This saga is about my 79 year old husband, my 1st marriage, his 3rd, and we have been married 40 years this Oct. 12, 2020. He has only one living brother, and several nieces and nephews, and his only living son died of suicide in 1998; we do not have any children together. He is also a Vietnam vet of 1965 and was in the marine corp for 3 years. His physical health is of his own predicament as he has eaten poorly, despite taking his some of his medicines ( much less this past year and now) medicines for diabetes, CHF, atrial fib, chronic anemia, low iron stores, poor appetite, & elevated thyroid test, but controlled with medication when he takes them, he is not consistent to take his medicines, despite my pleas to take his medicines.

He goes 3-4 weeks without bathing, shaving or changing clothes, ( this has gone on for the past year) but he will wash his hands when toileting or I provide a urinal for him to use in the living room & he will use hand wipes as he is very short of breath with ambulation to the bathroom, has gotten weaker, I also use a wheelchair sometimes if he needs it for mobility to a part of the house. He retired at age 62, he was laid off from his job, and he had worked all his life. He watches TV a lot, sleeps a lot, eats minimal foods I prepare for him, and eats foods he knows are not good for him; his CHF is worsening as I see all the signs going on (abdominal & leg swelling, short of breath, poor appetite. He refuses to take his medications as ordered for everything and especially his heart failure medicines. I mentioned this to the MDs; I have offered multiple times to help him bathe, and I even got a wheelchair to aid with mobility to the kitchen, bathroom or den. He also has recently received an elevated commode lid with arm supports to aid him to get on and off the commode, as he has some difficulty. He also has fallen times 2 in the past 3 months, abrased his arm, and his head. He also has had 2 car wrecks, he was driving within a week, 1st wreck 8-14-20 & 2nd wreck 8-18-20 with each of our vehicles. The first was his causing, he was alone and driving, and the 2nd I was with him, and he ran into the back of another vehicle. He has not driven since 8-17-20. He nor I got hurt. But I will not go with him any more in a vehicle if he drives. You can't tell him he can't drive.

You can't tell him to bathe or he is causing himself an early death as his predicament is his own doing, he feels he has the answers to everything, he is also has a narcissitic personality too. He is verbally abusive to me, and gets angry with me pleading to try to help him, so I give up and leave the room.

I am a retired RN of 45 years, & have an extensive work history in ICU nursing of all disciplines, dealth with many patients, elderly and young, and assisted my dying mother her last year of life as well as my brother. I also communicate my concerns and issues with his primary care MD, and a visit is coming up soon 9-30-20. He also has a very slow skin wound of his scalp to heal as he has skin cancer removed with Mohs procedure down to the bone, and he had to have a skin flap, rotation of his scalp, which I still perform care for it, he has developed granulation tissue to area. He has lost over 60 pounds in the past year, he looks like death. Our finances are very stable as I always have been the breadwinner and made the most income in our marriage. I see him dying, and if he continues in this mode, I do not see him surviving his 80th birthday 12-11-20. I do get out of the house, walk or ride my bike, very active, health is good. I am reaching out to talk thru this forum, it is cathartic ! Help !

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Thank you all for sharing your stories. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one struggling with a relative.

My father is 91. He has always been proudly independent. Both hips deteriorated because of radiation for prostate cancer 30 years ago. He has had both hips replaced, and moves without devices, but he is very slow. He is out of pain, but he has always refused to do physical therapy. He also is showing definite cognitive impairment.

I am so resentful that he did the hip surgeries with no intention of doing his part to restore his strength. His mood and memory would be so much better if he would do something, anything to get his blood moving. I can’t even get him to hold water bottles and flex his arms while he is sitting in front of the TV all day.

He had an incident in February, slurring his speech when we were shopping. I took him to the hospital, but they couldn’t tell if he had a stroke or not. I think it changed him. I didn’t realize, until I was put on temporary leave due to the CoVID lockdowns, that he has essentially quit bathing. He’s right, he doesn’t have a strong body odor until he hasn’t bathed for weeks. But that doesn’t matter. It’s still ICKY not to bathe or change your underwear for weeks! And he’s shedding skin flakes and scratching. I’m not the type who likes to control or persuade others. I’d just rather live my life, and let them live theirs. It causes a great deal of angst to have to nag, cajole, and threaten my dad with being moved to assisted living if he won’t bathe. I also have to stay right on top of his medications, and keep an eye on his eating habits.

It is so frustrating!!

What? A scooter to the liquor store! Oh my gosh, nothing stops her! She is the energizer bunny!

I knew an elderly man who tried to drive his scooter for a very long rides as if he were driving a car and ended up burning up the motor! LOL

Needhelpwithmom, I know!! She is 96 years old, still living in her house all by herself. She gets out once a week and takes call a bus to the grocery store. She has been telling me for the last 4 weeks that she is going to the hair salon that is right next to the grocery store.

She never went to the salon. She went shopping and then spent the rest of the time playing the scratch off tickets at the grocery store.

