I am a financially independent 25 year old living in Los Angeles. My family (dad, mom, brother) live 5 hours north in Northern California. My 58 year old mother’s mental health, cognitive ability, and memory have been steadily declining for over a year. She refuses that anything is wrong. She does not have a diagnosis since she refuses to go to the doctor. My dad and brother do what they can, but she is so stubborn. She is retired and stays in the house all day watching TV. Her diet is very limited, she doesn’t cook for herself and relies on my dad for dinner. My dad is 61, still working, and is so tired under the pressure of everything. She has cut herself off from her friends and her sister (her only family member left). It seems like she has given up on herself. I feel guilt for not being home with my family at this time, feel frustrated that my mother is neglecting her health, am worrying about the future, and am desperately trying to get her to go to the doctor. There is clearly something very wrong, but we are at our wits end of trying to get her to the doctor. It is so hard being away, most of my friends and coworkers don’t know what I am going through since we do not have a diagnosis yet and I feel bad telling them about her, as if I’m letting her secret out. Any supportive words would be so greatly appreciated.
I won’t jump to conclusions, my mom has a history of anxiety, depression, and trauma so it could be a factor of things. We do have plans for her sister to visit soon to see her.
The HelloFresh idea is so great. I can afford it and it will make my dad’s work days much easier to not have to think of meals. Maybe Mom would help with the meals too. Selfishly it will also ease a bit of the helplessness I am feeling being away. I know they both want me here, happy, doing my own thing, but it is hard.
Great call to have Dad talk to the doctor on her behalf. They have Dignity Health, so he can definitely use the patient portal.
Thank you, again. You’ve made me feel less alone. I will update when I have something. Sending love.
It must be very hard being far away, but Dad & Bro are there. You can work as a team via phone.
Could be many causes behind your Mother's behaviour & symptoms : Physical illness, mental illness or an adjustment to aging, mixed with her personality traits? Some folk fear loss of control more, are more stubborn, more prone to depression etc.
Certainly a medical checkup would be a start towards finding the causes. But how to achieve this?
I was a child when my Mother stopped, let's call it *daily living functioning at expected levels*. I have no medical label to use for that time period. There was something wrong. She would not seek help. My Father took over running most household chores, & for the children.
There was no magic cure, but I think a big part was using trust.
Introducing a trusted person to tease out your Mother's reluctance to seeking help. Someone to introduce a conversation of "Your family is worried about you. They care. It would help them if you would have a chat to Dr blah. Can you do that for them?"
Many conditions, can be clouding judgement & decision making. ie CCF, diabetes or kidney disease. Another is stroke. Not always the big face droop you see on TV ads, may be hidden, quite minor or temporary (TIA).
Physical brain changes may mean she really cannot recognise there is anything different or 'wrong' at all.
Denial can be very strong & prevent accepting differences too. (Both can appear as stubbornness).
Your family could also try trickery if this is acceptable eg Dad schedules a 'general checkup' for both of them, or for flu jabs & gently introduces the topic of "I'm concerned about...". Many have had success with sending a letter/email outlining the issues ahead of the appointment.
It does take a Dr skilled with both an investigative approach while remaining in her trust. An initial appointment may lead to further screening tests, scans etc.
So I'd suggest;
1stly trying a trusted person (her sister?)
2ndly, trickery to get a Dr apt
3rdly, Dad goes see a Dr for HIMSELF. He can discuss what is going on in his world, which will hopefully lead to a plan to get help for her.
Let us know how you go.
I don't know how to force your mother to get checked out by a doctor until some kind of crisis happens, but certainly do try to be as supportive of your dad as you can. Can you afford to send him a subscription to Hello Fresh or one of those meal programs? That'd be a nice gesture.
Most of all, just try to keep in touch with him and your brother and mom. Our family does a weekly Facetime call so we can just check in with one another and see what's going on in one another's lives. It'd be a good idea to do that so you can keep an eye on your mom's decline as well. Make sure you talk to all of them one-on-one as well, because you all need to support one another.
Try to not to assume Mom has early onset Alzheimer's without an actual diagnosis, because it'll just cause undue stress. Check back here and keep us up to date. We care.