Follow
Share

Mom has been ill she looked so bad thought she was going to die, she had a bad cold and refused to go to the hopital. She doesn't understand things when I tell her anything much anymore.
She is going to need more care and refuses also a nursing home which can understand. I can come only after work I can't just quit my job she needs care during the day too.
I've been coming over everyday after work to care for her. To clean up and make something for her to eat if she well.
She was fine over 2 months ago and now she isn't she is 86 yrs old.
She just wants to die. This is very hard to watch her I also call her from work so we are trying to find someone to come there during the day to feed her help her to the bathroom etc. She is very stubborn woman even when ill..
If anyone has any other options for home care please I would appreciate this.

Thank you,

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
I'm at this point with my mother. However, she is on hospice, and has AML, failed conservative chemotherapy. She is about 80 lb. and and is at the end, but doesn't seem to want to leave. Her caretaker who is here everyday (I am now on FMLA, because it does seem like we may be at the end)....is a god send. She is truly god's angel -- she keeps my sanity. My mom hasn't really eaten in over 3 weeks, but is still hanging in there.

My .02 is to be aware that home health aides/caretakers ain't cheap and it isn't paid for ny medicare. My mom will most likely pass before I drain her savings, but the $600 per week bill still kills me every time I write out another check.

My hospice is in the form of a nurse who showed me how to give needed meds, and checks in occasionally. They happily gave me a DNR to complete, which I never did. They dutifully sent over a social worker who discussed funerals. And a bereavement counselor who played in my garden (I have a huge rose garden) for 2 hours and talked about her family. I know this is part of the package deal, but really? What I need is respite, and honest advice and guidance. Hospice can be wonderful, but its not the be all/end all to end of life situations. This journey is heart wrenching, emotionally draining, mentally draining and I know my life is never going to be quite the same for the amount of stress I've been under. Please know you're not alone, there are a lot of us on this journey. Someone earlier on this forum said (a few weeks ago) a statement to the effect of "these elderly citizens are in uncharted territory, no previous generation has lived so well so long and they are not financially, emotionally, or mentally prepared to have lived so long".
(1)
Report

She should Not be left alone shes not well and needs to have someone with her shes lonely and yes scared. Should not be left alone. I wouldn't leave her alone. Not in her condition.
(2)
Report

This is a very sad situation to be in. You said your mother was very ill recently...could there be a medicine or combination of medicines that is affecting your mother's health? Bad drug interactions leading to depression. I think you need to have your mother's doctor review all of her medicine and the dosages and # of times per day given. I say this because as a person ages the effects ( potency) of medicine can increase even though the medicine dosage is correct. Maybe your mother's medicine(s) are making her not taste anything or the food tastes "funny". Like a small child maybe easy to swallow comfort foods would be a good starting point. Meatloaf (you can spice it up), mac and cheese ( make it w/all fattening ingredients... she needs the calories), puddings, pumpkin pie, apple sauce, ice cream( does she have a favorite flavor??), creamed corn, jello, peanut butter ( good taste, lots of fat and protein), hummus( many good, spicy, tasty flavors), pureed baby foods out of the jar, pureed/mashed vegetables( sweet potatoes or potatoes) add cream cheese and whole milk to the mashed potatoes again she needs the calories ....anything soft and soothing on the throat.
My husband under went major surgery and was on a ventilator also. He said his throat felt rough and had a sore spot when he swallowed or ate in the hospital and after he came home. He liked soft, soothing foods for awhile until his throat "healed". Sometimes medical professionals overlook telling caregivers about these small issues (sore throat causing a lack of appetite/ difficulty eating) because a major health crisis has been the main focus and that is where the thought about healing is. Sometimes the small things affect the healing process too.
(0)
Report

This is a very sad situation to be in. You said your mother was very ill recently...could there be a medicine or combination of medicines that is affecting your mother's health? Bad drug interactions leading to depression. I think you need to have your mother's doctor review all of her medicine and the dosages and # of times per day given. I say this because as a person ages the effects ( potency) of medicine can increase even though the medicine dosage is correct. Maybe your mother's medicine(s) are making her not taste anything or the food tastes "funny". Like a small child maybe easy to swallow comfort foods would be a good starting point. Meatloaf (you can spice it up), mac and cheese ( make it w/all fattening ingredients... she needs the calories), puddings, pumpkin pie, apple sauce, ice cream( does she have a favorite flavor??), creamed corn, jello, peanut butter ( good taste, lots of fat and protein), hummus( many good, spicy, tasty flavors), pureed baby foods out of the jar, pureed/mashed vegetables( sweet potatoes or potatoes) add cream cheese and whole milk to the mashed potatoes again she needs the calories ....anything soft and soothing on the throat.
My husband under went major surgery and was on a ventalator also. He said his throat felt rough and had a sore spot when he swallowed or ate. He liked soft, soothing foods for awhile until his throat "healed". Sometimes medical professionals overlook telling caregivers about these small issues (sore throat) because a major health crisis has been the main focus and that is
(1)
Report

