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vitamin D and alzheimers - please advise

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Old 08-22-2012, 06:19 AM   #1
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vitamin D and alzheimers - please advise

Hi everyone
My mom is in a very good nursing home and I would guess she is almost in late stage. I am very happy with the care she is getting, has been there for almost three years; she is 91 and was diagnosed in 2004.

She has trouble walking with the walker and is weak on one side, she cannot speak or make sense when she tries, she recognizes familiar faces but doesn't really know who I am, she eats very good but mostly is fed by the aids. She wears a diaper and cannot express herself.

I read about vitamin D and alz and am wondering if i should ask the doctor to give her extra vitamins. I don't want them to think there is something wrong with me and wanted your opinion first.

I am a very scrupulous person and guilt is my middle name. What do you think I should do? Should I just trust the nursing home?

Thank you

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Old 08-22-2012, 08:03 AM   #2
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Re: vitamin D and alzheimers - please advise


I am sorry your Mom now has Alzheimer's and is in the NH. I am not against supplements like vitamins but it sounds like in her case, VitD or any supplement won't help her anymore. She is in severe stage for not walking well, not talking and needing to be fed. It could take a long while in this stage.
Unfortunately I have to say at this stage, comfort care is important and the NH seems to be doing a good job. Alzheimer's cannot be cured, so no way she will get better. If you need to give her any supplement, try the ones that can help her comfort care. e.g., prune juice for constipation and cranberry juice for urine problem... Give her pureed food and etc. Make her life easier.
To be honest, at this point, if she takes any vitamins that are not helping her disease, the vitamins would add more burden to her body since they are still some kind of med.
I am sure she takes other medications as well.
No you are not crazy but please understand that at this point, no vitamins or supplements will cure her.


Last edited by ninamarc; 08-22-2012 at 08:05 AM.

Old 08-22-2012, 08:11 AM   #3
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Re: vitamin D and alzheimers - please advise

The Vitamin D studies that have been done related to the potential to develop Alzheimer's. It surmises that Vitamin D in some way aids in the prevention of the plaque that is thought to at least be a partial cause of Alzheimer's. It is one of many substances that they have found to have a slight statistical connection. What we are finding now with further research is that just because there is a slight statistical connection, that doesn't transcend to a cure. Several studies of similar components have actually been stopped recently because they have been deemed ineffective. Scientist don't know whether the vitamin D is low and causes the plaque for the fact that there is plaque causes the decreased vitamin D. What they do know is that giving Vitamin D is not going to cure the disease.

The best way to get vitamin D is from sunshine. A 15 minutes walk through the courtyard will give your Mom the necessary vitamin D. Your body limits what it makes so too much sun is not a problem. Taking supplements can cause Vitamin D toxicity. The main consequence of vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause symptoms such as poor appetite, nausea and vomiting. Weakness, frequent urination and kidney problems also may occur. Although vitamin D toxicity is uncommon even among people who take supplements, you may be at greater risk if you have health problems, such as liver or kidney conditions, or if you take diuretics. Considering most elderly, especially those in late state Alzheimer's, have kidney and/or liver issues, you might want to be careful with the dosage.

Always talk to her doctor first. Vitamin D is not a cure all. Your body makes what it needs though sun exposure and receives additional Vitamin D though fortified foods. Excess is filtered through the liver and kidneys. You have to be careful of overdoses which stress the liver and kidneys. At this late stage you are probably not going to see any difference in your Mom.

It sounds like your Mom and mine are in a similar place in their disease. After a UTI in June Mom finally lost her ability to walk at all and is now in a wheel chair. To be honest, I have worried more lately about Mom's kidney and liver function they a vitamin that probably will not make a difference in the course of her disease.

I get it that at this time there is no cure... not even an effective treatment... for this disease. It is what it is and it will progress at it's own rate. As much as we struggle against it... we can not significantly change the course of this disease at this time. I also get the guilt we heap on ourselves because we can not fix the impossible. Human nature searches for HOPE! It is what we thrive off of. At this time, this disease gives us no hope so we struggle to find that hope. If we don't find it we feel guilt.... where no reason for guilt is present. We as humans don't handle hopelessness well!! What I have done is focus my energy, not on finding a way to reverse this disease, but on finding a way to give Mom the contentment and comfort she needs within the disease. That I can do! I can smile with her, laugh with her, reminisce with her. I can be sure that her physical and emotional pain is addressed. I can be sure she is given the best care possible. That is my responsibility. The rest I have to leave to a higher power. Guilt is reserved for something you have intentionally or unintentionally done that causes harm. You did not cause this disease. You can not cure this disease. You are giving your Mom the love and care that she needs. That is why I say there is no guilt in this disease. We can't fix the base problem (Alzheimer's Disease) but we can make the journey through the disease as good as it can be for them and for us.

Love, deb

Old 08-22-2012, 10:44 AM   #4
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Re: vitamin D and alzheimers - please advise

Thank you both for your thoughtful and helpful posts.
Mom is very comfortable and was happy to see me today.
Unfortunately she doesn't go out at all but your posts make me feel better knowing that I can't cure her disease or reverse it with vitamins. I was going to speak to her doctor about vitamins, but won't do it now that they could do more harm than good.

Thank you again.

Old 08-22-2012, 06:24 PM   #5
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Re: vitamin D and alzheimers - please advise

Maryann... I wish it was as simple as a vitamin or some other supplement Then there would be no need for the care facilities, personal investment in care giving, or the Alzheimer's Association.... there would not be a need for this board. I do hope, in the future, there will be a cure or at least an effective treatment for this disease. But at this time there is not

We just need to focus on what they can do. Mom does not go out now except the occasional trip on the facility bus with a wheel chair lift. She seems content to stay where she is. Yes, I wish she could still go out with me and enjoy an outing but that is in the past. It took me a while to realize that wanting her to go out was my wish and not hers I had to learn to separate my wishes for her from her wishes. So instead I bring in the treats I know she likes and we enjoy them together where she is. I go feed her at the facility rather than going out to a fancy restaurant. I sit with her in the facility garden instead of going to see a distant sight. It is not about where you are but about time together.

Love, deb

Old 08-23-2012, 10:40 AM   #6
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Re: vitamin D and alzheimers - please advise

A simple blood test would reveal whether or not she's Vit D deficient; that should actually be part of a complete metabolic panel run routinely (at least every few months) to monitor her overall health. My mom is even getting that through in-home care.

It's been said that MOST of us are now Vit D deficient because so few consume dairy products anymore and we've all been conditioned to fear sun exposure and/or slather on gallons of sunblock, which prevents us from absorbing it. Fix one thing, break another!

And this post reminded me that I need to buy some OTC (2,000 mg/day) for Mom since her most recent test this past week indicated a need for it. Thank you for the reminder!

As for the "cause" of AD, I'm skeptical of most theories. Except for the early-onset versions, which are mostly genetic, I believe it's largely age-related and simply a matter of people living long enough now (thanks to medical advances) to develop it. It's always been around (dementia, I mean; not all forms are AD); it was called "senility" or "hardening of the arteries," but most people succumbed to stroke, heart disease, or infectious epidemics long before it showed up. Just my opinion, of course! There will always be theories floating around as to avoidable causes; that's just human nature...

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