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Mom, age 89, went to dr last Wednesday for checkup. Acted great, looked great, BP 118/64, oxygen 97%, heart, lungs, circulation, pulses all great. Dr did routine bloodwork. She called last night saying results came in - Mom has "very severe anemia." Low on iron, Vitamin D. Some blood number came in at 5, which from my research I know is very low. Based on mom's age, dr not really interested in finding out reason, just wants to treat anemia. Wants her to get a blood transfusion in an outpatient setting. Thoughts? Mom has shown a bit of decline in the last two months - mainly with fatigue and some confusion. We all just thought it was some dementia. She is wheelchair bound and has someone with her at all times. Appetite is great and, as mentioned above, on the face of it all seemed well for someone of her age. Dr is amazed she is functioning as well as she is with such anemia. Thanks for responses - especially quick ones!

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Experiencing the same thing with my mother. Blood in stool, Hg of 5, which went up to 9.7 with four units of blood. Not going to do colonoscopy. She is 88. She also has two leaky heart valves, COPD, high blood pressure. I don't want to sound ghoulish, but the up and down of she's better, she's not better, she's worse, she's better, is wearing me out. I know that the medical professionals cannot give a clear answer, but I wish we knew whether we were looking at a month, six months, two years, five years. The uncertainty is so difficult.
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Update: The transfusion went fine, so we will just see how it goes from here. Thanks for all the great input!
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Oops, blood draw match was yesterday!
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Thanks, Sendme2help and CarlaCB. We went for the blood draw match today and the transfusion is later today. There will then be a second one next week. We will see how it goes. As I originally mentioned mom is in decent health overall and gets good care from home helpers and me. Nothing out of the ordinary - no vomiting, no bowel issues. Even the doctor agrees that she needs to stay out of the hospital. I guess my view is don't look for problems if you're not prepared to address them medically. Thanks for taking the time to respond and give your input. Much appreciated. I will be very interested to see if this helps with confusion and depression. I read that there are many elders with dementia diagnoses in nursing homes who actually have untreated anemia mimicking dementia symptoms! So definitely worth having your elder loved ones tested first. I will keep you posted.
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The only less invasive test I know of is the occult blood test, which in my mother's case (I'm not the OP) showed there was bleeding somewhere in the GI tract. We were not offered cat scans or MRI's to figure out where - I don't know why. Maybe Medicare doesn't pay for them because there are cheaper ways even if more invasive? I don't know.

There is a pill endoscopy where you just swallow a tiny camera in a pill and it travels through, takes pictures, and is eliminated. But I was told that only works in the small intestine, since the other organs have large surfaces and fold in on themselves. We were forced to go through regular endoscopy and colonoscopy to get answers. If there's a better way, we weren't told. Just FYI.
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Get treatment. Look for some non-invasive tests to attempt to find anywhere there is blood loss or infection. For example, blood in stool. Vomiting coffee ground looking stuff. Instead of an upper g.i. or colonoscopy, there is a procedure (mri or cat-scan?) that is less invasive. Please don't write her off because of age. Allow her last years to be comfortable-but know what you are dealing with as far as diagnosis. If it was just diet, then that will soon become readily apparent with better care. Imop.
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Carla, thanks so much. This really helps. The primary doctor just called and they are trying to get her in today for 2 units packed red blood cells with another transfusion next week. At age 89 we try and keep medical interventions to a minimum. Just a little nervous because I know every procedure has some risk. If this helps, great! At this stage of the game, we won't be probing for answers, just trying to bring up the energy level. I am heartened that your mom had good results. My mom isn't running marathons, but I think she has a couple of good years left in her with potentially better quality of life. Thanks for the support!
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My mother has the same issue. She's 84. She received blood transfusions and was referred for further testing. Right now she is having IV iron infusions instead of iron tablets in order to bring her iron levels up more quickly. She is still undergoing tests because she has positive occult blood stool tests, and the drs think she has a bleed in her gut somewhere. They've done two endoscopies and a colonoscopy so far. She's scheduled for an upper GI barium imaging test later this month.

I think the blood transfusions, at a minimum, are a good idea. From my perspective as a caregiver, the more energy she has, the less she depends on me to do every little thing around her house. Plus those low blood levels are potentially dangerous. You don't want her to pass out and fall down, or potentially even have a heart attack.

If your mother is too frail to undergo a lot of tests and potential treatment for whatever they find, it makes sense to just treat the symptoms and not look for the cause. If you think your mother has a lot of good years ahead of her and they should be treating her more aggressively and seeking out the root of her problems, you can always get a second opinion.
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Thanks, backinblighty. She hates anything medical, so her family doctor doesn't have any blood work on her since 2012. I think she did have a transfusion when she had surgery for a broken femur in November 2014, so I would think there would have been labs from then. It looks like this has slowly come on over probably years, but never been addressed.
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Lack of iron can cause some confusion, my mum suffers from iron deficiency and has to have iron tablets, when she was admitted to hospital when she fell down the stairs they stopped the iron tablets and very soon after she came home she was breathless and tired, hope you see improvement in her when she has her transfusion good luck
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