Don't know how best to care for elderly bedridden alcoholic mother.

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Sorry, this is a long post/question...

My mother is a year shy of 80-years-old. She has a history of depression and anxiety disorder, but though I have encouraged and cajoled for her to get help for almost 3 decades, she has always refused, preferring "tea and sympathy" from me. Twice over the years, I've managed to convince her to go to a doctor for the depression, but she has never gone back after the first visit. She tried Citalopram briefly, but I didn't see any difference.

Except for a handful of blissfully free years when she had a lot of money, and I was able to live on my own, she has shared a house with me my adult entire life, and I have supported her financially most of that time. Any time I went anywhere overnight, she'd call with an emergency. For years, she threatened almost every day to commit suicide. Once I became older and marriage was pretty much off the table for me, the suicide threats calmed down, but she still tells me she would commit suicide if I moved away.

My mother has two problems that complicate her depression and anxiety. One, she prefers to self-medicate with alcohol. She also has the uncanny ability to create serious physical symptoms in herself that are so convincing she regularly fools specialists. Once they start, they can last for months, or until she finds a doctor who tells her there's nothing wrong with her. She then believes the doctor and the symptoms clear up immediately.

A month ago she got drunk and fell. She didn't appear to have any broken bones (no one in our family has ever broken a bone). She'd simply pulled a couple of muscles. I helped her into bed. For the next week, her symptoms varied, pains here, there, in her neck, in her side, in her back.

Her original pulled muscles healed within three days, but instead of becoming well enough to get out of bed, the muscles in her lower back spasmed and have remained that way since. She can only walk a few steps, and is crying when she does. She won't go to see a doctor. So, now I appear to be an around-the-clock caretaker. I bring her everything she needs. She tells me that wine is the only thing that makes her spasms better, so I bring her a couple of glasses a day mixed with juice along with her meals.

This afternoon, however, I had to run errands. When I came home, she was completely wasted. Evidently she could walk well enough to make it all the way to the kitchen, where she downed half a bottle of Vodka. Sometimes during the past few years she drinks more than I can get her to eat.

I really don't know what to do. I have no one I can go to for assistance. I spent too many years attempting to get help from government and non-profit agencies for another (unrelated) problem, so I have zero faith in going that route. They hand you a pamphlet and that's it. No concrete help.

We don't have any friends. Her other children, my siblings, abandoned her years ago. At her age, my conscience won't let me do the same, however. If only I knew 20 years ago, what I know now, I would have used some tough love and left, telling her she had to take responsibility for herself.

The bedridden part of this worries me. I'm concerned this could turn into a serious decline, and am not certain how best to care for her since she refuses to seek medical care. Frankly, even if she did go to a doctor, they rarely know how to treat her. She can be exceptionally charming with strangers, and is never honest with doctors about her symptoms unless she feels she has no choice.

Four weeks ago my mother could move around easily, and for once appeared very happy, working industriously on a book project. When not drunk, she acts like someone much younger. People are surprised when they learn her age. When drunk, on the other hand, she acts like someone with dementia.

Any suggestions for how I could handle this on my own would be greatly appreciated. This last month has taken a toll on my ability care for her AND to earn a living for us. We don't have insurance that will cover therapy, even if I could drag her to a therapist.

Thank you.

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You are known as an enabler. You actually find nothing wrong with feeding her alcohol for her afflictions and being her personal servant. You both need help. Her for her alcohol addiction and you for your codependence. It seems you two have coexisted in this lifestyle year after year. This is not a problem you can handle alone anymore, but it starts with you doing something. Alcohol Anonymous and Alynon costs nothing. Start there and you will find a support system that will help guide you in the next direction. You have to want to do it or you will get to continue living in that miserable existence.
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My Mom is in Assisted Living and Dad is in a Nursing Home and I did lots of caregiving for them before they were placed so I can sympathize with how you feel. I know how timeconsuming and painful it is. My first reaction email brief post was to remove all alcohol from the house, hiding it won't do. I also suggest you take her to a DR. that specializes in Geriatrics. It is vital to your health and happiness to seek outside assistance from your local Area Agency on Aging or County or State agencies for your Mom. They can set you up with a Home Health Aide to give you a break. They can be extremely helpful in getting you through this and have many suggestions. I am an alcoholic but I also read daily books for Al-ANon every morning when I first get up. Unfortunately, I don't go to AA meetings anymore but remain sober. I also suffer from Anxiety and Depression and take 3 psych meds. You definitely should not drink with those.
How does your Mom feel about living in nursing home? This may sound cruel, but maybe that is where she needs to be for her own sake. Psych meds don't start working right away, so maybe she wasn't on it long enough.
If going to the Dr when she has a problem and he tells her nothing is wrongand she is better right away,if you can afford it, could you take her to the Dr. more often? Or maybe have her talk to him on the phone, making sure you can hear what the Dr says. God bless for all that you have done for your Mom, remember, to be a good caregiver, you have to take care of yourself.
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i have also found that while some of the general concepts of Al-Anon to be helpful, and some of the people there to be supportive, that the meetings can at times, be very depressing. they do turn into a btch/gripe/moan session occasionally. i also do not hold with the one concept of wives refusing to pay bills when alcoholic husbands do not take care of things and otherwise letting everything fall apart just to let him hit bottom. i always took care of my home and children so that they would not suffer for my husband's illness. you can still learn some things in those meetings. try a few, you might find one more helpful than another.

