My Mom (94) obsesses about her health. Today she fears that she isn't urinating enough. What to do? - AgingCare.com

My Mom (94) obsesses about her health. Today she fears that she isn't urinating enough. What to do?

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I'm an only child and my 94 year old mom lives with me. She's a sweetheart, but obsesses about things, especially her own health. She is currently being treated for bronchitis. Left to herself, she eat and drink very little. I am doing everything I can for her, despite her spunky resistance. Her worry today is, that despite drinking the extra tea, water, and sparkling juice I've given her, she isn't urinating enough. I don't measure her urine and she isn't having any strange symptoms. But, I am a teacher with no medical background. Can anyone help me out here? Thanks!

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Maybe you should measure her urine. It is easy. There is a plastic urine plate-like structure that fits into the bowl. You can buy one or have her doctor give you one. If she has bronchitis and is taking an antibiotic, she probably has constipation, but her urine output should be constant if she is drinking enough. Remember about 8 -9 cups of liquid is required per person per day. Check off when she drinks a cup and she should urinate about an hour later if all systems are working properly. Being male and having a mother may make it more challenging for you, but you need to know how much liquid she is putting out. It is called IN and OUT or I/O in medicine, and the two should balance. Good luck! And thank you for being a teacher. My mother taught third-graders for 37 years. I try to teach others the medical knowledge I have too.
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Another thing I've noticed with my mother that may or may not be relevant with yours. When it is a pretty day that is ideal to do something outside, she will have some symptom that prevents her from getting dressed and out. She really doesn't want to change out of her pajamas and do anything. She goes to church and out to eat on most Sundays. The rest of the time she wants to sit in her chair and watch TV in her jammies.
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phil, you have my sympathies. My mother has been talking symptoms since I got here five years ago. When she was able to still make appointments, we would often end up at the doctor 2-3 times a week! The doctors never found anything wrong. It is more difficult for her to make appointments now. Thank goodness. She still has at least one symptom a day of something. I, too, worry that I'll get so used to her crying wolf that I will miss it if something is really wrong. My mother does have diabetes, hypertension, spinal stenosis, and dementia, but she is otherwise healthy (if you can be considered healthy with these conditions).

I think our elders have too much time on their hands to think about their symptoms. I imagine that if I thought about one of my fingers long enough, I would start having a symptom in it. It may be that they are just trying to communicate with us when they talk about symptoms, so we can listen without reacting unless we think something is really wrong.
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You sound amazing--it's nice to read about a healthy elderly parent/child relationship on this board!
My mom worries about everything re: her health. Always has, so anytime she comes up with some new worry, we all tend to brush it aside. The idea of checking the color of her urine is a GREAT indicator that she's hydrated enough. My mom hates the hassle of taking off all her clothes to have to go use the bathroom, but complained of pain upon urinating. One day, while I was there, she did use the toilet, so I could help her "dress" again. (Usually she wears adult diapers) I was APPALLED to see her urine was a very very dark orange--almost bloody looking. I took her to the ER immediately. Serious bladder infection! She said "I TOLD you guys I wasn't feeling well--" and (deep sigh) between my brother & me we had just written it off to one more "thing".
You sound like you have a handle on her health. Bless you for the loving care you obviously give her!
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Or you could do all of the above and talk to her doctor (hopefully a geriatrician) or a geriatric psychiatrist about her constant fretting about her health. Antidepressants work wonders for these kinds of symptoms .
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There are different ways to approach it. If your mom has fairly good cognitive skills, I'd look at her urine and if it looks "Ok" i.e. light to medium yellow, I'd point that out to her as being normal. If she wasn't urinating enough, her urine would be very dark. Or point out how often she's urinating - hopefully a few times a day. Or you could weigh her, if you know what her usual weight is. If she's up several pounds, that could be water weight. If she's the same, then she's urinating enough. You could also look at how puffy she is. If she's not retaining fluid (ankles/feet look normal) you could point that out to her. Or you could just distract her, as mentioned above.
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Wow, it sounds like she's doing amazingly well and you two are great together! Good thoughts above. Is it also probably somewhat reasonable that she feels something could affect her very seriously and suddenly? I'd say to her, "I'm sure you feel vulnerable... I'm here to help make sure nothing gets out of hand. Bring up all your concerns, certainly, but try not to fret over any of them." Yes, she probably could do with some new hobby vs monitoring her own status too much. :)
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How is your mom's mental health otherwise? Does she have dementia? Memory loss?

If so, it may be easier than you think. I have learned from the alz. staff to "say whatever it takes to handle the instant." It felt like lying at first but now I am used to it. so, I say, for example, "would you like me to look into that?" My mom say "yes" and life goes happily on. She forgets the whole thing.
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You need to distract your Mom so she doesn't have time to obsess over her health... I know, easier said than done.

She probably is urinating enough, the water has to go somewhere :) If she is being treated for bronchitis, the meds could be making her dehydrated, thus she would need more water.
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