At my wits ends.

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I’m at my wits end with my mother she’s in the hospital she has pneumonia and the doctors want to talk to us before we send her to short term care for respiratory rehab. she’s stopped getting out of bed after she claimed that the nurses let her sit on the bedside toilet for 25 minutes, as it turns out she pressed the wrong button, now she’s stopped eating because she said she had a abscess on her gum, they gave her medication for that. Then she claimed that she couldn’t eat because the food won’t go down they checked her her pain pills go down fine so now they are using a feeding tube. Tonight I was just annoyed with her and told her “look if you don’t start eating and doing therapy you’re going to die! I don’t want you to die but is this seriously your plan after beating cancer?” she sat there and looked at me like I was speaking French and asked what was she doing, then blamed the doctors and nurses for the condition she’s in. By the end of the visit I had it and just walked out the hospital without caring that the nurses were looking at me because I told her she’s not doing one d*mn thing to help herself because the doctors have said she can turn her health around if she just puts in the effort. She’s always been stubborn could care less about my feelings and I’ve had it and now I feel guilty for going the tough love route with her but how else can I get through to her that I don’t want to lose her? Nothing seems to get through that melon head of hers

31 Comments

i'm in the exact same situation tonight. fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, after years of trying to starve herself to death, without telling anyone of course, my mother got up at 4am monday, announced she wanted to go to the ER. i think she knew she was close to actually succeeding with her plan, got cold feet. long story short she's in a psychiatric hospital tonight, on suicide watch, lockdown. still not eating. i'm totally freaking out. i called the hospital a few hours ago, they said they monitor what they eat, give them ensure to drink if they refuse food. my suggestion is sit there with a can of ensure, do whatever you can to get it into her. continue doing that until you can get her to a shrink or someone who can help. my mom is totally not listening to me, i've been screaming at her for years. when they're determined to die, right under our noses, i don't understand...it makes no sense to me how anyone could be so selfish. 56 years of raising kids, grandkids, and she wants to blow up all that with one stupid decision? my final memory of my mother is not going to be all the postives, it's the mental image of her sitting in a confused state wanting to die. it's awful, i know.
Has she been diagnosed with dementia?
id suggest taking a look at the elders QOL. so much is lost they may lack a reason to go on.
i would second the comment about dementia. in my mom's case there is no diagnosis. i have been 'fighting' so to speak with everyone in the system to get her diagnosed for one year this week. it's impossible if a loved one refuses testing and is still deemed competent. i did see a pro bono attorney who handles this sort of thing for a living, and brought a nurse into the house to try to get a diagnosis that way. impossible. all they do is ask them a few basic questions then gleefully say 'you pass'. again, the system is a joke. i guarantee you when someone does actually do the diagnosis there'll be a line of these people waiting to profit from it. if i had it to do over i would have made an appointment with a neurologist, take my mother there without telling her anything. she's so out of it she wouldn't know where we were or why we were there anyway. that's my suggestion. get her properly tested by a neurologist, and a depression assessment done by whoever does that sort of thing, even PCP can prescribe for depression. when my dad was dying of cancer his primary care doctor gave him antidepressants. they did make him rather different in personality, sort of acted sedated, but it was a heck of a lot better than the psychotic behavior he exhibited prior to that. my father was definitely the type who would have killed himself without hesitation. i'm actually surprised they were able to calm him down enough to a natural death. his best friend killed himself.
i made some calls to help lines this morning to try to get some assitance with this. the best advice i got was make a list of two columns. one health issues with your mother, the other column behavioral issues. while she is in the hospital make arrangements to sit down with her doctor face to face, go over everything on the list. this seems highly redundant with the detailed intake we did, for what, many hours, but at this point i'll try anything if it helps. what they're telling me is those in the hospital responsible for her care there may not have enough information to understand what's going on as well as you do.
ExhaustedinSC You're not alone! I would have said the same thing o my Mom. She needs to eat to survive. Reassure her you care for her and want her to be happy. Hugs..
captain, i like you, and you make me laugh. you're that rare combination of a kind soul and a good sense of humor. but i gotta tell you, i disagree about the QOL comment. i'm living on an island in the gulf of mexico with my mother. the average person here is so well off if i were to tell you about her lifestyle, which is considered to be average here, it would make you sick. there are more depressed wealthy people here, with every toy and benefit known to mankind, than i've ever seen in my life, including manhattan. miserable and bored out of their minds as they can be. it's not about the money, or houses, cars, trips, even social life, plenty of that going on. my mother pushed the QOL button with my father their entire marriage. he built her, i don't know, seven new houses. nothing ever satisfied her in that regard. she still has two of them, one here, another one up north, a 10 acre spread on top of a mountain, some of the most beautiful views i've ever seen. i am buying her $200 of food every month, i'm paying for it, stuffing this house with food, she still complains she has "nothing to eat". the amount of cash she has in the bank is about the same as a small lottery win. you get the point. her husband is gone, i do get that, they were married a long time. still, he was high maintenance in many ways, i don't think that's the reason she is giving up. physically she is slowing down, but that's true of all of us, it's not normal to want to check out just because one can't play tennis any more, or do gardening, or whatever. if any of us knew why these people wanted to die we wouldn't be reaching out to total strangers, it's not that simple. again, i enjoy your company here, please keep commenting, you do help me a lot.
I don't know if there is anything we can do about the qol issues for other people. People usually make their own qol unless something physically or mentally keeps them from doing it. If someone is going to be unhappy, we can send in the clowns and put up a carousel in the middle of the living room. They will still be unhappy. We can take them places and provide opportunities for enjoyment, but it doesn't work.

I've wondered if some people have a broken pleasure center in their brain. I have a friend whose son killed himself 2-3 years ago. He was a wonderful boy, but he said he could never feel happy no matter how he tried. Nothing brought him pleasure. He lived in misery that he could not shake. With him I do think the pleasure center in his brain was faulty. He had a wonderful mother and life on the outside.

Unhappiness among elders is so common. When we discuss it with people, we often get advice about what we should do to make their lives better. We can end up feeling like we're not doing enough to keep them happy. Sometimes we need to face the facts -- if antidepressants and activities don't work, then maybe there's nothing we can do. With my mother there are three things that bring her pleasure -- TV, sweets, and salty things. Going places can give her a very temporary boost, but it doesn't last. Her antidepressant isn't doing anything. She's diabetic and a little overweight, so sitting and watching TV while eating sweet or salty things isn't good for her. But what can you do? I have no answers other than telling myself that it isn't my fault.
She'll keep playing you like a yo-yo until you put your foot down. Her behavior is typical of manipulative people used to calling all the shots. Just let her know she's not going home until she complies with the doctor's orders and gets better.
the hospital called at 9am said that she started to aspirate this morning so they put her in ICU, she still doesn't see a problem and says she's trying but I don't know. they said she was fine last night I've noticed that when they say they are going to discharge her she starts having health problems.

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