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Senior Health

A super woman falls mysteriously ill



my mother is superwoman, the iron lady, hard as nails- you get the picture. she could run rings around me, i`m 42, she is 71. no major illnesses, a fit , active woman. 18 months ago she got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night only to wake up on the floor as she had passed out and caused herself some bad injuries, major bump on the head and black and blue all over. her doctor did no tests, no scan, sent her home to take painkillers. ( she still has a mark on her head from the fall, and it protrudes.) fast forward to christmas 2007, mum got flue type symptoms, then from there she has developed terribly fatigue and brain fog- forgetfull. now she sleeps late, napps frequently throughout the day , can hardly lift her legs to get in the car, can`t lift her arms to fasten her bra, is very weak and constantly exhausted., this has been steadily worsening for 2 months. mum did have a goyter removed 2 years ago, so we thought it was her thyroid and she must need medication, wrong. last week my dad took her to the doctor who did blood tests, they have all come back negative, no thyroid problem, no anemia, nothing. this does not make any sense, i know my mum, this is not her, something is very wrong. she goes back to the doctor tomorrow. i think she needs to get to some kind of specialist asap, i don`t think her doctor will take this seriously, judging by the reaction from mums fall, mum was shocking to look at, i think the doctor thought "well she`s old". she does not know my mother. do you have any suggestions, ideas or have you experienced any symptoms like this of a person any age? i am very concerned, thank you.


It is clear that you have major concerns about your mother.  Since I have no information related to any diagnoses, medications, or other data to base any opinion on, it is not possible to provide an informed opinion of what is happening. I suggest that you obtain a referral for a geriatrician in your area. A geriatrician is a medical doctor who has extra education and board certification to practice specifically with older people. Ask your Mother's doctor to refer her to a geriatrician or you are able to locate a geriatrician by contacting your area agency on aging for a referral.

It doesn't take long for an older person to become weak and deconditioned following illness. It would be most helpful to have your mother undergo a comprehensive geriatric evaluation so that an integrated plan can be developed to address her immediate and long-term needs.

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Response by:

Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati