My mom is 72, has had EVERY test known, is perfectly healthy, but refuses to participate in life!!!!

Started by

My mom has what the doctors call "IBS". Although she has had literally every test in the world done to her, the doctors cannot find anything wrong with her physically. She's been told by her doctors to eat more healthily, get some exercise, quit drinking so much coffee, and quit smoking and if she does these things she will feel better. She REFUSES!!! She wants a magic pill to cure her ills. She pops Vicodin like candy, (52 in ten days just recently!!) and then complains that it's her IBS having an "attack". Her doctors have tried putting her on anti-depressents numerous times but, she freaks out and says she's not depressed and wishes everyone would quit trying to tell her that she is. She insists that she is always in pain. This has been going on for years and it's only getting worse. We finally figured it all out this past summer. She had contracted the Tetanus infection over the summer and nearly died. She was in a medically induced coma for five weeks and in the hospital for three months total. While this was tragic and horrible at the time, she has recovered fully. While in rehab she was given only Tylenol for pain and as soon as she overheard the nurse tell her it was time for her Tylenol she flipped and insisted she needed her Vicodin that it was the only thing that would help. She takes it for every little ache or pain and won't believe us when we tell her that it is destroying her intestinal system and that THAT is why her stomach hurts all the time. Along with the fact that she barely eats anything, drinks coffee all day, has a glass a milk or two, and gets ZERO exercise. My brother and I have had it with her whining and moaning and groaning. She is the only one who can fix this but, won't listen. Now she is always upset with us because "we don't understand the pain she is in" and "we never come see her or help her". I live over 75 miles away, own my own business, have two kids, and am a single mom. My brother lives quite close to her, but her and his wife have their own lives too. She is perfectly capable of doing everything on her own but, refuses to do it. She wants us to do everything for her and we just can't. She won't socialize, exercise, cook, or do anything at all. She can't stand this person or that person so we can't get her to go to bingo or play cards. She complains that she is just worn out. We don't know what else to do. I told her that if she can't care for herself or her house then she is going to have to sell it and move to an assited living facility. Well, that just made her more mad at me for not understanding her. She hates the world, hates the people in it, is addicted to CNN and all the bad stuff of the world and can't understand why we don't share her views. I give up and so does my brother. What do we do?????


I don't know what you can do for a person who doesn't want help. She is self-destructive and bent on doing her own thing. I would inform her doctor of the abuse of Vicodin though, THAT you can do. If she's living alone and doesn't have dementia or alzheimer's, then she's gonna do what she's gonna do. There's no reason you have to watch her self-destruct I don't think. Maybe that's what you can do, is to tell her that you're not helping anymore cause you don't want to watch her kill herself. Sorry. But it is what it is.
3930 helpful answers
I'm afraid there's not a lot you can do, other than, as mentioned, explain the Vicodin abuse to her doctor. I'm surprised that she gets that large a prescription for long term. There are people who are in a lot of pain that can't be properly diagnosed, so it's hard to tell if your mom is working the system or truly has pain issues. However, from what you say she acts like someone who is addicted to a pain medication, which she likely is. She won't be ready for help until, well, she is ready. Don't let her lead you on guilt trips. You are doing what you can.
I am in the same boat somewhat and I understand how frustrating this can be. My mother has early stage dementia and appears to everyone on the outside world that she is fine. Her biggest problems are taking her medicine, managing her bills and getting "details" right. She lives in a big house, has very adequate financial means and can have a very pleasant personality to others. In the past two years, she will do NOTHING. She sits in a chair all day and watches depressing or confrontational TV. She is at least 50- 60 lbs overweight and refuses to do the slightest bit of exercise. I have tried everything I can think of. She is on an antidepressent. I see her everyday. I do her bills, meds doctor appointments, house cleaning, gift shopping, grocery shopping, and social planning (it's very minimal). It has gotten to the point that she does not clean her house, sometimes wont take a shower and sits around in her bathrobe all day. I offer to take her anywhere, shopping, a walk, to the library etc... but everyday she has another excuse... it's to hot out, too cold out, her back hurts, etc.. I end up feeling guilty because I think I will go crazy if I sit with her another minute in those depressing conditions so lately I pop in, ask her if she needs anything and then go away. My siblings are unavailable to help, they live out of state.
It's so frustrating to try to get someone who will not do anything or participate to do it. I know it would make her life more pleasent but she resists at evey turn. I feel your pain Marcijo.
How very sad for her, and for all of her family. Generally when I think of wanting to get rid of pain it is for stopping suffering, of course, but also to be able to lead a normal life. If the pain could be managed, the person would play bingo or take care of grandkids or go out for coffee twice a week, etc. etc. They want to remove the pain so they can do things.

But it seems like when someone is addicted to pain meds they welcome the pain or exaggerate the pain or just plain invent the pain so that they can take the meds. Taking the meds is the end in itself -- not being able to have a normal life. This is very, very sad. Addiction to pain medication is not a character flaw. But unless the person is willing to cooperate and wants to be free of the addiction, I don't know how even a loving daughter can change things. Definitely her doctor needs to know.

In general, adults are free to make their own decisions, even if their decisions are self-destructive. I am sorry for the great pain this causes you. Please do not let the situation add guilt to your sadness. Do the best you can, and live your own life fully.
By the way, if your mother does discover that magic pill to cure her IBS without making lifestyle changes, please contact me privately. I'd love to take that, too! :-D

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support