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Yawning -- do dementia folks do it?
Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 8:31 PM
Joined: 7/14/2012
Posts: 93

This is observation I noticed for a while now -- my mom w/Alz (and possibly another kind of dementia) never yawns. In fact, I can't remember seeing my mother yawn in years.

I yawn, then my husband, then anyone else in the room. We all know yawns are catchy. But mom doesn't yawn.

Do you think it may have something to do with Alz/dementia or perhaps with another issue. Has this been looked at ? I find little when I google....

Any input appreciated!



(also cross-posted in Caregiver forum)

Lane Simonian
Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 10:23 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 5140

Very interesting.  Here is a list of receptors damaged by peroxynitrites in Alzheimer's disease: oxytocin (yawning and social recognition), nicotinic acetylcholine and muscarinic acetylcholine (short-term memory), dopamine (alertness), serotonin (mood), olfactory (smell), and sleep (melatonin). 


Peroxynitrites also inhibit the synthesis of many of these vital compounds. 


Peroxynitrites by inhibiting the transport of glucose in the brain may contribute to apathy, delusions, and wandering.  The damage that peroxynitrites do to brain tissue may contribute to anxiety, agitation, and hallucinations.  It all begins to fit together. 



Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013 12:04 PM
Joined: 9/13/2013
Posts: 112

Thank you SJDaughter and Lane for the postings. .


@SJDaughter. Now that you mentioned it, I'd say yes, I have observed from my parents who have AD that they do not yawn. Lane has pointed out that it is related to oxytocin. Good to know.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013 5:02 PM
Joined: 7/14/2012
Posts: 93

Yes, thank you Lane!-- good basis for more research.


The hospice nurse told me today that they think my  mom also has vascular dementia because she can read so well.  In fact, she reads better than most people I know , with expression and full punctuation. The nurse said if she just had Alzheimer's she doesn't think she would read so well.


I do my research mostly for my understanding and anyone in my world who wants to know, not so much to find a cure -- the cure will come along with all ailments of an alienated race when our Creator sets things straight and his government rules over the entire earth -- we eagerly await the time when the cure is comes...


Until then, we muddled through, though sometimes those extras we try to do, do help!  and we have been giving mom a rich supply of stimulation, books, puzzles and such that she seems quite happy. She always was a student of life and an avid reader.


Now if I could find a "cheap" activity apron that really has activities on it, I would luv it




Jo C.
Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013 2:01 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 13484

The ability to read and not read depends upon which part of the brain has been damage, it is not dependent just upon type of dementia.  Many folks with VaD cannot process the written word secondary to damage to that part of their brain from the strokes they have sustained.


As for yawning, both my mother and step-dad who had dementia, did indeed yawn.  Each person is so unique; as the saying goes, if you've seen one person with dementia; well, you've seen one person with dementia.



Lane Simonian
Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013 3:50 PM
Joined: 12/12/2011
Posts: 5140

I don't know what it will take for a cure, but there is some good evidence that effective treatments exist for dementia that not only prevent it from being a terminal illness, but also give people a better quality of life with dementia. 


There may be two different issues when it comes to yawning.  One is the physical ability to yawn and the other is to respond to the yawning of others. The latter appears to be affected by dementia and autism both conditions in which peroxynitrites affect oxytocin receptors. 


There are so many useful clues regarding dementia that are provided every day on these boards.