So my mom is 81 years old and my dad passed away two years ago . They were married for 65 years. I live right next-door and she has been doing OK on her own but over the last couple of months she has started to make up things that are wrong with her. For example, her stomach was bothering her and she said that it was cancer and she even told my brothers that she had cancer and one of her friends. I had to go back and tell them that she had not been diagnosed with cancer. She had a bruise on her arm the other day and she said that was the cancer causing that. Another day her back was hurting because she has arthritis and she said that the cancer had gotten into her back now. Her back was hurting so I took her to the orthopedic doctor, they did x-rays and said the arthritis was pretty bad so they gave her some prednisone and I told her she needed to eat when she took her medicine because she has such a sensitive stomach well she didn’t eat when she took the medicine and it made her stomach upset again so now she says that she has cancer in her stomach again . When I tell her she does not have cancer she gets mad at me. Lately , she has decided that she has some sort of eating problem and that she weighed 115 pounds two months ago. She did lose some weight back in May because she was having a bit of stomach problems that turned out to be gastritis and she got medicine and got better. She did not get to 115 pounds. I think she might have weighed 130 . Right now she weighs 144 which is just right for her. She’s only 5 foot two. I’ve tried to get her to move in the house with me but she doesn’t want to. She has four cats and she likes her own space , she tries to get me to stay with her and I stay with her many hours of the day when I’m not working but I don’t feel like I should have to move in with her. She can move in with me if she wants to not be alone and it like I said, I am right next-door but I just don’t understand what this is. She seems like she is in her right mind with everything else and you know like 98% of the time she’s just talking like normal , but every day when I talk to her all she wants to talk about is how she has cancer and she knows it’s cancer. Actually today I’m taking her to get an endoscopy so that hopefully when they tell her she does not have it that she will actually listen because she’s convinced herself that she has stomach cancer so hopefully after they do this test today and find out that she will Understand that she don’t. I just don’t understand what this is. Is it a form of dementia? Everything else with her is good. She still cleans the house and eats good, cooks for her self, feeds her cats and walks outside. Do you all have any ideas? Sometimes I feel like I should just tell her she has to live with me, but then sometimes I feel like I’m overreacting and trying to take away her independence.
Dementia is not sweet little old ladies like you see in the ads for caregivers and care homes on TV. The journey is different for everyone but can include screaming all night every night, taking off their clothes and wandering out of the neighborhood, pooping in their pants and not realizing it, peeing in the corner after they take off their Depends, and yelling and accusing you of stealing their whatever. Also being afraid to take a shower and smelling up the house, forgetting how to swallow, spitting out the pills you give them, and turning on the stove burners, then forgetting they're on. Following you everywhere in the house, even into the bathroom. In other words, madness. In your house. Read the posts on here, and you'll learn about the frustration caregivers face when caring for their LOs who have become a total stranger that they couldn't have imagined. (And then again, you could be lucky and she never does any of these things, but you won't know that until she's dead.)
Please take care of yourself first, leave mom where she is, and enjoy life while you can.
I know exactly what you're going through with your mother's hypochondria. It's a game to get attention and to control your life. I got pulled into my mother's version of 'Deal or No Deal' which I renamed 'Cancer or No Cancer' years ago. The endless doctor collection. One specialist after another. Sometimes there would be four and five doctor appointments a week I was bringing her to. This went on for years. She is convinced that she has cancer. She has been actively dying since I was six years old.
I'm 50 now.
My mother's hypochondria was actually, literally killing me. I could not take the hysterics and histrionics anymore. So about a year and a half or so ago, I gave up. What happened is I just lost it with her at one of her doctor's appointments and in front of her doctor. He totally understood and told my mother it would be better if I did not come in. He was right. I will not take her to another doctor's appointment. I will not communicate with her doctors and have instructed all of them that they are not to call me. Call my sibling.
The more attention you give to your mother's insistence that she has cancer nonsense, the worse it will get. You will be bringing her to a specialist every day and it will wear you down to the point where you will also lose it with her.
Inform her that you will no longer be handling her medical affairs and that a hired homecare aide will be bringing her to whatever appointments she makes for herself.
The hypochondria can be a form of dementia. I have seen this with seniors that had a dementia diagnosis. More likely she does it for attention like my mother does. The only socialization she will participate in is going to a doctor's appointment.
