mzgrits Asked October 2010

My mother lives with us and has become unwilling to do anything for herself. She totally wants to be waited on as she watches soap operas and naps. How do I get her to start participating in life again?

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She is 77-year-old, her health is good other than COPD which is well managed with oxygen, etc. There is no dementia. She wants to be waited on--totally. Her main activity is napping and watching soap operas. There surely is depression going on--but she refuses to participate in anthing that will make it better. Actually she refuses to participate in anything and is very resentful if I participate in anything. She claims to be "sick", or says '"I "m dieing". My last visit to my sons was a disaster. (He is out of state--so I go for a week long visit about three times a year.)She tormented my husband who remained home to care for her--and when I spoke with her own the phone she would crie and sweaer she was dieng, etc etc. She is becoming so weak from just sitting in a recliner or laying in the bed that she has developed a stooped appearance when she does walk. This is awfully difficult for us.My husband is in very poor health, and needs alot of care, I am disabled from a birth defect in my spine that has left me with a nerve dystrophy and limited mobility. I just got out of the hospital today from a "cardiac event" that is about 100% stress. Can anyonme please share a thought on what to do with a parent who has decided to quit participating in life? (This is causing some huge problems in my home--not just our health--but our marriage is suffering, our kids are begging to really resent their grandmother, etc. It feels like she wants the nursing home care (someone to see to her every need) without going to a nursing home. Her selfishness is killing me. please help.

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booklover60 Oct 2010
Wow. You are in a really tough situation. My dad is 80, with Alzheimers. He has a few days in a row like that, but then he comes out of it. I try to take him with me wherever I go, to let him socialize, and experience the weather, pet dogs, whatever. Can you try unplugging the television? Or recording the programs to be watched at another time so she can have some social time during the day? I don't want to offend, but maybe a nursing home is the best place for her. It sounds like she's holding you hostage. You can't afford to let this situation get any worse, you have your own health and family to take care of, also. I will pray for you and your family.
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LynnPO Oct 2010
I'd say it's time to move your mom to assisted living - be prepared for drama, crying and guilt trips but it's necessary to retain what's left of your and your husbands health, emotional well being and physical capabilities.
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195Austin Oct 2010
Some times there is nothing you can do my Mom is 91 and thinks she has all the answers meanwhile her comments hurt us all she is as mean as she can be -I do not let her know how she is hurting me just as I did while growing up she is only getting worse and I know now is not the time to try to change her so all of us ignor her digs and do the best we can-she is losing out because no one wants to be around her but we all are in agreement to not let her make us upset -she no longer brings me to tears she lost her power over me finally which makes me feel worthwhile she uses her lack of hearing for her benefit but as I said she has lost her power over me finally as I am 70 that is fantasic for me-I am a slow learner I guess but accept what is the truth she never really liked me but that is ok because my strength and refuge is God.
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At 77, I am assuming your mother has medicare. I would suggest you have a mental evaluation done on your mother--At least have the depression addressed. I strongly believe it is time for your mother to be seen by a professional. At this point, an objective party may be better equipped to help your mother appreciate life again. Do not give her the option as to whether or not she wants to go. Set the appointment and take her.
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Everytime Mom says "I am dying," I correct her and say, "No, you just have a plugged up nose from hay fever. You have problems breathing so it feels like you are dying." If people have trouble breathing, then it is hard on heart feeling pressure ,choking sensation, perhaps partial blacking out, disappearing into head to try to overcome sensations.

Not being able to relieve their symptoms or to have them understand them so they are aware of what is really going on is one of the most stressful times spent caregiving. Compassion fatigue, especially with the person you see neverending. If you came across a stranger in a restaurant, you'd probably be involved and very compassionate, calling 911, staying with the person until the ambulance leaves.

With a relative so close to all the time, it's "I dare you to die, here, i'll call an ambulance for you...that'll show you."

