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Does Alzheimer's affect how you feel pain?

My Dad has mid-stage Alzheimer's, recently he has been complaining that everyday grooming tasks are painful - he says it hurts when I comb his hair or trim his nails. Yesterday he said it hurt to wear his seatbelt, is the because of the dementia? My dad has always been the stoic, nothing bothers him type and this is just such a change.
Status: Open    Jan 13, 2016 - 10:10 PM

Dementia, Caregiving

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2 answers


Jan 16, 2016 - 05:56 AM

My husband has Alzheimer's and I found that often he would tell me that I was hurting him when I was doing things like helping him out of the car, lifing his leg to put on a shoe, helping him put on a shirt. Or any number of things.
As soon as someone says "Stop, you are hurting me" we stop or pause what we are doing. Now the person has what they want. We have discontinued what we were doing.
So if your Dad does not want his hair comed he will say..that hurts.
If he does not want to get in the car he will say the seatbelt hurts.
But for my husband saying "ouch" or "that hurts" became another form of communication since I would stop what I was doing and talk to him for a minute just to make sure that he was alright.
Try this.
Explain everything you are going to do. "I am going to comb your hair now" then comb his hair while you are talking to him same with the nails. By the way you might want to do the nails right after a bath or shower so they are easier to trim. I think the gentle talking is relaxing and knowing what is being doen is reassuring.
For some things like combing his hair give him the comb and ask him to show you how to do it so it will not "hurt". By the way if his hair does not get combed once in a while it is no big deal in the long run.
For my husband this phase did not last long.

Jan 24, 2016 - 05:18 PM

I am a caregiver to my elder brother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2011. I have attended seminars, enlisted the guidance of professionals, read books and watched documentaries and movies, too many to mention, and this terrible affliction still baffles me. My brother is in the mid-stage as well, and thank God, holding his own cognitively, or so it seems to me. There are times when he will follow my directions and get things right; other times not. His attempts to do something when asked may be successful or not. Brother/sister dynamics and his independent personality, still evident, have made my caregiving role challenging. I continue to have questions and seek answers, always will I guess. The time came, when giving him a choice in things that had to be done, everyday morning things like brushing teeth, changing clothes, showering, tough tasks, the adl stuff, his answer to me would be, "Not happening." I was getting the pulling back or an ouch during an attempt to electric shave him, trim nails, even removing his glasses, gently, at bedtime. Remembering one of the rules I was told in 2011, "Keep things simple and safe for you," I made the decision to relinquish a.m. responsibilities and found the "right fit" to assist him. With my "life savers," as I call them, he accepts assistance and direction without any complaint or reluctance. I notice that he seems to thrive on their attention and the help they extend, there are simple tasks he won't do for them, yet wants to do them for me. I've listened to them, and learned from them, I look forward to hearing jokes and laughter in the morning. Everyone wins with less negativity and stress. You are not hurting your dad, your intents are wonderful, but I do think your dad, and my brother, are possibly aware of devastating changes that are happening, the loss of simple abilities and tasks, these are major occurrances and difficult for anyone to let go of without a fight. You sound like a loving daughter, blessed with a great dad, roles are changing for him and you, that's going to be hard for both of you. You will see changes, brought on by the disease I've been told. Have a good team of professionals, stay educated and ask questions about everything. Don't forget to take care of you as well. God Bless You
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