You have to cut her off the second she starts with it. The only attention you should give it is to tell her that she doesn't have cancer and that you will not discuss it further. When she starts complaining about her health tell her that you refuse to listen to her complain. The walk away and ignore her. I do not tolerate abusive complaining. You should not either.
Please, for your sake do not pulled into playing your mother's health drama games.
The first time I met my FIL he told me that he didn't have long to live, he couldn't stop thinking about it.
Tiny skin mark - might be a melanoma! Minor headache - might be Glioma! Stomach pain - might be stage 4 pancreatic cancer!
I know folk with OCD & anxiety that live like this. That level of anxiety must be exhausting for them.
"When the therapist comes in, moms face brightens up and she turns into little miss sunshine!!"
As CountryMouse said: ".. get out of the house and not rely 100% on you for human contact?"
Rule out the cancer. Then add in more social connections? eg senior centre. Chatting to her Doctor about these 'symptoms' could be good too.
I wouldn't be moving mom in until it was absolutely 100% mandatory to do so, either.
I hear you about the doctor's appointments. Some weeks there were four and five different doctors. My mother will not get dementia testing done. I highly recommened that she should because she will need help come spring when I leave. She is not moving with me. I'll place her if I have to because I have POA.
Are you her DPoA? If she wishes for you to help her as she ages, she should assign you this legal authority, otherwise you will be in for a world of hassle trying to help her...especially if she doesn't want to cooperate with what is best for her.
Please read posts under the topic Burnout on this forum so that you can *very carefully* consider having her move in with you rather than her going into an AL care facility where there willl things for her to do, and you will have your independence.
Your Mom sounds like my Hubby  and his grown daughter . Both are major hypochondriacs. To be honest, I was one at one time but weaned off of that.
For hubby a headache must be a brain tumor type of guy. There are days you'd think he was ready for his death bed. Usually when he acts like that I ask him what songs he want sung at his funeral. Or if he gets too overboard with the hypochondria, I say I am going to call 911, and lo and behold, he is feeling much better. He has an excellent primary doctor and specialists, thus not afraid of doctors or testing. It's just an attention getter for the past 20 years.
Hubby's grown daughter, who lives out-of-state, is about half way down the alphabet of the illnesses. I just roll my eyes as this beautiful young lady use to be a personal trainer, and marathon jogger. Again, it is an attention getter, also for the past 20 years that I have known her.
If, after a full physical the DOCTOR tells her she does not have cancer that might make a difference. You telling her she does not have cancer does not have the impact that the doctor telling her the same thing would.
Her focus on cancer may also be a manifestation of depression, if your dad died 2 years ago she may still be in a grief mode and being alone is sad.
Is there an Adult Day Program she would go to or are there activities at the local Senior Center that she would get involved with?
Before you encourage her to move in with you I urge you to take an hour or two and read some of the posts of people that have had a parent move in with them , or they move in with a parent. If later you feel that she can not live alone is your house or hers set up for a person with mobility problems? (can a walker or wheelchair be used safely and easily? Are there stairs? Wide halls? Walk in shower? just to list a few)
Would she be a better candidate for Assisted Living? and a facility that also has Memory Care if she does indeed have dementia?
It sounds like she's a bit bored, more than anything. Could she volunteer at an animal shelter or a library or something like that, just to get out of the house and not rely 100% on you for human contact?
She has a granddaughter( my daughter) who visits every few days and brings the three great grands with her. 2 boys and a beautiful sweet baby girl that my mom adores. , She has 2 good friends who offer to take her out to eat but she says she don’t like their driving, they talk on the phone, two sisters she calls almost daily, two sons but they call maybe once every few weeks, my husband who goes n sees her and does anything she wants , wants fixed, moved around, grass cut , whatever and he kids around with her. Her and I go to thrift stores when she’s up to it, grocery shopping and to visit her sisters. Of course lately she hasn’t felt like it. She won’t go to a senior center. She does get bored because when it’s cold she can’t be outside which she enjoys and she don’t like watching TV . She does crossword puzzles and likes them. She seemed better today. She didn’t mention cancer at all which was a change. Maybe the good test results yesterday made her feel better.