I need some motivation. I think my mother-in-law is giving up on life.

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I just left the hospital where my mother in law is in. It seems to my husband and myself she is giving up on life. She won't eat and barely drinks any water. She has quit communicating with me. How can I inspire her to live. Am I being selfish, if it is her wish to die, should I just let her go. I watch her get weaker everyday and I am getting to the point I really do not want to go, but I am her caregiver at home. I believe it comforts her that I am there. Please help me.


3930 helpful answers
Please understand that some people are ready to give up. It's their choice. When my grandmother was dying, she told my mother, "I've done all I want to do. I've had a long life. Please just let me go."

I don't have enough information about her history to be too helpful, but these are some thoughts from my experience:

If your mother-in-law can be encouraged to eat and drink, she may get stronger. However, she may be doing as she wishes. Do you know what her wishes have been all along? Before she got sick? Did she want life-saving measures taken if she was in this condition, at this age? That's a huge help for the caregiver. That is why we all need to make out a living will or better yet, a health directive, and give it to our families and to our health providers.

It sounds like you don't have this. Think back on conversations you've had with her through the years. What has she said about friends or relatives when they've reached similar situations? Try hard to think what she would want and abide by that. If she would want life-saving measures, and coaching and encouraging her to eat and drink don't work, you will want to tell the doctor that.

If she would have wanted to go "when she was ready," she will not be uncomfortable as her body shuts down. That is natural for the body. If the organs can't do their work, food and even water can be negative and prolong her dying process. Keeping her mouth moist with swabs and a few ice chips if she seems to like that, can be helpful. Just talking with hospice at this time could help you greatly. They will understand what is happening to her.

Blessings to you in this difficult time. It's horribly hard to watch them slip away. But the final moments can be beautiful, especially if you know she is "going home" and that is her choice. I encourage you to talk with hospice right away. Their chaplain could help you a lot right now, and their medical knowledge will help you make the right decision.

My father and mother live in an in-law apartment. My father calls it the cellar, he has asked me several times to find someone to tell him how to die. He doesn't go out and the only time my Mom goes out is either with me or to the doctors. He is verbally cruel to me and my mother but nice to everyone else. He barely eats and is in constant pain. He needs an operation on his heart and shoulder but the doctors said at 80 years old he would not make it through. He is He knows he is verbally abusive and apoligizes after he says such cruel things. My dad said he is only here for mom and she won't let him"leave". I guess what i'm trying to say is my Dad wants to go too and I sometimes wonder how long this depression will be in control?
3930 helpful answers
If you could get him to see a doctor, an antidepressant may help. He's obviously giving up on life. The fact that he apologizes after being verbally abusive shows that some cognitive ability is there, but he's angry and takes it out on those closest to him.

You and your mother would do better by telling him you won't be treated like that, and walking away (easier for you than your mother - maybe she could have an open invitation to go to your house?).

His pain, physical and mental, is making his life seem not worth living. If the pain and depression were controlled, he may feel differently. Is there a spritual leader or a good friend who could talk him into seeing a doctor?

The guilt isn't yours or your mother's, if he won't go and just withers away. If he doesn't eat and doesn't drink fluids, his body will eventually start shutting down. He must be getting enough to keep living, if only marginally so.

Since he is nice to others, that also shows some control over his behavior (many with dementia are wonderful to their "guests" and even to doctors, and then the caregivers are judged as being "bad." That's very common). So, dementia of some type is still possible, even with some control over how he behaves. If he thinks you and your mother will stop being his whipping posts, he may shape up for a little while. The whole thing would have to be repeated as old habits die hard.

If you can find someone outside the family to talk with him and get him medical help, that would be ideal. He won't likely listen to you or your mother. That way he has someone to blame.

Blessings to you. You are trying to help them. Some people just won't be helped. You could try a welfare check - having the social services people come and evaluate him, or even the Alzheimer's Assosciation in your area, but he may not allow that, and if your mother covers for him (a habit), they won't get a true picture, anyway. He'll act charming, the house will be fine, and they may not be able to do anything.

