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AIDS DEMENTIA COMPLEX: HIV AND THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-MOTOR PROBLEMS: INCONTINENCE

Another effect the virus has on the brain is to cause motor problems. People begin to drop things, their handwriting deteriorates, their hands tremble. Their legs get weak, they have difficulty walking, and they lose their balance easily. Lisa’s husband, whose hobby was carving wood ducks, “couldn’t get the feathers right any more,” Lisa said. For a while he carved things with less detail, and finally he had to stop carving.     For quite a while, these motor problems are extremely annoying but not disabling. Certainly, however, at this point, people stop driving cars. In the later stages of AIDS dementia complex, people can’t use drinking glasses or spoons, can’t dress themselves or button a shirt. People begin to live on one floor of their homes, or mostly in one room. They keep their clothes in one closet, keep food nearby.     Incontinence-A related problem in the later stages of dementia is bathroom behaviors. One effect the virus has on the brain is to reduce the sensation of needing to go to the bathroom. The necessary signals don’t get through, and the brain doesn’t know when the bladder is full. Caregivers describe how accidents often occur; they take the person they’re helping to the bathroom, leaving the person there until he says he’s finished, and help him back to bed—and then he wets the bed. Eventually, people with AIDS dementia become incontinent and lose control of their bladders and bowels. Again, this is a result of changes in the central nervous system and is not something the person has any control over. Caregivers should try not to take this personally. Urinals and bedpans and bedside commodes should be kept nearby. Some people will need diapers, which are readily available in drugstores and hospital supply stores.     This form of advanced AIDS dementia complex is not common, but it requires extraordinary compassion and understanding from caregivers.*149\191\2*

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011 at 3:22 pm and is filed under HIV. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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