The physician for my in-laws seems to be lacking in knowledge of geriatric care. His remedies are always, "You love him, don't you? Hug and be good to each other". I'm concerned that the quality of care that they get is questionable, especially when it comes to mental health. In their mid 90's and late 80's, they still live in their own home and are fiercely independent. However, they spend a good deal of their days arguing viciously. We get weekly calls from one or the other stating that this can't go on. Dad's physical health has gone downhill markedly in the past year, as well and Mom is showing signs of clinical depression.
We live in a different county, an hour away. One of their daughters shrugs her shoulders about the issue and the other vehemently denies that there is a problem and she lives the closest to them. What can we do for my husband's parents?

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You could call Social Services for a welfare check and hope they pick up on something that shows these folks can't care for each other.

As far as the arguing, it is distressing. Is this "new" behavior or have they always bickered?

The doctor (you are right) doesn't seem savvy about elder issues. A geriatrician would be ideal if you can find one. I'd at least work on everyone to let them be evaluated by a different doctor. There may be dementia issue that could be helped by medication.

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I agree with MindingOE, you need a physician who has experience working with elderly patients.

It seems that lately, inexperienced doctors are getting too freewheeling about applying the term "dementia" to their older patients. It really has become an "umbrella" term and most of the testing is "observational" and left up to the doctor to make.

My aunt was given that diagnosis by a family physician. Later it was discovered that she had a reaction to her medications and is now fine.

Also, declaring that someone has diminished capacity has legal ramifications, so you cannot be careful enough about choosing the right doctor.
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Thank you. We did have contact with someone from social services in the spring when dad was hospitalized for CHF and pneumonia. For a few weeks after he went home, they had county help come in, nurses, physical therapists, home care aids. But, dad kicked them out after 5 or 6 weeks. I hadn't thought about calling them again just to do a check-in. That's a good idea.
As far as the doctor misdiagnosing dementia, it's just the opposite, he thinks they're fine. I will start a search for a geriatric specialist in their area. Maybe we could get them in for a check up, although Dad just refused to make his regular doctor's appointment yesterday. It's worth a try, though.
Thanks, again.
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