Again, I encourage you to try a trusted (by him) friend or professional. That's probably your best hope.
You hit it well! When he does go to the doctor's we have strict orders to not say anything even if the doctor asks me or my mother. I get the doctor outside but he has caught on to that too! We did have someone come in from visiting nurses but as you say all is fine when they are here. Even my sister has been fooled by him. She said I choose to take care of them so now i have to live with the chose although she always puts her opinion into everything she never comes over except for holidays for dinner. My brother does have sympathy but with 4 kids and he is the only one working he does come over and call. My sister is very bitter because we moved into a house that is pretty big to be suitable for my Mom and Dad. I had the priest coming over but he said all my father talks about is dying so he doesn't like coming here! Can you believe it!! My Mom gives him $25 everytime he comes and he said that! My dad said he is only here because of my Mom and if she goes before him he does not want to live with me. I am to put him in a nursing home. Thank you for your letter
3930 helpful answers
The priest is unbelievable! Can you find another? They are human, too, and this one can't deal with the situation.

For your own sake, you may have to sell the house and move them into assisted living or something. You can only take so much. Bless the brother who supports you. Keep coming back here. We can't change it for you, but we can listen.
I could never put them in assisted living. my mom would never last without the family with her. My daughter, her husband and my grandson also live here and the only time my dad smiles is when he sees the baby. He adores him and the baby just goes crazy over them too!! I can't say it's always bad. We do have fun times, but my Dad is lonely. Almost all of his friends have passed away and he doesn't understand why he's still around. he has terrible pain and the doctors will not operate because of the shape he is in. I got laid off 6 weeks ago and I know my mother loved me being home. I have a new job and start work on Wednesday. It will be hard for her all over again. She gets the worst of it and I'm glad we are here to support her as she has MS and does everything for him. Thank you for listening Janet
3930 helpful answers
Hi Janet,
You've got a big heart and are making the best of a tough situation. Please try to take care of yourself, and know we'll be here to listen.
For Marmmy,
I know I will be in your position someday and I have thought of this many times. I know this may sound mean but if that was my fathers wish i think i would let him go. He was always a strong, proud, independent man. Now he just sits all day and is afraid to go out because he doesn't want to fall. He has lost all independance. He can not drive or go anywhere by himself. My mother and he have been married over 55 years and they are still very much in love as I hear them tell each other all the time. As I said I would respect my Dads wishes and grieve in private while being there for him.
3930 helpful answers
It doesn't sound mean. You are being realistic. Often elders feel that it is their time to go. Our medical system is trained to keep people alive, and that's great. But many people live with a low quality of life that they find unacceptable. If a person is at that point, and they ask their loved ones to just "let them go," it may not be depression. It may be exactly how they feel.

My mother wanted to go long before her body allowed it. She'd even say, "Can't you just give me a little black pill, so this will be over?" I would have to tell her that we'll do all we can to make her comfortable. But I never told her "not to talk that way." That was how she felt. I tried to bring her everything she needed and worked with staff to manage her pain, but she was never truly in a good place until she was ready for hospice. Then things improved for her, as her pain was managed better. But she was still ready to go (by then my dad had died, and I believe she wanted to follow."

We all need to realize that death is part of the life cycle. Our society struggles so to deny that fact. Sometimes people have lived a full life and are ready to move on. This can be especially true for those who believe in a spiritual life after the physical life has ended. We need to do everything we can to make their physical life worth living, but they have a right to their thoughts, as well.

No guilt need be felt by the caregiver, if this is where the situation happens to be. If there is potential for quality of life and the person is depressed, obviously medical intervention and an antidepressant could be in order. I'm talking about someone whose quality of life is very poor and there's no medical way to make it better.
Marmmy, I see your post is about 4 days old now. How you and your mother-in-law doing? You didn't mention your mom's age or health issues, but
from what see you care about her a lot.

You're fortunate to have a mother-in-law you truly care about.
Most are not so lucky.

You asked for motivation and state you "are getting to a point you don't want to go". Watching someone die is very difficult. No one can blame you for
not wanting to go to witness it.

You've received some excellent responses to you post. As Carol points
out dying is part of life. American's have become insulated from it. Modern medicine has learned how to defeat and manage so many diseases it's easy to
view is a miraculously mender.

It's not.

It can only do so much. And so can you.

Visit with the chaplain. If you haven't done so already visit with hospice as well. It's a remarkable service that can make you life and the final days of your
mother-in-law as comfortable as possible

I wish you the very best.

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