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My grandmother has been in a nursing home for 2 years and probably as a result, has lost the will to live. SInce I do not live nearby, I've been told by my mother she is not eating or drinking and sleeps almost all the time and does little if anything since her physical condition is so frail. She is probably only days from death. Her mental faculties are still good and recognized and read some cards I sent to her. I feel so helpless, and feel like we're all just on a deathwatch here. Due to the distance, I'm unable to see her. My mother is doing regular visits to her, but is unable to get her to eat or drink.
How does one deal with a person that's lost the will to live? I dread the coming days, and feel bad for unable to do anything to or for my grandmother. Why would someone lose the will to live when we all want her to stay with us? I have never had a close death in the family and do not know how to deal with this.

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Even if this doesn't change her outlook on life, maybe since you aren't able to visit often, I bet sending her frequent cards from her favorite Granddaughter would cheer her up, and make her feel Extremely Loved! ☺☺☺☺
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Jimmy recovering from surgery can take a long time and depression is not uncommon. Can you tell us more about your mother so we can help more.
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Her *doctors* disagree about the symptoms of Alzheimers, Jimmy? What do they think is going on, then?
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I am experiencing the same situation as oldbeagle. My heart goes out to him. The worry over my Moms loss of the will to live is a heavy burden on the whole family. My heart breaks for Dad and the worry is all consuming. I pray so hard every night that she find some purpose in life. She lays on the couch all day and stares into the sky. She displays symptoms of Alzheimers but the doctors deny this. She has had 2 major surgeries and i blame the total lack of post surgical counselling for the mess she is in.
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Sigh.... I understand her desire to give up. . . I had an aneurism in 1988 and died (out of body experience) I was 30. . . . Since then, I had significant brain damage and had years Rehab.... trying to get back into society. . . . I understand her mentality. . .What she knows is her past and identifies with it (which is PAST). . . Family can certainly help by expressing TRUE LOVE (Not just words, but a concern for her LIFE NOW . . . . Otherwise. . . . Leaving this world isn't the worst option considering the WORLD PEACE EFFORT going on now. . . CHRIST would be crying with our world peace going on today. . .
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This answer comes many years too late, but may help someone else in the future. I hope oldbeagle is doing well. I think that we make the mistake of believing that living is always the best option. For those of us who are young, engaged in life, and healthy, I would hope that is the case. For older, or sicker people dealing with many trials and tribulations, it may not be. Passing on after being convinced that our life had been full, is as much as any of us could ask for. It may be a peaceful and beautiful passage into whatever comes next, whether that is peace or paradise. We really shouldn't impose our wishes on people who, most likely, know a lot batter than we do. I wish you all well on this journey.
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NovaCare, You didn't say how old your husband is NOW. Pls advise. A feeding tube may help. Hydration is vital. Warm feet are vital. I'm not willing to say "let go". Yet.
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Death is not suppose to be a part of our lives. God put within us, the want to live forever. We only want to die, because life becomes so miserable; with one thing after another robbing us of happiness. I believe that letting go of someone who has lost the will the live is the hardest thing to do. We aren't grieving for them, but for us who have them no more. Death is a release from this mess we live in today. God, whose name is Jehovah, didn't intend for this to happen. Adam and Eve were warned of the consequence of disobedience, thus as the Bible says at Romans "death spread to all men because we have all sinned." Because of Jesus Christ our Savior, which Jehovah God so lovingly provided for our being saved from sin, we have a wonderful hope for the future. This will not be under mankind's imperfect, sinful rule, but under Jehovah God's rule. His Kingdom that Jesus taught us to pray for in Matthew chapter 6 is going to very soon rule over righteous mankind and it will do away with all death, old age, sickness, pain all the horrible things we see happen to those we love. Furthermore, the Bible holds God's promise of a resurrection of the dead. Those we love and miss,. we can see them all again on the earth in paradise. These are Jehovah God's sure promises. Sure because Jesus died for this reason. Take heart, and pray to Jehovah God for His Kingdom to come as Jesus said we should. We need that Kingdom so much so that all the suffering in the world will be gone forever. Learn more at JW.org. My mom is in a nursing home and is miserable, and my father is home here with me and my husband, and it's so very sad to watch this, but I know Jehovah God cares so much, and he will end it all very soon. I may lose my parents to old age and death, but I will see them again, very soon.
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NovaCare, I am very sorry you are going through this. Can you provide a little more information? How old is your husband? Has be been in a nursing home before the surgery, and intending to go back? What are his current disabilities -- can he walk, feed himself, dress, etc? Does he have trouble swallowing?

