My dad (71) has experienced drastic unintentional weight loss and we are considering doing a colonoscopy. Can anyone offer some suggestions? - AgingCare.com

My dad (71) has experienced drastic unintentional weight loss and we are considering doing a colonoscopy. Can anyone offer some suggestions?

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OK so here goes nothing…


My dad is currently being seen by a myriad of specialists. He has a pulmonologist, neurologist, ENT, geriatrician, and as of yesterday, a G.I. doctor. He’s a multiple stroke victim who has COPD and is still smoking. He’s got major issues with his appetite and hunger but he is still eating, although not as regularly as we’d like. He was just seen by a nutritionist/dietitian. This man is 5'11" and over the past year went from 160 pounds to 117 pounds.


We cannot seem to target exactly where the weight-loss is coming from. He has been given just about every single blood test there is and he has been scoped by the ENT and had a brain scan for the neurologist. Everything comes back clear. He also has a small amount of fluid in the pleura around his lung that was just drained, sent out and came back and it was negative of any suspicious or cancerous cells.


The other thing that we are concerned about. Very concerned about! Is that it could be colon cancer. His dad had colon cancer at age 73 and he is age 71. The thing is that the doctor was very upset that he is just now seeing him, that we waited this long before going to a GI specialist. We were going to so many specialists that this is the very first time we were ever even referred to them or thought about going to a GI Doctor. I think we just felt like we were covering every base we could and apparently we weren’t.


The scary part about all of this is that if we don’t find anything after the colonoscopy or endoscopy where does that leave us? He still wants to know why he’s not gaining weight. Does anyone have any other suggestions or doctors in mind? We are completely baffled as to why he is losing so much weight and so quickly. The more weight he loses, the harder it makes for him to get up and do anything. And so it’s a catch 22 for sure!


My dad is 71. Although his pulmonologist says he’s a 71 year old in the body of a 91 year old. So that’s what scares me. I’m not sure what to do. Ultimately, it’s my dad’s call. But he’s acting like he wants me to make the decision for him. I told him to please not make me do that. He told me I’m the “smarts of the operation” and so he needs help deciding what to do. Of course I’ll help him make the most educated decision, but ultimately I feel it’s up to him.


The thing is, he seems to want to go through with it. However, after talking with my best friend who is a nurse that cares for geriatrics she is very concerned that this will be extremely difficult on him. I had no idea how hard the prep was until I talked with her. When she described it to me I was shocked. I had no idea it liquifies everything. He can’t get up and run to a bathroom like a normal person. We now know we’ll have to at least get a bedside commode, diapers and wipes. His G.I. doctor never described the prep to us as much at all. He basically said, you drink a bunch of stuff at 10 and then again at 2 am. It will clean you out and then you’ll come in for the procedure. I asked for other alternatives like admitting him to a hospital the night before prep and he said they don’t do that because insurance won’t cover it. So I asked him how we’re supposed to handle this and they said, “Do the best you can.”


I’m terrified of how that night is going to go and wondering if we’ll end up having to call an ambulance if my dad were to pass out from exhaustion or something. And then it will be all for nothing. I know this is more like a rant, but if anyone has any ideas, please let me know. He doesn’t sound sure of what he would do if they found cancer. I don’t think he even knows.


I at least want them to do the endoscopy. A lot of the issue with hunger is that he gets nauseous and says his stomach hurts. An endoscopy wouldn’t involve any prep. But I understand they want to do the colonoscopy because there is a family history with his dad dying of colon cancer around the same age.


One of the things about all this that frustrates us is that this may all be unrelated to any type of cancer. He has been homebound for quite a long time. While he can get up with some assistance, he isn’t doing enough moving around even with in home PT/OT to keep muscle mass. All of his specialists say there has to be more to it than just his mobility and trouble with appetite. But then his geriatrics doctor comes in and says it could be just that, combined with his COPD and the fact that he still smokes.


