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Old 07-15-2006, 11:35 AM   #1
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Mental Health question

Hi, I am curious about something that has happened to my neighbor, and I'd like to see if any of you could explain it.

I've known my neighbor for 34 years. She's a sweet elderly woman whom up until several months ago seemed as mentally stable as anyone.

Several months ago, she fell in her kitchen. She couldn't move, so she wasn't found until several hours later. She went to the hospital and ever since she entered the hospital, she's been a completely different person. She was never allowed to go home because she's so out of it - she now lives in a nursing home. She talks about people who are long dead as if they were as alive as she is. She lives in the past, yet doesn't have much trouble remembering who we and other currently living people are.

The thing that puzzles me is how sudden this all was. She never showed any signs of this before she went to the hospital. She went to the hospital and - WHAMO! - she changes completely.

Does anyone have any idea what's going on? Do you think maybe the trauma of the fall and lying there for hours might have somehow caused her to snap?

I love the lady -she's such a sweetheart. It breaks my heart that this has happened.
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Old 07-15-2006, 11:38 AM   #2
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That's terrible. I hope that she gets better.
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Old 07-15-2006, 01:00 PM   #3
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I tell you what--my mom died in May, and over the last 2 or 3 years nearly every time she got sick and went into the hospital she would spend the first few days "out of it". We were told (by our local hospital) that her electrolytes were out of balance and that was the reason for the strange behavior.

Anyway, her husband(my stepfather) died suddenly in March, mom stopped eating, and we and her doctors decided to have a feeding tube implanted.

It all went horribly wrong, and she ended up in a big-city speciality hospital. Long story short, they diagnosed her to have some type of dementia (I stayed with her the first night and she had really went off the deep end, seeing people who had been dead for decades, etc.) We were told that the stress of being sick and in the hospital could make a person w/ dementia do that. At home, she was always just mildly forgetful, so I had always assumed "normal" aging!

She spent her last month going back and forth from hospitals and the nursing home...never really getting back to "normal".

What I'm trying to say is I doubt your neighbor "snapped" because of a fall...it could be that she has a "mild" case of dementia--and the stress of what happened plus the hospital and nursing home stay could have worsened it.
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Old 07-15-2006, 01:12 PM   #4
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it sound like she may have had a "stroke"

the changes can be that abrupt
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Old 07-15-2006, 01:20 PM   #5
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Originally posted by kimby
I tell you what--my mom died in May, and over the last 2 or 3 years nearly every time she got sick and went into the hospital she would spend the first few days "out of it". We were told (by our local hospital) that her electrolytes were out of balance and that was the reason for the strange behavior.

Anyway, her husband(my stepfather) died suddenly in March, mom stopped eating, and we and her doctors decided to have a feeding tube implanted.

It all went horribly wrong, and she ended up in a big-city speciality hospital. Long story short, they diagnosed her to have some type of dementia (I stayed with her the first night and she had really went off the deep end, seeing people who had been dead for decades, etc.) We were told that the stress of being sick and in the hospital could make a person w/ dementia do that. At home, she was always just mildly forgetful, so I had always assumed "normal" aging!

She spent her last month going back and forth from hospitals and the nursing home...never really getting back to "normal".

What I'm trying to say is I doubt your neighbor "snapped" because of a fall...it could be that she has a "mild" case of dementia--and the stress of what happened plus the hospital and nursing home stay could have worsened it.
Wow, that is a horribly sad story. I can't imagine going through all that with someone as dear to your heart as your mother. Thanks for sharing that; it helps me understand a little more.
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Old 07-15-2006, 01:21 PM   #6
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Originally posted by deep
it sound like she may have had a "stroke"

the changes can be that abrupt
Wow, I never knew that a stroke could affect the mind like that. My grandmother had a stroke and it affected her speech. But yeah, that stroke did her in. I can see that. Thanks.
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Old 07-15-2006, 01:39 PM   #7
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yes,

it is lost of blood or oxygen to the brain
(that is why she fell?)

lost of speech is very apparent, i have seen that

other losses may be less obvious

it is sad, it is common
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Old 07-15-2006, 02:12 PM   #8
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My mother had a mild stroke two years ago. It scared the out of me, but fortunately it was mild and didn't really impact her. They can completely knock you out.
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Old 07-17-2006, 09:29 AM   #9
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Is she taking any medications?

My grandmother got that way before she died because of the medications the doctots put her on. She had Parkinsons but the meds really contributed to her death-it was a long time ago before there were advances in drugs and that disease. I think the doctors made mistakes in treating her and covered them up.

I've seen drugs change the personalities of so many elderly people.
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Old 07-17-2006, 10:01 AM   #10
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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Is she taking any medications?

My grandmother got that way before she died because of the medications the doctots put her on. She had Parkinsons but the meds really contributed to her death-it was a long time ago before there were advances in drugs and that disease. I think the doctors made mistakes in treating her and covered them up.

I've seen drugs change the personalities of so many elderly people.
They had her on meds at first, and that was my first thought - that it was the drugs doing the talking. I don't they have her on meds anymore.
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Old 07-17-2006, 01:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Is she taking any medications?

