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What can we call the behavior of my mother as she always speaks of dying / ailments?

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My mother is 87 and she talks about her physical ailments constantly. I mean 100% of the time and absolutly nothing else. She thinks she is going to die soon but looks quite healthy. She does have austio arthritus pretty bad but thats about it. Is there a name for this condition?
Posted Thu, 26 Apr 2012 in Mental Health
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 35 minutes later
Hello and thanks for the query.

At the age of 87, it is certainly possible that your mom has a degree of dementia going on. Dementia is an age-related decline in cognitive function which can sometimes manifest itself in abnormal or irrational behavior or thoughts. In addition to dementia, I would consider the possibility that she may be dealing with some anxiety and or depression. I see she takes the Effexor and Xanax which should help with both of these issues but we must consider the possibility that despite these medications, she could develop breakthrough symptoms.

As far as suggestions for what to do at this point, there are two general categories. One is behavior modification and the other would be medication therapy. Regarding behavior modification, you might consider introducing some good distractions into her daily routine such as walks, short trips or visiting with some friends. This interactive component would hopefully help break the cycle of focus on her ailments.
As far as medication therapy is concerned, her physician might consider adjusting the dose of her medications or possibly adding a different medication to see if that may yield a therapeutic benefit.

I realize this must be frustrating for you. But I want to encourage you to remain positive and hopefully you will be able to help her gently open her cycle of thoughts beyond the realm of her physical maladies.

I hope this answer has been both informative and adequate for you. I am available for your followups.

Thank you.

Dr. Robert.
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