DEAR DR. GOTT: My 83-year-old mother has suffered from debilitating fatigue for the last two years. She had mild anemia that responded to monthly Procrit injections, keeping her hemoglobin in the 12.8 to 13.5 range. She also has mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's, which has been treated with Namenda for the last year.
We have had her checked out by a neurologist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, hematologist and endocrinologist. None of them have found any medical problems that would explain her extreme fatigue. She was put on Zoloft, but after several months, they determined that she really wasn't depressed and her fatigue was not "emotional." She's no longer on Zoloft or Procrit.
Having always been a very active woman, she is extremely frustrated by her inability to do even the simplest household chores. After two years of this, she is now starting to become depressed. We don't know where else to turn and hope you can offer some suggestions.
DEAR READER: It sounds to me that you have covered all the bases, leading to my conviction that her overwhelming fatigue may be a consequence of her Alzheimer's disease. Debilitating medical problems in the elderly can often be accompanied by depression and exhaustion.
Perhaps now is the time for your mother to accept her age, the consequences of the aging process and her dementia. Her physician should be brought in to a family meeting to help determine decisions for the future, the use of medications, her depression, the possibility of assisted living, various therapies (such as aqua therapy, physical therapy and others) and your difficult role. Maybe it's time for you to call on help from resources within your community and to consider the possibility of appropriate nursing-home placement.
Let me know your decisions.
To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Alzheimer's Disease." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.
DEAR DR. GOTT: I feel like my health and welfare are being threatened by a book called "Eat Right 4 Your Type." It lists hundreds of things I shouldn't eat because of my blood type, including, of all things, oatmeal. Oatmeal? C'mon! Everybody knows that oatmeal is the staff of life. What do you think?
DEAR READER: I agree that this kind of complicated and highly restrictive diet is inappropriate. Most people cannot faithfully follow this type of diet for more than a few months.