It is often thought that the reduced ability to move is due to aging and is unrelated to dementia. Certainly, in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, the doctor or nurse never mentions it. There, the focus is mainly on memory and behavior. If movement is no longer as easy or if there is no cooperation when helping to dress or wash, this is sometimes translated as problem behavior or even aggression.
The high muscle tension is called paratonia. This high muscle tension is initially noticeable as an inability to relax and slowly changes over time and as the disease progresses into counter movements during movements by, for example, a carer. The inability to relax and move with the patient is also called Mitgehen or facilitory paratonia. The movement against movement is called Gegenhalten or oppositional paratonia.
We do not yet know exactly how paratonia arises. In general, with aging, the movements become slower but in Alzheimer’s disease, the slow movement is part of the disease. As far as is known, there are two causes of slower movement and higher muscle tension in people with dementia.