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I just figured it was due to the heat we have been having. It appears to go away pretty quickly. She was in the hospital last Tuesday for her jaw and they checked her heart and I told them that this was happening but they said her heart was ok. The problem is that she says it and then when its gone she does not remember it happening. She got up this afternoon and was very wobbly and came out to the dining room and the electricity had been turned off for 30 minutes and it was stifling and then the a/c came on and she said it again and then she forgot about it again. I am so overwhelmed that everyday its something different and she is not faking it at all. But she hates that I would call life alert so I am not sure she is pretending she is ok. Anyone else have this problem? I hope this made sense, oh and she has been up only for 2.5 hours and said that she was going to fall asleep again. The doctor prescribed her a low dose of xanax and my sister wants me to give her some and I not going to do that, especially since she wants to go back to sleep! Thanks

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Does she have trouble swallowing? Does she take a big mouthful chew a bit and then throw it out. Does she tend to cough when eating? do sweet sticky things stick in her throat - think nice chewy chocolate chip cookies. As you say nothing wrong with her intestine so I am asuming she has had an endoscopy, but has she had a barium swallow test and a food challenge?
Does she "like" any meat? depending on any other health problems she could have liver, all kinds of fish, yougurt, cottage cheese, mac and cheese and any kind of bean dishes to satisfy her need for protein and plenty of milk. if she won't drink plain milk will she drink chocolate milk or hot chocolate made with milk.
Short of fillet mignon she will reject and type of solid meat,roast, chops scliced turkey you name it it will cause problems. You can shred it in say a majic bullet and mix it with mashed potatoes. Every thing needs to be moist and not require a lot of chewing. make sure she has some fluid at hand, anything liquid will do but avoid ice cold soda because it will go up the back of her nose. ckicken thighs rather than breast are easier to chew as they are more moist. strangely ground beef and rice are not so easy because little bits get stuck in the throat. also avoid anything spicy because the tiniest spec of spice in the back of the throat is agony.
have you learned the heimlick manouver? You do need to because choking is terrifying and it might be on something a simple as vitamin pill. If she has trouble with pills give them in some soft food at a mealtime. for example with her breakfast yogurt. Most things can also be crushed and mixed with a little jam or apple sauce and washed down well.
Dysphagia or swallowing difficulties comes on slowly and often goes un noticed for a long time till the person either stats cough at meals or refusing certain foods. there are several causes, narrowing of the oesophagus, weakening of neck muscles with age or nerve damage and even allergies. Most of the treatment consists of providing foods that the patient can manage and likes and if necessary thickening liquids (yuck) in the most severe cases usually due to cancer a stomach tube has to be inserted into the belly.
How do I know so much? I have had it undiagnosed for very many years. before my diagnosis I was already managing it with things that worked for me so the clever Drs have not been able to tell me anything new. Any kind of stress or major illness makes it virtually impossible to eat. it just feels like swallowing rocks and for some reason even water burns like acid. Ginger ale and chocolate milk are my go to drinks. I also love tea being English but not made with luke warm water.
Worth thinking about Twen some of the strategies just might work. I don't have dementia (yet) but your mom can't reason so don't explain anything to her just change the diet and see what happens. That good red meat may be off her menu for good. skin on fruit such as apples is also difficult so peel them too. Bananas are very easy. You will be able to think up a lot of things yourself based on your Mom's preferences.
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I have very low blood pressure, am on Alprazolam and had anxiety attacks which was when I had trouble breathing. After all kinds of tests, one of my doctors prescribed Prilosec. But my main issue was anxiety, just hits me when ever.
To combat this condition, I started deep breathing exercises. Getting it right and getting used to it was difficult at first. Start gently and increase slowly. Guided breathing was best because I would tire easily or take a break and forget. I now practice Square Breathing and have not had attacks for 3 or 4 weeks.
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My eighty seven year old has this, some of it is perceived, she thinks that using her lungs is abnormal, that walking she is having an asthma attack, she doesn't concentrate on breathing through her nose, she starts breathing through her mouth which causes her to hyperventilate. Getting her to slow down in the middle of a panic attack to take deep breaths is difficult, but I do it by demo, as she is not listening. I did buy the meter to monitor the oxygen issue and she is always between 95 and 97. She does take Advair in the morning/evening and has an emergency inhaler, in our case, and may be your case as well, there are things that can complicate the issue, she has asthma and scarring in her lungs, she has no known heart problem, but side effects of medication, panic, UTI's (does not display painful urination, just has an elevated white cell count, not even a fever) but hysteria upon occasion. i hope this helps you...

