My Mom is 76 and of sound mind. Her stomach is distended to what 9 months pregnacy would look. Ankles have been swollen for 3 months now. She is fatigued, her arms & legs look like she's anorexic. I mentioned the above to my doctor last week, of course not a diagnosis but immediate thought was Ovarian Cancer. Is there anything else I can do? How do I cope?

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Are you her POA? Is anyone? Does she have an Advance Directive?

I take it that, as she hasn't been to a doctor in decades, she would not want treatment if this is cancer of some sort. Does she understand that she CAN get a diagnosis and refuse Treatment?

Does she understand that if she has cancer, hospice would be her best bet for real pain relief? And that to get hospice, she'd need a diagnosis?

You say she's in her right mind, but can she reason?
Helpful Answer (4)

Whose first thought was ovarian cancer? Your doctor's? - what's he doing airing an opinion like that about a patient he's not set eyes on? You say your mother's limbs look as though she's anorexic: how much weight would you estimate she's lost in the last three months?

There are so, so many other possible causes of the distension and the lower limb oedema that I really think you're focusing on the wrong things. The point to get across to your mother is that it is entirely reasonable to suppose that whatever ails her can very easily be remedied and she may well be restored to her previous, normal good health (assuming that she was previously in good health). She's potentially risking death for no good reason at all. Which is just silly.

Also - your doctor's comments are puzzling. Your mother is 76. The sort of attitude that he's talking about belongs to earlier generations. By today's standards your mother is not elderly, certainly not old enough to be of the prewar type who didn't believe in bothering the doctor.

It's blurring ethical lines a bit, but if you were to say to your mother that you're calling the doctor in unless she can give you three exceptionally good reasons not to - do you think you could twist her arm successfully?

You could also try to get to the bottom of what *she* thinks is wrong. It's one thing not to like doctors. It's another to be so afraid of them, or of what might be wrong with you, that you tolerate being slowly inflated for three months.

In any case, try to set aside your worst fears and proceed on the assumption that a 10-minute examination will result in significant, immediate improvement in your mother's wellbeing. Less worry, more impatience, and the best of luck - I really hope you have some success with getting her seen before this gets worse.
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Mom is 76 and not showing signs of dementia so there is nothing anyone can do to make her seek medical care. If she won't listen to reason unfortunately all you can do is wait until she can no longer tolerate her condition.
Of course it could be ovarian cancer or many other cancers or with the swelling heart failure, or even fibroids. You say she looks anorexic but is she eating? Agree with Barb that if she has advanced cancer then hospice would be the best choice. 

That big belly will be pushing on her stomach and make her nauseated and not want to eat. Does she have difficulty swallowing, that is another reason to loose weight.

It could be something that could be treated but of course that would entail lots of tests and possibly surgery. If you made an appointment with your Dr do you think you could persuade her to go with you? If it is for example a fibroid that could be diagnosed with a sonogram and the treatment these days is to inject the blood vessels supplying the fibroid and then it shrinks on it's own. It is done under local anesthetic with heavy sedation as an outpatient. 2-3 hours in the hospital and no after effects.

I hope you find her a way to get the help she needs or she will die at the very best from malnutrition.
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If your Mom does not have dementia, and is of sound mind, my recommendation is to get POA, both medical and financial, as well as her Medical Directive, all done quickly, because if for some reason her medical situation does become dire, communications with her Dr, any Hospitalization and any of  her financial decisions will become extremely difficult to carry out on her behalf.

These are simple forms you can get from most Dr's offices, hospital admissions desks, with an attorney or online even, but they must be notarized.

It does not mean that you will take away her choices, but to be able to discuss and act on her behalf, in the unfortunate event that she becomes unable to.

We see too many times on here, where folks are trying to deal with these medical disasters in hindsight, especially if she still has the mental capabilities to take care of these few simple things.

I hope your Mom seeks treatment for comfort or palliative care at the very least, and maybe a good Dr can make her see to reason, that evaluating and treating her symptoms could lead to a cure. Good luck!
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Parents of various religious beliefs sometimes make the news by refusing to have their child treated for diabetes or pneumonia or anything else. The state may take control of the child, or if it has gone too far arrest them for the child's death.

But the parents could refuse treatment for themselves and not face legal consequences. We strongly respect each competent adult to make their own decisions -- even bad decisions -- for themselves. We try to protect minor children from critically poor adult decisions.

There is really nothing you or APS or a doctor can do to force someone to get medical care, except use reason and persuasion. I sure hope that can work.
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Then she's not of sound mind, is she?

Does she live alone? Is she managing to cook, clean, bathe herself?

You can call the Area Agency on Aging and ask for a " needs assessment"

You can call Adult Protective Services and report her as a vulnerable adult.

You can call 911 if she falls or injures herself and get her admitted to the hospital.
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Yes, she lives with me. She is still eating, I take care of that. She claims to be in no pain whether that's the truth or not I don't know. My doctor said he sees this a lot in some elderly patients that just don't believe in going to doctors it's not religious related. That I should after talking to her, respect her wishes which is difficult when not knowing what it is and that I'm sure there is something that would help with some of it. I do know that power of attorney is something that must be done. And just continue to monitor her and as things progress talk to her again about a doctor visit. If things get beyond a certain point then 911. It is extremely challenging to not be able to reason with her to go to the doctor, something I'm having to deal with.
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I agree with Staceyb--get the paperwork in order.

I'm just mean enough that I would simply haul my mother to the dr w/o her consent...if I could.

At age 76, you are withholding information from her? Why? Is she unable to process said information? Patients have the right to know what's going on with their health, it's not the 40's for crying out loud!!

Why we are so scared of making our parents mad at us when all we really want is to take care of them--and they are throwing a little tantrum and "don't wanna go" to the dr.

No doubt she's scared of the dx, but I'd rather KNOW and know my options than sit and wonder why I felt sicker and sicker.

You & sis need to talk to her, firmly and get something moving here.

She's hardly of sound mind if she is letting something like this "go" Of sound mind means she makes sound judgment calls, not just can tell you what day and time it is.

Letting something potentially life threatening go simply from fear or lack of education is just ridiculous.
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I know its a tough situation. Its hard when our parents are stubborn and they don't want to see the doctor or get the help they need.

My father was this way. It was a fatal mistake to let him be. I know hindsight is 20/20, so from my experience I would say call Adult Protective Services. This is serious and she needs help. Even if she only wants hospice, arrangements have to be made.

No child wants to go against their parents. But being afraid of their anger is a fatal mistake. Please don't be afraid. Bring the doctor to the house. Call the ambulance. I feel if she passes the bigger regret is not doing enough to get her the right care.
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Just a reminder: Being of "sound mind" does not mean "not agreeing with my judgement."

Ambulance drivers and EMTs cannot force an adult into their vehicle against their will.

Most doctors in the US don't make house calls.
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