If anyone has any ideas on how to get his weight up quickly please let me know. I am thinking at this point it is not fully reversible but that we could at least have him a while longer. He says there are things he wants to do. Get back to drumming, go fishing on the beach, etc. He may never be able to do these things with his lack of strength in his arms. We will try to accomplish whatever goals he wants to accomplish and make as many memories with him as possible. It doesn’t sit well with me that he is likely going to pass away from “unexplained weight loss.”


Thoughts?

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Hi Mandolina,
I'm glad to hear you and your RN friend are going to help Dad get through the prep.

Last year my husband had his first colonoscopy. He was 55 y/o. He only had it routinely, because he went to a new Dr after years of good health and no need for Dr visits.

Boom rectal cancer. A friend of ours had colon cancer two years in a row. Also a smoker, as was my hubby.

Of course all cancers are different. But the friend with colon cancer had only surgery, both times. He is fine so far. Hubby had chemo, which was only a pill. No side effects at all. Radiation was simple. His surgery went perfect. He did quit smoking.

Treatment's have advanced so much. They're not as grueling as before. Hope this helps ease your mind a bit. But let's hope you don't need my experience with this!
HUGGZ 🤗2 U N DAD!
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Reply to Pepsee
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Joann, yes I did see your answer earlier on. My apologies for not responding on the last post. We actually had to put our dog down on Monday so it’s been a very rough week and I just didn’t get back to responding on that post. I had found out a little more since then so I decided to modify and repost the post. All of his doctors concur that because of family history and the fact that his father died of colon cancer at age 73 he needs this testing done. We will have my best friend who is an RN present with us throughout the night and she will help get us ready with everything we need. If we see signs that he’s going downhill we’ll have 9-1-1 on speed dial. We will monitor his BP, O2 and all other vitals. He wants to do this and I made sure he was making the choice for himself and that it wasn’t me pushing him to do it. And I made sure he was aware of how he’ll be feeling an exactly what can/will happen. Ultimately if he decides to pull the plug on any of this at any given moment, it will be his choice.
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Reply to wally003
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I can't find it but this question was asked before almost to the letter. The weight loss was down to 117 lbs. I was surprised a dr. would recommend a colonoscopy to a person who has the problems her Dad has. I said there is a test (adverisement shows a cartoon box in the bathrokm) that you take a stool sample and send it off. It will show any presence of cancer. I think going thru a cleanout may dyhydrate this man. In the other post it was said he could just about walk. I suggested she talk to his other doctors before making a decision.
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not sure if brought up. but my mom had problems getting thru prep. I don't remember her age at the time. but in the morning she fell from being weak. so I called and cancelled. its been awhile but I forget all the details. (edit and her plan was to drive herself. I didn't even know she had an appt til she called and told me she fell)

so next time (and last time shes had it done) they did a virtual colonoscopy.

like I said I don't really remember a lot about that. but I don't think there was a prep.
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The prep is not as awful as described. Have him camp out near the bathroom with books, magazines, anything to keep him occupied.
Discuss with him what he wants to do if it is colon cancer. Be willing to follow his lead and give solid feedback.
My FIL’s GI doc quits doing colonoscopies at age 80. He says that surgery, radiation and chemo is never a good fit for someone beyond that age. They always die. Your Dad is still young enough to fight it if he chooses and old enough to decide not to..
He wants the test, the doctor wants the test. The end.
Prayers for you as you walk this path with him.❤️
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Reply to Ceecee65
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Have you tried a gluten free diet? We had a friend that was watching his 13 year old daughter waste away, when they would get on her about eating, she always said it made her nauseous and gave her a stomachache. It took them several years with specialists to finally figure out it was a food allergy.

Do not let anyone tell you he is to old for something like that, our bodies change and something we could once tolerate now makes us deathly ill, conversely what we couldn't tolerate we may be able to enjoy.

Best of luck giving him and you all some quality of life. May God guide the doctors to the "why".
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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The first order of business is to have the test, and frankly I'm amazed that it wasn't one of the first things recommended considering his family history. You can deal with all the rest once you know what it shows.
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