Does anyone know anything about shredding soft meat, saying it has gristle (but none) and discarding it to the floor by hand...does it all the time, doesn't remember or denies, even if you are catching her in the act.
Nothing wrong with dentures, stomach or intestines...any suggestions....
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When the patient has dementia, it's difficult to determine the true nature of their complaints. My cousin has said her hand hurt one minute and the next she said her hand hadn't hurt in a long time. It's frustrating.

Did she ever suffer from anxiety attacks before she got dementia? I have read that having dementia can be very scary. I've seen my cousin become overwhelmed with fear, because she wasn't sure what was happening. So, it could be anxiety. You might do as others have suggested and while she's having trouble breathing, check her blood pressure and pulse. Usually, the ER will do an EKG to rule out heart attack. Did they do that?

Has she ever smoked? Ever tested for COPD?

I have heard that some elderly people just need oxygen. You see if the doctor things that might help. If it is anxiety, it could bring her some comfort and peace of mind.
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Just thought I would throw this out there. My Mother (now deceased) had Parkinson's disease and was extremely thin. She was always short of breath and I took her to a pulmonologist and had all kinds of tests done and he couldn't figure out the problem. She had previous lung problems (pneumonia) but was never short of breath. We finally got her to put on some weight and as she started gaining weight the shortness of breath got better and after gaining 20 pounds it was gone. However, she couldn't keep the weight on and started losing again and the reverse happened -- as she lost more the shortness of breath got worse. Maybe someone else has had this experience.
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sometimes meds can give you a feeling of trouble breathing...they listened to her heart at the hospital I am assuming they listened to her lungs as well. It could be the heat. If she feels this way on exerting herself then I would get her back in the doc
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Fligirl, hopefully the MD will check her over thoroughly. In the meantime, get a pulseox fingertip reader at the drugstore. Keep a log of the meds you give her and any odd symptom she has. Weigh her daily, log it. Check BP daily, log it. Those logs are very helpful to the MD, especially if she is retaining fluids.
If you think you need a visiting nurse or a bath aide, tell the Social Worker. Ask a lot of questions, the county has many answers, many ways to help.
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Fligirl, my mom is in a NH and believe, there is still plenty of caregiving to be done! But what I don't have to do is wonder about if I'm over concerned or under concerned about her symptoms. I would not take the idea of mom going to a nh as a sign of defeat, simply that mom now needs professional care. I didn't realize your mom had pain in addition to shortness of breath.
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My sister did not forbid me to come she said I could sit in the lobby. I asked her right out if this was about my caregiving to mom. She said no it had nothing to do with that it's about moms pain. One minute she says that she is sick and cannot keep coming up here and then she tells me her and her husband are coming now that she is moe involved I feel she just wants mom in a nursing home so SHE can be done with it. I appreciate all the input from you all as I do trust you and this website
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Some battles you never win and are not worth fighting anyway. If Sis has the POA medical she can refuse to share health information with you. However i doubt she can prevent you going to the dr's office with Mom.
Beware the social worker she is not there to manage Mom's pain that is the Dr's job. SW is there to investigate mom's living conditions and possibly remove Mom from your care if that is what Sis is up to. There may be other perfectly harmless reasons for a SW visit but forwarned is forarmed. make sure the house is spotless Mom showered and in clean clothes. moms bed mad with clean sheets the bathroom imaculate. Clean the fridge and make sure there is food suitable for her there and in your pantry. Be ready to tell her what Mom likes to eat and what you plan for dinner that night. have all Mom's meds together in alocked box or high shelf. make sure you know why she is taking everything. look it up on the net if you don't know. Write out a list ahead of time and be prepared to hand it to SW. You may not be able to recieve information on Mom's health but there is nothing to stop you sending the Dr ahead of time a letter telling him what has been going on. He can't answer you but you can tell him everything you know and tell him your sister has forbidden you to attend this appointment.
This SW visit is a red flag to me and sounds like a fishing expedition so take care.
Sis can think what she likes about this site, thats why we have moderators and other experts to make sure it is not a crock of s+++.
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Fligirl there are some people who are so anxious not to be thought "gullible" that they automatically disbelieve anything they see or hear about on the internet. Which to my mind is just as dim and statistically illiterate as believing *everything* you see on the internet. It's information. You read it, you think about it, you accept it or reject it as you please. Same as with every other form of communication, really.
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HIPAA Authorization
Could this help? Opinions.

