Mom really declining. I feel like I'm going to dissolve.

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First of all, I just want to say how grateful I am to have found this group and how comforting it is to know I can come here and vent.


My mother has been going steadily downhill for the past few weeks. For those who don't already know, here are the fast facts: She's 84, had a stroke about a year ago, in a wheelchair since, has 24/7 care at home, bounced back pretty well, wanted to go out for dinners and theater whenever possible, and was making very modest, but meaningful gains in regaining some standing and some strength, which was good for her morale.


I don't know what happened that triggered her sudden decline, but she has hardly any appetite now, has a bedsore, and wants to be in bed most of the time. A nurse practitioner came today. Her vitals are good, the bedsore is under control, as long as she agrees to lie on her side frequently, which she is not crazy about. They will do blood tests and see if they can identify what's going on.


The nurse talked to me about hospice, because that covers a lot of care. I knew that was coming, but it has just put me over the edge. I can see that my mom is slowly surrendering and it is truly killing me. I am an only child and my father died when I was 7. I am divorced, with 2 wonderful girls, 20 and 16. Every single day since my dad died, I worried that my mother would die. Every. single. day. She has always bounced back from uterine cancer, breast cancer, hip replacement, fractured vertebra, etc.


I have friends and daughters and family, but I am the only one who is this close to her and fully responsible for her. In addition to the unfathomable emotional pain of losing her, I am worrying about the practical stuff. She rents her apartment and I believe they have a policy that when a tenant dies, the apartment must be vacated within a week. My mother has lived there for 35 years. She has a baby grand piano and closets filled to the brim. How on God's green earth will I figure out what to do with all that, in the midst of being flattened by grief? How will I go to work and keep my job? Be a mom to my (fortunately grown) kids? How, how, how?

34 Comments

Clearly you want what is best for Mom and you are providing it. 24/7 care! Handling the multitude of issues! Visiting Mom. Your life is FULL. Some of the practical issues can be addressed in small doses. If no one in your family can use the Baby Grand see if you can find a home for it. Perhaps a church group? Or, ask your friends that have been offering help -- to identify a new home for it. Ditto on clothes and stuff. If no one is the right size, identify donation centers that can use clothing. Start with things Mom would never be using at this stage --- dressy items, shoes purses etc. A charity can sell them in their thrift store and make use of the funds for a worthwhile cause. Ask your daughters to assist. If each visit reduces the overstuffed closets you will begin to feel less overwhelmed. Going into hospice doesn't equate to an immediate end. BUT it does offer a lot more assistance for Mom. You live in a highly populated area. There are many opportunities to do good with the 'stuff'. Enjoy the time that is left with your Mom and keep in mind that memories live forever. Sending hugs.
Xina; a week ? Are you sure about that? Can you check it out with the building social worker? Usually with apartments, you have until the end of the month. And if you are willing/able to pay for another month, it buys you time.

My heart goes out to you. After my mom's stroke, I was very busy arranging rehab, organizing stuff at her house and the like. One day in rehab, they tried to get mom up and she passed out, turned bluish-grey and really looked like she was going south very quickly. The team rushed in to do stuff and I just stood there in a puddle of my own tears.

One of the nurses took me firmly by the hand and put me in the DON's office and told me to stay there. I had a really, really good cry.

You might need one of those right about now; go right ahead! Just know that all of our loving arms are around you and that our hearts are with you.
Make sure they test her for a urinary tract infection. Every elder care facility will tell you it makes senior adults do things they don't normally do......like going off their food, hallucinating, acting in ways not like them.
Make sure they test her for a urinary tract infection. Every elder care facility will tell you it makes senior adults do things they don't normally do......like going off their food, hallucinating, acting in ways not like them.
Xina, first thing tomorrow call your mother's landlords and find out what the real terms and conditions are. If they sound like reasonable human beings, you could explain the circumstances and see if they can give you wiggle room; but the main thing is to make certain of where you stand.

Next, find out about storage units and removals/house clearance firms. Arrange to get some estimates; and make sure you know how much notice they need for a job. Then you'll know what to do about that, too.

Once you've got the information together, you can put it away in a file and not think about it any more. Sufficient unto the time, and all that.

Hugs to you. I hope the blood tests are helpful - let us know how you're getting on? Hugs again.



Nurse practitioner was here today and checked her out pretty thoroughly, asked about UTI symptoms, but I will call her and ask for an actual test (which involves what?)

I'm sure the building won't be that crazy. It's just all a huge swirl of fear, anxiety, and responsibility right now. Somehow getting that huge piano out of the house is a metaphor for all of it. I have actually had dreams of trying to get out of her apartment with the piano strapped on my back.
Also, I am trying to get rid of stuff in my mom's closets - for example, the 300 pairs of heels she will never wear again, but the closet is right near her bed and she tells me not to touch anything in there, so I don't. I mean, the last things she needs right now is me saying, "Well, you're clearly never going to wear any of these clothes/shoes/bags again, so I'm tossing them."

I am re-reading Roz Chast's memoir for the 20th time. If you haven't read it, run to the bookstore (or Amazon) instantly and get it. It's called Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
I understand you very well, I just lost my mother and I only ask God to give the strengs that you need in this painfull situation. God bless you.
Xina, the piano is a big concern. There are probably a few people who would love to take it home. I wonder if you could tell your mother that the people wanted to borrow it for some reason, and would she mind. Maybe the needed it for a concert or to teach children how it sounds. That would be one big worry off your mind and maybe the ruckus of moving it out wouldn't bother her as much if she knows it is going for a good cause.

The clothes I wouldn't worry about. They are easy to handle. It would be nice to get the piano taken care of, though, so it will be out of your mind. You'll be able to enjoy your time with your mother more without the albatross hanging over your shoulder.
Jessie - that is funny - borrow a piano! Realistically, I can't do anything to her apartment right now. She already feels like she has no control over anything, so leaving her apt as it is is important.

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