories. :)
  3. halojones

    halojones Registered User

    May 7, 2014
    Hi Lynne, I was wondering myself about headaches and dementia...My mum recently had a UTI and I noticed her shutting her eyes and rubbing the front of her head by her temple, more than once, and I was wondering if it was a TIA, even the doctor could not tell..I asked her if she had a headache, but she said she didn't, but my mum never admits to any pain, she never did admit to being in pain even before she had dementia....she is now over the UTI and a lot better, but not as she was, she doesn't want to get dressed and go out anymore, which she always did, so it has been a big downturn....personally I do believe that Alz icauses headaches....keep watching for UTs asI as they come out of nowhere, and can cause so much damage....You are obviously caring so well for your OH,and its good to keep laughing......Take Care xxx.
  4. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    My BIL had vascular dementia. Each time he had a small stroke it was preceded by a headache. There would then be a noticeable decline in some aspect of his condition. My sister became very good at pinpointing the latest stroke.
  5. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    Sorry Lynne, I don't know what kind of Dementia your Husband has, but Pete was experiencing this kind of headache from the beginning of being ill. Pete used to press either his temple area or the side of his head and complain of pain. This was before he was diagnosed with AD. He continued to indicate the pain was still there until just a few months before he passed away. Maybe a phone consultation with the GP would be in order?

    Take care

    Lyn T XX
  6. malc

    malc Registered User

    my wife always gets headaches,i just put it down to the progression of her alzheimer's,i think paracetamol sorts it out,i leave a trip to the doctors for emergency problems because she gets upset if its busy or there is a lot of crying children in there.
  7. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    Thanks everyone for your feedback.

    My husband is due to see the doctor this month for a 6 monthly check-up so I'll make a point of raising the matter then - though fortunately there hasn't been a further repeat of the headache problem since I posted about it.

    It will be interesting to see just how much the doctor actually knows about dementia as he has not seen my husband since he first referred him for tests back in January 2011 - the diagnosis of dementia and all follow up appointments have been done at the Memory Clinic ever since then (with the GP sent details of the results for his information).

    It seems they have changed the process now and will share the 6 monthly assessments between the GP and Memory Clinic. I'll ask the GP to do a routine urine test at the same time I think.

    My husband seems happy and settled in himself but he definitely had a downturn following the headache episode with a couple more things materialising since I last posted such as:

    • Going to the loo in the early hours and then unsure how to find his way back to the bedroom (about four steps away from the bathroom door)
    • Going to meet a friend locally - but coming back to the house after five seconds because he didn't know whether to turn left or right at the end of the pathway
    • Forgetting that he had recently had a PIP assessment and received a lump some backdated to last April (in a way that was a nice one because it was lovely to see the happiness and relief on his face all over again when he thought he was hearing it for the first time)

    Lyn T - I can't say for sure what kind of dementia my husband has. I have seen a variety of diagnoses written down in various correspondence over the past two years and these have ranged from mixed dementia, Alzheimers to non-specific dementia. I really don't think they know - but they do have him on medication for AD for now.
  8. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    Hi - if it's VasD as part of the unwelcome dementia package then keeping blood pressure under control is important. Has your husband's BP been checked recently please and is it OK?

    A lot of what you're saying reminds me of my Mum's comments when she had a mini-stroke (TIA). She complained she was hot - though she felt desperately cold to the touch.
  9. LynneMcV

    LynneMcV Volunteer Moderator

    May 9, 2012
    south-east London
    Hi AlsoConfused - it's been just over a year since my husband's blood pressure was checked so I'll mention that to the GP too. I know my husband has never shown any signs of high blood pressure in the past when checks have been carried out - but of course, that may not be the case now.

    I have to admit that I have often had a nagging thought at the back of my head that he might have had TIAs at some point without us knowing - and that these may have gradually led to his dementia - but right from the start of his assessment and diagnosis he had blood pressure checks and heart monitoring tests on several occasions - and all was well (other than he had a slower than normal heart rate which meant that he could not be given the full dose of Aricept).

    Thanks for your input, it has given me something to look into - it is interesting to hear that the heat he felt at the same time as his bad headache is in line with what your mother experienced.
  10. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    Glad it was a useful thought.

    What took us all aback about my Mum's TIA was how sudden it was and how quickly she recovered.

    We were at the end of a very pleasant meal in a restaurant when Mum very suddenly fell ill and then collapsed. The ambulance was there in minutes (it seemed like only 3 minutes after the 999 call was made), the paramedics put her on oxygen and took her straight to A & E (I suppose we got there 15 - 20 minutes later) ... and by the time we'd actually got to hospital Mum had recovered enough to be fascinated by a rather oddly shaped nurse and dismissive of the doctor (who she felt was full of himself - he wasn't).
  11. kingybell

    kingybell Registered User

    Feb 3, 2015
    For a number of years my mum in law suffered with crippling migranes. They seem to have eased now but now she has been diagnosed with 'mixed' dementia aged 56.

    There isn't any research to support the link between headaches and dementia but I wouldn't be surprised in the future if they discover one.
  12. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    I have had crippling migraines for over 25 years and dementia symptoms for the last 5-6. Migraine is a neurological illness in my experience but is yet, in this country, to be properly recognized as one.
    People talk of a headache, migraine is nothing like a headache in my experience. Paracetamol gets rid of a headache but not a migraine.

    From a fully active person I am now totally debilitated, muscle weakness and lack of physical strength feature greatly. I am quite a small person but used to have a lot of physical strength for my stature.

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