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« Off to Miraval | Main | The Hope of "Yet" »

December 12, 2009


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Brian (DocSwill)

Oh Wendy!
This has my 81 year old mother written all over it! While in re-hab she will wait and tell ME everything without informing her doctor! Drives me crazy! "I don't want to be a bother," she says!

Do you find this to be more prevalent in the elderly?

Peace Brian

Jeanne M Hannah

Wendy, I agree with you. Reporting symptoms is the only way to get them addressed. I recall when my mom had diarreha, but she couldn't even tell her family, let alone her internist. I was truly grateful when her internist responded to a telefax from me asking her to schedule an appt with Mom to investigate this.

Still, Mom did not report the problem because she was humiliated by her fecal incontinence. Near the end of the appointment, her doctor gently said, "I'm wondering if you're having any side effects from your medications. I see two on the list that could cause diarreha. Have you experienced that . . . because if you have, we can fix it." Imagine Mom's relief when she learned that her problems "weren't her fault" and could be fixed!

Wendy S. Harpham, M.D.

When I was in practice and still today, my impression has been that elderly people, in general, are less likely to report signs and symptoms to their physicians. That's not to say it doesn't happen in younger populations, too. Many patients want to appear tough or they want to be "a success story" and not disappoint their physicians.

So clinicians and caregivers need to find ways to ensure the physicians know the real story.

With hope, Wendy

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