Question about elderly

pineviewplanterMarch 6, 2007

My husband is 78 years old and likes to sleep at least 12 to 14 hours each day. He does wood working on a small time basis and loves it, and is full of energy while doing it. Then he will come in and sit for a few moments and then say he feels awful and goes to bed for an hour or two. He will inevitably do this about an hour before supper is ready most days. I have learned to adjust my cooking to accomodate his sleep schedule.

Another thing, he seems to have loose bowels but complains of having to use the bathroom at least 4 or 5 times each day. If he even passes gas, it comes out of him and he refuses to use depends or any other disposable unit. So, we have a diaper pail for him to place his soiled underwear in. I do have to clean feces from the floor and area surrounding the commode each day. He blames it on the cat.

This is the same man that once told me that people do not need to sleep more than 6 or 7 hours a day and those that do should be put into a home because they have become unproductive human beings.

He is a sweet Christian man and I am in a quandry as to what to do. I have spoke to his doctor and the doctor examined him and said he was quite normal and in fact in wonderful condition for his age. He does have emphysema and continues to smoke, although he has cut that waaaaay down.

Can anyone give me any ideas here ???


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It may be that his doctor has not had a lot of experience with that age. He is sleeping more than a normal amount. There should be medication that would help his bowels. He needs to cut down on high fiber foods and sweets. Do you have a doctor in the area that specializes in geriatrics? It might be worthwhile to have him checked by someone else.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:23AM
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And the bowel problems might be a side effect of one of his medications, too. I agree with Agnes----try to find a geriatric specialist.

The emphysema and smoking alone will wear his body out, and that could be reflected in the sleeping. ALso, many older people suffer depression, which can explain altered sleep problems, as well.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:49AM
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A couple of points, from my perspective. The elderly often tend to sleep in and on thru the day. I would not think he would sleep 12-14 hrs at a stretch, but it might all add up to that many hours. If he is napping thru the day, you might look at causes, like poor night sleep, side effects of his medicines, boredom, etc. Some folks with emphysema consume a lot of energy breathing, and tire easily. Some retain CO2, if they use oxygen, and that makes them sleepy.
The fecal incontinence is another thing. As mentioned by the others, it could be med related, dietary, or a symptom of pathology. I would talk to his doctor....has he had any GI evaluation of late? No to be alarming, but lower colon lesions can sometimes cause this.
The geriatric specialist is an excellent idea, for these folks deserve specialists who can help them maintain health as well as treat illness.
Good luck with all this. Derry

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 1:50PM
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He has an appointment with a urologist on Mar 29. I will call ahead and make mention of the fecal incontinence matter and he can perhaps check it out while he is "In there". I am going to put in a call to the cardiologist to have him recommend a geriatric specialist. That way we can keep the same circle of doctors.
Thanks for the input. I sure do appreciate it.

God Bless You All,

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 7:42AM
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That's good news! I think that if you can coordinate all his doctors and medications, you will see an improvement in the bowel problems. I think that is the main problem right now. He may feel awkward about discussing it with a doctor. Be sure that you fill them in on the extent of the problem. He may be embrassed to do so.

The elderly do tend to sleep more and more. My husband is 80 yrs old, very active and strong, but when he stops and sits down, he dozes off. This seems to be typical of all his friends. Sometimes I think that the extra rest is the means by which they are able to stay active. The old bodies just can't repair themselves with just 8 hours at night.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 9:01AM
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Thank you agnes... that is encouraging to hear. I have little experience with aging except that I know we all are... lol

I appreciate your input...

God Bless You all,

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 9:36AM
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Do make sure you bring a pen and paper with you, and take notes! It is easy to forget things, as we probably all know too well, LOL.

Good luck and hopefully you can get some answers to your husband's difficulties.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 9:03PM
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Suggest that he lie down and take a nap right after lunch. It should make it easier to do without a nap right before dinner.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 10:33AM
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Connie Kru

I will make this suggestion.
Make a print out on your computor of all the medicine he is taking and 2 or 3 of your most important question and hand it to the nurse to give to the Dr. Sometimes seeing it visual helps the Dr. to really see things and also the question-Hopefully he will answer-to many times they start talking and you will forget or do not get a chance to ask.
I always did this with my MIl that I cared for for 5 years.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 9:10PM
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I have decided to use many of your sugestions here. What my plan is to write his urologist a letter about a week before his scheduled appointment, outlining his meds, frequecy and the other issues he is experiencing.

I will also give a copy of it to our primary physician a few days before we go in for our monthly blood work. He is due for a total physical, so perhaps I can get his primary physician to recommend that he see a geriatric specialist.

Sneaky, but it might be the most effective method of getting to the bottom of these issues.

I love that man and do not wish to see him suffer with these issues.

Thank you very much.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 5:14PM
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Is he on meds? Beta blockers made my mom sleepy all the time and she's finally off it, but now they put her on norvasc, which also has the side effect of sleepiness and she has been very tired and weak in the short time she has been on it. She has been in the hospital 4 times in the last year, all because of side effects and yesterday was the 4th time. At the rate she's going, the drugs and hospital runs are going to kill her off. Both those meds slow the heart rate. My mom's was too low on the beta blocker and may be on the norvasc too.
A long shot, but sleep apnea affects a lot of people, so that might be worth checking. Does he get much exercise? That can help with fatigue if his body is up to it.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 6:22PM
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This is probably too late to be of much help but I wanted to lend a little support... my dad, too, had emphysema and your description fit what he went through. He needed frequent naps (right down to the pre-dinner nap) and also had bowel problems. I think they finally isolated the latter to meds and were able to make some adjustments that helped. It must be embarrassing for your husband to have this kind of problem (but I love that he blames it on the cat) :) I hope it gets/got resolved with your dr. visit.

The sleep issue probably won't go away completely -- emphysema is hard on the body and will continue to make him tired. And age does make a big difference. Exercise helped when dad could manage it -- he would walk some -- but it just made him feel a little better, it didn't make the fatigue go away. Cutting out the smoking would help your husband but it doesn't sound like he wants to give it up. I know it also contributes to fatigue.

Doctors don't/can't oversee the health of individuals the way they used to -- because we see so many specialists, etc., a primary care or other physician just doesn't always know everything that's going on -- so it's important for you, as an advocate for your husband, to keep on top of things and make sure the questions you have get addressed by the drs. Don't be afraid to talk to the drs. as long as you need and ask as many questions as you need to get the information that will help. A friend of mine goes to the dr. with her elderly mother; because the dr. has a tendency to rush in and rush out before they could ask questions, my friend moved her chair in front of the door and sat down as soon as the dr. came in. The dr. got the hint, sat down, and took all the time they needed. I've found most drs. are really responsive and like that patients are trying to participate in their own health care but sometimes they need to be brought to a halt to get their attention. It sounds like you're really taking charge and I admire you for that.

Best of luck to you... let us know how things are going!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 8:54AM
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How did the appointment with the urologist turn out? Do things seem to be doing better?

Keep us posted. Someone might come up with a hint that may prove to be very helpful for you.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 1:10PM
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