My grandmother got that way before she died because of the medications the doctots put her on. She had Parkinsons but the meds really contributed to her death-it was a long time ago before there were advances in drugs and that disease. I think the doctors made mistakes in treating her and covered them up.

I've seen drugs change the personalities of so many elderly people.
Me too. But treatment of these kinds of diseases (Parkinson’s disease is first cousin to several types of dementia) with drugs is such a complicated topic - and not only when it comes to weighing side-effects against the possible gain. There aren’t really any good options yet – only semi-efficient ways of treating symptoms.

Another factor in this is that certain types of dementia, e.g. Alzheimer's disease, significantly increase the risk of stroke because of deposition of misfolded protein inside brain blood vessels. Unfortunately, there is no drug or treatment that can prevent these deposits from forming - only speculative ones such as curcumin and catechines from green tea… and I’ll totter off to my little corner now.
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Old 07-17-2006, 01:55 PM   #12
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Me too. But treatment of these kinds of diseases (Parkinson’s disease is first cousin to several types of dementia) with drugs is such a complicated topic - and not only when it comes to weighing side-effects against the possible gain. There aren’t really any good options yet – only semi-efficient ways of treating symptoms.

Another factor in this is that certain types of dementia, e.g. Alzheimer's disease, significantly increase the risk of stroke because of deposition of misfolded protein inside brain blood vessels. Unfortunately, there is no drug or treatment that can prevent these deposits from forming - only speculative ones such as curcumin and catechines from green tea… and I’ll totter off to my little corner now.

Ooh, I have a Question...my mom was put on a drug for blood pressure, but when I double-checked it a couple of years later with the pharmacist (I was taking over the process of putting together her daily dose of meds because she was forgetting and /or taking them improperly; she wasn't too happy w/me about it), he said it was for Parkinson's.

Since her doctor had never mentioned Parkinson's, this was news to me! Asking the doctor, I was told it could be used for both...is there some sort of relationship/mechanism/similar causes for high BP and Parkinson's?
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Old 07-17-2006, 02:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Is she taking any medications?

My grandmother got that way before she died because of the medications the doctots put her on. She had Parkinsons but the meds really contributed to her death-it was a long time ago before there were advances in drugs and that disease. I think the doctors made mistakes in treating her and covered them up.

I've seen drugs change the personalities of so many elderly people.

Do tell! I'm adverse to just taking meds to solve health issues and problems unless absolutely necessary. I have an aunt who's a bit of a hypochondriac. Before my dad put her in a nursing home, we had to watch out that she didn't get too many prescriptions--she would hop from doctor to doctor getting stuff she already had or didn't need(like prescription painkillers). At its worst, she was taking so much stuff she tended to spend her days in bed.

Then she had a stroke...which actually turned out for the best, since she was taken off all those medications! Ended up being much more active!
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Old 07-17-2006, 02:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by kimby



Ooh, I have a Question...my mom was put on a drug for blood pressure, but when I double-checked it a couple of years later with the pharmacist (I was taking over the process of putting together her daily dose of meds because she was forgetting and /or taking them improperly; she wasn't too happy w/me about it), he said it was for Parkinson's.

Since her doctor had never mentioned Parkinson's, this was news to me! Asking the doctor, I was told it could be used for both...is there some sort of relationship/mechanism/similar causes for high BP and Parkinson's?
Ehrm, first let me state that I'm not in any way qualified to comment on any treatment that your mother is undergoing or any drugs prescribed to her. I’m at a complete loss when it comes to practical pharmacology. My expertise is in on the molecular level and there I can’t really give a straight answer.

Our current understanding of the so-called amyloid diseases (including a.o. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, type II diabetes and prion diseases = mad cow/kuru/scrapie/vCJD) suggests that they arise from a complex interaction between the involved cells (in Parkinson’s it’s cells that produce a certain molecule involved in signalling in the brain) and proteins that are either produced by the cell in a wrong way or subsequently take on a form that is damaging.

If there is an underlying mechanism or cause that is common to both high blood pressure (which can have many, many causes) and development of Parkinson’s disease it’s new to me. As for a relationship, well, it’s difficult to say. High blood pressure is over-represented among the elderly but so is amyloid diseases. Whether it is cause, effect or simple coincidence is not clear yet, but high blood pressure, among many other factors, is being studied as a causative or accelerating agent for development of certain amyloid diseases. I suppose that what I’m trying to say is: Right now the field is just bloody confusing.
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Old 07-17-2006, 02:31 PM   #15
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Wow, I never knew that a stroke could affect the mind like that. My grandmother had a stroke and it affected her speech. But yeah, that stroke did her in. I can see that. Thanks.
The effects of stroke, or other brain injury, manifest according to the area of the brain that was damaged.

I agree with Kimby - the stress of a hospitalization can definitely worsen what would have been a mild (almost unnoticable) case of dementia.

Either or both of these scenarios are plausible. Did they ever find the cause of the fall, or do a CT scan? In any case, it's nice that you care so deeply about your neighbour's welfare.
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