How do I deal with mom who sends confusing signals whether she wants me to take action on a certain issue?

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My mom is on two medications for her bowels due to diverticulitis. Lately she's been having diarrhea once a week. I'm not sure if I should tell her to call the family doctor to discuss or if I should step in and call myself. I don't want to over ride her independence, but I'm concerned she won't deal with the issue out of embarrassment.

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Has your Mom said she won't call her doctor because she's too embarrassed to? If that is the case, then perhaps you can ask her if she wants you to call instead and ask if this is normal. Let her know that her diarrhea could be considered under control if it's limited to one day out of the week, or it could be a problem - the only way to know for sure is for someone to call the doctor. I know it's tough - my mom refused to wear "diapers" for months because she insisted Poise pads were good enough - come to find out, she was just too embarrassed to buy Depends. I finally convinced her I would buy them if she would wear them, because the resulting laundry was more of an issue for me than the "embarrassment" of buying the product.
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It was a LONG TIME before we could get my mom to even THINK about the idea of discussing her bowels with a doctor in any detailed kind of way. She just kept saying, that's private, I don't like to talk about that with anyone. We finally had a younger cousin of mine, who is a runner and who had terrible constipation/diarhea problems as a result come and talk to her about her own reticence, and how a GI doc had finally solved her problem. It takes a village!
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I'd respectfully offer my help and see if that gets the ball rolling. She may be too embarrassed to mention it much. Some of the older generation were taught not to talk about such matters therefore they can't bring themselves to even discuss it with their doctor. Go with her to her appts. Just make sure her doctor isn't on an ego trip as ba8alou related or like some my mom had who didn't want me in there with her even though I had the authority. Those doctors were either replaced or if not possible to do so, their behavior was duly noted for future reference.
I'll bet your mom will be relieved and receptive to your help.
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She's trying to ask for help in a dignified way without coming across as helpless. Or perhaps she doesn't want to burden you out of respect.

As a parent myself, the thought of having to ask my sons for help is strangely embarrassing sometimes. But if something were to happen to me I'd never hear the end of it simply because I didn't reach out.
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I agree with susanJMT; we actually had to switch doctors, because my mom's doctor was so busy being impressed with what good care he was taking of her, he never noticed that she would lie on the examination table with her eyes closed and simply not interact with him. She was, at that time, taking medications that were causing her to have bouts of diarhea which she would then self-treat with immodium, causing her to retain stool. She ended up with something I discovered is called fecal incontience, to the point that she wouldn't leave the house for fear of soiling herself. As you say, finding the vocabulary for what the "thing" was called, finding her a better doctor--someone who specializes in older patients and who insisted on her active participation in the process of being a patient, all made this situation resolve. good luck!
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I offered to go to my mother's doctor with her to make certain that we cover the list of questions she has, but never has the nerve to ask. Make the list, offer the vocabulary that your Mother can use because some older people are too reserved to speak them, and offer to accompany your Mother into the appointment to discuss her questions to make sure thay are voiced, answered, and understood. You would be surprised how older women treat a visit to the doctor - more like a visit to the bishop. Mom was struck dumb in her visits to her doctor, and only muttered things like, "whatever you say." I had to show her how to interact effectively with her doctor, as an equal partner in the job of her health. A lot of miscommunication, and missed communication happened prior to my involvement with predictable dimished quality of life results. Your help will be needed more and more in the coming years.
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Sounds like you're just beginning to "dip your toes into the water" of the whole question of how to help without taking over. Good for you. This is going to be an important growth period.... for you! One way to start is by speaking for yourself, your own truth, just what you told us: "Mom, I'm concerned. I think the doctor should be consulted, and I'm worried that something's holding you back from calling." In the conversation that ensues, you can offer to make the call, offer to go with her, etc. Two grownups having a conversation. "Two grownups" means, she has the primary say in her own life (unless and until she loses the capacity for self-care, which it sounds like she hasn't come close to yet)... and you have the primary say in yours. If you're worried, you get to do stuff about you being worried. Like, express your feelings, research those medicines, call your own doctor. And -- this is important -- if you go with your mom to an appointment, take that opportunity to get her signature on a HIPAA form so that you CAN talk to her doctor in the future: again, not until she actually needs you to, but so that you can in the future.
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