My parents declared they are "done" with life last night.

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Last night my parents, age 70 & 74 and living independently down the street from me, declared they are basically "done" with life. They say they see nothing out there for them. My father admits he is basically trying to kill himself with alcohol. This in spite of the fact that they are in good health (other than alcohol and depression), have a nice home, good financial situation, and one child (me) that watches out for them daily and brings no drama to their lives. They refuse to seek help for their depression. I don't know what to do. My mom's mom lived to 96. When I try to tell my mother she probably has another 20+ years ahead of her, all she says is she hopes not to live much longer. I'm tearing my hair out this morning!!!!!!! They say they don't want to live to an age to become a burden on me. They don't seem to have a clue that they are quickly becoming a burden at this point with their behavior. I run my own business and work 6.5 days per week, and spend my only time off (Sunday afternoons) at thier house while they tell me how awful life is and how they are "done" and they are too old to have positive things going on in their lives. We discuss things like cremation, burial, inheritance, physical ailments, and they bad mouth pretty much everyone they know. Then I go home, crash out in bed, and here I am, its Monday, up hours before the sun trying to get my work week started again. This sux.

60 Comments

Seek help from the council on aging or the national association on mental health. They can send a social worker out to the home for a proper evaluation. I have been through this myself.
Hugs,
Suzanne
What a terrible burden for you. Your parents are relativity young and have their health. We have friends/family that age still traveling the world, working or doing volunteer work everyday. My 76 yr old neighbor still mows his yard and they both are out in the garden digging a few days a week. How did your parents fall through the enjoying life loop? Do they have outside interests that could become important in their lives again? Are there friends/family nearby that could get them involved in activities.

I agree an evaluation is in order. A visit to the doctor is probably in order as well. I do understand if your parents have been like this their entire adult life, you are fighting an uphill battle. There is just so much life left in them, not to mention the time with you, that should be enjoyed and savored.

I wish you the very best. You have to find your own happiness. There is only so much we can do to change another's outlook.
Thank you both for commenting. The crazy thing is my parents were health nuts, marathon runners for decades, etc., volunteered at an animal shelter for years. They gave it all up about a year ago. They have shut out all family and friends to the point of being super rude, then people call me and ask what's going on. I lie. I am an only child. I think I am the only person they interact with anymore. In 2011 my Mom & I met every Sunday and ran 5 miles. Now she barely walks down the driveway to get the newspaper. I try to convey to them that healthy people their age ARE out traveling and doing positive things. They are very dismissive of that and say they have already done the things they want to do and there is nothing left. I may check with our local senior center and see what services are available for us. We live in central Florida, the retiree capital of the world, and there are soooo many things here geared toward people over 65. My parents will have none of it! Thanks for responding, I am alone in this situation and am at a total loss!
Floridakid, I feel for you. After my father retired, he pretty much was done with life, too. He spent the next 20 years sitting in a chair by the window. My mother soon followed suit, spending 20 years taking care of him and watching TV. They chose not to interact with people. There was nothing anyone could suggest to get them out of the decision to withdraw. We can't make our parents do things they don't want to do. We can only encourage them and set up opportunities.

I can understand why older people pull in. The US is so geared to the young and is bad for the self esteem of older people. I know I feel it myself. As we become older, we become invisible. Someone who doesn't want to learn ballroom dancing or play bingo or cards is often left out. But there are other things to enjoy -- birdwatching, hiking, gardening, luncheons with friends. Having something they look forward to gives people a reason to get up in the morning. The trick is finding something that is enjoyable. Floridakid, do your parents enjoy cooking, shopping, or outdoor activities? Do you think one or both might enjoy helping out with a charity? It would be great if they found something they looked forward to doing, either together or separately.
JessieBelle - thank you for commenting. I agree with you...our youth oriented culture is bad for self esteem of older people. I am 45, and I realized after 40 I had entered a group that is largely invisible in the media and pop culture. My parents are former California hippies, and I think they just did not expect to grow "old". My parents used to enjoy many activities - running, hiking, reading, volunteering, but no more. I am beginning to accept that they are choosing their own lifestyle, and trying to live mine in a positive way without letting them bring me down too much. I can't make them happy or make them interact with the world. The problem is now it's becoming my problem, since they are not maintaining their home, or even going grocery shopping and eating regularly. I have a feeling one of them (or both) will be in the hospital soon.
What I think. Unless they have some sort of memory loss is that they need a change in there life style. My mother is 91 and has dementia. My mother has been always active loves to go out be around people loves action and still does but there are times when she says because her body wont let her is I hate the way I am and sometimes says she wishes she was dead. That hurts be so bad to hear that come from her. But then again shes up and ready to go out eat somewhere and want to dance and go to the club and I have taken her out to the club not to long ago and felt so much better I got a little Chihuahua dog and that makes her happy cause that little dog is always happy skips and jumps and so funny to watch. try a pet my mother loves birds to she loves to take care of it and watch them. She also loves the park so I take my time out and take her there or hire someone else to take her I do try different things it does help. All you can do is try!...
You say that your parents are healthy. Depression is a health issue. I would do everything you can to get them treated for that. It doesn't sound like that will be easy but don't give up until you are successful or have exhausted every ploy, trick, coaxing, begging, reasoning you can think of. Negotiate with them for an evaluation and three months of following a treatment plan (drugs and/or counselling). And then back off.

From personal experience I can tell you that depression prevents someone from thinking clearly and making good decisions. And it robs people of initiative. It is hard for a depressed person to decide to get treatment -- what's the use? Live isn't worth living anyway. It is hard to take an action, like joining a bird watcher club. And from personal experience I can tell you that treatment is available and is effective.

As lightedpumken says, all you can do is try. And the area I suggest trying really hard at is getting the depression treated.

Please keep us informed of how things progress. We learn from each other.

Floridakid, I was going to mention what Kightedpumken stated about a dog. Maybe if they had a cat or dog it would give your parents an incentive to get up in the morning.

I am not their age but I have Bipolar and am often depressed even with taking my meds. However, I know I have 3 little Chihuahuas that count on me every day to feed them, cuddle them, walk them and spend time with them. I feed them every day, of course and cuddle them but I don't always walk them. They help with the depression even though I still have it but it gives me some purpose in life and some other living beings to care for.
Both of your parents sound very depressed. Getting this addressed is going to be quite a challenge because it sounds like they don't want help. As sad is it, you can't force them. Some people just do not accept getting old. They can't adjust and feel inadequate if they can no longer do what they used to do and their self worth is based on that. I find it very sad when anyone gives up. Life is precious. I used to tell my mother when she got this mindset that adjusting was the key and being thankful for what she could do instead of what she couldn't do was something to consider. I was just trying to be a cheerleader, kinda sappy I guess, but I still tried. It worked a lot of the time. Heck, I still cheerlead today for husband and myself!:-)
I feel sorry for people who never think they'll get old, it's inevitable, just part of the cycle. Nobody likes it but it happens. I look at my 83 yr aunt and her 91 yr old boyfriend. They are thankful for each day and know they're lucky their health issues aren't too bad. They're an inspiration.
I am so sorry you're going thru this FloridaKid and sorry you're parents can't see that life still have much to offer. Good luck to all of you. I'm hoping one day they'll listen to you and see that they're headed in a wrong direction.
Thank you all that answered. The pet won't work - a big part of the problem is they had two large dogs, each about 14 years old, and both died last year. The depression worsened after the loss of the second dog. They refuse to even consider another pet, although I do think it would be a wonderful thing. Pets are great, and I agree that having a purpose, having someone that needs you every day is a motivator. I'm glad to hear stories about those that are living life well, into their 80s and 90s. I would have thought my parents to be that type.

My husband lost his mother last year at 74. It was not a great year for us. Our New Year's resolution this year was a co-resolution: Good Attitude!!! We run our business together, so of course we are together 24/7. When one of us gets down, the other one reminds them of our Good Attitude pact. And you know what? We are both happier, eating better, exercising, laughing more. It's amazing what mindset can do for you. Chase out the negative thoughts. I feel 10 years younger since we started this. And yes, I have suffered from depression off and on since I was 13, so it does take work for me to be a "glass half full" person. Like anything else, it takes some effort to keep your mindset on the right track, stay motivated, positive, etc. At this point my parents are the only negative in my life. I have accepted that they are choosing their own path and that I can only let them drag me down so much. I spent an hour with them this afternoon...there is a glimmer of attitude improvement...I think I shook them up by getting angry last night and finally unloading on them. I'm not going to bet the farm, but they indicate they have hit a low point and want life to be better. Here's hoping!

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