My mother-in-law has issues, and we need help

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My mother-in-law is now 60 years old. She barely eats meals throughout the day. Every morning she has a Boost as her breakfast and either has lunch or dinner, not both within the same day. As an aspiring Dietitian I already know her meals are inadequate and she is not getting the nutrients her body needs. She has eaten like this for over 30 years, according to my wife. Also, she barely sleeps maybe 2-4 hours a night. She acts fine, and is mobile, can drive her car fine and her family and myself are always wondering how she is so normal with minimal sleep and nutrition. She never goes to the doctor and we recently found out she has been skipping her appointments or makes excuses to miss them. She has even lied about going which is almost the most frustrating part. If you bring up her going to a doctor it is almost an instant argument or she will try to hang up on you if it is over the phone. She is also not active, at all. I am not talking about like she has a walking disorder or anything of the sort, as she moves about like a woman in her 50s. However, she will always make an excuse to get out of doing anything like, going down a slide(basic slide, barely angled), shoot cans with a BB gun off the back porch, snorkeling, hanging out with her friends, working out, or anything you can think of she will make an excess to not do it. She does however like to spend money, but will not wear anything that shows her arm skin or legs. Keep in mind she is a pretty attractive 60-year-old woman and always gets compliments from complete strangers and I mean always.
I could go on more for each of these, but this is pretty much the basics of the issues at hand. I believe she has depression as she never wants to talk about things that bother her and she just keeps it inside forever. Her sleeping and eating habits worry me as I believe there is an underlying health issue either currently or in the works. You can't tell her anything that will basically try to change her ways. If I bring up concerns like cancer for instance she will say,"Don't worry I'm fine, I'm not going to get cancer." It's like she thinks she is immune to health issues, yet never goes to the doctor. This has been troubling us for the past few years and its time we get some outsider input because I can't drag her to a doctor or therapist. We could use any help you all might have. Thank you.


She is only 60. She is competent and has the right to live her life the way she likes. Relax, nothing you can do if she does not want to. Enjoy her, stop telling her what she should be doing. It will help your relationship if you can learn that she is doing what she wants, and mind your own business. Sixty is young by today's standards.
Your 60 yo MIL doesn't get excited about shooting cans off the back porch? What kind of a misfit is she, anyway? Whatever kind it is, I'm that kind too. I would not have enjoyed that at 30, at 60, or now, at 72. Workout? Just go away, please. I haven't worn sleeveless clothes since I was about 55. I just think it's more attractive to cover that flabby area as you age. Or I should say as I age -- I sure not make judgments of other people's taste in clothing styles.

And I suggest you try that, too. Don't make judgments of your MIL. Accept her the way she is. You may think you are meddling for her own good. But, just stop it, please.

Going down a slide? You ARE pulling our collective legs here, yes?
Seriously? She is 60? You are worried about what "may" happen? Let it go!
I think you all are missing the point... rather than focusing on the "health issues" you focused on example of activities we do with our kids with her. You all failed to realize that she isn't even consuming 1000 calories a day.. and only sleeps for 2 hours... again you all missed the point. Hence why I think there is depression involved for her lack of wanting to do anything, by herself or with her grandchildren. So we as her family are not going to sit by idlely as she neglects her health. Would you let your 19 yo do meth and just say, oh it's their life... come on, try to care about your family members. So unless you have actual advice in helping her, please don't comment.
The best thing you can do is let her know you love her, then leave her be. You cannot control her life, that is up to her. Otherwise she will come to resent you if she doesn't already.
Ok, I agree with Barb and some of the others here.. I am 57, and no way do I want to go down a slide..LOL.. But Maybe I would shoot cans.. but of course I already like to shoot and am outdoorsy.. It seems you MIL is not.. and you can;t make her be something she is not. I get the impression also that you want her to do things with children ( as some of this seems childlike to me). Maybe she would like to go to movie, or read to them. As far as her eating and sleeping.. my 87 year old Mom also eats an amount that would barely keep me alive, and as a retired RN she has never slept many hours a night.. she is used to this and pretty healthy for her age. We are all different,, it works for her. And why do you have a problem with her modesty? If she likes to be covered up,, that is up to her.
She's consciously making these decisions. I would more concerned if she was being forgetful or screaming like mad or other erratic behavioral issues. You love her and care about her but until something very, very serious happens, you'll need to take a step back and let her be. By medical standards, her actions are not considered worrisome yet...very frustrating to those who care about her, yes, but not to the point that she'll require actual medical help. I would keep detailed notes on her in case you need to let a medical provider know her history. Sleeping only two hours a night?? The body will not - can not - sustain at this level long-term and she will crash from complete exhaustion. No doubt. When she does, then call 911, try to get her hospitalized and explain to the doctor what's been going on. You can call your State government's Health and Human Services Department and find out if you have any options. Or you can always call Adult Protection Services and tell them her actions are questionable - to you and the family - and your concerned she's neglecting her health and that she may have depression which requires medical treatment. All this worry leads to tension which can lead to serious fragmentation in the family unit. Your mother-in-law may have decide she's tired of being bothered for this or that and may one day decide - she's actually had enough - packs her things and leaves the city for a while.
@careisgiving- she sleeps that amount all the time and has yet to "crash". She laid 15 yards of bark mulch last month in a day and still only slept 3 hours to her accord. It's not like we're on her case 24/7 either about anything, that might have been misrepresented here. She had really bad teeth and just refused to go see a dentist. So her best friend made her an appointment and tricked her into going. She was so mad but went anyway and was basically told all her teeth needed to be removed. She now has dentures and thanks everyone for riding her case on it and regret not doing something about sooner. She now smiles so much more and continuously thanks us for making that appointment. Sadly her best friend past away about a year ago due to undetected lung cancer and it has been hard on her still to this day. When my MIL was pregnant with my wife(yes like 30 years ago) both of her parents died unexpectedly in the same hospital the same day she gave birth to my wife and is still to this day upset that my wife didn't get to know her grandparents. Which is why we want to help her be able to see her grandchildren longer and just to not have that worry of something that could have been detected in an annual check up. So it's hard for us to leave her be and again it's not like every breath is down her throat about what she should be doing.
What about activities that she would enjoy? Helping her with 15 yards of mulch? Take over bedding plants for all that new mulch. I bet grandkids would love to help plant them! If she is able to spread that much mulch she is doing something right. That is hard work and not many 60 year olds would be able to do it.

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