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ALZ and empathy - found this info again, helpful to know
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 8:16 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608 

Concept of EMOTIONAL CONTAGION vs EMPATHY from article:


When you hear Alzheimer’s, you probably think of memory loss, language problems, and general confusion. These cognitive symptoms of the degenerative brain disease are devastating, and so it makes sense that they get the most attention in the media and scientific community.

Of course, the disease has emotional consequences, too. Some of these aren’t the least bit surprising: Depression, irritability, and agitation are expected as memory wanes and daily life becomes more difficult.

But Alzheimer’s brings other kinds of emotional changes that aren’t as easily explained, as I learned from a study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found for the first time that individuals with Alzheimer’s show a high level of ’emotional contagion’, the unconscious ability to mimic another person’s emotions. And as the disease progresses, destroying more brain cells and cognitive skills, this emotional empathy gets stronger, allowing patients to become more sensitive — and more vulnerable — to the feelings, words, and behaviors of other people.

“Patients with Alzheimer’s can become very sweet and nice and warm, and we all just fall in love with them a lot of the time,” says lead investigator Virginia Sturm, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center. That might be because they’re picking up on emotional cues of the people around them, she says. “A caregiver’s emotional state can really influence the patient.”



 the article describes scientifically what I have experienced taking care of my Dad and now myself, that people with dementia can absorb the energy of those who are taking over their lives, for good or bad.

There is an explanation about the difference between areas of brain affected by the disease and types of dementia. I posted another time about ALZ altruism.

lots of mystical aspects to ALZ... I am still inclined to think it is not all chemical mechanics playing out. I am currently experiencing divine benevolence and even if some one plotted out the mechanics of this "delusion" I would stay with the experience, the altered sense of reality.



Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 7:03 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

EMPATHY / ALTRUISM expands in ALZ        (hidden CGvr vs  DP problem)

each person is unique, and each  brain gets attacked in different places resulting in particular outcomes in capabilities and ways to compensate.

My thought was the  compensation parts that get more muscular or at least take on the burden of trying to process info from weakening places.

I have spent many hours in mindfulness practice, study, writing, journaling, counseling, and what some call "interior work".

  my big brain parts equate to "highly educated" people's big brain parts are still intuition, empathy, story telling, self sufficiency, Sisu. 

So when my muscular parts take over some of the weaker functions - it happens in odd ways. Which explains ALZ metaphoric speech?

 Around people who are upset and demonstrating that by being mean, muttering, insulting, or avoidance it invokes my largest remaining part brain  - Section for Empathy - but it now turns a desire to be sympathetic into mirroring that other person's anger, frustration, contempt, cold heartedness. ends in war.

When CGvrs describe how their angry DP is so awful around them - but  "instantly become all happy and nice" when someone else shows up... there you have it.  We absorb (some of us) other peoples energies almost instantly and reflect them back.

 This may not be as important as it seemed to me at 4am and I can see trying to convey the felt insight is not really happening. I understand the zero replies to some of my posts...and this is after 2 hours of editing these thoughts which if they were understood would result in total instant forgiveness.

 No one scold the blind and tell them "You could SEE if you WANTED TO!" and if someone does this to a person with ALZ  they are likely to get an amplified response of same energy trumpeted into their face. 

 There is science behind it, we are not choosing to be jerks.



Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 8:27 AM
Joined: 4/25/2015
Posts: 406


 Thank you for sharing this . One of the best lessons I learned was that my  Mom's mood was directly reflective of my mood. If I was stressed, so was she...which resulted in more confusion and agitation in her.

 This is a Huge reason why I just have gone on FMLA and will most likely not return to my job. Many people do not understand why I would give it up...but I know everyone here does. It was impossible for me to maintain a "good" mood with the added job stresses. I know not everyone can do so, but I'm so happy I could.

I have not seen this experience expressed as Emotional Contagion makes perfect sense.

Again, Thank you for sharing it and your personal thoughts.



Iris L.
Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 11:16 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18508

Alz+, you finally get it.  This is what I was trying to relay to you last summer.  Good for you.

But you don't need anyone to "help" you.  You can help yourself and you are helping yourself.  You need for someone not to distract you nor disrupt you.

That's what we all need.

Iris L.

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 1:53 PM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

sandyjm - it the photo of you and Mom? she is beauty too!

thanks for saying you understood - and you did - what I was saying.

