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My mother died last year and he was her sole caretaker due to a disability caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm 25 years ago. My dad was already in bad health, but she kept him motivated to stay active. Over the last year, he has slowly been starving himself and has become determined to die. He weighs less than 90 pounds and was a six foot tall man. I imagine that his body, at this point, could not recover even if he changed his mind. I realize that he misses mom, but, we all do. I try to read to him but he says no, I try to engage him in conversation but he won't. He tells me to be quiet.

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My mom passed away 10 years ago from Cancer and Dad has had a tough time with it ever since. For quite awhile he was able to stay in their home and find things to do around the house as he's always loved to tinker with things.

We all really thought he'd die of a broken heart at first as he kept all the curtains shut and just sat in his recliner. Most of the time he wouldn't even get dressed. However, some friends came along and asked him to fix things they had that needed fixing and he found himself keeping busy again.

I knew eventually it would happen that he'd find they were using him as; soon as he had a stroke they were nowhere to be found.

He recovered from his stroke after several weeks of rehab and I was able to put him up in a beautiful apartment at an assisted living facility where he lived for nearly five years. He did his own laundry, folded his own clothes, made his own bed, showered and shaved by himself..and simply walked with a cane or a wheeled walker.

At first he'd get a little tired, but the more I got him up and going..the better and stronger he got. We'd go out to eat, run errands, etc. He was pretty much taking care of himself.

Then he started having seizures so we spent some time in the ER working with those but after one or two..they stopped. His neurologist have put him on seizure medication but come hell or high water..I couldn't get him to take his meds like he was supposed to.

We called in home care which was useless as they showed up when they felt like it; and besides that..Dad hated them just coming and going as they pleased. He's always been one that likes things on time and waiting around for someone to show up to give him his meds just turned him off.

So we paid extra money for the staff at his Assisted Living Facility to GIVE him his meds..but they were always late too.

He finally had a really bad seizure late in the night when I was talking to him on the phone (as he appreciated those late night phone calls..we'd talk for hours until he'd finally be able to fall asleep).

Thank God for that phone call as I rushed over there and found him after seizure, breathing, yet unresponsive otherwise. Called the EMT's and they took him in, where they admitted him.

Worst patient ever as he was antsy and uncooperative. They had what they called, "sitters" come in and sit with him because he'd just try to get out of bed on his own, etc. while I stayed the night on the uncomfortable couch they provided for family members.

While they thought I was sleeping, the so called "sitters" were whispering about me and why did I have to be there. Unbeknownst to them..I was awake and called them on it. I told the sitter that if she wanted to leave..just go..I'd take care of my dad by myself!!

Some sitters were nice thought and I made their jobs much easier by talking to them all night; while they certainly made mine a lot easier also.

I keep my dad going by being there for him most, if not all of the time. At this point he was going on and on about just letting him go simply because not one of the nurses in the hospital wanted to make him feel like they cared at all.

Then one day I ran into a friend of mine up on the floor that was an MA and visiting her mom dying from lung issues. My friend came into my dad's room and right away said, "What the heck..they don't even have a commode in here for him should he want to self transport himself?? They take FOREVER around here and if I'd have to pee..I'd love to have a place to go!!" So we put a nice commode in his room..got him into the nice chair in the corner..and he brightened up within minutes!!

My dad DOES often want to go and see the wife he misses so much..but that doesn't mean I can't keep him happy until he does.

It's the people that care for him now where he's at that make his life worth living..along with me getting him out and again..realizing that again..life is worth living until God calls him.
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How old is Dad? My Mom is 83 with many health problems. About the only thing that keeps her going is she watches over my Dad who has Dementia. If Dad were to die before her I can't imagine that she would want to continue. She has been very clear about this, has DNR in place and hardly any quality of life.

It's a tough situation you describe. When and if I face this with my Mom I hope I have the strength to abide by her wishes. And I hope when I decide to check out no one will insist on extending my life against my wishes.
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That's so sad. There have sure been instances when family swears a loved one died of a broken heart. The medical community may call it failure to thrive.

You ask with a pure heart what you can do. Be there. Listen if he wants to talk. And, most of all, understand that he misses your mom in a way you can't begin to fathom.

Sh was his everything. His reason for living. His joy...sense of accomplishment...pride...EVERYTHING. When he lost her? He lost it all. Losing a spouse is second only to losing a child. There is hardly any greater personal loss. Those who have been thru it and survived will attest to that. One's life is gone. And that's what's happened to your dad.

You might accompany him to a doctor visit and see if he might benefit from antidepressants. You might remind him how much your mom would want him to go on and reclaim joy in his life. Spend time with him if just to sit in silence. Make it a point to make a favorite meal for him, and join him as he eats. And yes, ask if he'd like you to read with him. Whatever feels right.

He'll either have a turn-around or not. It's up to him. He must be a WONDERFUL man to have taken care of your mom all these years. What a beautiful gift he gave to her -and to his children.
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