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Repetitive behavior...


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Old 02-25-2014, 11:43 AM   #1
scorptired
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Repetitive behavior...

My husband has been picking on his left hand repetitively. He acts like there's something there or his index finger is in the way or something. He would pull and twist it to so hard that I'm afraid he's going to break it. I tell him all the time, there's nothing there and that it's just his finger but, that doesn't seem to help. He also acts like there's something in his left hand and he has to throw it in the trash can over and over. I've asked him if it hurts and he says it doesn't but, he's constantly trying to throw something away from his left hand or twisting his finger. Is this common?

 
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:32 PM   #2
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Re: Repetitive behavior...

Scorp, telling him that there is nothing there is getting you nowhere. He believes what he is telling you and when you say it's not so, he will shut down, tell you that you are crazy, or become agitated. None of this is what you want. In his mind, he is doing that for a reason. You just have to figure out what it is. Asking him if he is in pain is not a good way to figure it out because he has no clue what to tell you.

He may not understand the question. Auditory perception may pick up the rhythm of your words, he will probably pick up on your non verbal cues. If it is a frown, he may think you are angry with him. If it is concern, then he may think there is something wrong. But what he might hear is more like you listening to Italian! You hear the rhythm and the sounds but can't put understanding to what is being said. If he can not understand they the "Yes" or "No" answer has no meaning. It is just a social chit chat answer to the rhythm and non verbal cues he is receiving.

His brain may also perceive pain differently. Mom broke her hand and never indicated pain. Swelling was my only cue so I had it x-rayed and it was broken. Dad had an infected ingrown toe nail that he insisted on shoving in his dress shoes. I still shiver when I think about it, but he had no indication of pain. Tray checking his hands for swelling, touch one finger at a time and wiggle them to see if there are any facial grimace or flinching that might indicate pain. Does he have any arthritis or other degenerative disease that could cause hand pain. You might even want to try giving him tylenol for a while and see if it improves. You have to be a detective because he can't tell you.

Then look back at what he did for a living, his hobbies, what he liked to do. Did he play basketball? Were their repetitive motions that he did in his job which would lead to these hand gestures. One of the ladies in the facility would make the strangest motions with her hands only during daylight. But once I realized that she was a spinning doffer all her life, that was the motion she was repeating. In her mind, during the day, she was at work Another lady would lick her fingers. She was a teller and needed to keep her fingers moist to accurate count the money. It is typical for them to mimic motions of the past.

The other possibility, is that he is bored, worried, or confused. Hand wringing is typical. Does he do it more when he is just sitting? This could be a clue. Perhaps you can give him a junk box. Fill it with things from his past. Not sure what his occupation was but including items that he can manipulate that relate to his past jobs or hobbies might help to occupy his mind. I filled Dad's with a picture book about B-52 bombers, some of his military items, a book about tobacco with lots of pictures, pictures of his family and our family, and his bible. Mom got paper, a pen, garden items, seed packets, cloth, zippers, pictures of family, one of her dolls, and kitchen tools. If they were wringing their hands I would give them something to keep them busy. And there was always ice cream Busy hands are good!

And sometimes they just do this and you can't figure out why. As long as he is not hurting himself or becoming agitated... let it be because it's ok

Love, deb

 
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Old 02-25-2014, 09:23 PM   #3
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Re: Repetitive behavior...

Thanks, Deb! I've tried moving around his fingers and they are stiff on the left hand. No grimacing, just irritated that I would try to move his fingers. I have resorted to clipping his nails pretty short to avoid him scratching himself because he doesn't seem to realize it when he does. I've also noticed his balance is getting pretty bad and his feet would point out at times and his balance is compromised then. He's stumbled on the stair treads going upstairs so I don't allow him to go upstairs at all except, when he goes to bed.

 
Old 02-25-2014, 09:37 PM   #4
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Re: Repetitive behavior...

Good idea to keep the nails clipped. I had to do that with Dad because he was a picker! Any little blemish on the skin with the slightest rise had to be picked off. I never stopped the picking but reduced the damage with very short nails and Vaseline. Try putting Vaseline on his hands several times a day. This will help them slide against each other more easily so he doesn't do damage to his skin!

The irritation when you tried to move the fingers may be an indication that there is some pain there. Try the some type of over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medication for a while and see if that helps. Mom complained of pain in her hands for years before Alzheimer's. She even had a finger joint replaced because of arthritis. Once she was in the mid to late stages of Alzheimer's I never heard that complaint again but she did wring her hands occasionally. I just gave her Tylenol and it helped.

Balance will become a problem. Their spacial sense, where they are in the world, does go away as well as their fine and then large motor skills that help is move. He will begin to shuffle more instead of picking up his feet. Sometimes the feet will point out or inward. Fall risk will increase. But moving is good for them. Mom would lean to one side.... as much as 45 degrees. It was so odd to see her walk that way. One day she would lean to the left and other day to the right with upright days sandwiched in. If I tried to get her to stand up right on a leaning day she seems totally out of balance. My best guess was that the signals from her inner ear balance centers was not being read right by her brain. So I just let her walk in whatever way she could.

If there a space on the first floor that he can sleep? There will come a time when he will not be able to navigate the stairs at all. Perhaps a spare room that a bed can be placed in? Something to think about

Love, deb

 
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