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(9 Posts)
Jux Mon 13-Jul-09 22:57:01

My mum is 84 and lives with us. She has her own separate part of the house with bedroom, sitting room, bathroom and kitchenette. She makes her own breakfast and lunch, and comes down to have supper with us and Sunday lunch, or other special occasion meals.

I have noticed recently that she has become very thin. She is eating like a bird - I would give a very young toddler meals of that size. I have asking her (quietly and definitely not pushing or nagging) if she's eating enough, and she has - until yesterday - always said that she doesn't do much and therefore doesn't need much food.

Yesterday, she told me that she has been having trouble swallowing. I asked her to phone the doctor and ask to see him quickly, but she phoned and they've given her an appt for Monday. I am going to phone the surgery tomorrow and ask for the doctor to call me, so I can tell him the state of affairs and ask him if he can bring the appt forward (or phone her for a chat), otherwise nothing will be done for a week.

Mum is convinced it is something to do with constipation and her hernia, and therefore she doesn't really need to see anyone. The fact that she's phoned for an appt tells me she's slightly worried.

She's gone off to her rooms clutching a box of prunes!

Am I interfering by calling the doctor myself?

Does anyone have any idea of what this could be? (Obviously it could be cancer, but there could be other things - but what?) She was a radiographer and worked in the NHS all her life, so she's pretty au fait with things medical, and quite possibly is thinking cancer herself.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 13-Jul-09 23:00:56


Is she able to swallow but it's coming back up? Finding it difficult to swallow certain foods?

Jux Mon 13-Jul-09 23:08:40

Hi, FluffyBunny!

I'm not 100% sure. She does swallow (I've been watching her) but I think it's that her throat is sometimes swollen and that creates the difficulty, though she said this evening that when she has her breakfast (yoghurt) it comes back up, so she's taken to having just warm tea. For lunch today she had raw egg whisked up with milk. When she comes down to us for supper, she concentrates on eating protein.

I can see I haven't asked her enough questions, but I think she probably wouldn't answer them if I did. She prefers to volunteer information; I think she's protecting me to a certain extent, but also herself a bit iyswim?

Jux Mon 13-Jul-09 23:17:03

Just realised there's no title to this thread.

Umm, Tech, can I put in a title after I've posted the thread?blush

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 13-Jul-09 23:18:19

The muscles in the oesophagus do weaken naturally with age and alot of older folk have problems with reflux. Small amounts and often are her best bet. She could do with having a barium meal to see if the hernia (I'm assuming it's there) is causing a problem. You should be able to contact the GP on her behalf but it's doubtful they will do anything unless she goes herself. Could you go with her on Monday? Constipation also fits with her age, it's really common, the body doesn't function like it did 70 years ago. Raw egg and milk isn't a very good idea to be honest, she still needs nutrients. Milkshakes like complan are intended to be used as a meal substitute and have the essential nutrients in them that she will need. Soup and tea are too runny so will go right through, prunes won't do alot if she's not eating as there's not alot to push through. Little amounts of food and often should help, as will the build-up shakes if you can get hold of them.

Jux Mon 13-Jul-09 23:27:05

Complan, check. I'll get her some tomorrow.

She'll have been telling herself the stuff about weakened oesophagus, and plenty more besides I expect!

The hernia is somewhere round her waist so it's an intestine I suppose. Without going into too much detail, it would be possible for things to get stuck there, if it's popped through the muscle I imagine. (Oh boy, the things one has conversations about late at night!)

She likes soup; would it be too runny if it had lumps of veg in it?

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 13-Jul-09 23:36:46

If it's canned soup then yes, they are practically mush anyway. It's possible for food to get stuck in the hernia but it depends on how big it is, at your mum's age she's more likely to have some diverticuli anyway, these are small pouches in the abdomen, food waste gets stuck, the pouch becomes inflammed.

Soups good for dieters, it is quite filling because of the veg. If she's been eating little then her stomach would have contracted so she may physically not be able to fit alot in it. Little bits and often for this, maybe swap a couple of soups for something else? Full fat milk not half fat/skimmed. It's a tricky one, she does need to have a barium meal so they can see if there's reflux/blockage. This will really help her.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 13-Jul-09 23:41:45

I'm off to bed. I'll have a hunt for some info for you and come back tomorrow. smile

Jux Mon 13-Jul-09 23:52:04

Thank you so much. Am off to bed myself now. Sleep well.

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