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Question
Posted by: Wondering | 2004/10/20

Dementia

Would like to know would coffee make matters worse for someone that has Dementia becuase when my mother drinks coffee she seems to be very aggressive she is 83 could you please .let me know as my sisters are saying that is not the cause.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Wondering, it's impossible to be certain, at this distance, but the caffeine in coffee does make some people more anxious and irritable, even more aggressive. I suppose it might be difficult to persuade her to cut down on her coffee intake --- though one might persuade her to try a nice decaffeinated variety, and see if it makes a difference. In older people with Dementia who get aggressive, some medications can help to calm them without making them sleepy --- one needs NOT the usual benzo's ( the valium / ativan family, which can actually increase aggression in some people ) but rather some of the meds usually used to treat schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses, which are calming without being so sedative.
Some people wih dementia have a brain that can act similarly to that of a child, where they may be relatively sedated by a stimulant like coffee ( like a kid with ADHD takes ritalin ) and may be agitated by sedatives.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Shaun | 2004/10/20

Here's a report I got from a safety posting...

While the occasional cup of tea can pick you up, too much of any caffeine-containing beverage can cause rapid or irregular heart-beat, jitters, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, gastro-intestinal upset, & headaches. These symptoms are commonly known as coffee nerves.

"Caffeine is a stimulant, & if you have too much you over-stimulate your system", explains Kathleen Zelman, RD, a nutritionist in Atlanta & a spokes-person for the American Diabetic Association.

How much caffeine is too much? That depends on your drinking habits. Since your body develops a tolerance to the amount of caffeine that you habitually guzzle, you won't get the jitters unless you swallow more than your usual amount, explains Suzette Evans, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City who has studied the effect of caffeine on the body.

"Someone who never drinks coffee can have an episode of coffee jitters after just one cup," adds Elizabeth Ward, RD, a nutritionist in Boston. "But heavy users, people who habitually have at least three cups, would have to drink more." (If you're drinking that many cups, coffee nerves or no, many experts say that you shouldn't try to cut back.)

Taking oral contraceptives makes your body metabolize caffeine more slowly, notes Dr. Evans. So cut back on your caffeine by approximately one-third if you start taking the pill she says.

Ditto if you've just quit smoking. Studies find that non-smokers metabolize caffeine more slowly than smokers do, says Dr, Evans.

I know this doesn't answer your question directly but there are some important points to remember.

Take care,
Shaun

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