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Senior Health

Constant spitting

02/06/2008

Question:

My dad is 83 years old. He was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimers and 6 months ago suffered a stroke. He was a smoker for 60 years and survived stage 3 prostate cancer. My question is he is now constantly spitting everywhere at home as well as in public. Can you give me any reasons and/or suggestions of the causes and how I can help him?n Thanks.

Answer:

Spitting behavior may be caused by a variety of things. To name just a few possibilities, perhaps the spitting behavior is a result of post stroke brain injury that may involve swallowing problems or alzheimer's disease progression with inherent thinking/judgment problems or medication side effects. It would be helpful to discuss this behavior with your Dad's primary care provider to see if he/she is aware of the behavior and what can be done. Suggestions may include prescribing medication that may be able to reduce the behavior or a behavioral approach. Your Dad may need an evaluation to try to identify an underlying problem and then the most appropriate strategies to reduce or eliminate this behavior can be explored. Your Dad may need a referral to a geriatric specialist for a comprehensive evaluation.

I understand this as a situation that may cause significant stress for family as well as the person with the problem. It would be best to address this as soon as possible.

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Response by:

Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati