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Alzheimer`s Disease/severe dementia and colonoscopy


I have read some info about dementia/Alzheimer's and the necessity of having a colonoscopy or not.

My mother is 78 years old.  She fell and had a brain injury about 9 months ago and now has severe vascular dementia.  She knows our family, but probably will not remember a visit, even within a couple of hours.  She may say/do inappropriate things and may become combative.

My mother had colon cancer about 3 years and recovered well from surgery, but declined chemo.  Now, it's time for her colonoscopy.

What would you suggest?  So far, the medical folks support a colonoscopy.  Our family can't even begin to imagine the prep work, let alone the procedure.  I wonder if Mom would even recover from the prep.

thanks so much.  Cynthia

Hi Cynthia-
You didn't specify it, but I'm assuming that your mother is in either assisted living or a nursing home.  You also describe her dementia as being relatively advanced.  Both of these factors would support not being aggressive about exploring the reoccurence of the colon cancer.  While I don't believe there is a great danger in having your mother undergo the procedure, I think the question is more like "what is to be gained" from putting her through it.  In addition, you did not mention that there were signs of reoccurence of the cancer such as bleeding from her rectum.  
My wife had early onset AD and she passed away 4 years ago at the age of 69 after spending about 10 years in assisted living and nursing home care with her final years spent in bed.  She died of pneumonia finally and I declined the pneumonia shot about a year prior to that. I also declned antibiotics when she got pneumonia.  I know this is what my wife wanted had she been able to tell me.  I also believe that she is now in a better place.
I am not a doctor and I think it is inappropriate to advise you one way or the other on this matter.  However, you and your other family members should not feel obligated to go ahead with the procedure.

Alzheimer`s Disease

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Peter Winkler


I can answer questions regarding the care of persons with Alzheimer's Disease. I have no medical degree and I am not qualified to answer questions of a medical nature.


I was the spouse and primary caretaker of my wife, who was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 53. I initially cared for her at home, but after her illness progressed, I placed her in a long term care facility. A year later, I found a nursing home for her and she spent almost 10 years there before she passed away.

I have an MSW (Master's in Social Work) degree.

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