Then she takes the motorized scooter from the grocery store to the liquor store which is 2 doors down.

Yes, she is fiercely independent!


Your mom is a tough cookie! She is something else! Very independent. How she hasn’t harmed herself or had any horrible accidents living alone is amazing!

I have a daily reminder in my phone that says “You can’t help someone who won’t help themselves.” Another one I have is “ You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.” It’s just that simple. Don’t bang your head against the wall anymore. He’s not going to change and there is nothing you can do about it.

My 96 year old mother lives alone and won’t let me help her bathe, or wash her hair, or change her clothes.

I tried to use a shampoo cap on my mother tonight and she just screamed NO at me. She didn’t FEEL like it today.

My mother looks like a homeless person. You can’t help someone who won’t help themselves.

You have tried your best to help him. You have done all that you can. You can’t force him to help himself.

I’m so sorry that you are struggling with this situation.

My Mother was refusing help to wash & change clothes. If she couldn't do it herself she didn't want help to do it.

My Father is a kind man with a caregivers soul & can be both partner & carer. But she does not want to be both parter & patient.

I think your DH too?

Getting in home aides has been the answer, & compromise. My Mother disliked having aides but I believe has come around the idea & looks forward to some. She now accepts their help in the bathroom.

My suggestion would be to try a home aide, maybe twice a week. The aide could set up a washbowl, razor, clean clothes - assist in the most minimal way, keeping him 'in charge'.

Watching someone you love basically 'give up' on life is depressing beyond words.

My DH is a diabetic who will not control it. SO far, he's 'only' stage 2, and was able to get it under control and go off medication. Got a little cocky and gained BACK 50 lbs and now is back needing medication. Refuses to take it.

I cook healthily and he knows if he eats what I prepare, it's 'good' for his diabetes. But he still gets up every night and snacks most of the night.

WFH? He eats all day long. He's not stupid by any means, but he has absolutely no sense of control. I buy ice cream treats for the g-kids and he ate an entire box (36) of creamies in a week. G kids come over, I go down to get a snack for them and all the ice cream is gone. All the cookies. He'll eat stale Halloween candy.

My SIL is a GI doc and said DH has less than 2 years to live if he doesn't stay on task taking care of himself. He sleeps endless hours--often 3 days at a time and thinks that is just fine.

He's still working, but wants to retire as soon as I turn 65 (9 months). I asked him about his plans and he said he plans to sleep and to quit bugging him.

I have nursed him through 30 years with HCV, a liver transplant due to Liver Cancer, post op infections, a stroke, a motorcycle wreck that should have killed him (he has deficits from that, and always will) and then 2 heart attacks just 2 years ago.

I had cancer last year and he did absolutely NOTHING to help me. Never even came down to my bedroom to see if I was alive. Never cleaned or did dishes, or laundry. He would call my (busy!) daughters if the bathroom needed cleaning, b/c it was 'too gross' for him to clean. It was eye opening and heart breaking at the same time.

The other day I talked to a friend whose hubby is exactly the same--but who is now bedridden b/c he wouldn't get out of bed. She is filing for divorce and not sad about it--just said she deserves to have a life that doesn't include a fat, lazy husband.

I also am prepared to be a young widow. I am angry at him for not appreciating the gift of an organ donation and for being lazy in so many ways. I'm tired, and after a year+ of cancer TX, I am still tired.

Therapy has been a part of my life for ages--and the truth is, you cannot change some one who simply does not feel the need for change, or who thinks they are impervious to time. He's only 68, I doubt he'll live to 70. UNLESS he now makes the changes he needs to-it's truly his last chance. I have little hope, in all honesty. It's not what I signed up for and honestly? I don't even like him very much any more. He is not the guy I married, not in any way.

My heat hurts for you, and for me. I can't think about it much, it's too sad.

He knows he has made these choices, but he still thinks he knows what is best for himself. I am not a doctor, he tells me, and he says he knows his body better than me, but I can tell you of all the ongoing events over the past several years, choices he makes, defiant in some if I stand my ground in the discussion, I just walk away. I am prepared to bury him, I already have written a temporary obituary, our burial plots are paid for, our coffins have been picked out, and our legal papers are all up to date. I just can't get him to comply to finalize some things, He also hides things that he doesn't think I know about, but I do. He has become isolated and he has done this to himself. I check on him frequently and when I leave the house for a short break if he is asleep, I check to see if he is dead or alive; it is just a matter of time before he dies is the way I see it !

Great big warm hug!

As you know, you can not care more about someone than they do themselves. I know that it is so difficult not to intervene and push for what you know needs to happen. But he has made it clear that he doesn't want to do what is needed.

As hard as it is you will be burying your husband before to long. It sounds like it could be unsafe for you to push the issue, let it go and let him do what he wants. Prepare yourself for the inevitable outcome. And stop accommodating him with his choices. He gets to deal with the consequences of his choices, maybe that will open his eyes.

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