I'm writing a book about fighting for mercy for our elders, and I couldn't get away with writing about those cruel medical professionals hiding behind their impunity and badge of expertise. Nope. Mercy (who has been almost like a genie out of a bottle as soon as I started book) on my butt kicking me when I am a jerk as well. This sort of scene I write about. Getting on Mom's case at intimate times like this. Have to find ways to reframe what is going on, find a way to punish myself (like a dollar into a tip jar for every insult from me), After all, now I have all the authority in her life, just like position of clergy, perhaps more like jailer, power can be abused. Feel we have impunity because of our overwhelming efforts and sacrifices.

It is hard to sort out what is really going on. If this behavior of "wait on me" is lifelong habit, then has to stop. I still think Mom is responsible for her behavior and attitude. I have pretty good luck chewing mom out when she is snappy with the lovely respite caregiver.

Here is a possible strategy. When the mother is being overdemanding to the primary caregiver, then have someone ELSE come in an stop the mother. "I hear you talking to Jane in this way. Don't you realize how much she does for you? You must realize she cannot wait on you hand and foot. You woudn't like it either if the table were turned. I need to hear an honest admission about your behavior and attitude, and then an honest apology."

If this person is a stranger, the shock might even be greater.

Oh, the honest in depth admission about their behavior is more important than a whiny "I'm sorry." No always admission of behavior first, in detail. This is not one episode, but a string of moments and seconds where the subject has decided to act that way. They can change direction in a moment, and don't. Break it up into very tiny segments. Find similarities in behavior from fifteen minutes before, the day before, etc. See if you can get awareness of the Moment into their noggins. Good luck
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If your mother is truly clinically depressed then none of the above mind games will work.

If she's selfish, she will very likely go into a very dramatic rage.

To really know if she is clinically depressed or not she needs a full psychological and physiological evaluation.

Yes, you will have a life after she dies, but the question is given her present state of mind, the impact her state of being is having on everyone, your as well as your husband's health, the durability of your marriage and the dynamics of your children, what sort of life after she dies will you have.
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Braida Oct 2010
Hi MZ, I hope you don't take your Mom's TV away from her. That seems somewhat harsh, although I do agree w/ some of the other suggestions by AlzCargiver. If you want a bunch of good advice, you should go to this site's ""community discussions" and look up the recent activity from Willow. "I'm Worn Out and Feel A Meltdown Coming Soon." She's dealing with some of your issues, times 2!! She's received a lot of good advice that might help you as well!
Best of luck. Braida
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From what you say, it sounds as if, out of you, your Husband and your Mom, she is in the best physical condition. It is time to lay down the rules. Next time she insists she is dying, get her off the chair and insist you are going to take her to the ER, right then. After all, Mom, if you are dying, you do need a hospital. I am basically telling you to call her bluff. Then shut the TV, take the remote, start the car and wait. I know it sounds extreme but sometimes it takes extreme measures to jar someone back in to reality. You say she is healthy, maybe putting her in to a situation where a third party,like a doctor, tells her she is fine is what you need. You are in a very difficult situation, but time, being what it is, it is a good bet that you and your family will still have a life to live after your Mom has passed on. You need to decide what you want the quality of that life to be. Your Mom is not mean or selfish, she is clinically depressed. The depression manifests itself in the behavior she is exhibiting. There are medications that can and will significanlty improve her mood and behavior. You owe it to yourself, your family and your Mom to get her to a doctor and get the help that will make everyone's life livable again.
Good luck to you
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if there is more than one person involved, perhaps plan an intervention, a family meeting. Look at the Supernanny programs. Everyone in family on the same page, put sheets up where the mother can see them, charts, penalties for misbehaving, but that includes everyone. You could even film the meeting and show on TV when the mother starts acting up again.
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Lindam267 Oct 2010
I have the same thing with my mother. If I don't do everything for her, she's wishing she was dead. So much stress when you are working hard to take care of her. I know she is depressed, but what can you do but try to help her.
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