Is it heat exhaustion or depression? - AgingCare.com

Is it heat exhaustion or depression?

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My mom just turned 79 and has thyroidism but I am not sure if hyper or hypo. She is borderline diabetic and has high blood pressure. For the last year or so I have noticed what appear to be signs of depression and just... giving up. She doesn't eat because she says she doesn't feel like it or that she is hungry but doesn't feel like chewing. She gets very dehydrated, weak and lethargic at times. Will giving her vitamin B12 shots or pills help? I am also thinking of putting her on ensure at least twice a day to get at least some nourishment ... please help... I don't want to lose her.

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The best one to ask these questions is her doctor. Do you go to appointments with her to be sure she is presenting the whole picture of her life. I know for ME, even though I drink plenty of water, I get dehydrated and then, all of those symptoms you mention start up.

but they could be a possibe result of medications. Mom, a retired nurse says B complex with B12 is a great nerve tonic. Bloodwork would show if she is anemic and in need of B12.

It is tough for us to figure out if our depression and fatigue is a fleeting or a natural problem. And it is twice as hard to figure that out for someone else. We are learning more and more about the benefits of enough quality sleep and how sleep deprivation resullts in NOT clearing out the toxins that build up naturally in our bodies during the day. Geriatric doctors in particular are trained to look at our whole person, and determine if symptoms need further diagnosis and/or treatment, or just counseling to help us understand a natural problem of aging.

The fact that you are observant of these cues will be a big help when you see her doctor.

My mom keeps a small spiral notebook and daily makes notes of her sugar, blood pressure, new symptoms. This way, those new or worsening symptoms are ready to present to the doc as data. I'd add in a PLUS section where we record the good times., like what brought a smile, or when improvement is noticed.

For me, the not feeling like eating is real. But I notice times when I don't feel like cooking and cleaning up wind up as being voiced as not feeling like eating.

Could you give your mom the job of nutrition engineer? Working out ways to get the needed nutrition as appetite is less?? Like soup or salad packed with lots of veggies? Perhaps 1/2 serving of each would be enough food packed with high density nutrition. I keep some chopped nuts handy to add interest and protein to my salads and soups. And I'd encourage her to find those small, nutrition packed frozen microwaveable meals or bowls. TV Dinners have really come a long way, baby!!

When I was going through chemo and made it my job to provide my body with the nutrition it needed to get through and get healthy, Ensure helped me so much on the days when all I could do was open a can and drink. But my body craved more and I had to figure out how to do that. At first all raw fruit and veg had to be microwaved or cooked. Then when I could tolerate the raw, I had to pulse the whole salad or cup of soup in the food processor.
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Reply to Bravelute
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When is the last time your Mother had blood work done. Her doctor can order tests to see if it is low potassium, Vitamin D deficiency, etc. don't play doctor at this point. What is she eating? I give my mother many small items, she doesn't eat (81 years young) like she used to. Cottage cheese, peaches, applesauce, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, foods that go down easy, juices and in small containers where she can pick each item up. I grind her meds in the applesauce and top with frozen blueberries. You have to monitor her urine and poo as well, make sure she is regular. Good Luck.
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Reply to commutergirl
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Please take your mother to her doctor. They should do thyroid blood work. If she has lost weight, she has Hyperthyroidism. If she has gained weight, she has Hypothyroidism. The doctor should gve her an RX to regulate the thyroid levels. Bear in mind, Thyroid Disorders are oftentimes hereditary.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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I agree that Ensure needs to be served cold. It tastes much better than it used to when it was in a can. Ask your doctor if she can have the calories to add fruit to it, like strawberries or peaches - that makes it a bit more like a milkshake.
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Reply to BeckyT
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PS...I don't know where you reside, but for heat exhaustion to happen, you must have heat, sometimes exertion...sometimes the skin is cool/clammy.  It can become life threatening...
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Reply to robinr
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Others have made good points about the MD involvement.  Are you SURE she's taking her meds? They may need to be tweeked.  Very hard to get them to drink adequate fluids.  Is it possible she is snacking without you being aware of it so is not hungry at meal times and not eating more nutritious food?  Any dental issues?  I'm assuming she is cognitively okay and will answer honestly.  I think you're right to be suspicious of depression.  What's her social life like?  Diabetes and blood pressure are not typically things that cause isolation like a mobility issue.  As for Ensure...there are differing thoughts on how that tastes...and you can have in your mind to "put her on that" but if she doesn't like it, won't consume it, you can forget that.  She may be more open to companionship/ simple home made food.  Is meals on wheels an option in your area?  That ensures (no pun intended) daily contact with others.  Local community lunch/activity programs?  We have a program in our area called PACE...a day program that people do not have to attend daily, but they keep tabs on people from a medical standpoint.  Good luck...elders are often more resilient than we realize.  Can you add a vitamin in, if needed?
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Reply to robinr
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I agree, she needs to see her primary asap and you need to go with her. Does she have an endocrinologist yet? If she is having thyroid problems and is pre-diabetic (or diabetic at this point) she probably should be particularly at her age. These conditions can be closely related of course and each of them can cause depression. I have been told getting people to drink enough water as they get older is often a real challenge, I know it is with my mom. She happens to be diabetic, has been for years but didn't always manage it well and all of the symptoms you describe we have a do struggle with with her. It's a vicious cycle but one that needs to be interrupted because not only does it make a difference in her life, enjoyment of life now it also makes a difference in other body systems later. We are having to watch mom's kidneys closely now because she has had so many highs and lows in her BS over the years, she has both heart and vascular issues and had a stroke which very likely is related to her diabetes care (or lack of) over the years as well as heredity. It has become so clear to us now that we have been helping to manage her health just how interrelated it all is. You can see the affect each system management has on the other systems and management, really eye opening. I mean I heard this and believed it before but something about seeing it all at work...

