Mom is depressed and just lays around all day. What should I do?

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Mother is 83 lives alone in a big home. Has a dog. She is very frail,has bad feet,bunions,calluses,corns,etc. She has a deformed right leg(from childhood)which is always bent.She walks hunched over.She has copd.Diabetic.She is extremely hard headed & overdoses on otc meds(sleeping pills,nyquill,etc). She has forever taken xanax also. I told her she is a drug addict. Her whole day consists of laying on the couch or sitting in a rocker. Wont watch tv,wont go out,just complains over & over or sits around bawling all day. When you ask what's wrong now she just lets me have it! I go there every day for 2-3 hours,clean,wash dishes,vacuum,mop,walk the dog,make meals,get the mail,pull weeds,you get the drift. No matter what I do she is always down & depressed says she just wants to die. She uses a walker,wheelchair,cane & anything else for support but just sits all day! I've been to her docs & specialists & they can do so much. I think she needs a psychiatrist. I really do. She's always tired & wont discuss al or health aide cuz she says she cant afford it. She is on medicare & ssi. I dont have any funds to help pay for anybody either. So what should I do? Im in Florida. Should I contact the Counsel on Aging down here(st lucie county). Can they help? I do not live with her. She doesnt drive.She just seems to have given up on life & wants to take me with her. Also when I suggest getting outside help she tells me "why? youre around". Ive been doing this for 8 yrs & Im very burned out! Also I dont drive either! I dont know what to do. It is very rough on me. Oh and I live alone also(which I love). Yesterday I just blew up on her because of her lies. Any suggestions out there?

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Yours is a difficult situation, deb. I don't think there are any easy answers. Many elders choose to live in misery, and often it is a long-term lifestyle. You can say, "Get up, get out" every few minutes, but it isn't going to change the behavior. Sometimes we have to accept that this is where they are and they are not going to fit into our ideas of what would be better for them. We have to work with what we have and make decisions based on that.

Many older people also think there is magic in pills. If something hurts, take a pill. If sugar is too high, take a pill. Feel a bit nervous, take a pill. Unfortunately, many have not learned how behaviors can regulate our chemistry and mood. Does your mother get a good diet? I know she doesn't exercise much, but is there a way to get her to do a few things, e.g. laundry, washing dishes, sweeping? There are many simpler things that will get her moving around a bit and aren't too demanding on the balance and back.

Is there a reason you don't drive? How do you get around? I was thinking that if you were a little less available, your mother might decide she needs to do a bit more for herself. Everyone needs to be productive, so it would be good for her to do things for herself when possible. Doing too much for her seems nice at the moment, but the long-term effect can be just the opposite. Try to get her engaged in doing simple chores.

I don't know if these things will help or just create more frustration. I do think you need to take care of yourself. We caregivers, for some reason, tend to pull in to ourselves. I know I do it and it is a bad thing. We can't become so focused on the lives of our parents that we neglect our own lives. I think it is important that we close the door on our parents sometimes, stop living their lives, and start living our own.
Yes, contact the Counsel on Aging. Mom probably needs to apply for Medicaid at this point, and needs more help than you can provide.

I think that she needs to see a geriatric psychiatrist to deal with the depression and the otc pill abuse. Depression is such a sad and insidious disease. If she could get some effective help for that her situation and yours would be greatly improved.

Getting Mom to the psychiatrist might not be easy. It is hard to help someone who refuses help. Do your best and don't beat yourself up over what you can't control.

The behavior you can control is your own. Take care of yourself. Don't let Mom take you down with her. Look into outside help. Cut back on what you do, whether she accepts help or not. There is a fine line between helping her and enabling her to continue unhealthy behavior.

