My 75-year-old father has given up. What do I do?

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My father has given up and just wants to die, he won't bathe, hardly eats and has lost about 70lbs or more. It seems that he is depressed and doesn't care. He has recently stopped taking my calls. My stepmother says he seems confused at times and he sleeps alot, I don't know what to do for him, he has no family doctor and refuses any help.

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Dear Summer1963,

I'm very sorry to hear about your dad. I know its hard. My dad was very stubborn and no one could tell him anything. But in this case, I would try to override him and take charge.

Something is not right. When my dad wanted to stop bathing and eating, he had heart failure. He also had diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol issues. Another consideration would be possibly cancer. I'm sure your stepmother is trying to appease him and letting him be, but in this case, I would say don't give up on him and get him to a doctor against his will if necessary.
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Your dad is probably depressed. "Man needs a purpose" as the saying goes. Could you possibly first help him seek medical assistance, then try an get him interested in some hobby or charity or something, might help, if he is mentally sound. I am much younger, but semi-retired and if I don't keep active, I will go the same route.
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I am wondering if Adult Protective Services has a role to play here. No one is endangering him except himself, so I don't know if APS can apply here. When they send someone out to do a check after a call, they do evaluate his condition and make recommendations. That doesn't mean he would follow them, of course, but it provides more "ammunition" towards getting medical care. A hospital with a geri-psych ward can find a medication that would deal with depression without doping him up. (and also monitor his physical health, too, in case of a UTI.) Taking him there for a "check-up" could be the strategy for getting them there. They take over after that. I did that for a friend for whom I was her POA and it made a wonderful difference in the last months of her life. It took 3 1/2 weeks before she was ready to come back. Depression is often a stage of dementia and they are used to dealing with it.
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Getting medical assistance is critical. Here are several things you can try.
1. If you can get him into a car, you and your stepmother head to an urgent care or local clinic. Say it’s your stepmother who needs help so that you can get him inside and seated. Then explain at the registration window that it’s really him that needs help.

2. Find a company with visiting nurses. A nurse can come to his home and assess what may be wrong. Depression is an obvious answer, but that may not be the problem. It could be a UTI, brain tumor, or any number of other issues. His seeing a nurse could alter his perspective.
3. Does he have grandchildren? Is there a special event coming up? Is there anything you can use to get his attention so that he has something to look forward to. Use it to get him motivated. Example: a niece is getting married and they want him to participate in some special way. He needs to get himself ready.
4. Get him moving, even if it’s just walking. Use his body against him. Get his endorphins working. Endorphins make you happy.

Good luck!
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I don't know your circumstance but if you could possibly go visit them a couple days it could ease your concerns & guilt which could come later. Then working w stepmother can help make plans. Good ideas of what could be from given by others. This is a cryout from stepmom & she needs your support. Listen to your gut feelings. My God be your guide.
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75 is very young to be giving up. It sounds like your father has health issues - depression is a health issue - there are medicines to help with depression, even if only mild depression.

If it were my father, I would tell him that he can either go to the doctor or go to the ER.
75 really is too young to be giving up - there has to be a reason.

For a man, 75 would also bring a lowered sex drive. The desire might still be there but the ability is not - this will turn many a man into wanting to give up. Some men feel "almost dead" if they can no longer perform. I don't know why, but he can be turned around if you get him the proper care.

I am not finding fault with your Stepmother - she might be doing all she knows how to do - and she can also be part of the problem. Unless you live with them, you cannot know for sure either way.
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Summer, this must be so scary and I'm sorry. I have one thing in common with you, the parent has no family doctor. It is really challenging when there's no one you can point them to. Will your stepmother agree to call emergency services when just about anything that qualifies will happen? Next time he's confused, that could be enough. I agree that it sounds like something chemical is happening. Is there any male friend or relative of his that would be willing to help you get him to go to a doctor?.. just choose a clinic nearby. You may as well connect, now, to the area council on aging and see what they can recommend. Good luck, I hope he will be okay. He's not in his right mind, so try to move away from playing fair with him - you and stepmom. Bless you.
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A loss of 70 lbs in what period of time? Was he overweight? Some can lose 70 lbs and be in better health than they were before. When was the last time you saw him? If you are unable to check on him in person you should call local area on aging and report this. He needs help and apparently his wife is not able to help him. Does he have a dr you could call for advice? Is he in pain? Is he eating and losing weight or not eating? Does he have known medical conditions besides weight loss? Has he had bad news, a significant loss of some sort? Consider that you may not know of a personal loss. Give us more info so we can help.
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A UTI can cause this and not cared for will kill a man before a woman. Call 911
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Severe depression can cause this
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