Let me be clear -- thanks to waddle1 for making me realize I should be explicit about this -- when I wrote to think twice about interfering too much with natural death processes I did not for one second mean to suggest no pain amelioration or no attention to treatable causes. I'm not talking about just standing around and letting someone wither away in agony! That would be horrible. I was trying to say that loved ones have to accept some harsh realities, and that being ready to let go of life can actually be something to work with rather than against.
(3)
Report

I actually fed my mom by hand. She came to welcome it as an act of love...which it was...and responded to it right up to the end.
(2)
Report

Do not give up hope yet....there re many loss of appettite (sp) situations that are not leading to death....try to find out if there is a problem with the help of a physician. I agree to have hospice evaluate. Eating alone, side effects of mediations among other things can change appetitie.
(1)
Report

I don't know if anyone else mentioned this already, but does your mom have friends nearby?
My grandmother was depressed for years and also stopped eating at one point due to being upset. She would also say verbally that she just wanted to die, already. My grandmother did have in-home caregivers, and IF they were friendly and nice, that benefitted my grandmother greatly. Unfortunately, the home health care industry is a bit of a crap shoot: you might get someone who is an angel, and you might get someone that couldn't care less.
The other thing that helped my grandmother was her friends - from church, from the neighborhood - stopping in on her once in awhile. Also, when she was still able to walk, I'd get out and walk the neighborhood with her and just help her interact with others socially.
Being old and alone IS depressing, and we can all use a little help from our friends. : ) Good luck!
(1)
Report

I probably should stop my fingers from typing this because I don't want to hurt anyone's feeling or make them angry. I especially don't want to sound crude or insensitive to DMS about her mother's condition...but I do think she should be aware of reality. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, when expressing an opinion if wrong or misleading information is given, then one should speak up. A previous poster wrote this in part..."...we are all going to die. The body heads in that direction by itself. Loss of appetite and loss of interest in life are part of that process, and they are gradual and painless".

Withering away due to lack of nourishment is NOT painless. Without sustained substantial nourishment the body's organs start to shut down. Kidneys, liver, lungs, heart...one by one they collapse like dominoes. That is excruciatingly painful!!! If anyone finds themselves watching a loved one die of starvation, a strong pain med, should be ordered, which is usually standard procedure when in a nursing home or medical facility where death is imminent.

As others have pointed out here, there can be a variety of reasons why DMS's mother is not eating. She needs to find out the reason. My mother's food consumption declined drastically, with drastic weight loss. An Endoscopy found she had a benign tumor in her intestine, which the doc said could be affecting her appetite. The tumor was disolveable by meds. DMS's mother may have teeth, mouth or throat issues, among other possibilities. The cause and/or her mother's thoughts about her lack of eating, needs to be explored. There are various meds, foods, methods to respond. A pill used with Anorexia patients has seen success with senior citizens with eating issues too. And a more drastic measure is a feeding tube. Options to consider.

I think DMS's mother deserves a chance at recovery. I think DMS could regret it later if she doesn't offer that chance to her mother. If her mother doesn't survive attempts at helping her, one could say, it was God's will or fate. But, IMO she deserves the chance...
(3)
Report

I lean towards what always learning said about fighting death. With statins and modern medicine we have longer lives, but we have dementia, we weaken, our joints fail, our eyes fail. We are alive, but we don't feel much like doing anything. Our friends are in the same boat, so we don't even have much time with friends ( I know I'm making general statements - of course there are exceptions). If we still have our minds, of course we are stubborn - after all, we've lost so much, we want to have some control over something. There are meds for low appetite, but I agree with working with hospice as a better option at this point. I know my dad is still good mentally, but he's tired of the doctor visits, procedures, anesthesia, etc. He's non compliant with his diet, won't exercise, sleeps a lot, denies depression. He wants to do things on his own terms, and even tho I love him and would love for him to be around for many more years, I can understand why he feels the way he does. As was previously said, taking care of your parents is very hard.
(3)
Report