What was his mood before the surgery? What does the tcu staff say about his lack of eating? Have the therapists been informed of his exhaustion after the sessions?

Looking forward to some more background, to be able to comment on this. Meanwhile, hugs to you in this distressing situation.
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I have a similar question. My husband had a surgery to have a part of pancreas and spleen removed. He was in the ICU for a week, then was moved to a regular room for another week, and now he is in a rehab facility (transitional care nursing home). Since the second week in the hospital, he has hardly eaten or drunk anything. Now in the rehab center, it is still the same. Therefore for the last two weeks, he hasn't eaten much of anything, or drunk. All he wants to do is to sleep. I tried to make him eat even a little bit, but I cannot be at his side 24 hours. When he comes back to his room after his physical therapy, he is totally exhausted, and out of breath, and cannot carry conversations. Medically his progress from the surgery is good, but he does not want to eat, he throws up medicines, and he is going through a vicious cycle, he refuses to eat or drink unless I force him to eat and drink something against will. Does it sound like he has lost the will to live.
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some comments above i felt were a bit harsh, but somewhat true. It is there life,yes, but letting go can be very psychologically hard on oneself. however as I was counseled , express your love to her and the importance she has been to you. I cant express enouigh how it feels when they acknowledge what you said and the feeling that they did know when they pass on. Takes away some of the" wish I or I should have's" God Bless and hope you find some serenity....
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Support your grandmother's decision that this may be her way to move on to the next life. You cannot impart a will to live in someone who has decided that her time on this earth is coming to a close. Support your mother and your grandmother. Remember all the good times yu spent with her-it is what she would want you to remember. We all reach a time when we know it is our time to move on-it seems your grandmother has reached that time that is right for her. Medical science can keep us alive long after many people wish to be on this earth. Your grandmother has decided to self-direct her life. Support her and love her,
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All you guys are soooo very kind and loving. I'm so glad to be part of this group.
Ditto what everyone said...
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life dosent end,its just start in a new form,there is a place were there is no time,in are minds,and heart,if you look at all the times we have with are love ones,even if its just one moment,its a life time so long as we keep it,but as soon we look, at there no more then we lose all,and this is sad.as for me i dont have to see a love one to know i love them,and you dont eather.love never end.i love the ones i have now,i love the ones,that went on,and i love the ones to come.this is love never ending.,you wont lose it its stell there. untile you think you dont have it ,look and you can find it.
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Before I answered, I read everyone else's answers. For a long while I thought about MY answer.
First, I realize that this is not a medical site, but a Caregiver's Site. (upper case mine for emphasis).
The end may very well be near for this patient, however, it is not a time to play God.. Is there an Advanced Directive? A so-called "Living Will", and what does it say? Is it clear with signatures?
I am a strong believer in hydration, right up until the end. Give an IV solution ( 2% normal saline or less). Morphine, if needed, can also be administrered through an IV. Hydration will make the pt more comfortable. Apply a hot water bottle or an electric heating pad to the feet, even in summer. I assume that the building is air-conditioned. Is there anyway that you can be there from now on?
Hugs to you.
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Encourage your mother to contact a local hospice organization; they can ensure your grandmother's comfort, they can provide support to your mother and provide both you and your with education to help understand what is happening and what to expect at end of life.
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In short: Let go. I know you feel helpless and want her to stay with you. But it's her life and maybe she is ready to leave it. What does she have to look forward to if she continues to live? You want her to live for YOUR reasons, and that is being selfish. I'm in good health at age almost 73, but I have no desire to live as long as my mother did. She died last year at 95. I love life, I volunteer as a social worker, my marriage is wonderful, but I'm tired of putting up with all the "crap" that goes on in the world today. Besides, I know where I'm going when I did, and it will be a far better place than here. Your grandmother has the right to decide what she wants to do with her life; not you.
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My mom was going thru the exact same experience. Was not eating, and drinkink supplemental drinks. It was very scary. My mom was saying she wasn't eating because she wanted to die. She was living on her own.The transition from living in an apartment then skilled nursing, due to a fall, was overwhelming. Mom had managed to loose 25 pounds between march 19 -June. I was asked to consider feeding tube. I was reluctant to go that route. The dietician interview mom for food she liked. Gave him all good answers. Dr and a dietician decide on a appetite stimulant. She has gained 5 pounds. Stayed on the meds for a month. It was so nice to see her awake, alert and normal. Mom is 82. and will be 83. She's come a long way. Also, I did ask our parish priest to visit my mom. Shortly after that she did begin eating again. I am glad now that I didn't go for the feeding tube. I would have done that if it was medically necessary. This not eating was a behavior and a mental attitude. I am my moms poa and health care surrogate. I was very concern about my mom day in and day out. You do the best you can and ask for guidance from the lord. He listened .
Take care
equinox
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Much depends on the amount of time and effort you can expend. To put it succinctly, if you can engage her then she will focus on living again. It is as simple as that. At least, it should be.