Now, I'm not sure how cooperative your mom is or how involved in her health care you have been or she's willing to have you be but it's important. Not just for these issues but to establish a working relationship with your mom and her medical team so it's not as hard later when a crisis or something major happens or just as she ages and can do less for herself. It's all in the presentation though if you haven't been a part of it. You know her best but I would recommend easing into it, make it feel natural rather than giving her any reason to feel like your taking over (she may feel this way anyway or she may be fine with it), better for both of you to make it a posative thing as best you can and in truth being involved with your parent's medical care at a certain point brings you back into their lives more, creates a reason for regular involvement in each others lives that we often get away from simply because of life. When my mom starts getting upset and concerned about being a burden to her children, we point out that because of her health issues and our desire to be involved in her care we have all been in each others lives more. We see and talk to each other on a much more regular basis and we have always been close but we also have our own families and don't live in the same states, we have spent more time together, in person around her health and that has been good for us. Anyway, take mom to her primary and make sure her primary is the right one, she should be referred to an Endocrinologist at this point by the sounds of it.
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Reply to Lymie61
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Hate to say it but don't guess, just take her to see a doctor. They can do tests that can show without a doubt what your mom has. Know this: so many elderly people do not drink enough so dehydration and constipation occurs often, which leads to other complications: lack of appetite, confusion, UTI.
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Reply to Moelish1
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Sounds like her thyroid is underactive, which is hypothyroidism. She probably needs her medicine adjusted. This can act and look like depression. It will also raise BP, cholesterol, and triglycerides. She will feel much better when her medicine is increased.
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Reply to DDD5775
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In this day and age, your mom isn’t considered “that old”. However, she isn’t indestructible. Seniors, like my own mother, who were never active in their communities, had lots of friends, physically active and just generally involved and engaged with others will not suddenly become so as they age, even if we suggest or even “push” them to be. We tend to become depressed as we age when we realize that this really is all there is.

However, your description of Mom sounds like she has health issues and that could be what’s causing her to feel lethargic and depressed. And, even if we were medical professionals here, it would be unethical and could be downright dangerous to guess at a disagnoses or make suggestions on what you and she should do. You need to find out whether she is hyper or hypo thyroid. Different conditions, different treatments. If she is not on meds for her pre-diabetic condition and her hypertension, she needs to seek face to face medical advice. If she is having dental pain while eating, she needs to visit the dentist.

There are meds and treatments for everything you describe. I don’t think Ensure would hurt (serve it cold because it tastes awful warm) but she needs to she needs to see her doctor.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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