My mother has no will to live.

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My Mother, who just turned 77, has lost 12 pounds in a month & has acid reflux. The gastroenterologist has put her on every medicine there is. She still has it but that's not the worst part. She started telling us that she justs wants to die. A month ago she had a fall but nothing was broken, she did have a slight scrape on her back. Since then she has essentially quit eating, barely drinks any liquid, will not walk, she is in a wheel chair now, does nothing for herself now. She does live in a nursing facility because she had a slight stroke 3 years ago & she wanted to get therapy & never recovered from that. I have taken her monthly to eye specialist, she claims she is blind, but she is not. She has worn sunglasses indoors for 3 years. So now she almost is. She constantly wants to go to the Dr. for her allergies,she has & is on Allegra, & the Dr. said he can't help he rbceause of her deviated septum. She refused to have it fixed. She sits in her shared room, no lights on, arms crossed & does not talk to her room mate or even her children. My brother was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue & throat cancer in September & we were all focused on him during his treatments. He is in remission but Mother gave up when he told her he had cancer. Mother now ways 90 pounds, I can see her bones in her head. Her eyes arre sunk back, her cheek bones are recessed, her arms are bones. When I try to encourage her to get out of the room she refuses. She doesn't eat or she picks at the food & might drink 1/2 cup of Ensure. I have 4 other siblings & we are at a loss. The physciatrist is upping her appetite enhancer/anti depressant & wants to give it 30 days to see if she improves. I want to have hospice come in to help but the they want us to wait to see if the med increase works. I am confused & need some encouragement, help, direction.


3930 helpful answers
This has to have been horrible for you to watch. I'm so sorry. You've done about all you can do.
You could check with hospice, but since the psychiatrist is working on it, you could give it the time he asks to see if this last ditch effort will work. In the end, if you've done everything possible and she still has no will to live, she will die. Hospice would keep her out of pain during the process. You may want to talk with them now, though they'd likely wait to come on board until after the doctor gives the okay. Still, you can get information. Take care of yourself so you, too, don't become ill.
Gosh, no expert here, but you must be devastated. We in society think we have all the answers in life, and we just do not.
I lost my Mum at 4, so envy all the good years you all must have had with your Mum, I had the proverbial wicked stepmother extraordinaire....5 star medals at it.
It will be horrible to see her go down like this, but you know, she likely feels she has come to the end of her personal road, perhaps wants to be with those who
have gone before her. With respect, who are any of us to judge.
My heart and thoughts to with you but do not fight her, we all have the right to own our own end, and it will help her.
Spend what days you have with her as happy ones rather than days where you are in conflict over her decision.
Psychiatrists do not always have the answers, and she is clearly a strong minded woman. We are all individuals, and may her days be as kind and free of pain as possible.....
I am not an expert by any means and it is good she is getting help. But it sounds to me as if she has succumbed to depression by being placed in a home. She may have anger issues and this is the only control she has left in her life is what, how and when she eats. I have seen it many times and the will to live in an environment where you are told when to sleep when to eat when to shower is much like living in jail. If you can have a mediator help to find out the root of her anger then maybe you can work to resolve her issues...also is she able to be taken out safely? If she is take her out to eat to your home etc...look at things from her perspective...As for the appetite increasing meds...may not work...look for psychologist and not psychiatrist... the do not prescribe meds but will talk it out with her.
I think North American society needs to take a long look at how it perceives death as a natural process like breathing or a transition rather than something from which it can profit.
I appreciate all of your helpful comments and care. Because of you I feel much better about this process that my Mom is going through. She used to love to go for a ride in the country, go to DQ for an ice cream or come to my house & visit. Now she just wants to stay in her room. I know I have done the best I can. I will make her remaining days,however long she has, the best she can have.
Bunches...I'm so sorry to hear what your mother and you and your family are going through. What you describe with your mother is practically the same story I experienced with my mother, though she wasn't as defiant as yours. You didn't mention that dementia or Alzheimer's is involved with your mother. It was with mine. She stopped eating resulting in rapid weight loss, after months of eating very little, but it wasn/t her intent. Often times she made comments where she thought she had eaten or the food didn't taste good. Besides the dementia, some mobility issues and high blood pressure, there was nothing with my mother's health that would have lead to her death. It was the lack of nourishment, and the toll on her body, that killed her. My opinion was..she didn't give up, her body gave out on her.

The symptoms you describe with your mother sound as though she is aware of what she's doing and the lack of eating is part of her "refusal mode". As a previous post noted, refusing to leave the room, talk, eat, to the last and only way she can control her life at this point. I think it is beyond depression. It does sound to me like she's ready to go. And this may be hard to hear and I'm sorry if it hurts you but...eventually her body will give up.

From what you've described, there's nothing you can do to change what she wants or doesn't want to do. I know it's hard to's shockingly tough. I can only recommend for you to continue to visit her and try to make it a pleasant experience..not asking or forcing her to do anything that she doesn't want to do but talking about fond memories or things she's interested in. Nothing that's stressful, sad or anything that requres her to make a decision. Prepare yourself mentally for further decline in your mother. And concerning her medical treatment...I would focus on keeping her as comfortable as possible.

I wish you, your mother and your family...peace.
My prayers go out to you and your family. I had a similar situation with my dad last year. As a nurse, I would encourage him and he became angry, stating I wasn't one of his patients. That is when I decided to be "daughter" and follow his wishes. He gave up trying to walk, became confined to his room and bed, and refused to eat (despite cooking all of his favorites). Looking back, I understand why he "gave up" and lost the will to live. Dad was no longer the man he once was, strong and heroic. I also knew he was depressed (had to "fight" with MD's to place on antidepressant). That is when I coincided to accept what HE wanted and not what we wanted for him. The night he passed away (8/24/11), was the first time I prayed the Lord would take him. I sat with him as he took his last breath and knew it was OK. Hang in there!!
This is a very personal situation. She very well could be depressed; i might start with that as a theory base. Assure her your brother is ok and perhaps refrain from talking about cancer in front of you. Perhaps that is what set the depression off; the thought of losing a child.
My mother also had acid reflux; the reason why her stomach had migrated to her chest cavity and she needed nisson fundocplication surgery...have the gastro doctors does barium and other internal exams? In my moms case, non of the meds worked for this for obvious and now clear reasons.
Sometimes people turn around for the better on hospice. I wouldn't give up yet; she reacted to your brothers diagnosis and it has been since then, from what i read that has caused her to behave this way. Please keep us posted.
Hey Bunches,
I am in Spain, and across the waters, know that you are supported. You have come to a wise but painful decision.
It will please your Mum, and society does not train us for so many things, parenting, loss etc.
Believe one thing, she will always be with you, watching over you until the time
you re-unite. You are allowing calm, courage and peace in her life which brings
good karma in yours.
I came across this thread because I am going through a similar situation with my mom. She is 83 and has basically given up. She was in a skilled nursing facility because we thought there was a glimmer of hope that she would put a bit of effort into being a bit more independent but she fought and argued with everyone. The nursing home finally made the decision to place her in long term care. I live out of state so my poor sister is dealing with the brunt of all of this. I try to call but she refuses to talk to me. My sister says she has given up, just lays in bed all day and does nothing. It is frustrating to watch. She has lost a lot of weight and refuses to get up and walk (even though the physical therapists believe she is quite capable). I think she is just waiting to die. It is hard to accept this but that is how i see it. I started to feel guilty because I am not there but I realize she just wants to be left alone. It is like she has shut down emotionally as well, she shuts us all out. All I can do is get updates from my sister. It is sad, frustrating and hard to accept.

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