• All threads and posts regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 can now be found in our new area specifically for Coronavirus COVID-19 discussion.

    You can access this area by going to the Health and wellbeing forum >here< or you can directly access the area >here<.

What could be causing this?

mrsapple

Registered User
Feb 4, 2013
49
Northumberland
Mum has VasD for more than 7 years, now immobile, bed bound, unresponsive, doubly incontinent, no speech etc. About a year ago she started continual hand wringing and rubbing her fingers; this progressed to bouts of hand clapping or clapping her hands on chair arms, books etc anything within reach. Has now progressed to whacking her own head with her flat hand - often quite hard. If I try to hold her hands to gently restrain her I can feel the jerking tremor running through them. It's not continually happening, more spasmodic - maybe every few minutes or so. At first I thought it might be caused by anxiety, but now I wonder if it might be that her damaged brain is sending out strange signals making her do this. Has anyone else experienced this? It doesn't seem to fit LBD or Parkinsons symptoms.
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
My mother is not quite as bad as yours, at least not bed bound, but she is incontinent and her speech is mostly gibberish. She often claps her hand repeatedly on any flat surface nearby, usually a small table. It can obviously be quite irritating, and sometimes one of the other residents shouts at her to stop, but she takes no notice. I don't think she is able any more to take notice in that way. I had assumed it was just another aspect of advanced dementia.
 

garnuft

Registered User
Sep 7, 2012
6,585
I suspect you're right, it's your Mum's damaged brain sending out wrong signals.

I know I observe this frequently in my son (he has severe learning difficulties and autism, he's 27)

With him it tends to be related to the digestion of his food, he is hyper-sensitive to his stomach and bowels.
When he needs a bowel movement, this sort of behaviour is displayed. 24 hours later he uses the toilet, without distress but no amount of reassurance in the previous 24 hours will help.
He seems to simply hate the internal feelings and noises (he has issues with his nose and ears too) of his body.

But it can also be that he's heard a siren in the street or on the TV.

It can also be that the batteries have run flat on his remote control.

I KNOW it's not connected with dementia and my Mam who had Vas Dem and Alzheimer's (86) never displayed the same behaviour, nor does my FIL (88) Vas Dem. but I do still think it's linked to the brain and wrong messages or wrong interpretation of messages.

The things that cause my son grief would take an hour to list.

I think, to a certain extent, he prepared me for my Mam's dementia.

But it isn't good that your Mum is hitting herself, she could and will hurt herself, I would ask for all physical reasons to be discounted...

UTI infections. Constipation. Itches. Sores. Crumpled bed sheets. Lace on edge of nighties. Bright lights. Loud noises. Bad people...etc.

When all of these and probably more that you and others can think of, have been discounted then I would seek drug therapy to lessen her distress.

Calm and peaceful is what I would want for myself as long as it wasn't just the lace on my nightie driving me mad.

I'm not being flippant...this is how basic life can be if one's brain functions in a certain way.

Best of luck.
 

mrsapple

Registered User
Feb 4, 2013
49
Northumberland
Thank you both for your replies. I have a care management meeting due later this week with SS and NH, so will raise this issue with them. It's quite distressing watching her hitting her head over and over, but NH staff I've spoken to seemed at a loss to know why she's doing it.

She has no quality of life now and I sometimes think she looks at me really pleadingly as though she wants me to do something to end her nightmare. She always had extremely strong views on not being kept going if something like this happened to her, and had an advance directive drawn up many years ago. She wouldn't let my father be resuscitated after he had a massive heart attack at the age of 58 leaving him with severe brain damage and constant fits. My OH says I am over-thinking this and he doesn't believe she has any reasoning power to this extent left. He may be right, but it's so hard.
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
Thank you both for your replies. I have a care management meeting due later this week with SS and NH, so will raise this issue with them. It's quite distressing watching her hitting her head over and over, but NH staff I've spoken to seemed at a loss to know why she's doing it.

She has no quality of life now and I sometimes think she looks at me really pleadingly as though she wants me to do something to end her nightmare. She always had extremely strong views on not being kept going if something like this happened to her, and had an advance directive drawn up many years ago. She wouldn't let my father be resuscitated after he had a massive heart attack at the age of 58 leaving him with severe brain damage and constant fits. My OH says I am over-thinking this and he doesn't believe she has any reasoning power to this extent left. He may be right, but it's so hard.
It must be terribly hard for you. My mother has no quality of life, either, but I don't get any pleading looks - mostly her eyes are just blank and vacant, as if nobody is there any more. I know her former self would have been pleading with me, though - she would have been so horrified to see what she has become. She is hardly ever ill as such, and is not on any permanent medication. There is nothing I can do except to make it clear that in the event of 'anything happening' Nature must be allowed to take its course. Nor will I allow any pestering or badgering to eat or drink if she begins to refuse, or IV fluids, or any of those fortified drinks. She is 96 and given the pitiful state she's in, I think it would be positively cruel to strive to keep her going if nature were trying to let her go. She has had Alzh. for maybe 13 years now.