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Alzheimer's Disease

Weird Actions and Alzheimer's Disease

03/22/2006

Question:

My father has Alzheimer's Disease. He recently started chewing on coins. He claims he`s done it for years but I know he has not. Besides being nasty, will they hurt him? I`m wondering about the metal they`re made of.

Answer:

Alzheimer's patients can exhibit a wide range of behaviors, including behaviors that can put the person at a safety risk. My initial concern regarding the chewing on the coins is the choking risk that your father has, and the possibility that he may accidentally swallow the coins and have difficulty passing the coins through his intestinal system, or break a tooth. Therefore, I would recommend going through his environment and removing the coins and any other items that might impose a safety hazard (ex. chemical toxins). 

After the coins are removed from your father's environment, if he continues to be searching for coins or other objects to chew on, I would discuss this behavior with the doctor managing his Alzheimer's disease and have the doctor consider using a behavioral medication to address the hyper oral and/or repetitive behavior.

I would also look at ways to keep your father busy, as often an Alzheimer's patient can be bored and need more structured stimulation. Resources like adult day care, in-home respite providers, and the activity programs in the nursing facilities can provide opportunities for this stimulation.

For more information:

Go to the Alzheimer's Disease health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Rebecca A Davis, RN, LISW Rebecca A Davis, RN, LISW
Clinical Research Nurse of Neurology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University