a group that i found Very helpful was Co-dependents Anonymous. they were more upbeat and were very much about making changes in my own life. they helped me realize that i could still reach my potential and enjoy some kind of joy and peace regardless of my circumstances. i'm not perfect mind you, still working on this. lolz.
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My Mother is also an alcoholic. She is now living with me and I am her primary caretaker. Depression, alcoholism and drug addiction runs in our family so I know how it goes and how dustructive it can be. I too am a recovering alcoholic/drug addict now 19 years sober. Being raised by an alcoholic Mother is not easy. When I began my recovery I attended "Adult Children of Alcoholics" meetings - ACOA - along with Alanon. I recommend it very highly. It puts you on a path of understanding why you are who you are and how to deal with it. My Mother still drinks daily - but there is nothing I can do. She has dementia now and also an alcoholic "wet brain". I have had to accept all of my hostile feelings for her and forgive her. I also made sure I set personal boundries that I will not let her cross. Now I look at her as an old women who needs my help. Acceptance is a powerful healer.
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I agree with sandradawn. You should call an ambulance next time she gets wasted. I work as a counselor in a hospital detox. Depending on how much and how often your mother is drinking, eliminating the alcohol at this stage could be life threatening. Stopping abruptly puts her at risk for seizure which could cause death. If she goes to the hospital it would buy you some time to figure out the next course of action. They have social workers on the unit that would help you with discharge planning. At the very least, her alcoholism would be addressed and you would have some direction as to her after care. Not sure where you're head is at but do not feel guilty if this is what you decide to do. Isolating is never the answer
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I agree that you should get a professional to check her out. Although very few people actually die from withdrawal, there is the possibility of seizures and DTs. At any age, it isn't pretty. At 82, I know I wouldn't take that chance..
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Alcoholic detox is not for an amateur.
If she looks like she is in pain, get her into a hospital setting.
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I am sorry to read about current situation with your mom. My mother is also an alcoholic and 82. However, I have had her checked out by every physician available due to some health issues which landed her in the hospital. In short, every physician told me "No Alcohol" because her liver is going South. I give her a beer at the evening meal occasionally but thats it. It is time for you to become the parent and take hold of the situation. She may have some withdrawal symptoms but your physician can guide you on the signs. You need to get her affairs in order making you POA and also enroll her in the county aging office. Unless, you do some of the above you are headed down a very rough road without resolution.
All the best,
Bev
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Cattails again: Go to Al anon and get your head squared away. If you understand your role in enabling or just being a victim of an alcoholic, you will start to see things differently. There is a bigger world beyond your current understanding and you will gain a great amount of wisdom for your effort. Your mother has a drinking problem, note the key word, "problem". She is probably, almost certainly, an alcoholic. You make excuses for her, try to find ways to make it ok, but it 's not ok and the thing that bothers me most is that when your mom is gone, you will find someone else like her, because that is what you know, and repeat this same situation. Educate yourself, not just for your moms sake, most importantly for your sake and for the years you have ahead of you.

I'm not judging you, I'm just suggesting that you educate yourself. After doing that, you can make better decisions, based on new knowledge. I truly wish you happiness and peace. Cattails
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Jane, you're right! Just taking the alcohol away sounds so simple. I will admit that I thought the same thing when I first read the post. I'm no bleeding heart, but it's way too easy for people to judge others who aren't in the same seat. Before anybody looks down their nose at her, they would have to experience her situation. I think everybody in this forum realizes that one of the biggest challenges of being a caretaker is the general lack of help and understanding!
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