How do I deal with my 71-year-old alcoholic mother?

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My mother whom I love dearly has CHF and high blood pressure, both uncontrolled. She also is an alcoholic. She drinks with the neighbors until she can barely stand while I sit inside waiting for her to come in to insure she doesn't injure herself, which she has fallen several times. I've spoken with and argued with her neighbors to no avail. It is out of control. When she's sober, she's depressed. I've asked her to let me take her to grief counseling(2 children, both parents, sister and brother). I know somethings on her mind, but she is so stubborn..I don't know what to do. I've tried to turn my back on her because she gets belligerent, hateful, violent towards me and my dog(this is when i'm trying to assist her so she won't fall). I've prayed, cried, screamed, punched walls, etc, etc. I thought I was gonna have a breakdown this am. I can't stop crying. I work, sometimes 14 hr days. I can't stand to be around her when she's sober or drunk because I think of all the hateful things she said to me or about me. I do everything for her. I leave work to bring breakfast n lunch( thankfully I don't work far from her)....i'm afraid for her and myself....she only has me and a son left and when I called him this am for some assistance( he lives about 900 miles away), he told me to put her in a nursing home. How dare he? My back is against the wall....I am so stressed n depressed, I don't know what to do. Does anyone have an elderly parent who is an alcoholic? What am I supposed to do? She switched drs recently after the first one told her if she continued to drink she will die. She's not taking meds. I placed her in rehab about 2 yrs ago, but 1 week later she was at it again. I want my life back, but it's revolving around her. Help......................

Answers 1 to 10 of 16
If your mother is a danger to herself and/or to you, then I think you have answered your own question. I gather you are a single person living with your mother, but you do have a job which is good. Do you or your brother have medical and/or durable POA for her? I've a 86 year old step-dad who drinks beer all day long like it is water. I'm concerned about him being mostly all alone except for a helper who now spends the night, but he is my step-brother's concern. If you want your life back, you are going to have to set some boundaries that keep you from being sucked into her drama. I know you don't want to hear this, but why are you so apposed to a nursing home when she's ripping the very guts of your life out? Did you promise her or are you afraid or her? It sounds like first of all you need some professional help with the depression and seeing no way of dealing with this. Please keep coming back to vent and let us know how you are doing?
I agree with the above. You have hit the wall and now it is your health that is at risk. You need to break the cycle of dependence on someone who cannot return your love. The alcohol speaks for your Mom and it will never be a rational conversation.
Call social services and get some information about intervention. Ask if there is a place where your Mom can go permenantly that will both help her recover and keep her safe while she is getting herself together.
Siblings who "flee," as your brother did, often tell the caregiving sibling to "put the parent in a nursing home." This is his way of checking out and letting you know that he is not willing to help. Take this at face value...he will never step up.
You feel trapped now...and rightfully so. The only person who will save you is YOU. Talk to social services NOW and learn about your options. Detach yourself as a daughter and become a "manager." Find her the best placement and have her stay there until she is able to function again. Then you can monitor her care...leave the rest up to the professionals. What you are doing now is not working.
In the meantime, find a place of your own and start a new life. Make new friends and socialize. You are way to young to be burdened by another's self-destructive behavior.
good luck
Top Answer
I sympathize with you. My father was an alcoholic, he passed with 15 yrs sober.
You are the most important person here. You cannot accept responsibility for your mothers actions. She has too. She has to reach a bottom. Until that time you cannot help her. Everything you are doing is enabling her. You don't deserve to be treated this way, no one does! I realize you are busy, but there is a group out there called Alanon. It is for those of us who have a family member that is an alcoholic. They will help you and you will learn what role you play in all of this. Please check into it for your sake. I wish you the best.
lintrin69: Wise advice from the 3 above. You need to get help for YOURSELF, and I agree that Alanon would be a good place to start. You will learn many things you need to come to accept.
I lost my Dad, too, but he was is the throes of cirrhosis, much younger than your Mom.
Put the above information all together for yourself: Value Yourself, Detach from the drama, Seek legal protection for Mother and control for YOU. Find out where Alanon meets near you--usually at a community center or a church. Live YOUR life.
Blessings to you, dear one.
OMG...it feels so good to hear words of comfort. I've been dealing with this for years, but no empathy. Special thanks to all of you. I'm researching alanon n will be attending a meeting this week. Once again, thank you, I can go on.....Blesses
Lintrin69, Look up info about baclofen. This med has to be taken in small doses and then gradually increased (over many months) because of its side affects, but once 'the craving switch' is turned off, the patient can then go on much lower doses and never crave alcohol EVER. The med is an anti-anxiety, muscle relaxant med that some how helps people with addictions. Look up baclofen on youtube or online. Unfortunately, more people in europe know about this and are using it than in US. It is slowly becoming popular here.
