I'm so sad, scared and depressed about my mom.

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I just need to vent. I've posted on other areas of this site before, but am struggling so much. My 83 year old mom lives alone and I am her only child. She has had a very tough year, with breast cancer that required a mastectomy and radiation, followed by now ongoing fecal incontinence, which is just horrendous. She is not demented--truly. She just can't face the fact that she is getting old and needs help. She lives in a big apt building and has to ring people up. The apt gets increasingly filthy and then she stops letter her cleaning lady or me or her friend come over because she's ashamed of the mess (takeout food, Depends, newspapers). Over the summer she had to go to the hospital for a fractured vertebra and I went in and cleaned everything up. The place was a DISASTER. Anyway, I anonymously called APS and my mom freaked out. She wouldn't let them come up but made an appt for the woman to come back. She had the place cleaned by her cleaning lady, let the social worker up and since everything looked just fine, the case was closed. Now it's been weeks and I'm sure it's back to being a disaster. I don't know what to do. It's scaring me. I sob about it every day, terrified of what's going to happen next. She has made numerous appt with a gastroenterologist to deal with the incontinence, but then cancels over and over again. Same with her cancer doctors. She makes appts and then doesn't go. She needs help getting to appts, but won't accept any. I'm LOSING it.


Maybe she doesn't have dementia, but perhaps she has Mild Cognitive Impairment. Impaired judgment, trouble doing things that require sequencing and higher order thought. How about YOU make the appointments, pick her up and accompany her. Have you tried that; it might be worth a shot.

At the very least, write to each of her doctors (return receipt requested) and point out to them her pattern of cancelling appointments; request that they help you help her get the required medical care. That may be her doctor ordering a visiting nurse to draw blood, take vitals, etc.

Hmmm. Just read one of your previous posts. Next time you call APS, meet them in the lobby and accompany them upstairs. Do not clean up.

I know, you don't want mom to know that you called them. When I have to do these hard things, I remember that my parents did things for me that I didn't want when I was little. Vaccinations. School. Homework. I'm returning the favor by doing what Mom NEEDS, not what she wants.
Thanks Babalou, but the problem is that her building is like Ft Knox. There is a person at the front desk who calls upstairs. If my mom says not to let someone up, they don't. They have to buzz you through a door to get to the elevators. There is no way to get to her apt door otherwise.

Also, I HAVE offered to go with my mom to appts. She will not allow that. She keeps saying she is fine going on her own, but then she doesn't go. She is desperately clinging to the idea that she is independent and in control. When she fell and fractured her back over the summer, she refused any help until finally we called EMS and had the building break into her apt. It's CRAZY, her denial. She is definitely depressed and drinks a lot too, which doesn't help. It's killing me. I feel like I have no control and I wish I could just accept that and let the sh*t hit the fan. I'm trying to protect myself from having to cope with a total mess when it does.
Babalou has good suggestions.

From what you wrote it sounds like your mom has had a very tough year. Have you considered that your mom might be experiencing depression? Letting the housework go, cancelling appointments....maybe it's all been just too much for her and she's become depressed.

After my mom's cancer treatment she went into a depression that she never came out of. And like you, it affected me terribly. I didn't know what to do or who to turn to.

Have you tried talking to your mom about how she's feeling? Sitting down with her and having a heart to heart talk? Admit that you don't know how to help her. Admit that it's very frustrating when she won't let you help her, that it just makes things harder when she doesn't accept help.

I've known so many elderly people who don't want to burden anyone and in not wanting to burden anyone it places a heavier burden on everyone.

I'm glad you vented. This is the perfect place for it.
Xina; I'm so sorry that you're dealing with this. You're right, things are going to get worse before they get better.

Someone who posts here frequently (Frequent Flyer) has gone through this for the past few years. Her mom was in steadfast denial that there was nothing they needed significant help with in their 3 story home. Her mom finally fell, died from her injuries. He dad is now happy as a clam in Independent Living.

One phrase I have used in the past on my mom when she digs her heels in...:"you're too smart to do something this stupid". My mom, too, thought that nothing could be done about her fecal incontinence. She was wrong. It sounds as though your mother's is more complex.

Women of our mom's generation don't like to talk about "those things" to anyone, even doctors. They were apparently raised with a great deal of shame around poop.

I think in your shoes, I say to mom; "I'm sorry that you're not willing to accept my help with these issues, the way you helped me to grow up. But it's really upsetting to me to see you living like this, so at least for right now, for my own sanity, I'm going to have to step away from this situation. Call me when you are willing to be a little more flexible and realistic about your needs".
I think I was writing when you ladies were posting.

I agree with Babalou. A little tough love might be in order. If for no other reason than to know that you're trying everything.

I also agree that you may have to wait for that emergency. I had to do that with my mom. She dug in her heels and refused everything and everyone. I knew her health wasn't good so I just waited for the call from my dad that she had fallen. Sure enough, it came. I took that opportunity to get her to the ER and then sought out a social worker.

Sometimes there's nothing we can do. I had that heart to heart talk with my mom. I cried. I begged and pleaded. I threatened. I got angry. Nothing worked. It wasn't until she fell and was taken to the hospital that I could swoop in with resources she had previously refused.
Thank you Eyerishlass. I have truly done everything to try to help her -heart to heart talks, trying to reason with her, threats, offers to help with anything and everything. When she fell and was in the hospital, that's when I should have called APS to look at her apartment, but I didn't think of doing that. I talked to the SW at the hospital, who was useless and only focused on discharging her to a rehab place so that the hospital wouldn't be liable. Lots of resources were put into place by the rehab--help at home, physical therapy, etc. My mom refused ALL of it. Canceled every time someone was supposed to come.

Ugh. It's just a nightmare. I so very much want to step back, but I really don't know how. I am so close/enmeshed with my mom and I love her to pieces even though she's been so difficult. I desperately wish I had siblings to share this burden with, but I don't.
You mentioned drinking. How much is she drinking, and how does she get the booze? Her reasoning is clearly not good, dementia or not. I have to wonder how much of this is the drinking.

My Mom is 85, doesn't have dementia but her reasoning has become marginal at best. I've had to begin dealing with her like I do my Dad who has dementia. I don't have to be as tricky with her as I am with Dad but I find myself trying to come up with ways to keep her on track.
btw, babalou, what was the treatment for your mother's FI? I think my mom's sphincter is shot, but, again, she won't go to the gastro doc, so she'll never get help for it. She actually canceled her mastectomy surgery the first time if you can believe it. Just called that morning and canceled on the surgeon. Finally she let her friend take her. But the canceling is just MADNESS. I have no idea if she's taking the proper medications, getting them refilled, etc. I guess this is her choice, really. She was never like this in the past--always went to drs, complied with surgery, treatments, etc.
Windyridge, she gets booze delivered as well as food. She lives in NYC, so that's easy to do and obviously she lets the delivery people come upstairs, just not anyone else. She's an alcoholic and in fact has overall done a lot less drinking lately than when she was younger. But then she'll go through phases of drinking and I have no idea how much.

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