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I live with my roommate and his grandmother. He works late and his mother is unreliable to show up when she says that she will, so I take the most care of her. I take care of her on my days off and in the early afternoon whenever I get off work. She is a pretty strong wiled lady. During my times caring for her, I've noticed a trend. She tends to develop symptoms of sickness whenever she has someone visiting her (her physical therapist, a nurse, or when it is time to go to the doctor). She either has breathing problems or she develops diarrhea. She never alerts to my roommate or I that she is feeling bad, it just "suddenly appears." I think it may be anxiety related, but it impedes her doing things and keeping appointments that are there to keep her well. So, could this be an actual thing that can be treated? Is she getting herself worked up ultimately to not do anything? And, what can I do to help ease the situation?

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This is, also, probably so obvious you've already thought of it - in fact, you have already thought of it - but if the situations you're describing are ones that this elderly lady finds stressful, it could be that her symptoms are made worse by stress. I know my mother's cough gets a lot worse when we're trying to discuss subjects she doesn't care for… But no, she's not putting it on: her chest gets tight, her head spins, she doesn't want to continue the conversation. Fair enough, really.

I suppose for now you could try talking to her about that day's appointment in a positive way, highlighting the benefits (after your PT's been, your back should be feeling much more comfortable; it'll be great if the doctor can figure out what's going on with your tummy - that sort of thing) to help her feel more relaxed. But more importantly, if you get her to talk you can also LISTEN to what she says. She might not be afraid of nothing! Then report back to her daughter or grandson, but be careful not to do so in a way that sounds critical of them.

This is difficult for you, because you're not really in a position to take any decisive action to help this lady. But it is so cool that you care as much as you obviously do. I am extremely impressed.
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Do the elderly ever? Yes. Don't you? :)
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I have a similar situation with my mom. Over time I learned not to tell her what's happening ahead of time, because she'd invariably tell me she's too tired. So now I just go over and say, "Mom, we're going to the doctor." I get her dressed and we go. She never has had diarrhea, but she'd just not want to do things (and still doesn't) with a bunch of excuses. Even fun things.

Afterwards she's always happy she did whatever I made her do, but it's a fight to get her out the door. So I'd try not telling her ahead of time that a nurse is coming or she's going to the doctor. Just have it happen when it's time. See if that's any better.
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Don't we all do that, from childhood through old age? Through most of our adulthood we are better at judging what is good for us and putting up with doing it, and also more sophisticated in our ways to get out of things. In old age we sometimes lose that sophistication. Our ploys are pretty easy to spot.

This could be discussed with her doctor. Is there anything she could take for anxiety? Should she be given anti-diarrhea pills before appointments? Does the doctor have any other suggestions about how to deal with this?

My mother has very similar behavior, in her case usually involving back pain. She does legitimately have a lot of pain, but it is amazing how consistently it flares up when she wants to avoid something. Surprisingly it can even be something she likes, such as going to the beauty shop. Suddenly she is thinking of getting on her coat, and struggling up the stairs, and awkwardly getting into the car, and the whole project seems too much. She hurts. But when my sister manages to get her there anyway, Mom enjoys it. My sister finds that not giving Mom much time to work herself up helps, too. When Mom is with me I have more success when I describe what is going to happen in detail. "Mom, I am going to help you into the wheelchair, and help you into my car. When we get to the plant store I'll get the wheelchair out of the trunk and wheel you around that big store. We will each pick out two plants .... etc." It seems to help when there are no mysteries to worry about.

I think that you and your roommate and his mother should have a conference over this aspect of Gran's care. Suggest that the doctor be consulted. Come up with some ideas and try them out.

Best of luck to all of you.
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I think you have it figured out. It is probably a dread reaction. My father got sick anytime we had some type of appointment lined up for him. If he had something to do that day, I knew the first thing out of his mouth in the morning would be, "I'm sick." Getting him to any kind of appointment was so rare that I learned to go ahead and do it anyway.

My mother went through a time where she would get sick before every scheduled appointment. She would call and cancel. One doctor she cancelled so much that he dropped her as a patient. I'm glad that he did that, because it taught her not to cancel like she was doing.

I don't blame them for not wanting to see doctors. I dread it myself. Later my mother got over her dread and I had a terrible time keeping her away from doctors. Life with the elderly is one turn after another. :)
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