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) keeps a person's health information and records private. Unless your parent authorizes in writing someone else to receive that information, it is illegal for doctors to share any details with you about your parent's health. HIPAA authorization is a simple document that authorizes the doctor to share necessary information with you on your elderly parent's behalf. It's very short and only takes a moment to complete. The doctor's office will have the blank form you need.
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Your sister has a medical degree, I take it. Only the truly ignorant are threatened by information and the opinions of others. Please convey that information to her.

So sad that she feels that she can't benefit from the opinions of the experienced caregivers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, psychologists and insurance professionals who inhabit this site.
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I was telling her about this website and about the grabbing the air and stuff. She says she thinks this website is a crock of shit. I try to explain all of you have gone or are going through this but she thinks whatever she thinks. I told you she is the expert in everything.
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Thanks for all you advice here. Mom started to have trouble breathing when she got out the shower when it was 97 degrees. Its only lasts 10 minutes. The weather is cooler and she is not having this problem. My sis made a appointment with her PC and they are going to get social services involved to have someone check out how bad her pain is. Does a social worker do that? My sister said that I cannot come to the appointment. She says she will relay the info to the doc. This is my sisters way of controlling the situation. I would normally get mad but I do not have the energy to fight her. As far as I am concerned she is helping and it takes a little load off me. But I do know that she thinks that I do not take good care of my mom. I have no idea why she would think that. But hopefully something will help Mom re: pain on Thursday. Thanks and hugs to all.
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Is it worse when she's laying down? That's a sign of fluid build up around the lungs. Try elevating her up a little in bed and see if that helps. If she's up all night having trouble breathing, of course she'll want to go back to bed after being up a few hours.















I would not put my faith in one hospital doctor. It seems to me, they're more concerned with discharging patients, than doing a thorough examination. Xanax for trouble breathing?
Doesn't make sense to me.

At 85 years of age, it would give me more peace of mind, to have my mother checked out by a Cardiologist, who can order the chest xrays for fluid build up in and around the lungs, etc.

if there is a problem, the remedy could be as simple as some water pills. At her age, I think she should be examined by a Cardiologist every six months as a preventative measure, just to give you peace of mind.
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I agree with the pulse ox machine. You can find them on Ebay too and they are very easy for non medical people to use and understand. That's the gadget that has the finger clip on it that staff put on your finger when they are checking temp and B/P etc. She could be having O2 drops for many reasons. To see if it might be O2 decreases, look at her lips and fingernails when she's complaining, to see if they are still pink or have a pale or blue tint to them. To get past the feeling, you could ask her to take 5 or 10 slow deep breathes and then see how she reacts. If you had the pulse ox on her finger, you would immediately see how fast some deep breathing improves O2 levels in the blood. Do you have a B/P machine? Sometimes, with a low pressure, one will feel short of breath too. And, as Ferris says, if it generally happens as she wakes up it could be a sleep apnea too. I think before thinking of trying the xanex or antihistamines or other over the counter meds, I would want to try to find out WHY she was feeling this way and look for a lung or heart or B/P issue to correct. I agree that this requires doctor intervention and testing ultimately and you may have to tell the doctor what you want to see done....but if you have the pulse ox and the B/P readings, you at least have some data to give to them to show that there IS a problem....so they won't ignore her just because she is elderly. And taking a friend or family member with medical or nursing background with you IS a good idea. I am a retired RN...live in another town away from my parents. I fax a note to the doctor before every app't, with all my concerns and those I believe my Mom is concerned about. She will not remember something she was concerned about repeatedly for several weeks, if it's not bothering her in the day or two before the app't anyhow....but it still needs to be addressed if it's chronically a concern.....so I just send the info. Sometimes, when I am really concerned, I asked to be called on my cell during the app't so that I can be on speaker with the doc and my Mom. That's great for being able to reinforce what the doc told her, because my Mom will only remember what she wants to remember! But this is another way to get a medical background friend involved.... and also, to bring things to the doctor's attention that you may not be able to discuss openly in front of your Mom during a visit. You might also ask about if your doctor will share an email address. We have personal and work emails for my Mom's PCP. I do not over use, but when I have a quick question and want to know if I should or should not make the app't about something, I'll send an email question to her too. She will either advise, or say that I should make the app't. Younger docs seem more to have all the tech support these days....like cell phone and emails to work with them.
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When my mother complained of breathing difficulty and "huffed and puffed" when climbing stairs she was examined by her heart doctor. After everything checked out fine, and increasing the anti-anxiety medication didn't help, we later learned from mom that she was no longer taking her water pills because she didn't want to be running to the bathroom all the time. Dad now gives her a water pill each day and she no longer has breathing problems. The huffing and puffing was caused by excess fluid around the heart. Luckily it was an easy fix.
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I agree with Patty. First thing is to make sure O2 levels are over 95. If not then consult her doctor. Maybe supplemental O2 would be helpful. My mother has an oxygen machine & I hook her up whenever O2 levels drop. Your mom could also do deep slow breathing this was suggested by my mother's doctor when the O2 is just slightly low. It keeps them from becoming oxygen dependent.
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Moondance, I couldn't agree with you more.
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As a R.N., working, a caregiver too, who runs into this issue so often. Give her the Xanax as prescribed. It is called "medication compliance" & so many issues could be cleared up with just doing this one simple thing.
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I am an R.N. & you really need to give her , her Xanax. It is called medication compliance & is a large reason that others in the care of untrained people have so many problems. Just giving he medication as ordered, you will see a difference. If she wishes to sleep, let her.??
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The breathing problem could be something as simple as hyperventilating. Have her breath into a brown paper bag and see if that helps.

