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Why Your Parent Fools the Doctor and What to do About It

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Why Your Parent Fools the Doctor and What to do About It

By Carol Bradley Bursack,

A frequent problem expressed among adult children is that their parents aren’t truthful with their doctors. While the parent may complain at home of pain, exhibit memory problems and accuse family of theft when he or she can’t locate a commonly used item, the moment the parent faces their doctor a change occurs. Like an actor on stage, the person sitting in front of the doctor becomes animated and charming.

My mom was a supreme example. She fell in her apartmentóoften more than once a week. She had memory problems. She was taken advantage of by telemarketers. She had digestive issues. However, when I took her to her doctor, what I called her “hostess personality” took over. While she may have complained of pain in the car during our drive, the minute she had a chance to tell her doctor how terrible she felt she was perkiness personified.

Helping Aging Parents: Taking Charge Without Taking Over

I’m not alone. A friend of mine took her mother to the doctor because she suspected her mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. My friend sat dumbfounded as her mom charmed the socks off the doctor and seemed as sharp as she was ten years ago. The mother denied any health issues, especially those associated with memory. The doctor, too busy to run tests on someone who seemed “so good for her age,” signed off of some prescriptions and sent them off. My friend felt like banging her head against the wall.

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Why Your Ill Parent Fools the Doctor and What to do About It originally appeared on

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Read more: Aging, Alternative Therapies, Caregiving, Family, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, Uncategorized, , , ,

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7:48AM PDT on May 1, 2013


9:11AM PST on Feb 9, 2012


10:42PM PST on Feb 7, 2012

So happy to know that this "problem" is not mine alone! Thank you for your insight. It is well taken.

10:46AM PST on Feb 4, 2012

Very useful article. My mother wants me to "take care of her", and always looks at me when the doctor asks her a question. I try to get her to answer as much as possible, but it gets more and more difficult. And, yes, she pours on the charm and acts like nothing is really wrong when in the doctor's office. It's a long process, but the doctor eventually gets all the information he needs.

10:43AM PST on Feb 4, 2012

Thanks noted

10:43AM PST on Feb 4, 2012

Thank-you for the insights

9:52AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Thank you for this interesting article.

3:06PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Thank-you for the insights

3:01PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Excellent article. I experienced this with my own mother. Glad you are getting the word out to others.

9:53AM PST on Feb 2, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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