Alzheimer`s Disease/My mom


My mom has recently over the past 2 weeks been in the hospital 3 times. Once for a fractured L-1 vertebrae,once for her blood sugar dropping and now for a fractured ischial tuberosity. And of a night she has been just randomly taking about things when she wakes that make no sense. Like telling me this morning that she was sorry I couldn't spend more time with my wife charline. And she knows my wifes name is Rebecca. And then when I try to correct her she says I know that. She hasn't been having alot if pain or pain meds either and her blood sugar has been fine. So I'm truly at a lose. Please help. I was wondering if she could have sun downers disease possibly. No family hx of this either.

Hi Tim - are these fractures a result of falls? Just wondering if she's got something going on that is affecting her balance etc.

"Sundowner's syndrome" is just a catch phrase to describe something that happens to a lot of people with dementia from various causes. It's not an actual disease or diagnosis. Many people with cognitive impairments have a tendency to get worse later in the day and seem more disoriented and confused, and also more upset. What is really going on is that they are holding on with their fingernails trying to deal with a confusing world, and as the day goes along, their ability to cope is reduced. By days end, they are often tired, hungry, fed up and no longer at their best. In many homes there is a lot of bustle in the evening - people coming home, dinner being cooked, eaten and cleaned up from, getting ready for bed etc. People with dementia can find that confusing and stressful, resulting in agitation. Combine that with low light levels that make things more difficult to see and interpret, and the person can seem markedly more impaired than earlier in the day. Everything has become too much for them, just like a toddler at the end of a busy day.

There are many causes of dementia, and every one has a specific medical origin - which is why it is very important to get an evaluation and diagnosis so you know what is causing what you are seeing. The brain is a very delicate organ, and there are many illnesses that can affect its function. Some causes of dementia can be treated and reversed if caught early enough - and others like Alzheimer's can't be cured, but may be slowed down in many people with early medical intervention.

I'd start by talking to her doctor about her apparent confusion - tell him exactly what you have observed. You never know, she may just have a temporary dilerium from the stress she's been under with her many medical problems in the last few weeks - or it could be more worrying like a small stroke, or the start of some other issue such as Alzheimer's. The only way to be sure is to get her seen, and let the doctor assist. There are some simple tests that can be done in the office to screen for cognitive impairment. One is called the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE). It is a widely used test of cognitive function among the elderly; it includes tests of orientation, attention, memory, language and visual-spatial skills. The results can be surprising - often the person is more impaired and on more fronts than the family realizes from normal conversations.

Based on the results of his exam, the doctor can determine whether your mother needs further medical investigations, or needs to be sent to a specialist for additional evaluation (i.e. to a neurologist).

You are right to be concerned. Hope this helps.  

Alzheimer`s Disease

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Mary Gordon


Several years direct experience as caregiver for family member who died of end stage AD. Did lots of research and dealt with a lot of health care professionals and caregivers over the 7 years from diagnosis to the end. Used various care options from community based resources to increasing levels of institutional. Mother of three, two born during our loved one's decline, so I know what it is to be the ham in the sandwich, taking care of the older generation and the younger at the same time and trying to balance everyone`s needs. Ask me, I`ve probably been there, done that. We made lost of mistakes and learned everything the hard way - but you don`t have to! If I can`t answer your question, I`ll steer you to a place or person who can.


Currently a program manager for a large utility company. My Alzheimers experience comes from having the illness in our family. Out of necessity, we did a lot of research in order to understand the disease, plan for what might come next, and make the right decisions to help and support our loved one. Please note, I am a Canadian living in Toronto, and therefore am not the best person to ask about US regulations and insurance rules!

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