If you or your mom has a physician or even had a physician they can refer her to hospice. She sounds like she might have dementia like my mom. She confuses easily, has a hard time communicating, walking, falling, and the eating thing is usually in the last stage of the disease. Their brains start shutting down and they forget how to do things. Even swallowing tends to scare them. Mom has choked on her water a few times and had the look of panic on her face. She is in the latter stage of dementia at the age of 91. She might have some difficulty doing simple tasks and meal preparations could be very dangerous for her. I would check into what agencies are out in your area. There are a lot of gov funded oppurtunities for the elderly. Based a lot on her income and assets. She might even qualifie for a in home health care aide.
I'm sorry this is happening to our loved ones but you are doing a wonderful thing by keeping her safe. Good luck and God Bless.
(1)
Report

I have a similar situation. Thank you for your kind answer.
(0)
Report

If your mother wants to stay in her home, you may need to concern a home health aide to be with her. You could consider a live in aide or an aide for the hours you are not available or working. She probably could qualify for meals on wheels and that would eliminate your meal preparation a bit.

In my area there are "senior day care" facilities. A little bus will come and the senior is transported to the day care for the hours the adult child is working. Some of these day care facilities are social and some have a medical component with nurses and health aides to assist the elderly with mobility and toileting if that is at issue.

I would also ask the doctor if this current condition will improve a bit or if she is depressed from her recent health problems. I would try to get some home Pt and nursing services.
(0)
Report

My mom even in the early stages of vascular dementia did not want to eat.She would eat for me (her child) but would not for the caregiver who watched after her while I was working.She dropped to 85lbs from 105lbs rather quickly.Even I had to struggle with her some of the time.The young woman the agency provided was a bad match (quiet and introverted) for my mom's needs and my mother was becomming very depressed.We were going through many Ensures at this point and I was very concerned.The agency would not consider making a change?I had numerous care conferences with them and they would not budge.I was very lucky to find a new agency that really focuses on matching clients with the correct caregiver.They put a bubbly and very mature 24 year old young woman on the case and within a month or so she had mom back up to 102lbs!This young lady was like a very special grandchild to my mother.She 'bought' my mom a couple more good years in the home before advanced dementia started to take the inevitable toll.
(3)
Report

These is a heartwrenching story.
Hospice is a wonderful place to begin.
As most of us already know refusing to eat is a sign of depression.
The process of aging is no easy part of life.
(1)
Report

It is so hard to know whether a person is "giving up" or is simply recognizing the reality of what is happening in their body. Some of the reasons for not wanting to eat are treatable and should be addressed. In other cases not eating is an end-of-life indicator and should be respected.

I suggest a hospice evaluation. If she is not ready for hospice at this time there is no harm in an evaluation and the conclusion will be useful information in any case.
(5)
Report

Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. Although this is not my question, your perspectives on life are very helpful to me!
(0)
Report

Call her doctor, that happened to my Mom and I couldnt get her there. He sent over a Visiting Nurse that day! She could have pneumonia or a UTI, etc. Good Luck!
(4)
Report

I went through a similar situation with my Grandma... her hip broke and she fell, then she just gave up and wanted to die. There was nothing I could do or anyone could do to talk her out of it. I did everythink I could, I made her things she little such as tapioca pudding, she told me Lassie I don't want to eat and you have to let me go. It was hard but it was what she wanted.
(7)
Report

At 86 mom might really be tired of struggle and want to die. I had a friend of 70 who chose to stop eating when diagnosed with altzeimers. Hospice sounds like the best solution. They can help you too. Big hug, be brave.
(8)
Report

We are going through a similar situation with my husband's 96 yo aunt, who he has Medical POA for. She wanted and expected to die in her own condo and probably would have if my husband hadn't found her after a fall! Now she's been in SNF for over a year and is losing weight and not eating. We feel its her way of letting go and respect her wishes. She is on Remeron an anti-depressant that has the side effect of appetite stimulant and the Excelon patch for dementia, which is very expensive. We are considering decreasing both meds and letting Nature take its course. She has lead a long life, has no children and few relatives and her quality of life is not what she would have wanted.
(6)
Report

In our culture we fight death as if it were a terrible thing even in old age. It's wonderful that we can transplant organs and cure diseases with our modern medicine -- we extend life. But we are all going to die. The body heads in that direction by itself. Loss of appetite and loss of interest in life are part of that process, and they are gradual and painless. Medicating them away we are messing with the neurochemistry of this natural process and we run the risk of substituting a far more tormenting situation down the line. Think twice about this.
(11)
Report

