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Mom has been devastated since dad passed 3 years ago. She is blind, has never been alone in her life and as an only child who works full time and has kids at home, i do my best but i just cant replace her companion. She currently is on hospice, more for me than herself. She has become a severe alcoholic (about a fifth a day). we quit enabling her after she detoxed while in the hospital for ulcer bleeding, but she manages to call a cab weekly. her depression has become very severe and she refuses to admit she ever has more than '1 drink a night'. we have tried anti depressants, everything. Hospice is there 5 days a week, I am there every lunch hour and 1/2 day saturdays. it is never enough. On top of everything and made worse by her drinking, her dementia is terrible. the last week or so, she has basically stopped eating altogether and only drinks. She is usually passed out or totally incoherent from the alcohol by noon and just cries and wants to die. she has a dnr and the hospice people say that detox at this point would probably kill her. (Besides she refuses to stop). I am losing my sanity (lost) my health is suffering and watching her suffer is killing me. (I have already had 2 TIA's in the past 7 months) My question now is, how long can an 82 year old basically physically healthy 120 lb woman last on alcohol alone? (she has lost 30 lbs in the past 4 months) hospice was brought in when she starting bleeding top and bottom almost 2 months ago and refused treatment)

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hi a aroman1 I know how I feel my mam is the same on only went back into hospital tonight it's hard I understand but I had to learn that she can only change herself ,my mother will never change but I can Change myself and that what I am doing , as hard as it is to say this please don't stop living your life because of yr mum yr life is just as important as herself
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Just an update- mom quit drinking herself 1 week ago or so didn't know about that til today. Withdrawals get worse every time. Hospice said she should have a drink, it would be better for her and she refused. Said maybe tomorrow. She can barely stand from the muscle weakness, is imagining things (told my daughter I was giving her "the most hate filled looks" even though she is blind and cant see my face if I were 2 inches from her) she still only eats yogurt and a boost. I figured she hadn't had a drink by how mean she was this week- going so far as to tell me that if she couldn't have a decent life, then I don't deserve one either. (wow mom- thanks!) Hospice does all that they can, and even though they have repeatedly explained to her that she is sick and weak due to the lack of nutrition and the alcohol, she still believes we are lying to her. She also is extra angry with me because I should be more compassionate and worried about her. She doesn't get that I cant show more concern other than to tell her im sorry she doesn't feel well and hope she feels better because if I bring up the reasons she feels so lousy she throws a fit and kicks me out for my lies. I really am at a loss anymore. and I apologize- not really looking for an answer, just really needed to vent! Thanks for reading!
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Sometimes, I have a hard time with the fact that our medical system lets people suicide without really intervening...as long as they do it slowly enough. From your last post I can see how it snowballed - she felt sad, she turned to alcohol, alcohol is a depressant and made her worse.. and so on. You can live on just yogurt and fluids for a while. I hope it turns out there is more that can be done, and if there is or if there isn't, that you find your own peace and sanity again, soonest!
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What do the Hospice workers say about her condition?

Is sounds like a horrible thing to have to do every day. Is it possible for you to pay someone to take in the food, walk and feed the dog, etc.? That way you can limit your contact. Maybe, just call to say hello. You can say you can't take it anymore. I think that is reasonable.
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Thank you vstefans. We have discussed that option, however, if she cannot take her dogs with her, she is threatening suicide. She now is having all the symptoms of potassium and other deficits, (muscle spasms, temporary paralysis) and will not take meds. Since she has a dnr, we cannot force the meds on her. She wants to die plain and simple. She does drink 1 boost and eats 1 yogurt. other than that, she will only eat a spoonful or two of food and an occasional apple. Alcohol is her life, and she will not stop, even with the daily vomiting and diarrhea and claiming she understands WHY she is sick. Everytime I explain the reason and tell her she needs to eat more, she just tells me she has no appetite. We go over it all the time and she understands, but in the next breath tells us she is going to take a cab to get her alcohol again. it is so frustrating. Financially, we cannot afford a nursing home for long, but mentally- I don't know how much longer I can deal with taking care of her.....
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If she went into care and was allowed alcohol to avoid trying to detox, they might be able to make sure she got nourishment too and might have some control over how much alcohol. Besides the potassium, thiamine is critical to prevent Wernicke encephalopathy (which could look exactly like dementia or at least memory getting far worse far faster.) It probably hurts to swallow solid foods too - would she accept some Boost or Boost puddings or anything like that? If she cannot take care of herself, and she is clearly disoriented and demented, she is a candidate for guardianship and that might not be a bad thing for her. I say that not knowing what you can afford either financially or physically in terms of your own health.

