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In her late 90's, Mom is physically in good shape, but she doesn't eat right, never did. Its like leading a horse to water.....you can't make someone eat when they have a lifetime of lousy eating habits. I'm not happy with her doctor and am going to switch because he has not done an ekg, urinalysis or blood test on her in years. She's dehydrated, and they tried once, but no go on either, and it was suggested that at her age it isn't necessary. Her last physical, she didn't even need to undress except unbutton her blouse and she got the eye, ears, nose & throat and listening to her heart and lungs. She got some mental tests and as a result we are told her dementia is Alzheimers, after all these years, and that it is advanced enough he says that she can't stay in Independent Living and needs to go to assisted living. I've been told by a few people that Vitamin B12 shots often help memory and cognitive thinking. Mom may be old, but she is mobile, needs no medications and is pretty much able to take care of a lot of her own functions such as getting up, making bed, makeup, going to dinner, making coffee, etc. I don't want to see her become a vegetable if part of her problem is being caused by B12 deficiency or some other imbalance.
What does everyone know about those shots? (and yes, as soon as we move her - or maybe before - new doctor who spends some time with her)

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Most people have no problem with B12 shots, but my mom, who is in her 70's had them and had a pretty bad reaction. I googled it and some rare side effects can be alarming. After getting two of them and having a bad reaction to both, including swelling of the body, racing heart and sore muscles, she has decided to not take them anymore. I guess she'll try the pills.
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Thanks Pam, I was hoping it might undo some damage if that is what she was lacking. No Mom is not a drinker at all, never has been. Her doctor agreed to do some blood tests, so we'll see what it shows. I just have the feeling she is lacking in something especially since doctors in the past have given her B12 shots. Just found out when talking to the doctor's office - they even mixed up her records with another person with the same name. They mentioned a medication listed in her chart that she had taken. I kept telling her she had NOT ever taken that. (It was a medication that I had pointed out two years before they had recorded in her name for someone with the same name. Instead of marking in her chart that this medication had erroneously been recorded, they just marked it "discontinued" which means it was still on her record as something she had taken. They also faxed the physical report the next day to the facility when the doctor had promised to hold it until I could make arrangements and got back to him. I am definitely switching doctors as soon as we move Mom. The office staff is totally incompetent.
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If she is a longstanding consumer of alcohol, she may have depleted her Thiamine levels (Vitamin B1). Her MD can check both B1 and B12 levels as well as other blood chemicals. Either one is available by injection, or pills. B12 works best by injection. Bear in mind that restoring the levels does not undo damage to the brain, it just prevents future damage.
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AmyGrace, I remember those long ago physicals where you felt like you were put through the wringer.... but with today's medical technology, a lot of things can be found by a simple blood test, thus no more poking or prodding. Makes going to the doctor for a physical a lot easier :)
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Exactly what she says when we nag about food "I'm almost 100, I must be doing something right". Our answer is "if that is so, why are you constantly complaining you don't feel well and are tired and you know what is causing it, and still don't drink, or eat". We do understand at her age, there isn't a lot that can be fixed. An electrolyte or chemical imbalance is easily remedied to give her a better quality of life for a few years, if a doctor really cares about the patient, they will check. Its sad to see the insurance companies and doctors are starting to write seniors off when they get old. It should make us be vigilant that we need to take charge of our own health care, do the research, etc because its so easy for hidden illness to be ignored now. When is the last time any of us actually got a real physical - you know, like they used to schedule a full hour 30 years ago. Now its 20 minutes and unless you go in with a list of concerns and complaints, if you fog the mirror, you get a clean bill of health.
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Amy, think about it this way, you mentioned your Mom doesn't eat right, never did, but she is in her late 90's so she must have been doing something right :)

As for the doctor, I would change doctors in a flash. My parents are in their 90's and they get blood tests twice a year. And in those test the B-12 and vitamin D are checked for levels. B12 shots or pills only work if one's B12 levels are below normal. I had the B12 shots myself but my B12 level was off the chart low. Went weekly for said shot for several months. Then every other week.

Some medical test won't be given by doctors because of your Mom's age.... if something was found, let's say something urgent with her heart, she wouldn't be a good candidate for surgery because of how old she is.... so the test isn't necessary.

It's like my Mom and her mammograms, if cancer was found she wouldn't survive surgery or chemo at 97, so I don't understand why she keeps insisting on having that test.
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B12 deficiency is indeed a recognised cause of reversible dementia. One of the few. You need to make sure her folate levels are ok first though, especially if you're not very impressed with her diet.

I cannot see what possible harm a full blood count would do her. These things can be checked. They are easily checked. If in fact her B12 levels are fine and her thyroid is fine and she has, sadly, just got to face the fact of declining brain function - well, even then, what have you lost by checking?

Having said that, and implicitly agreed with you that it might be an idea to get a slightly less apathetic doctor on board, I have to say that it always makes me smile just a little when people hold up their hands in horror at the lifestyle choices of nonagenarians. What are we worrying about: that their lives will be tragically cut short by a lack of dietary fibre and balanced vitamins? Because if she turns round and says to you that her regimen of hot dogs and pink gins has got her this far and she'd like to stick to it, thank you very much, she has kind of got all the empirical evidence on her side, hasn't she?

But to keep to your main points:
1. I completely agree with you - the thought of allowing one's loved one to go downhill for want of a simple, easily identified adjustment is horrifying.
2. If she is deficient in B12, the shots might well help. If she isn't, they won't.
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It sounds like your mom is doing really well given her history. I'd just give her some B12 sub-lingual pills if she doesn't like medical stuff. You can get some pretty high dose B12 pills that taste sweet. You just put one under your tongue and they dissolve. I give my mom (who's soon to be 95) 1/2 of a senior multi-vitamin every day. She doesn't eat that well either, but she's still in independent living (with a LOT of help from me).

I doubt your mom needs an EKG (if it ain't broke, don't fix it) but some blood work is definitely in order. My mom's thyroid stopped working and she was much perkier once we got her on thyroid meds and got her to the right dosage. And dehydration will cause tiredness. My mom was dehydrated the last time she went to the ER, so I've been diligent in getting her to drink lots of water every day.
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Sounds like she's doing so well, physically!
Vitamin B12 shots can't hurt...though not sure if it really does slow the advance of Alzheimer's.
My dad had the shots a few times in his last year...I didn't see an improvement, but each person responds differently. I hope it works for your mom.
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