Dementia – Alzheimer’s: A Unique Spitting Problem
This spitting problem may be unique to Mr. Q; however, we have had another male resident with similar problems that used to hold and spit saliva almost as often as Mr. Q. The problem with Mr. Q is whenever he goes into the bathroom he will automatically walk over to the sink and spit. He sometimes spits even if there is no reason, nothing to spit out. Unfortunately he is not careful and often it gets on the floor, on the sink counter and on the toilet seat. Besides the clean-up required, it attracts ants, someone could slip on it (we have a tile floor) and it requires us to be constantly on alert to clean it up.
There is another problem with him spitting. He will grab a cup, any cup (plastic cups are used to rinse a resident’s mouth) and use it to rinse out his mouth. The cup could belong to someone else who forgot to put it up where Mr. Q can’t see it. Along with grabbing something belonging to another resident he will leave the water running. This is a real problem for us because we have a septic tank and if water is uncontrolled it may flood the tank causing sewerage to back up into the house. It’s a nasty, expensive procedure to drain the tank, plus it is quite expensive. It doesn’t seem like a little running water would cause a problem, but when it happens dozens of times a day unnecessarily and there are a lot of people using water each day, it’s a problem waiting to happen. Using less water is great for conservation, but not good in our particular case.
According to his doctor the medicines contribute to the problem of saliva buildup in Mr. Q. We have tried several things and medicines that the doctor prescribed, but all have had had bad side effects for him and the constant spitting still occurs.
As an aside, yesterday we took Mr. Q to the doctor to learn the results of a CAT scan; nothing unusual there. On the way home, however, he would hold the spit in his mouth and not swallow it. Twice it got so bad he was starting to choke on his mouth full of saliva and I had to quickly maneuver to the side of the road, stop, and get him out of the car so he could spit it out. One of those times I really had to struggle with him, which was not easy to do while driving. Fortunately my wife, his major caretaker was in the car with me, and was able to control him, along with me holding his arm so he would not open the door, which he was trying desperately to do. The last few days he has frequently been refusing to swallow and that has made his spitting problem worse.
The problem with Mr. Q’s saliva buildup is it varies from only a minor problem to one where he is spitting it out sometimes every few minutes. It is very inconsistent, but always omnipresent.
This particular problem may not be related to dementia / Alzheimer’s. His doctor said it is not uncommon for older people to have overactive salivary glands. I am including it here because we have two Alzheimer’s residents with the same problem and neither had the problem before.
Copyright © 2008-2011 Charles Harmon