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Tag: Frontotemporal dementia

Nightmares or the Orange Pill

Nightmares or the Orange Pill

I’m tired this morning. The lingering affects of my nightmares stays with me.

One of the characteristics of Frontotemporal dementia is sleep disturbances. In addition to this I have been diagnosed with REM sleep behavioural disorder. This “… is a disorder in which you physically act out vivid, often unpleasant dreams with vocal sounds and sudden, often violent arm and leg movements during REM sleep.”
Normally you don’t move during REM sleep. About 20 % of your sleep is spent in REM sleep, the usual time for dreaming, which occurs primarily during the second half of the night. (Mayo Clinic)

REM sleep behaviour disorder often may be associated with other neurological conditions such as Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease or multiple system atrophy.

I have had this disorder for about four years; that means prior to my diagnosis of Frontemporal dementia (FTD).
The other distinct characteristic of this is that you usually remember the nightmare(s) unlike many dreams.
Although I had a diagnosis, I choose not to take any suggested medications to help the symptoms. About a year ago, that changed as my nightmares were more frequent and frightening.

My doctor put me on 0.5MG of Clonazepam. Yes, medication from the “pam family.” Clonazepam often used to treat anxiety is also the traditional choice for treating REM sleep behaviour disorder.

However, in people with FTD, benzodiazepines have been associated with an increase in behavioural challenges and impair both memory and pschomotor skills. Use can result in reduced inhibition and impaired judgement. Simply put Clonazepam should be avoided.

I’m sure you can see the conundrum. To take or not to take. That is the question!

My daily medication is taken via a blister-pack. The clonazepam is not included in it. Every night as I take my blister-pack medication, I have to also open up the pill bottle for it.

Last night I choose not to take it. This is the second time this week. Why not? I keep hoping to take less medication. I keep thinking maybe I don’t need to take it anymore. But I’m promptly reminded why I do need to take it. Without it comes the nightmares. Terrible nightmares.

Although clonazepam is not suggested for people with dementia, I’ve made a choice to include the orange pill in my daily medication. Without it, the monsters come out and I can be heared yelling “Help me….”

Mary Beth Wighton is a blogger living with Frontotemporal dementia. If you want to subsribe to her blog or get in touch with her for any reason, send her an email (mbwighton@hotmail.ca).

fdd8c873df2214bMary Beth Wighton

Blogger and dementia advocate

Lessons learned from Thatcher and Klein

Lessons learned from Thatcher and Klein

thatcherkleinI’ve been thinking lately that no one is immune to dementia. In the past few weeks we lost two major political figures to the condition. Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia only 2 years earlier. Britain’s Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, died of a stroke last week following a lengthy struggle with vascular dementia.

Both were extremely divisive figures. When news of Thatcher’s passing hit the internet, she was simultaneously lauded as England’s savior, as well as a few… less savoury names. Still, she was the longest serving British prime minister of the 20th century, and the only female one.

When Klein took office in 1992, Alberta faced a $23-billion deficit. Shockingly, he balanced the budget within 3 years. He brought personality to Alberta’s politics, and was admired for his candour, even when he was perhaps a little too honest.

But regardless of whether you agree with their particular brand of politics, we cannot deny that even an Iron Lady was not immune to dementia. And we couldn’t have expected that Klein, never known to back down from a verbal tussle, would find himself unable to speak.

What we can take away is that their deaths have shined another light on diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, as well as vascular dementia. The more that we talk openly about dementia (and our experiences with it), the more we can reduce the fear and stigma.

And none of us can ever say with certainty, “I’ll never have dementia,”. So it’s important to understand what it is, and the risk factors that are involved. Eating well, regular exercise and keeping stress levels down are just a few ways to lead a brain healthy lifestyle, which is your best chance at reducing risk.

Visit alzheimer.ca/letstalkaboutdementia to learn more about how you can help reduce stigma, or our brain health section for tips on how to lead a brain-healthy lifestyle.