Overall, she is in fairly good shape for her age, still drives and tries to take a healthy walk daily. Yet, there are days when she cannot get out of bed and cries that she is freezing (temp is 80) from head to toe. She bundles up, covering even her head because of the cold. She will not eat because she is too cold to remove her shroud of blankets and walk to the table. When I can help or persuade her to eat; she seems starved yet shivers and cries to return to her bed. Her skin always feels warm but she says the cold is on the inside of her body. On her good days, we cannot go out of the house, even for a specific timed appointment, until she has a bowel movement. She will not eat anything beforehand for fear of having it go through her within an hour's time. If we stop for lunch or a meal while out we have to immediately go home before she has an accident, which has happened on numerous occasions. She has lost 20 lbs. in the past 8 months for no explainable reason other than not eating or have what she eats go straight through her. Her doctor lowered her thyroid medication but that has had no effect. She also suggested my mother avoid milk for one week to see if she could be lactose intolerant. That would be interesting to find out after 88 years! Her blood tests show a high level of urea nitrogen in her blood, low hemoglobin causing anemia, insufficient platelet count and countless other things I do not understand but the doctor seems unconcerned. Her suggestion is to take a multi-vitamin with iron. Before coming to live with me 5 months ago, my mother lived alone after my father's death two years ago. She lived in Florida and her doctors there all attributed her problems to her "advanced age". That is why I brought her to live with me but seems the doctors are all the same. I tried to get Mother an appointment at a highly respected medical college hospital nearby but they said a referral from her regular doctor is required. My request to her local doctor is the reason she had an advanced, more complete battery of blood tests done but that seems to be the end of the matter. I know there is something very wrong with my mother, it is not hypochondria or old age related, but a factor in her otherwise good quality of life. Any suggestions on how to get a doctor to be as concerned as I am?

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I've learned over time with my mom and friends with cancer, you can't always rely on doctors to take the lead on figuring stuff out. You have to do your own research and become a strong advocate for your mom.

What kind of diet is she on? When she is running to the toilet, is she having diarrhea? What does that look like? I'd definitely research the diet link to her stool issues. I'd start looking up her blood work results to try to understand what's going on. Educating yourself will help you be a stronger advocate. Definitely put her on an elimination diet, to rule out certain foods causing her diarrhea. You can just google it. I'd also keep a journal, to try to pinpoint what kinds of foods set off her running to the bathroom.

I'd get her an electric blanket or a heating pad for the time when she's cold. You can crank those up to keep her warm. When I'm chilled, I put a heating pad on my thighs and also wear socks. If my feet are cold, I'm cold.

Hang in there...I hope you can get your mom's medical issues figured out.
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You might want to read up on Myelodysplastic Syndrome.
My sister's MIL had a doctor that pooh poohed her symptoms as well, but when she needed to have hip surgery she failed her pre-op screening and they insisted she see a hematologist before they would proceed.
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So, please do what the doctor suggested. Cut out the lactose. Start a multivitamin with iron. See if these help.

There is no magic bullet when you are 88.
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There's a saying in the medical community: when you hear hoofbeats think horses not zebras. Meaning, sometimes things are exactly what they are. Your mom is 88 years old. She's going to have days when she doesn't feel well.

I work in hospice and I had a patient who lived with his wife. Everyday during the summer they didn't use air conditioning and it would get up to 87* in that place and they were just fine with it while I was sweating buckets. Old people get cold. My dad used to walk around the house in his winter coat.

The thing that would concern me the most is the diarrhea. Did you try the no-milk thing? Is she purposely not eating to avoid having diarrhea? That should be explored, she needs to eat. But having regular diarrhea can affect someone's appetite for sure. Have you tried Immodium? My mother had intestinal issues as well and she swore by Immodium.

The next time your mom sees the Dr. have some questions for him written down. Don't compose a thesis, just a few questions that are most concerning to you. Immodium is over the counter but there are prescription medications for diarrhea the Dr. can explore if (s)he wants to.

Our bodies are full of little quirks, moreso as we age. And depending upon many, many things our blood test results may not all be normal but if a test is, for examply, 1.2 in the normal range and your mom tests 1.25 that's not reason to be alarmed. I run a very low blood pressure, I always have. If the person taking my blood pressure isn't aware of this they usually become alarmed and I have to explain that I run a low blood pressure. I don't know why, I just do. It's normal for me.

Your mom has an 88-year-old body. You said she was in fairly good shape, still driving, taking walks....Those are good things. If the Dr. in FL said she was OK and the Dr. where you live said she was OK then she's probably OK. If you don't want to take the Dr.'s word for it see a specialist. Hematologist because of her platelet and hemoglobin count, a gastrointestinal Dr. for the diarrhea, a hepatologist for her urea and nitrogen values.

If it would give you peace of mind to have more extensive testing done and your mom agrees then go ahead and do it. But remember the hoofbeats. Horses, not zebras.
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Cate, hate to say it, but the doctors are right, many medical issues are due to advanced age. Your Mom has beat the odds compared to the average age span which is currently 80 for a woman here in the U.S.

I remember my Mom always being cold and it was due to her taking thyroid medication. Some of it was due to not dressing correctly. Such as tucking in one's shirt into one's slacks, makes a big difference. My Mom also would wear thermal type undershirts to help her stay warmer, even in summer.

As for the tummy issues, lactose intolerance can happen at any age. Usually if a doctor suggested avoiding dairy products he/she would also recommend avoiding gluten products, too. If I eat a bowl of regular ice cream, I am doing a land speed run to the nearest bathroom. It wouldn't hurt to use Lactose free milk, it taste the same as regular milk... there is also lactose free ice cream, and yogurt.
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