Also, anyone who is an alcoholic is nuts. Every time they drink, it will feel like you are in a hellish wonderland. The abuse and manipulation is horrible for anyone close to them. You need to emotionally detach from your mom for your own sanity. Rehabs rarely work and AA has only a 3% success rate. Although Alanon may help you to separate yourself from your mom. Also the baclofen slows down alcohol use even if taken in smaller doses and never increased. Your mom needs to see a doctor who knows alcoholism is a disease and is best treated with meds. I am not pro-meds, but I have seen a loved one who has enormous amounts of self-control, not be able to stop drinking. Good luck!
Thanks so much for all of your honesty. I am also an only child and the daughter of an 81 year old alcoholic. She is great during the day but starts drinking in the afternoon. She then gets on the phone and calls me and of course I can tell by the way she speaks and slurrs. If she is agitated she will jump on me; I live over 8 hours away. I intend to tell her I will not be spoken to like that and if she wants to call someone while she is drinking, call someone else, not me. I love her and she is quite independent except in the last six months she has fallen twice, broke a foot and banged her car backing out of her own driveway. I rely on a cousin and I know she would love for me to move her here. However, she won't move, and I don't think I could take the drinking. I have read that elderly withdrawal is rough and can cause some long hurt feelings. Have any of you contacted their doctors? I have thought about writing her primary care physician and give the doctor a head's up; however, what can they do? I am sure she has received the ER reports from the falls. I really think this is an accident waiting to happen, I wish I could quit worrying about her.
i can relate to what u are going thru u just describe my mom she is 82 all my life i have had to put up with this cause she refuses to stop this is her way of copin with life trails and triblutaions she tells us lv. her alone so she can die in peice totally selfish i ran across ur letter search for answers too.trust me if u are going thru someone else is also u are never alone pray ask god to give you the strength sperate the sin from ur mom who gave you life
I have a little update for my 81 year old alcoholic mother who lived in another state. She ended up in the emergency room and then the hospital from a major nose bleed from being anemic. They could not get the bleeding to stop so I drove home and went to every doctor she has ever been to and picked up all her medical records. I then wrote a long, long letter to her primary care doctor explaining that she is an alcoholic. The reason for the bleeding was anemia from not eating correctly. Her protein levels were down along with a long list of nutritional problems. After her discharge I took her back to her primary care doctor and she literally scared her into realizing what she had done to herself. She is only drinking a beer on the weekend, no more than two and this I don't mind. She was drinking a six pack or more a night before and not eating properly. I think you should write her doctor and tell him the problems you are having; he might have some suggestions you are not aware of. I personally requested the doctor not tell my mother I had any correspondance with the doctors office but it does give them a heads up on what is going on. Over the last two months I have moved my mother in with me and got her health back up to par. I will let her return home soon but I have also told her if she returns to the lifestyle she had before, I will sell her house and yank her out of there so fast her head will spin. Between the doctor and myself I think we have put the fear in her that she has to take better care of herself. Good luck to you.
I just read your post from last year. My mom is 78 and has got drunk on vodka and orange juice and fell a few times, had bruises all over etc. She calls all day long asking what day it is and tells me she is so forgetful and I have no clue of what to do. She has been like this her entire life as far as drinking on and off., so it's nothing new. I also have my 86 year old dad sitting on my couch getting forgetful as well. I have no help but from one sibling out of 9!!!!!!!!!! They are all alcoholics who take advantage of my mom. They are all in their late 40's and mid 50's and knock on her door all day long begging for money and eating her food. They drink the money up and she goes hungry. It got so bad that she called me one day and I rushed over and she couldnt get up off the couch and was slurring. Her potassium had dropped so low that I had to call 911 and have her taken to the hospital for 3 days. She may have died. The same day she gets out I stopped by later to check on her and my alcoholic brother age 56 was back in sitting on the couch complaining of how cold he was while sleeping in the streets while she was in the hospital and he thought he caught the flu!! Im like, mom just got out of the hospital!!!, the other brother age 47, was knocking on her door while she was in the hospital as I pulled up to check on her place and I told him that mom was sick in the ER. He said, I dont care!, "I just need my sleeping bag out of her house or ILL freeze out here! WOW, so dysfunctional. Im very "angry" at all of them. I totally understand what you have been through and are going through. How is your mother now? Please let me know. I know how hard this is. God and my faith is the only thing tha gets me through this. I get up every day and say," I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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