My 80-year-old dad has never been sick a day in his life, but he has begun to obsess about his health. Tests show that there are no problems. How do I handle this behavior?

Asked by
Answers 1 to 4 of 4
The other day my folks had dinner with some friends. Mom said they all started talking about their physical problems, and my dad started in on a problem that she had never heard of. Later she asked him what had he been talking about. He said that he just needed to pipe up and say something too! I'm wondering if your dad is listening to other people complain about ailments, and he's wondering when he's going to have them too. But he may be one of the fortunate few that can get into their 80's without any severe problems. Maybe he should be thanking God for his good health, instead of looking for red herrings. :)
Recently, my Mom has had a series of ailments, most minor, but still insisted on going to the doctor who, of course, ran a battery of tests. In many ways she is healthier than I, especially being in her 80s. I think she comes from that generation that has to hear from a doctor that they are okay. Mom has never been a hypochondriac so I chalk this up to getting older and being in that last phase of life.
I look after an 80+ yr. old neighbor occasionally. He has always been healthy and vibrant., but his wife recently went into a nursing home hundreds of miles away-per HER kids. Now he is depressed, acts sickly and has had every test in the book. - can't find anything wrong with him. I think He is sick from a broken heart, wants attention, not staying positive, lonely and not eating well. Also, keep in mind that if your elder had to pay every penny out of pocket for these Doctors visits/tests, they would probably get well very quickly. If there is nothing physically "wrong" with these elders, I would assume it is in their thinking-which too can be questionable. Doctors can become a form of attention and make the needy feel important. - there is actually a word for that. Encourage your Dad to get involved with something more productive and positive. If he thinks he is sick - he will make himself sick and you too. I also have to question mind altering drugs that Dr's. throw people on with horrible side effects.
My father is 90 years old and is also obsessing about his health. It is normal and a part of the aging process. Being worried about every ache and pain as a possible sign that the end is coming is common among the elderly. The best thing you can do is to help distract your father with activities to keep both his mind and body busy. Give him something to look forward too, like a weekly lunch and movie date. We just took dad to see Dinner with Schmucks and he couldn't stop laughing. It was a good thing I had him visit the bathroom before we went into the theater!

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support