Such a tough situation. I'm sorry you and your mom are going through it. Does your mom have a physician? There could be a fixable physical problem going on, could be something that medication might help. She could have a low-grade infection that is affecting her, could have depression that could be treated. A combo of antidepressant and Aricept helped my mom, though it took time to kick in. It could be that your mom's not eating is her and her body's way of getting ready to die, but that may not be the case. If it is, hospice would be very helpful, but I would guess you need a doctor's order to request hospice service. We did for my mom. I like the suggestions given about finding neighbors, friends, volunteers to check in on your mom while you're at work. That interaction might even lift your mom's spirits. I do think a trip to the doctor (or find a doctor who will come to her; we were able to find such a doc, and he was literally a Godsend, as we would've had to use an ambulance to take Mom to a doctor the last few months of her life, and that would've been very upsetting to her) is an important first step. Best of luck. It is a difficult time, but a sacred one too. Take care.
(1)
Report

Hospice is a good idea and to get the picture of long term. They will give you
ideas for the present also if she is not ready for their services.
My mother needs antidepressants now with her demetia; and as a personality
that was always upbeat and happy , it is difficult to first accept that diagnosis
of depression. Many of the elderly parents of friends get to that point, and a simple antidepressant can do wonders. Also, her Aricept prolongs the good activity of the mind I have learned from Mom';s experience and it has made a positive difference.

As a former social worker, don't forget that your senior activity centers have
daytime programs,,so that our elders don't have to be alone at home which
seems to promote the decline with many. Aging and Adult Services are the
state agencies that also can give advice on what is available in your area. It sounds like you are reaching the point where you absolutely need to reach out.
Her doctor should make some evaluations on her ability to make decisions and
continue to be alone for care during the day. Certainly while sick, you could talk to
them about home health care, and compliance and agreeablity of the elder is
much changed when depression is there. My mother is very stubborn, but she
is agreeable and willing to try with the help of the antidepressant Celexa.
Best wishes for her strength and happiness and yours, too.
(1)
Report

It sounds like she's scared and depressed and stressed. There are great meds for this that might help.Take her wonderfull treats ! It doesn't matter what kind.Anything to get her to eat.
(0)
Report

There are so many variables in the situation above that it's hard to say without knowing what would be best for your mother. First, of course, money and how much is available for her care determines a lot, as well of course as insurance. Also, where she lives (small town without too many resources for elder care vs. a larger city with more options). Then of course friends and family who are or are not able or willing to be a part of seeing after her.
I know most of us do not want to go into a nursing home environment. Next to that would be assisted living and foremost, I think, most of us prefer for ourselves and our loved ones to be in their homes until the day we or they die. But in many cases, it really does 'take a village' to assure that a person can live - healthily and well - at home for good.
My in-laws prepared well financially and had a home that mostly was suitable for them to remain in forever. However, both of them lived/are still living to very old ages. And both, with health concerns such as falling, managing their nutrition and meds, and staying clean, that caused intervention that they really did not want. When my father in law passed away at 88 five years ago, his year and a half long demise took a huge toll on his 87 year old wife. She is fiercely independent and guarded her 'secrets' at times, such as her falls and the fact that she cut pills in half to 'economize', thinking all of that was costing her way too much money. Her stubbornness and the lack of suitable resources to help her at home were (no pun intended) her downfall. Had she a) lived in a bigger city with more resources to tap and b) been more open and agreeable about how things got managed and listened to her doctors, she had substantial financial resources to stay put.
The other element was that once she lost her husband, she suffered from loneliness too and being sequestered at home didn't help that as she increasingly was homebound.
The assisted living situation would have possibly been ok, but once there she would do things like not ask for help to the bathroom, or not tell when she felt as if a UTI was coming on. And they would help with meds, but not totally manage them. After her second fall and hip break, she no longer could walk and couldn't go to the bathroom alone, so she had to be in a nursing home. It is one of two in town and a - in our opinion - terrible, smelly place. She is now 92 and close to the end. She saw her sisters and husband end up in this same place and she doesn't feel as if she deserves any better. She's been there 5 years now, and never much eats out of her room. I wouldn't either. No body there seems to know who and where they are and the surroundings are depressing. She is mentally vital and has nothing in common with these folks except that they are all old and either mentally and/or physically unable to care for themselves.
My own lovely grandmother passed away twenty years ago and did stay in her home till the very end. She had also fallen two years prior and broken her hip, but she seemed to rehab very well. Clearly she went physically down hill in general after that trauma, but she had a lot of great support, enough money, was cooperative about her care plan and meds, tons of family and friends who checked in on her and helped her around the house and she was in a large enough city where options abounded. She died of a bowel obstruction, which due to her living will, we her loving family, all agreed to not consent on her behalf to operate on. She passed within 48 hours.
Here is my two cents. None of us will live forever. Perhaps your mother knows it is 'her time' or soon will be. Perhaps she is 'ready'. Being as you say stubborn, her last bastion of any control is deciding when she feels ready to let go. You can only do so much, too.
If she would do better, socially, in assisted living or if what she is dealing with is depression that you see would improve if you got her out of her home, perhaps that is the answer. I guess I think now that we lose the point when we want to feed and prompt very elderly folks in ways they don't want to be pushed. After all, advanced age really is 'terminal' and part of the dying process. Maybe she is just slowing down and is ready. That may be hard to admit or hear, but if she has her own way and is allowed to let go without being in any way cruel or neglectful, it might be what she wants. I would have her evaluated by a doctor and perhaps Hospice. You might be surprised to find that she is a candidate, which would be a help for her and for you. God bless. I know this is very hard.
(5)
Report

