Not eating and drinking

Posting in this forum and others in the hope of a solution. Thank You

My Aunty aged 92 who has had some slight memory problems for some years stopped taking her tablets Equilis, Bisoprolol, Bumetanide, two months ago saying she was feeling fine and the tablets were not needed. The GP said that actually she was pretty good even though she was not taking them

She has since developed symptoms that are baffling the doctors.

The GP got her admitted to hospital but after 12 days in hospital and 9 days in a care home we are no wiser.

She stopped eating normally in May, was eating soup but eventually ended up eating nothing and for three weeks now has drunk nothing either.

She said her mouth was sore, the food looked and tasted horrible.

She says she is thirsty but having raised the water to her mouth she quickly puts it down saying its horrible without getting any in her mouth.

The hospital psychiatrist did not think it was a dementia problem and was possibly depression. She lives on her own and had a robbery which may have caused anxiety also, although she didnt show it.

The idea she may have thrush in her mouth was not proved. She eventually allowed a spray to be used to try and cover this aspect but she refused to let anyone look in her mouth. In fact she refused just about everything that was suggested to try and help her.

Blood tests showed no infection.

On just two days out of the last three weeks she has shown an interest with the smiling face she used to have, there was nothing we could identify that led to this, and on the following day she was back to having an angry expression and being annoyed.

Does anyone have any theorys that we could suggest to the GP now visiting her in the home?

6 Replies

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  • Beware of sticking a 'depression' label on her. They do so like to do that when they have not idea what's wrong! It sounds like a physical problem, and it sounds as if it's in her mouth. And, I have to say, I did have an episode like that a couple of years ago. My mouth felt swollen and sore, and my dentures didn't fit properly - does she wear dentures? - it hurt to chew. My throat felt swollen and it was difficult to swallow. And, everything smelt so bad! Water smelt and tasted like it came out of the sewers. And, I just had no appetite at all.

    I wish I could tell you what was wrong, but I never found out. I was taken to hospital, and once they found out I had a thyroid problem, they didn't look for anything else - it was all 'to do with your thyroid'! But, I know it wasn't. And, I still swear to this day that it all started with insect bites - I suspect spiders. But they laughed at me when I suggested that! Is she swollen anywhere else? Is she tired? Does she have hallucinations? How's her heart? They said I had an arythmia, which I'd never had before, and most of me was swollen - bad circulation, they said. They gave me diurétics for the swelling, antibiotics, and stuff for the heart - beta-blockers, etc. But, I think it was the antibiotics and the diurectics that got me better.

  • Could be something like zinc deficiency. That will cause taste aversions, smell distortions etc. Old lady living alone probably hasn't been eating a good diet for a long time. If there's zinc deficiency (test), then there may be other mineral deficiencies as well.

  • I would go for B12 deficiency as being the cause ..... stomach acid is lower as we age.

    b12deficiency.info/signs-an...

    A sore mouth and lips is one of the many signs. It can also be a neurological condition if the result is under 500. I am betting her result will be LOW in range.

  • Hi Vans,

    Sorry to hear about your Auntie and her recent robbery.

    Going on my experience with mum and Grandmother. It sounds to me that your Auntie is dehydrated, as this can cause all sorts of problems with depression and also signs of dementia which could be age related. The ironic thing is, when you are dehydrated, you do not want to drink even when thirsty, everything even water tastes funny. My mum used to drink gallons of water etc but when she started getting poorly, I would have to practically stand over her to make her drink even one glass of water. So in the end she ended up in hospital with a chest infection. That would be my concern for your Aunt. I would not want that for her due to her age and maybe being frail.

    Anxiety and shock can affect us all differently.

    Do you know if she is hallucinating at all? Has she got trouble swallowing? The soreness in the mouth might be a build up of bacteria which tends to be a whitish colour in the corner of their mouths, so I could understand it being mistook for thrush. Normally the saliva would get rid off any bacteria, so if she is not drinking and lubricating her mouth and throat, then it will make it sore.

    Do you know if she is going to the loo and what colour her urine is? If it dark, then it is likely to be dehydration. My concern that it could cause a UTI. One thing I am surprised the dr's (unless they have) is checked her thyroid function, as this is one of the first tests they do with patients who may have symptoms of dementia or age related dementia, to rule it out.

    Regarding the lack of smiling, it maybe as simple as lack of energy, as stupid as it sounds. She say she is fine, but the "fine" word can hide a lot. My Grandmother was forever stopping her medication, and saying she was fine, when she was not.

    I would definitely be asking the GP to check her urine for dehydration and UTI's and check her thyroid function, anaemia and ferritin levels.

    Hope this helps and I apologise if I have worried you but I wouldn't want your Aunt to struggle anymore. Let us know what happens.

    Take care :)

  • I suspect she is deficient in B vitamins and esp B12. That causes loss of appetite and not eating makes the deficiencies worse. Can you get her to take sublingual B12 "sweeties"? Ans you need to get her to eat something decent (not live on tea and biscuits), even if it's just a good soup. Sorry, no suggestions, I had awful trouble with my Dad. They said he had dementia when it was severe B12 deficiency. Ended up irreversible as no one worked it out until permanent damage had been done.

  • I hope I'm wrong, but it sounds like cachexia.

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