In truth, nothing is ever simple. Finding the right trigger that will 'give her something to live for' could take much hard effort over a long period of time. You may have neither the strength nor the time. Even if you try your hardest, you might not find that 'something' which kindles the spark.

That spark could be giving her something to look forward to - the long awaited marriage of a favourite grandchild, or the birth of a new child. Or it might simply be a case of encouraging an interest that she has long forgotten - knitting, reading (or listening to someone reading). Sometimes a common 'enemy' can bring colour and life into a grey endless existence. Some facilities allow a pet to visit. There are programs (in Australia at least) where specially trained dogs are brought in to bring love and light to those in aged care.

Often people lose the will to live because they cannot contribute to or engage with life. Every day is the same, there's nothing to look forward to, their lives are full of "can'ts" and they feel little more than a burden.

Finding the right key can be very difficult and sometimes there is no 'right key'. Sometimes you cannot breathe new life into others. And sometimes you can.

I hope that helps a little. It's a hard situation and, truly, you may be able to positively influence her - or you might not. Please don't be too hard on yourselves if you cannot.
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You do not say how old your grandmother is, and this would be an important detail. This behavior in someone in their 70's would be very different from that of someone in their late 80's or 90's. I have been a fulltime caregiver for the past 18 months for my 92 year old mother-in-law with advanced Alzheimer's. Since the death of her husband two years ago, she has declined significantly, however, she still eats and drinks and her vitals remain pretty strong. She sleeps almost all the time, but I'm not sure that I would describe this as still having the will to live. From things she says, she seems to have more of a fear of death rather than a will to live, She seems to find enjoyment from nothing in life any longer, and we have tried many things to reinvigorate that. I believe it may actually be an act of grace to come to an acceptance of death that allows one to lose interest in food and water. When all the body seems to be living for is simply to sustain itself, I have to wonder where the quality of life is. My mother-in-law recognizes no one, cannot communicate meaningfully nor take care of herself in any way. I know for a fact that this is not the life she foresaw or wanted for herself, yet her physical self pushes on. I believe it is the longevity genes that she inherited. Her last remaining sibling, out of 9, is now 98, and she has been living in a nursing home, unhappy and languishing, for seven years now. Twice over the years, she did stop eating and drinking, and was transported to a local hospital for hydration and nutrition therapy. Now, she has a "no transport" order signed by her children so that she will not return to the hospital if this happens again. Oddly, though, in the past two years since this was put in place, she has not stopped eating or drinking. Her vitals remain strong, too, yet she seems miserable all the time. The Life Force is a mystery, and I believe that, as a society, we need to learn a lot more about end of life questions and decisions such as this.
It sounds as though you are still able to find comfort in your time with your grandmother, and I hope that she finds the same with you. Just being there with someone through this may be the greatest gift we can give and receive.
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My father lost his will to live. As difficult as that was, he was ready. I think the best thing we can do, is to shower that person with love and thank them for the impact they had on our lives. We need to be okay with talking about death. It is a part of life and sometimes we have to reflect on our memories and give the person permission to die. God willing, we will be united again in a different time.