I lost my dad in June of 2012 for that very reason. I live in FL, he's in CA with mom. Whenever I'd visit, he was thinner and thinner. He would not eat, and said that he lost his sense of taste. I took a college class at UNF about aging in America, and the class addressed that very issue; the elderly lose their sense of taste, and don't feel like eating unless there is a lot of family around to eat with them and encourage them to eat. Since I live so far away, I tried to get my mom to encourage my dad. She's 86 and just wouldn't help him. My professor taught us that if you do live nearby and can encourage them to eat, you need to cook very flavorful, spicy type foods. That will increase your mom's appetite. I'm 57 and already have a lousy sense of smell, and prefer very spicy foods. Bland things, well, I just can't taste them so I don't feel like eating them. You may have to try that with your mom, too. Offer her favorite, flavorful foods, and make dining a family affair filled with encouragement. If I could have moved to CA, I would have. Consequently, my dad became so thin (he was 94), his legs started to fail him. When he was rushed to the hospital because of a fall, his weakened state allowed the Clostridium difficile bacteria to take over his body and kill him. Of course the hospital would never admit to my dad catching that bacteria there, but I know he did. He was tested upon admittance and didn't have any bacteria. Two weeks later, he was dead from C. diff. So, bottom line, if you can join your mom during meals and only give her flavorful foods and lots of encouragement, she will eat more and start to put on weight. The B vitamins, especially B12, will increase her appetite. I give that to my lions and tigers when they go off their food (I own a wildlife sanctuary). I give them the injectable B12 and within a day, their appetite returns. I hope all of this helps!
(3)
Report

I hear the panic in you; I hear the love, too. Your mother is blessed. I cared for my mother for eleven years and put my life on hold - didn't mean to but it just had to be done. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and the best. At the point you are, we found a neighbor willing to check up on my mother every couple of hours. Can you find a community to support you? Do YOU have support? ASK for it and keep asking until you get it.

If my mother had been aware ( she had growing dementia), she would have wanted to die rather than to journey 11 more years into dementia...it would have been very hard but I would have been honor bound to respect that wish. You are a good daughter to show up and to keep showing up. Ask your mother, to tell you more about her wishes. Start talking to her about what is going on. It is the best effort, in an unfamiliar sea.
(4)
Report

You can replace a meal by giving her Ensure(protien drink). Call you local seniors center or Church they sometimes have people who offer their assistance. Call her doctor and explain what is happening. Maybe he can admit her into the hospital since she isn't eating, and from their she can be taken to a nursing home where she will not even realize the transition.
(1)
Report

Expereinced the lack of eating with my mother...though never got the impression she was doing it because she..."wants to die." You and she need help in dealing with her eating issues and with daily care in general. I would contact your local Agency on Aging, Elder Care, her doctor or any other organizations in your area that focus on Senior Citizens. If they don't provide the help themselves, they can steer you towards an organization that can. You'll find many discussions and articles about the situation you're facing here at AgingCare.com. I'm sure you'll also receive many responses to your post with great suggestions.

You need to prepare for a bumpy road. You are entering a world of emotional turmoil...not knowing what to do...needs vs finances...what's best for her vs what she wants...making decisions you don't want to make etc. It's tough. Prepare yourself.
(6)
Report

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter