How can I put my Mom's mind at ease when she's obsessed about going to the doctor every day?


Help! Mom is obsessed with going to the doctor. She has chronic IBS which presents as stomach pain. It is caused by or aggravated by stress and the doctor tells us to manage the condition with diet and lifestyle changes. But her anxiety is caused by the Alzheimer's. She wants to go to the doctor every day and thinks we are being cruel when we don't take her. How can I put her mind at ease and get her to understand that she can't talk to the doctor every day? I'm also afraid that we might miss something more serious. I wish I had medical training!

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Thank you Pam, Jeanne, and Jesse. Good advice. She wad on meds but we took her off for a while hoping she wouldn't meed them after moving in with me. Clearly we need to revisit this. I have reluctantly resorted to telling her that I've spoken with the doctor and he said to; drink more water, take a walk, get plenty of sleep etc. Harmless advice we could all benefit from following. It does seem to help but I really hate having to lie to her!!! I like the notebook idea! I do think that she fears getting old - she is 81 this year - and seeing the doctor, a revered authority brings her some peace. The doctor is a family practitioner who has been her doc for 15 years. I've been trying to find a geriatrician but it has been very hard to find a new doctor. I don't want to put her through the upheaval if I'm not certain it will be a good fit. I have found that many doctors have eliminated the initial consultation appointments and want me to send records for them to review before we even switch! It helps to know that others have experienced similar challenges. I will reread all of your thoughtful suggestions. Thank you!
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maineDaughter, I know where you are coming from. My mother went through a period of 2-3 years when she wanted to see the doctor all the time. In her case, she would concentrate on a small symptom until it became a life threatening thing. I think with her that she found comfort in her doctor and feared getting older. Her doctor retired, so she doesn't want to go to her new doctor nearly so often.

I had to start saying no when she wanted to go to the doctor or hospital. I did worry that something might really be wrong and that I would miss it. So far that hasn't happened. The only times she has really been ill is when she had some slight UTI's, and we caught those. I just have to trust my own judgment, because hers is not so good.

I do wonder that your mother's doctor wants to handle her anxiety through diet and lifestyle changes. I wondered if her doctor is used to working with older people and understands dementia. If you think her doctor is not serving her well, maybe you could get a referral to a geriatric psychiatrist, who could help your mother find the right anxiety medications. Having alz, IBS, and anxiety is no fun. I do think some help would be a good thing.
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What kind of a doctor is Mom seeing? A geriatrician? A neurologist? A psychiatrist?

I agree with pam that some medication for the anxiety might be in order here. If her doctor won't consider this, maybe she needs to be seeing a different kind of doctor.

Obsessions in people with dementia can be very frustrating to deal with, whether they are combing the hair every 10 minutes, asking the same question over and over, or wanting to see the doctor. Sometimes it is easiest to go along with them. Hair combing is not dangerous, and repeating the answer to a question, while annoying, does no real harm. But obviously you can't go along with seeing the doctor every day.

I wonder if it would help to "go along with" Mom's perceived need for medical attention in some other way. For example, what if you kept a notebook "for the doctor" where you record her temperature every morning, take her blood pressure at noon, write down all her exercise, track the time she goes to bed and gets up, her bowel movements and whether they are normal, when she has pain and how bad it is on the standard scale ... anything that is fairly easy to do, and gives the impression that something "medical" is being done. I wonder if that would satisfy her obsession for medical care. Don't know, but I would try it myself if I were you.

If you tell her doctor what you are doing and why, you should be able to bring the notebook to office visits and have the doctor glance through it and reassure your mother that she is doing a fine job.

Chronic IBS and dementia ... OMG, a combination concocted in h**l! I am so sorry your mother has to deal with this, and that you do too! Warm hugs and well wishes to you both. If her anxiety can be reduced by drugs and with some simple "going along" activities on your part, both of you will benefit.

Keep us informed of how this works out for you.
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Xanax twice a day.
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