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81 year old DM, shortness of breath?

(12 Posts)
Elephantina Wed 26-Dec-18 12:47:40

My DM was 81 yesterday - she is generally in good health although she is in her 3rd year of Alzheimer's dementia. She has osteoarthritis in her hip and spine, and she takes blood pressure medication. She's a little overweight, maybe a stone or so.

She can't walk far owing to pain in her hip and spine, but she still goes to church and the shops on her bicycle. I've noticed, however, that the slightest bit of walking - even 100 yards on a level service - makes her extremely breathless, and wheezing severely on the out breath. So much so that yesterday I was quite worried when I took her back up to her flat (she still lives independently), she looked about ready to collapse. But her breathing returned to normal in the time it took to take her coat off.

She has no swelling of her feet or ankles and has never complained about her breathing, I can just hear it. She won't go to the doctor as she keeps saying (lightheartedly) that she's had enough and is ready to die, so she's likely to dig her heels in about seeing a GP.

Nothing, or the onset of something like heart failure?

NaToth Wed 26-Dec-18 13:09:03

A matter of some concern, I would have thought. If she was my DM I'd be wanting her to see the GP, if only to humour me.

Orangecushions Wed 26-Dec-18 13:11:14

Take her to see a doctor - with hindsight shortness of breath was an early sign of DM’s heart failure.

HarrietSmith Wed 26-Dec-18 13:12:54

Does she/did she used to smoke?

Elephantina Wed 26-Dec-18 13:25:49

Hmm yes I would like her to see the doc, but she'll probably be amazed and think I'm being dramatic.

She was a light smoker on and off, rarely more than 5 or 6 a day for a few months at a time, and the last time she smoked would have been about 25 years ago. But she spent 40 years with a heavy smoker (30 a day) who died of lung cancer 11 years ago.

I'll gently suggest seeing the GP together I think. But she won't want a barrage of tests and treatment that's for sure, it'll be the beginning of the end in her eyes. She barely remembers her meds as it is, I need to get a "drop in" daily carer for her in the new year.

HarrietSmith Wed 26-Dec-18 13:58:16

I asked because with my father in law it turned out to be emphysema. There are lot of other, less serious, things it could be. But I think it is good to have these things checked out - especially as some of the things it could be will be easily treatable. And also with the more difficult stuff it is still good to know, because it may still be possible to relieve the symptoms.

Sometimes people can also feel better if they are told that what they have is something that can be treated. Also, if people will accept a carer coming in, their quality of life may end up improving - because medication etc will then be taken regularly. Good luck!

BrokenWing Wed 26-Dec-18 14:45:44

Heavy breathing is likely to be due to lack of oxygen in the blood, could be a chest infection or could be COPD which is quite common. Living with a smoker she is probably quite lucky it hasn't impacted her significantly until she is 81.

My dad had this in his 60's. He started with inhalers to open up and clear his airways to allow more oxygen, then moved to oxygen canisters, before being connected (with 25m of tubing to get around the house) to a home oxygen machine in his mid 70's. Throughout this time he was in hospital in the HDU a couple of times a year with chest infections requiring high levels of oxygen that couldn't be given at home. He died of a heart attack in his late 70's with COPD as the secondary cause just putting too much pressure on his heart.

If might just be a chest infection, or even if it is something like COPD, they can give her medications, or an inhaler, to help improve her breathing and quality of life for now.

Elephantina Thu 27-Dec-18 08:11:11

Thank you. I would expect her to be more "unwell" if it was a chest infection, but she's fine and has no cough?

I first noticed her getting out of puff last Christmas when we took her away for a week, but again I asked her about it and she said she felt fine, she was just old and unfit! I suppose I thought it wasn't that unusual getting a bit breathless after a short walk at 80, but I've never heard that wheeze before.

I'm taking her to the surgery in the new year for a routine thing with the nurse, I'll try to make a doc appointment as well. She'll be annoyed with me for fussing but oh well.

encoreunefois2019 Wed 30-Jan-19 22:39:03

I would get her to the GP. Heart failure causes breathlessness and should be checked out.

thesandwich Thu 31-Jan-19 16:46:10

The physio spotted dm’s Breathlessness and she was referred to a heart failure clinic( which she almost refused to attend on principle because of the name) lovely consultant diagnosed slightly leaky valves and prescribed medication which helps. Worth gettting checked.

Fairylea Thu 31-Jan-19 16:50:57

Could be anything from copd to heart issues, to lung cancer to asthma! Would the doctor do a home visit if you rang and said you were concerned?

Mrsmadevans Thu 31-Jan-19 19:49:32

My Mum had this and she was diagnosed with Heart Failure , she is on Frusemide 20mgs once a day and is fine now. Hope your Mum is better soon OP flowers

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