Years and years ago, I had a patient, an older man with long term alcohol abuse, and he came in to the hospital with GI and neurologic complications that were more and less reversible, respectively. So he became a ward of the state, and the SW got him into appropriate long-term residential care - she was very complimentary of me because I put "acute hepatitis with encephalopathy" rather than "alcoholic hepatitis" which might have disqualified him. I heard second hand that he did well there for some time afterwards. If there is a way to intervene, absolutely go for it, and if you can't do much, it will be sad and unfortunate, but not your fault.
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Just an update- Spent the weekend with mom. She has been vomiting blood for almost 2 months now. She cannot understand that the lack of food and drinking everyday is what causes her to be 'sick' all the time. it is so frustrating and sad. (and hard to always remember that it is the dementia that has made logic leave her mind) I hate to even spend time with her I am so angry that she is doing this to herself. Just a depressing weekend and needed to vent.
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Affairs are all in order Amy. My father set all that up before he passed luckily. (Morbid doesn't play into it- it is a fact of life and always good to prepare long before you HAVE to deal with it!) Thank you.
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Bless you aroman1, and hugs and prayers go your way. Depression, dementia and alcoholism are each a disease and your mom has all three. Its sad how common alcoholism is. I understand how hard it is as my ex was one, so was my uncle, and my neighbor. All died fairly young. With the amount your mom is drinking it doesn't sound like she is going to live another year, especially if she is having internal bleeding already. It could be any time but its hard to tell without a doctor evaluating her, and her liver. Its amazing but I've read that people can live with almost their entire liver gone (for a short while). You are doing all you can to keep her comfortable and take care of her needs.
Not to sound morbid, but it might be a good idea to start preparations, make burial arrangements, clear the house somewhat (if she won't notice) because you know she is not going to live very long, and doing all that after the fact is very difficult. Make sure she has a will also so you an handle her affairs. I don't know where you live, but if it is in NY, it is a nightmare to settle estates without a will.
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Thank you. I know that when she did detox before (October) they kept her in the hospital for exactly that reason. (potassium) I forgot about that.
All I can say is thanks for the support and info- this is so very hard..........
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If she drinks a fifth a day, and does not eat anything, within about a month her potassium levels will be screwed up enough to cause interruptions to her heart rate (heart rhythm disturbance) which will cause heart failure.

However many alcoholics sneak in a few food items, a meal here and there...and that alone will prolong this process.

There is no telling how long she can play with her health before she dies.

Angel
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Thank you all for the advice. I understand that I cannot control her actions-that is why I have refused to enable her anymore. The issue with placing her in a home, something we have talked about (hospice, drs etc) is that it is 6's if she goes there to die or stays home()they would prescribe alcohol to avoid detox). they will not detox her. I visit her daily because she is my mom first of all, second, as she is blind and has dementia I go to take care of her bills, check on the dogs, refill her meds, care for the house (to some degree) etc. It was a promise I made my dad. I know that she will never stop drinking, My kids are actually young adults (19-23) and agree that placing her in a home would only prolong moms pain for a bit more- something they also do not want to see happen, as well as making her hate all of us for taking her away from her beloved dogs. Yes I would love to place her and walk away and have a real life again-but it isn't that easy to do when you love someone. :) I am working on taking care of myself more and my kids the Hospice people have been great in caring for ME as well as my mom. It is just so frustrating that no one can give me an answer as to what would be best all around! They (dr's etc) always tell me "You're between a rock and a hard place since what ever you do, it will be the same end." (Hey Doc- you aren't helping me keep my sanity! lol) I really would like to know though, how long will she last at this stage? a month, a year? any ideas? I am just wondering because if it might only be a month or so we would keep her at home and plug along. If it is a year or more, that would change our thoughts. I know that is difficult to say, but I have never dealt with this and have no clue!
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Angel is right. The best thing you can do is to take care of yourself. Al Anon will help you cope with the psychological damage this is doing to you. Your Mom wants to do this to herself. Nothing can stop an alcoholic in this late stage unless they want help, which she doesn't. Obviously you feel responsibility and care, or you wouldn't be visiting her daily.
I'm no expert, but the alcoholics I have known (several) once they begin to bleed internally, each episode gets worse and there is no way to reverse the liver damage. At her age and stage of addiction, very soon you will go there and she will be gone and finally be at peace (and it sounds like this is what she wants)
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Many alcoholics get to the point where they don't eat, they just drink. This is the end stage of alcoholism. Not only is there a lack of nutrition, but she could end up with a potassium deficiency (common in alcoholics) which is deadly. She could also shoot her liver out, as the liver has no nutrition to replenish itself on.

If she is incompetent, I recommend that you have her baker acted...a mandatory 72 hour psychiatric hold where they will detox her and place her in a rehab if she cannot function.

If this doesn't work, and she still chooses to drink after the help, then there is nothing you can do. If she is competent to make her own decisions she can drink herself to death if she wants...but you don't have to watch. Go to Al-anon, where you will learn that you cannot control an alcoholic's actions (or any other person for that matter) that you can ONLY control yourself. You must remove yourself from this situation before it seriously damages your psyche.

One more thing...the way you know an alcoholic is lying is that their lips are moving...shes going to lie about drinking, period.

Angel
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I think perhaps you need to think about placing your mom in a skilled nursing facility - more for you and you kids than any other reason. Your mother is slowly killing herself - suicide by alcohol. You didn't mention your children's ages, regardless- it is unhealthy for them to be seeing this at any age but especially if they are young. You can't help your mother at this point and you are harming yourself. It's time to let professional caregivers take over.
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