I recall a dog alerting working daughter to a bad caregiving employee. When the woman showed up the dog growled at her - led daughter to install surveillance camera she monitored from office, later saw helper slapping her Mom around and dog charging and being kicked.

Criminal evidence but the poor Mom! My daughter would take care of me if we could afford it but she is 2000 miles away working 6 days a week.

It explains how we go from grumpy jerks to happy campers when new energy blows in. You just can't hide contempt behind a fake smile around ALZ people! they actually fel and mimic the energy of those around them.

did you ever hear npr story about "Yes, and" Improv and Alz? you would love it I think.

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 2:43 PM
Joined: 4/25/2015
Posts: 406

Hi, Alz+, yes, that is me and my Mom  a little over a year ago..thanks for the kind words.

I love the story about the dog alerting the gal to the bad CG.  We have 2 lab mixes and are totally devoted to them and them to us.

 I'm sure your daughter would love to be with you if she could. In my case, my Mom was already my room mate for 20 years before AD. My Dad passed away and I got divorced right about the same time..and it became the 2 of our current journey was a natural progression.

I will look for that NPR story..


Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 6:30 PM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020

Yes, also what I have been saying all along...nice when article say what you saying all along!

I think emotions go both way...I used say, the strongest river floats the boat.  if you are so happy, contagious too. Peop round get hap pos too. No easy do be so hap that other get hap too...but can be do.

One once said...there are warriors and there are followers.  I think there are those who know and those who go along.  Like karate kata (series movements of blocks punches) person throws punch other must person decides...the other goes with it.  It no easy to do get back that ability when disease...but can. 

You can decide be so hap that shine...shine contagious...they have no choice but be hap too.  But have shine harder more than their grumble...strongest river floats the boat.

Can should be used in dementia care. But not all in dementia care warriors...or this insightful or self discipline...or simple know...or know how be strongest river...or even how to radiate what you want back.

^ That used be what talk bout when before disease. *LOVED*that subject. Bare member now.  I like that you call to that in me...bring it out of me.

As to interior work, that is one thing I reasonate so much with you...the love for that part of life, interior work.

I find surprise with disease that is harder to wash off what happ to you.  Someone mean...before disease you say so what walk way.  After disease someone think so what and want walk way...but lingers days...and you have to manual wash way.  And to do that you have re-remember how to manual wash way. 

Some tricks I use...maybe help you too? I wrote "i love you" in perm mark on all my mirrors.  I have post-its up in all kinds of places in house that say "it will be ok".  they work on even if you think silly, they still work because subconscious see and make real.

the breathing...longer out than in...make body auto on nervous system, just have to think about.  This helped me when I could no long relax self by self.  my yoga teacher show me...made all difference.

I really miss having someone here that understand care me and support emotions me.  So I be this for me.  I have quotes I say to self out loud every morning and every bed...bed one, "courage is we try gain to morrow."  I always wish someone say that to me each I say. I put quote on have to move it to get in bed.  Because I have to move it, I say it.

I wrote a step by step to walk through morning night like have caregiver helping me, only is my own caregiver.

I think suck that we need to do self.  easy when things easy and introverted.  hard when things really hard.  each thing we face...we learn call more from a well we think is dry but always has just a little more.  each time we do, we become just a little more. 

My words bad...stop now.  ((Hug)) Hang in there. 

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2016 6:42 PM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

SUN - concerned about you. will check in with you off boards.
Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 7:18 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408

I am waking this post up for MPSunshine re something that came up on Musings board.
Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 8:04 AM
Joined: 5/21/2016
Posts: 2012

This thread absolutely explains my mom's sensitivity to the two nights she spent in rehab recently, where she picked up on the screaming, unhappy, trapped and generally toxic night environment and responded by hyperventilating, crying, and racing heartbeat, as well as up every 5-10 minutes through the night. I feel if she had not had me rubbing her back, breathing with her, telling her everything would be all right and we would get her out of there that she might have suffered a great decline due to sleep deprivation and stress.  (I took her out the next day.) Now have to go to a follow up with her, but wanted to appreciate you for posting this and also giving the information for reflection on this phenomena. And, perhaps some of the emotional sensitivity is inherited -- I have to report that I was also incredibly stressed by this experience.
Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 9:47 AM
Joined: 7/17/2017
Posts: 342

Excellent thread, with great info. With me having MCI, I can state that I also pick up on the emotions around me, so I can only imagine how that would affect one with the many types of dementia.

I like learning something new everyday.

Yes, this is my first post as Andrew, but Im formerly Andy59.