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It's been a while since I've posted but my father's situation has not improved. He has been diagnosed with dementia, and although I was in denial about that, hindsight is 20/20 and he has had noticeable personality changes going back 2-3 years and unfortunately it seems to be getting worse.

My concern is he has high calcium due to issues with his parathyroid. He was given medication to lower his calcium which he refuses to take and met with a ENT doctor after being referred by his PCP who advised surgery to remove affected parathyroid glands. He has refused surgery.

Meanwhile he is depressed, sad, mean, angry, not social at all and basically has nothing to say unless he is complaining or fussing. What makes me angry is its obvious he does not feel well at all yet he's not doing anything about it. He goes from saying he's ready to give up, once or twice he mentioned taking all his other meds at one time just to get it over with and then the next day when asked how he feels he says he feels good - although it's obvious he doesn't. He has a headache everyday, grunts and moan all day and just seems miserable.

I'm so mad at him, but I try to remind myself that I have no idea how it feels to be 84 years old. The thought of surgery is not pleasant at any age but I'm sure for an elderly person it really scary. He has terrible hearing and depends on hearing aids that may or may not help. So when doctors and/or family talk to him about his health, meds and surgery even if he can hear that particular day he pretends not to. I just feel like I should be doing something...but what?

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tanya0090
It is funny, I had no symptoms that I recall. However, something in my yearly checkup caused the Doc to order a Dexascan, which measures your bone size, density, or whatever they look for..It is easy, as all you do is take of your shoes and lie on a special bed and get your picture taken! Anyway that test showed lower bone density than they all liked so I went thru tests all summer and ended up with a gall bladder removal at the same time. The calcium had built up so that it was full of gallstones!
Hope that helps some!
Vicky
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Talk to his doctor or get another opinion about taking him off of the cholesterol med. I can cause memory deficits and foggy thinking--I went through that and it took about a week to feel my head clear up. High blood pressure meds, also, can cause dizziness. At this point, real world brain defogging is more important than long-term benefits (if any) of the meds. Older people need higher cholesterol--it is an important component of the brain and nervous system.
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Hey, just to add to the concern, you have a bit of a catch 22 going on, in that hypercalcemia can make you feel like crap. It commonly looks like a psychological depression and the total body aches and pains and risk of kidney stones are just misery on top of misery.

Surgery is a better answer than medication in general for this...can you pin down what is making him not want the medication? Some side effect, or not understanding what it's for?? Maybe he thinks it's a psych med and does not understand the hyperparathyroidism thing. It is not necessarily a terrifically difficult surgery to get through even for a 90+ year old! it's possible to insist on something if the person does not understand risks and benefits! but it would need ethics consult and/or POA and guardianship. It seems a terrible shame to let someone be utterly miserable and die when the condition making them that way is so treatable.
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Vicky,

What were your symptoms prior to surgery? Like, my father is moans and groans, he grunts on purpose for 30 minutes at a time trying to "clear up" his head. There was a time he said it was the devil and the devil was speaking to him calling him stupid because he could not figure out how fix his issue. He's always grabbing at his stomach and making faces as if he's in pain although he says he's not and he has a constant headache that seems to get worse when he moves around. I really want to know what happens if this issue is not fixed...there very little info out there but from what I have read it just progressively gets worse and makes life miserable. :(
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In 2008, at the age of 57 I had a parathyroid removed. The reason, of course, was because the parathyroid glands, all 4 or them, control the Calcium and other things in our system. One had ,gone bananas,, as the Dr. explained it and at that point the other 3 just shut down.... So when the bad one was removed, the other 3, within an hour, had gone back to work!!.....In my case, the calcium was being drained from my bones because my body thought, wrongly, that there wasn't enough in my blood. I had to quit taking calcium supplements until the parathyroid was removed that caused all the trouble!
.Now, I don't know exactly all the problems with your Dad. I would not want surgery if I was 84. Can be very hard on a lot of other things in our bodies. So, if he knows the risks, it may be easier and more kind in the long run to love him for himself while you still have him with you!
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With our elderly parents we always want to be the problem-solver or find that solution on how to better our parent's lives. Sometimes there is no solution and we have to sit by and let them do what they want to do, especially if they're lucid. Maybe your dad's afraid to have the surgery and just doesn't want to admit it. But as long as he has all the information and is able to understand what the Dr. says and what the Dr. recommends your dad can still do what he wants, even if it's not good for him or what you would want for him. But I know how frustrating it is and how worried you must be.

Bring it up to him again at some point in a very non-threatening way, kinda like an off-hand comment and then let the comment lie there. Your dad may change his mind.
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Thank you all for your responses. He's on other medication for cholesterol, high blood pressure, low dose aspirin and he takes all of that like clock work. And he is very lucid - which is why at times it's hard for me accept that he has dementia but his personality changes, mood swings, memory all confirm the doctor is probably right. People have suggested I put the medication in his food - but I can't do that because he trusts me (on most days) and if he does not want to take it I respect that.For months he was diagnosing himself and following his own method of getting better - which has not helped - now he just lays down all day doing nothing. He understand, per the doctor he should have surgery, but he believes they are just trying to experiment on him. : /
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What should you be doing? Finding the patience to love him, and smile, and try to bring some light into his life. And I sure get the "I'm so mad at him" part. As hard as we try, it creeps in. We're human. That's why. Our heart says, "You can do better than this!!" Our brains, though, know better.

From what I'm reading (and reading between the lines), although dad has dementia, it sounds as though he's more lucid than many.

What comes to my mind is that it may be time to have him evaluated for hospice. As the evaluator talks with him, he may make his wishes quite clear either way. It may jolt him into a different reality. Or he'll have a chance to voice his inner-most thoughts to people who hear them without judgment.

That may be the kindest gift of all -- finally giving him the power to choose.
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I understand your need to be proactive in this situation with your dad but what can you do? It's not like you can force him to have surgery, force his to seek medical attention for anything. His condition must be pretty bad if a surgeon is willing to put an 84-year-old under anesthesia. Very risky. If your dad ever decides that he wants this surgery I would get a 2nd opinion. Surgery and the elderly don't mix especially when the person has dementia.

All you can do is be supportive. You can't throw him over your shoulder and take him to the Dr.

Is calcium the only med he's supposed to be taking or does he refuse all his other meds too? Refusing medication could be your dad's passive way of letting go. We're programmed as caregivers to give care, not to sit idly by while someone makes poor choices but they're his choices to make. You can fight him on it at every step driving the both of your crazy or you can support his right to care for his health as he sees fit.

Because he has dementia you can't expect him to be logical but if he didn't have dementia I'd suggest that you tell him, "OK Dad, you win. I won't nag you about this anymore. You know how I feel about this but it's your health, it's your life, and it's your choice."

And because he has dementia that might be an argument for forcing medication down his throat, if you can. I disagree. It would be different if he were passive but he's said that he doesn't want to take the medication. And if he's lucid enough to understand he needs surgery and to understand that by not having surgery he will grow worse then he's lucid enough to have a say in his treatment.

The hardest thing to do is to let go.
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