Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a condition that makes a person laugh or cry uncontrollably, even at times when the emotion is inappropriate. It is often the result of conditions that affect the brain, such as stroke. If you’ve noticed that your older family member sometimes laughs or cries for no apparent reason and isn’t able to stop, they may have PBA. Understanding PBA can help you to get better care for them and know what to do to manage the condition.
PBA can be difficult to live with because it may cause the older adult embarrassment. Although they experience emotions in the same way as other people do, PBA can cause them to exaggerate their emotional expression or express emotions inappropriately. In an article posted on the American Stroke Association website, one person with PBA described her condition as a “social disability.” She describes her life as being “built around PBA and minimizing reactions.” Having PBA can lead to social isolation because the person does not want to risk embarrassing themselves or disturbing others.
PBA often happens in people with certain neurological conditions, including:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- Multiple sclerosis (MS).
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
It can also happen in people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Some of the things you might notice in a person with PBA are:
- Episodes of laughing or crying that occur suddenly and that the person cannot control. They may be quite intense.
- Crying or laughing when the situation does not call for it.
- Crying or laughing longer than normal.
- Frustrated or angry outbursts.
- Exhibiting facial expressions that do not go with the emotions a person is feeling.
The outbursts happen frequently, often several times in a single day and on multiple days of the month. In some cases, PBA may be mistaken for a mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder. It can also be confused with depression since episodes of crying are more common than laughing. However, people with depression feel persistent sadness. A crying episode associated with PBA usually lasts for just a short time.
PBA can be treated with medication, so if you notice symptoms in your aging relative, see a doctor. If the older adult is diagnosed with PBA, an elder care provider can help. An elder care provider can remind them to take medications. Elder care can also offer moral support and act as an advocate when the senior is in public, helping them to avoid social isolation.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING ELDERLY CARE IN CHARLOTTE, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF CHARLOTTE. (704) 246-5806.