My grandmother (83) has early to mid-stage Alzheimer's and moved into an independent retirement facility a few months ago. Before her move, and since, she calls me several times a day reporting that she feels "sick". I try to get her to list symptoms, and sometimes they include headache, sore abdomen, dry mouth, shaky, and/or tired, but more often she describes it as "just plain sick" or "very, very tired" and "no appetite". Every day it is "the worst day yet", but when the symptoms and feeling of sickness disappear later in the day, as they often do, it's as though it never happened. In the past, she would call me several times and insist on going to the Emergency Room or the doctor's office. I would leave work to pick her up, but when I'd arrive and ask how she was doing, she'd say "Oh, fine!". If I'd say "Oh, you weren't feeling well earlier" (as in 15, 20 minutes ago), she'd say "Oh, wasn't I?!" as though it had never happened. On the other hand, it can sometimes last all day no matter what I try or whether or not I visit, or for more than a day at a time.
Some people have suggested she wants me to come over; I don't believe this to be the case, at least not consciously. Many times my going over doesn't help her feelings of illness. I worry she is somehow in a kind of loop - she's always checking her calendar, counting the number of days each month that she's been sick, and fixating on it (she operates primarily on notes in her day-to-day life - the only way she can really remember anything like instructions or reminders, etc., is by reading her notes). So I don't know if this can make it happen in a sense? Either way, it's extremely confusing and stressful, and sometimes she is almost crying on the phone and there's nothing I can do, making me feel really powerless to help. I try to get her to engage herself in a book, activity, etc., to take her mind off it, but after awhile she gets frustrated by that and says I don't believe her, "it's physical" or "it's real, why will no one help me".
Has anyone else experienced this constant "sickness" in someone with dementia or have any insights into dealing with it? I am going to meet with a geriatric psychiatrist today, so hopefully she can help.