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Hang in there oldbeagle, when the end is near food and water are no longer needed. What is needed is making peace and giving reasuring thoughts to your loved one. If they say they see people who have passed before them ask questions and believe them. There are little sponge sticks for wetting the mouth and lips. That is all they need to sustain them in the end. GOD speed.
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i suggest everyone purchase the "Final Wishes" author unknown.
it gives good insight on how those who are transitioning from this world to the next.
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Hugs to you, cmkk7929, in this very difficult time.
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I am going through the exact same thing right at this moment. My 89 year old father crawled into bed on June 19th and has eaten very little if at all since then, today will be his 3rd day without drinking. Hospice was initiated yesterday after a 3 day marathon of social workers and nurses...you see...my father was in fairly good health up until the beginning of June. He drove, tended to the garden and was the primary caregiver for my mother with stage 6 alzheimer's. The dr. believes he grew depressed and got to a point where he just lost all hope because of the drain my mother's care has been on him. I am devastated that he refused all medical help. I begged, cried, threatened...all to no avail. He just gave up. In the last week I have set up hospice and made funeral arrangements for a man that one month ago was active and vital. The social worker said that he is writing the last chapter of his book his way, and I have finally succumbed to his wishes. We must be strong and know in our hearts that this is the choice that they have made...we have done the best we can and now we must let them go on their terms.. Blessings to you...
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Jeanne, thank you for such a warm, loving response.

oldbeagle, just love your grandmother & be there for her as you are able. There comes a time in some lives when death is desired, whether to join loved ones or because someone is just tired. While it is hard to lose someone you love, it is likely to be harder to look back at what we ask of them for our own needs.

I think being with someone through their final days/weeks/months is a privilege few are given, having been through it twice in recent years.

Know that there is support to help you through as we can.
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no one can change the will of another.
the senior population suffers greatly from depression. this is because that they see the end is near. their lives are consumed of memories of the past. for some there is little to look forward to, particularly if they live in a care center.
the hope is that your loved one is as happy as possible as they move through this difficult stage of their life. the immediate care giver is also in great need of support, assistance, relief and love during this period.
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Hugs to you, oldbeagle. Each of us experiences a first loss of a loved one, and then more after that. We all get through it. You will, too.

I am so happy for you that you have had this beloved grandparent through your childhood and into adulthood. She has been a part of your life, and her death doesn't erase that.

Death is inevitable for each of us. It is not your grandmother's fault for "giving up." It is not your mother's fault for not being able to get her to eat. It is the way the world works. When a body starts shutting down, eating and drinking cease to be of value.

You think that Grandmother has lost the will to live because she is in a nursing home. I suspect that she is in a nursing home because her health has declined, and she has been on this final journey toward the end of life for some time. It is being on the journey that has caused the need for the nursing home -- not the nursing home that has caused the journey.

The only way to avoid the pain and feelings of helplessness you are experiencing now is to never have someone in your life who has made such a positive difference that you will miss them. I am glad your life has not been that empty.

Stay in close touch with your mother as this drama unfolds. Comfort each other. Celebrate with each other the joy it has been to have had Grandmother as a part of your life.
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