I recently wrote about my Mom's bone-on-bone arthritis and received some wonderful responses.
I am not trying to understand the emotional state of my 100-year old Mom, who is very astute mentally and seems to be able to interact with people on a very clear level. But, when it comes to my suggestions (or my brothers'), she adamantly refuses any suggestions that might help.
I used to be an RN and taught at several universities. I still understand the medical systems about which I taught. My family has always used my knowledge of medicine as a basis for asking questions. My Mom used to respond positively to my feedback as well. She changed her diet due to the prompting of me and my brother and adopted some different lifestyle changes as relates to vitamins, etc. I have always been the person that was the "voice" for the family as my Mom has always been very stubborn and will not move off of a penny if she thinks she is right. I have always been the person that my brothers called on to try to be the "voice of reason" to get her to be flexible.
Now, we are at a key point where we have tried so many options to make her comfortable (lift chairs, hospital bed, steps to ease the ascent into the bed, and now a mattress topper). Her legs continue to swell because every time we try to solve a problem that would enable her to get back in her bed (or sit in the lift chair for an hour per day), she adamantly refuses and gets very belligerent and hangs up on me (or my siblings). Her personality has always been the kind that believes she is "right" and the other person is "wrong". My Dad often escaped to the bathroom with a book when we were children. She can be fiercely protective of her children, but very angry when things do not go her way. It has reached a critical point where it is now impossible to even ask a question about her health. Yesterday she told me that all I do is make her feel bad when I call. I only asked 2 questions: 1. When are you going to make your Dr.'s appointment? 2. You know the doctor may have to admit you to the hospital to decrease the severe swelling, don't you? These 2 questions evoked lots of painful words from her, i.e., that I am killing her, that none of my calls make her feel good, that the people in the hospital will try to lift her legs and that will hurt her. She then hung up on me.
The challenge we are having with our Mother is that "she has always been a fighter to live". When she had breast cancer years ago (1973), she talked about life. She used to tell us as recent as last year that "she wakes up every day thinking about living, and not about dying". But, she is refusing to do those things that can prolong her life and diminish her suffering in spite of her desire to live. It is as if "fear of discomfort" (joint pains) has become more important than the massive fluid that is accumulating in her legs and will eventually shorten her life. (as she sleeps sitting up every night). The logic of wanting stairs to climb into a bed that is lower than you makes no sense. The refusal to go back into a room and sit in a chair and raise her legs for 15 minutes because there is no television back there is illogical. The refusal to wear her Life Alert because she just doesn't makes no sense. The refusal to wear Depends, but has accidents trying to walk to the bathroom makes no sense. The refusal to let an ambulance take her to the hospital because she didn't want the neighbors to hear the siren makes no sense at all. The refusal to take the medicine for the swelling because it made her blood pressure go down...I understand. But, to not try to work out an arrangement with her doctor on how to correct that...makes no sense at all to me. The refusal to take the tylenol on a regular basis (recognizing that she is in severe pain) is illogical to me. She has not had any bad side effects, but because she takes 4 pills in the morning (and the same 4 pills in the evening), that is too much medicine. So, she continues to have pain.
None of us live in her home town. 1 brother lives 30 minutes away and goes regularly to see her. Another brother lives 1.5 hours away and goes when he can. But, we call every day. We send things to her. My brother goes down and arranges her house to make her comfortable. We have always been a close family. She has a strong circle of people that care about her in the community. She is always being recognized as she has so much to give and taught Math / Algebra for 46 years in that community. So, she is not missing "LOVE".
We are paying people to take care of our Mom so that she will not have to go to a Nursing home, but she is not meeting us half way at all. I am totally FRUSTRATED and LOST right now.
Need your perspective and advice.