Best wishes to you as you struggle with this.
I believe strongly that you said a real truth when you stated, "So its just me & mom rotting away down here with no help. I cry an awful lot by myself. Maybe I need the pills." Sweatheart, I know where you are coming from and yes, you very definately need counseling and someone to support and guide your thoughts. I could not get through this journey without the strong support I have during the constant trials I have encountered. Stop now and research how to find support for yourself. You are dealing with a lot more challenges than is she.
Regarding the depression, have you had your mom tested for a UTI? My mom was laying around and not wanting to do anything. She had never been a real "joiner" but this was excessive even for her. She was tested for a Urinary Tract Infection and found positive. As the Antibiotics cleared it up, her personality came back to normal (for her). It is amazing what a UTI can do to an elederly person. Good luck.
Your situation is close to my own, the difference being that you live separate from each other, which probably makes things a bit easier to take. Mother has been living under my roof for the last three years, and slowly going downhill in the last months. Last week she was diagnosed with COPD, which is partly aggravated by her just lying in her bed all day; she has arthritis in hips and legs and can't get around without a walker. Even before she moved in I would spend all day, every day with her, letting my own son fend for himself.
Seems our differences are just grating more and more. Mother is very tidy and organized, I am more lick-and-a-promise, which works out as well as you'd think. Sometimes you can't do enough, can't ever do enough. Don;t know what to advise about the medicines, we just started Spiriva this week and already Mother says she doesn't like it, wants to just stay on her little atomizer.
Question: If she were able to go, would a short stay in hospital actually help your mother? If she has real difficulties she might listen to a professional, even if he says the same things you do. Also, you'd get a much needed break in the constant caring and assuring.
Your neighborhood sounds sad, not unlike my own. People tend to keep to themselves and take care of themselves here, tho I've hardly been cordial these last months, staying in with Mother all the time. Do you have any friends, any one in church you can talk to?
Nearby churches can be a great resource. Reach out to them and don't be afraid to ask for help that clearly none of you can afford. Maybe is her spirit heals a little bit that might give her the inner strength to cope with medical conditions that'd make anyone give up. Still, taking it out on you isn't fair. You don't deserve it. Make sure she knows that.
Thank you for some answers. 1st off I dont drive cuz of some bad experiences I had & also my eyesight is not what it used to be. I personally only get out once or twice a week to shop for groceries for myself & mother.The neighborhood I live in everybody keeps to themselves. I am a very friendly & outgoing person & I feel like nobody wants to get involved with me cuz of my mother. Nobody comes out of their houses here! Im 60yr old & once in a blue moon I'll try to walk to the corner CVS which is on a busy street. Nobody pays attention to a pedestrian & some suv clipped me one day & nobody got out of their cars to see if I was ok. Isnt this a sad place to live? I was totally shaken up & cried all over the place. So yes sometimes I just stay by myself all day too. All my friends live out of state so I dont see anybody much. My sibs are scattered out of state also & they just dont have the time. Sorry Deb,you live there is their answer. So its just me & mom rotting away down here with no help. I cry an awful lot by myself. Maybe I need the pills.Lol. They say the Lord doesnt give you more than you can handle. I dont know anymore. I got some lady to give Mom a ride to docs a couple times but Mom doesnt want to pay people. Isnt that a hoot! My mother thinks that her retired daughter up north should just come down here whenever she wants to go to the store or someplace. My sister is a married woman with grandkids & doesnt think she should spend all that money for a car & plane trip to drive Mother to Walmart! Come On! I told mother that too. She says she dont care. That is how she is. I told her she is a very selfish woman & she needs to stop thinking that it is all about her! Sorry but that is true. She couldnt care less. So yesterday I let her do her own chores. When I dropped off her groceries she just says thanks. I left. Later I took the dog for a walk & said goodnite. I just wish she would find somebody to help her out & leave me to deal with my own problems. Any thoughts?
The hospital talk drives me crazy, too. My mother did that for a couple of years. During some times, almost every day she would say she was going to probably have to go to the hospital, then start packing her suitcase. Nothing would be particularly wrong. I would ask her why, and she would say because her back hurt or her leg felt funny. I told her that people didn't go to the ER for that, that the ER was for people with heart attacks, strokes, trauma, or something really serious. Often we would compromise and go to her doctor. This got to be very time consuming and expensive for taxpayers. Since I took charge of her medications it doesn't happen anymore. Improperly used drugs can certainly cause problems.

Is it Xanax your mother is wanting? Doctors are getting more cautious with prescribing it now. I wish I could think of some magic solution for your mother. The only thing I can think is that I hope you can find a way to help without enabling her behavior. From what you wrote, it sounds like she may actually be better off living in a facility, but I know she won't go for that. You probably won't be able to control what she does, but you can control what you are willing to do for her. The behaviors can really devour your time if you let them.
Obviously I can add /share to the many experiences of those above. My simple suggestions are: Get her an antidepressant - Zoloft and Remeron seem to be specially effective. Get her on Medicaid. See if there are any lower income independent or assisted living facilities that take pets - many do. I think it's time for her to move and you can'mt worry if she fights it. NO nursing home- just assisted or indep. senior housing. THen get some home health aide and you'll be much better and so will she! My mom was failing fast till I switched her zoloft to Remeron. After many years the zoloft just pooped out=it happens. Now she ordered a pizza, is less self centered and actually sounds cheery!
The advice from Jeanne Gibbs sounds right on the money--I'm sure professionals can help you deal with all of this. Taking a positive action could give you hope and help you feel less isolated in the situation. A therapist (psychiatrist) reminded me that I had to take care of my own health (physical and mental) or I wouldn't be able to care for my mother (who is 91, lives with me, and has had trouble with depression). That was good advice, because stress was getting the upper hand and making life for both of us just about unbearable. Mother's internist worked with us to find a prescription antidepressant that works for her--she'll never be cheery, but there was a big improvement. If you check in on your mother once a day, maybe you could have an agreement with her about when you'll come, how long you'll stay, and what you'll do when you come (tidy up, fix a meal, take care of chores that she is physically unable to do). Listening to music lifts my mom's mood--would your mother enjoy that? Anything to make your visits something to look forward to, or at least something tolerable, rather than something to dread. All easier said than done, I know. Good luck

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