For me, sometimes I have a breathing problem and it is usually associated with seasonal allergies or ground mold. Antihistamines work for me, usually half a dosage, but one side affect is if I am sitting watching TV or reading, I will doze off.

But as Veronica91 said above, this is a complex issue. It could be many different things causing the problem.
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Consider a doctor visit to discuss the symptoms and a plan to relieve the discomfort - knowing that outpatient testing is expensive and uncomfortable for your mom. A pulse oximeter and stethascope could be purchased at the drugstore to have on hand when she complains. A quick check of her lung sounds and oxygen level in the blood will let you know what steps to take next. It may be reassuring to both of you to know "everything is alright." this time. A cool washcloth for her forehead, an oscillating fan on low or medium and a few minutes with her talking calmly may do wonders for her and help her relax and get the rest she needs - as well as you!
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Sorry sorry sorry my bad - was confusing Xanax with an SSRI, and it isn't one. Ignore that bit, huge apologies. Thank you Ba8alou x
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This sounds like a sleep apnea problem. At best, get her to a pulmonologist and have him/her order a sleep study. Lack of oxygen will cause the sleepiness, and since the hospital has ruled out her heart as a potential problem (congestive heart failure) it is another issue. Taking any kind of sedative (Xanax) with an already depressed circulatory problem might result in stopping breathing all together. Not something I would give my husband with dementia. Has her doctor checked out all possibilities? Find out.
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Xanax is short acting and to my knowledge works immediately. So give if she's anxious. She could have fluid build up around her lungs. If you are just going to let things be, it might be time to call Hospice so that she can be comfortable.
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Difficulty breathing is not a good thing, no matter what the cause.

Agree with the recommendation to buy a pulse-ox meter at the drug store. You can also get them in department stores or online. But even if the reading is above 90%, if your mom is having difficulty breathing, that's technically a medical emergency.

We recommend follow up with your doctor as soon as you can if you don't want to go to the hospital. Where we live, there are doctors who would come to you relieving the anxiety of having to leave the house. They'll also order x-rays that can come to the house.

If a chest x-ray has not been done, then one ought to be to ensure that there's no fluid building up.

Father and FIL died of heart failure, and shortness of breath was one of the symptoms.
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Agree with everything above. This is too complicated a subject to answer here.
When you say they checked her heart. What did they do? if they just listened with a stethoscope that is not enough. Did they do any lung function tests? xrays etc? or did they just ignore it because she is 85 and has dementia. if you have a forceful friend preferably with some medical training have her/him go with you to the Dr and ask some difficult questions that is if you actually want to subject Mom to a lot of tests and investigations. If not and she is not unduly distressed when this happens and the episodes are brief it would not be wrong, though others will probably disagree with me, to do nothing
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Anti anxiety meds take a while (weeks) to start working properly, and once they've got going it is essential to give them consistently or your mother will start climbing the walls. Her doctor wouldn't have prescribed them if he wasn't confident she'd be okay with them.

But I don't think they're necessarily relevant to these new dizzy/breathless spells, especially if you haven't even begun her on them yet. Next time she has a "funny turn" that gives you cause for concern, call a doctor to her (i.e. don't risk "white coat syndrome" by taking her to hospital), and get her blood pressure, heart rate, O2 levels and breathing checked over in the peace and calm of her own home.

What's the matter with her jaw? Does she have other major medical conditions that are currently being treated? There could be any number of things going on, but getting advice on the basics might be reassuring - at least you'll know what 'normal' is for her.

Increased fatigue and lack of awareness of her own condition, especially if these are new for her, would bother me too. I'd get her checked out.
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