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He is doing stuff like his older sister used to do - it drove her family nuts. He will complain about all these symptoms, and how awful he feels, and he needs to see the doctor SOON .... Then when the doctor comes in, or the nurse calls, he will just mention some minor problem or even tell them he 'feels pretty good.'
Then we end up feeling like fools when they don't understand why the urgent visit.


In the ER, a few months ago, the doctor wanted to put him in a nursing home, and we don't know whether he over heard, and is afraid to tell the doctor how bad he feels, or what is going on. Getting to the point where I don't want to take him to the doctor - very embarrassing.

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I agree JessieBelle, I think that he has always thought that there is a pill that will make everything better, and there's no pill for getting feeble. (Unlike most guys that I know, he has always been ok about seeing a doctor, and does enjoy being fussed over)
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This sounds like my mother. She talks all day long about her problems and pains, but when she gets to the doctor she says she is okay. No problems or pains. I'll remind her of something, then she'll say, "Well, it doesn't bother me right now."

Mostly I think my mother's symptoms are because she dwells on herself. She can turn a bump on her skin into something awful. A spot becomes a predictor of terrible things to come. I know that it is sad, because she does have many problems. I'm sympathetic with myself, though. After listening to a list of symptoms every day for many years, I don't hear them anymore. She'll say she needs to see a doctor. I'll ask her why, and she'll say something that can be seen to at home. What I do is watch her for things out of the normal, then make extra doctor appointments when I think she needs them.

I have a feeling that you feel like I do when your dad talks about how bad he feels. It is very wearing. It feels like we should do something to make it better, but usually there's nothing we can do.
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Angie, this sounds like something that has happened with us. Since we are already paying for two hospital visits, I'm trying to keep him out of the ER.
I am trying to take two parents to doctor appointments, so that means every week there are at least two appointments to various specialists. I have had to cancel my own medical appointments sometimes to take them.
My brother has also taken him to the doctor and my dad will tell the doctor that he is 'doing ok.' I do send notes with other family members, and I think that it helps. They will not ask questions like I do.
When I go, I will shake my head yes or no, or just butt in and tell the doctor. My brother will not do this. In fact he often just drops him off afterwards, and I don't even know what happened at the appointment. When I ask my father, he says 'nothing - they don't do anything, anyway.'
So today he was complaining about how awful he felt - I finally got someone on the phone and they called back.... I told them I would let HIM tell them how he felt ( since I don't know what hurts) and he didn't even tell them how he cannot eat without his stomach hurting. They did call in medicine - hopefully the right ones...
(Now I'm expected to be a mind reader, too?)
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Could you have him call the doctor's office, describe his own symptoms, and make the appointment? Or would it be too difficult for him? To avoid the scenario you just described, I tried this with my dad (94 but very competent mentally) a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, it didn't work out very well. He called the doctor's office and made the appointment, but the next morning he called me and told me he needed to go to the ER, so we ended up canceling the appointment and spending most of the day at the ER. (Incidentally, they found nothing wrong with him at the ER. It turned out that his symptoms were a reaction to a decongestant.)
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That used to happen years ago, before I began going to every appointment since I'm the designated driver. My father's more or less gotten used to my intervention, but I still:

a. Sit behind him so I can nod, shake my head, or scowl questioningly when the answers aren't exactly on point, or

b. Call before the appointment and privately brief the doctor's PA or one of the secretaries or nurses. Then the doctor raises the issue.
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Sometimes, I will take some notes that I have prepared when I go with them for a doctor appt. (I don't go for everything, but a couple of years ago my dad had a mystery illness that was very disconcerting and I did go with him for that.) I'll take the notes with us into the exam room and go over it with the doctor. I might say, Daddy had some dizziness yesterday. Daddy, was it right after you ate or before lunch. Can you describe it to the doctor, the way you described it to me. I try to engage him to join in so it's like he's telling what happened and not just me reading off the list.

And I encourage daddy by saying, Daddy, you have to be an advocate for yourself when it comes to healthcare. We have to speak out. I try to impress upon him that we all have to accurately report our symptoms and insist on followup with the doctor. I have also called the nurse and directed a call to the doctor about something that I thought he needed to know.

Of course, if someone has dementia these things won't help at all.
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Type up a description of your father's behavior and when you check in at the doctor's, give it to the person checking you in and ask that the doctor see it before your visit. I've used that successfully. It can help the doctor know what questions to ask.

If your father denies problems and you're sitting there, you can chime in, "But dad, what about when you said x,y, and z two days ago?" A lot of elders "showtime" at the doctor's office and want to downplay (or they just forget) symptoms. My mom does that all of the time. But with her cognitive abilities, she simply can't remember that two days ago she had a major nose bleed. So you need to help your father get his true story to the doctor. Good luck!
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You can accompany to visits, give the reasons for the visit when making the appointment, and give the doctor the information in any other way that will reach him or her. HIPAA is not a two-way street - they may not be able to return the favor with out your spouse's permission, but someone to tell the truth about what is really going on can be a blessing.
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We went through the same scenario with Mom. It was a combination of anxiety and attention seeking behavior. Once she move to assisted living, she was too busy with activities to think about her maladies.
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