Mom Has Lost So Much Weight
"My mom is getting smaller and smaller. Each time I visit, which is about every two weeks, she seems a bit smaller. I know for a fact she’s down about 20 pounds, and she didn’t have much to give in the first place. I believe she may only weigh around 105 pounds right now.
This weight loss is quite unnerving. To see my once robust mother looking like a bit of a skeleton is difficult. I’m afraid that if she falls, it will be all over.
I do pay attention to how she eats when I’m there, and check to see what she has in her refrigerator when she’s not looking. It all seems okay to me.
Mom is only 75 years old and doesn’t have any mental issues that I know of. But she’s getting smaller by the day. Dad died a year ago, and I’ve noticed the weight loss since that time.
As her son, what should I be looking for? How do I get Mom to put on a few pounds?"
It’s great that you’re paying attention to your mother’s health and wondering about next steps after noticing this decline. Clearly something has changed, as no one loses that much weight without a significant decrease in caloric intake or absorption.
The place to start is with a physical exam. Your mother needs to see her primary healthcare provider, and it would be best if you or a sibling accompany her. The reason for your presence is support and verification. So often, we don’t accurately process everything that goes on during a clinic visit. We’re stressed and anxious, and the sheer volume of information is often too hard for one person to retain. Two sets of ears and two minds are best.
If you’re able, collect information to take to the visit. That will give the healthcare provider the most accurate information from which to base their recommendations. If possible, record what your mother eats and drinks for a few days, the item, and the quantity. Document her activity. Also record sleep times, including naps. Most important is an accurate record of any medication she takes, including what, when and how much. This includes prescribed and non-prescribed medications.
One thing you mentioned that may have a material impact on your mother’s weight is the loss of her spouse. It’s likely a factor in the changes you’ve seen. Losing a spouse is one of life’s biggest disruptors, and grieving that loss is very real. Your mother may need support to help her process her grief in a way that doesn’t impact her physical health. Sometimes we deny that we need assistance, yet our bodies speak out a different message. Getting to your mother’s true thoughts on her loss may be difficult for a child to do. In this case, I recommend grief support in the form of a group or counselling from an expert in grief. It can occur before, after, or during her medical appointment(s).
Your concern is fair and appropriate at this time. Helping your mother obtain full mental and physical support and evaluation is a prudent thing to do. She may resist. She may tell you that you’re silly. She may even tell you to mind your own business. I recommend that with all the kindness you can muster, you help her to see what you see and understand your concern. I understand how difficult it will likely be, and I wish you well on this journey.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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