Mom who has early stages of dementia obsesses constantly about health issues. Any advice? -

Mom who has early stages of dementia obsesses constantly about health issues. Any advice?


Mom resides in Skilled Nursing because of mobility problems. It seems as if Mom WANTS to have surgery! She has had 21 major surgery during her 89 years of life. Now she comes up with worries about health issues which, so far, have proven to be non-existent. She almost demands that I take her to doctors, specialists, hospitals for testing and dentists about health issues she is SURE that she has.

Just one example, OUT OF MANY, is that she is sure that she has a mouthful of cavities and her teeth are going to fall out. She has had 4 exams within 6 months plus xrays and been told that she has no cavities but she still insists that she does - that the dentist, dental hygenist, oral surgeon and xrays are all wrong. One other, she is sure she has a lump in her breast and has breast cancer. Her primary care physician could feel no lumps but, even so, I took her for a mammogram and it proved no lump, no cancer and now she wants to go to a specialist, insisting that the doctor and mammogram are wrong.

It seems as if Mom is coming up with new concerns on a weekly basis and gets pretty angry with me when I tell her she has nothing to worry about as long as she is being monitored in Skilled Nursing. It is very hard for me to turn her requests for medical exams down because I feel like she must think I just don't care about the state of her health. I see no end in sight to these requests!

What do I do??? What do I say???

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I agree that all complaints from your mom need to be addressed by the facility Dr. first. Then it's on the Dr. if he/she doesn't want to send her out for further testing.
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CatRudy has it right; turn it over to the facility physician and let them deal with it. My mom isn't in a facility but every now and then when she wants attention she claims the dr has told her she has a tumor and needs surgery. I just go along with it and then elaborate "oh, mom, that is too bad. this sounds very serious, you'll probably be in the hospital for a while and then they'll move you to rehab for weeks and weeks until you get on your feet"...."wish I could be there, but I'm not skilled when you get out, I'll make sure you have 24 caregivers in your home to take care of you while you recover"...blah, blah. This makes her stop and shuts her up for awhile about it because she just wants me to come and care for her; she absolutely doesn't want anyone in the house caring for her. So I repeat this scenario everytime she goes on about an ailment.

I also tell her, well call your dr and make an appointment; it got so bad; the dr would not return her calls and referred her over to another physician who she won't call "because she doesn't want to change drs". But at least it stopped the nonsense.
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I can really empathize with you. Your mom is scared. Irrational fear is very hard to deal with. You have already ruled out any realistic medical concerns so it's not like you are neglecting legitimate health problems. You now have mental health problems on your hands. With my mom, being a nurse myself helped, when she would start this stuff, I would take her to the appropriate MD and get the appropriate tests and that would be the end of it as far as I was concerned.It did however one time require me to sit with her for 6 hours in an ER to get the point across to her that she wouldn't be admitted for the c/o pain unless an actual injury was seen on xray or MRI and that her pain MD wasn't going to come running down to the ER and give her all the morphine she wanted, this happened 2 yrs ago. It was a learning experience for her, she doesn't have dementia so she learned. Now when she starts "looking" for problems I just ask her if she wants to go to the ER and she immediately replies no and has a miraculous recovery.Your mom is 89! She has already outlived the national average for life expectancy even for females.Her new "thing" is she is c/o if not sleepin all night.Already discussed this with her pain MD and she denies she is awake due to pain,just that she is not sleepy. I have explained to her that I and my husband have observed her napping in her art room during the day and that she takes a 2-3 hour nap during that afternoon.I believe she was trying to get the pain MD to give her a sleeping pill but I told her he wouldn't as she is already on 200mg of morphine a day, that's right , 200mg a day.That's about 8mg a hour being released into her body an hour. Now this dose has gradually been achieved over a 2yr time span because of tolerance and will probably have to be increased in the future as she needs.Actually my mom's biggest problem right now is that she is doing so well physically she doesn't have any legitimate ailments to complain of so she has to try and create something. In fact, now that I am over my allergy/cold/whatever it was we are going back to her PT today which give her a lot of pain relief and increase strength.Please don't beat yourself up, again, you have made sure that all complaints have been checked out appropriately so get ready for her to get mad at you and accuse you of being neglectful.You cannot make her young again,nor can any MD.You have done what is within your power.My only suggestion is to have her screened for depression which could be the root of this behavior and lets face it, the fear of death,who wouldn't be afraid.Maybe a pastoral visit of some kind would help.This is difficult for you and can really make you feel guilty, but the guilt is misplace. You haven't neglected her, she probably has seen more MDs than you have for your own health.Take care of yourself.
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Boy, do I sympathize with you. We turned my parents health care over to the nursing home dr. They were furious but there is absolutely no need to run them around to 15 (yes, you see the right number) medical specialists. They did not have nor want a primary care physician, they wanted to continue running all around. Of course, none of the specialists knew about each other or the meds that my parents took. Why are you doing the transporting? With the nursing home dr in charge, she made any decisions about any necessary appts and set up any needed transport. It took my sister and I out of the equation as when they started agitating to go, the answer was "you need to talk to the dr the next time you see her." See, simple, no need to be involved. My parents wasted enormous amounts of time and money as they absolutely refused to do anything specialists suggested (such as physical therapy) or anything else. All they wanted was more pills. By the way, we had 2 grocery sacks full of pills when we emptied their house as they hid their pill bottles from each other and immediately forgot what they had.
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Does your mother suffer from anxiety? Have you discussed her concerns with a geriatric psychiatrist?
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