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We lost my Mom a year ago. She was his caregiver. We have a caregiver now for the mornings five days a week, and a few family members try to cover the evenings and week-ends. We are getting pretty tired and he is not very pleasant. He refuses to see his doctor and dentist. He refuses meals on wheels, and will seldom go out. He just wants to die. He is a fall risk, has had heart attacks and is a diabetic. Trying to discuss the situation with him and give him options has not worked. Any suggestions?

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Conversing with a LO who has Alzheimer's is often like talking with your cat. Acknowledge, respond, be affectionate, develop boundless patience.

Sit back and enjoy the TV with him
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Let him be. I'm sure the loss of his wife has taken a toll on him. Most elders when they lose a loved one, lose their will to want to do anything. Do they best you can and God will handle the rest. Good luck.
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UncleDave ~ If you read the original question/post, I do not see where winelover mentions her father has Alzheimers. Many posters assume this website (AgingCare) is ONLY for caregivers of Alzheimers patients. Not true. I've actually read a post from someone who admonished someone for posting a question relative to their caregiving problems saying, "I don't know why you're posting this question here -- this forum is for people with Alzheimers."

Anyway, to address the caregiver's question -- unfortunately, there is very little you can do when someone just wants to spend their days sitting in a chair and watching TV. Your Dad is 89, is a fall risk, has heart problems and is diabetic. I'm gathering from that description that he might be frail, too. His wife (your Mom), who I'm assuming up to that point was his sole caregiver, passed away a year ago and he is most certainly depressed. The woman he spent his entire life with died and now he wants to die. Just exactly what do you want him to do?

If you tried to discuss the situation with him and gave him "options" (not sure what options -- you didn't say) and he still hasn't responded, you may have to try another approach. Unfortunately, men of his generation do not talk about things like depression, etc. They equate those emotions with being "weak". Mental illness, anquish from losing a loved one, was something that was/is not spoken about.

My Dad was one of those men. All my life (and I'm 55 years old), he never told me he loved me (although I'm sure he did in his own way), never spontaneously hugged me, never just wanted to talk about things, never really enjoyed life. I think he thought his purpose in this world was going to work every day, my Mom looking after us (cooking, cleaning, etc.), him bringing home the paycheck, having dinner (no discussions at the table like "how was everyone's day?" or "how was school today?"), watching a little TV, going to bed, then doing it all over the next day. He was also diabetic and had heart problems and, I truly believe, mentally depressed but he would NEVER and I mean never discuss what was going on in his head. He would never admit having feelings, discussing feelings, or doing anything about his mental state whatsoever.

His work friends were just that -- people he worked with for over 30 years. He never associated with them outside work. His whole world was coming home to Mom and she would take care of him. That said, when he retired, he pretty much sat around the house for the next 20 years, doing jigsaw puzzles, never going out much (although we tried to take them out with my in-laws -- again people of their generation who were totally different and outgoing), watching TV and living out his retirement years. My Mom, I think, thought when my Dad retired that they would do some traveling, have some fun, but guess what? Nope. He had no friends outside of work, would not join any "retirement" groups and basically that was that. He eventually died at age 80 from COPD (which he would not treat) -- I found out his pulmonary doctor prescribed him an inhaler to help with his breathing and after he passed away, I found the inhalers stills sealed (like he got the prescription filled) and he never used them. I found out later after he passed, that he told my mother-in-law that we would not see Christmas that year (he passed in November 2008). He went to his doctors appts with my mother (but he would see the doctor alone). He'd come out of the appt and my mother would say, "What did the doctor say?" and he would just respond, "Nothing. Everything's okay." Ugh. She would just accept it. Again, it is their generation. That this the way they think.

I firmly believe now that my Dad did not enjoy life, wanted to die, and actually hastened his death by not following his doctors' recommendations. He was "tired" of living, depressed, and did not want to go on. It's a d*mn shame because you only get one go around in this life. He was fairly healthy (mind-wise) without dementia or Alzheimers (although his brother-in-law and his own parents had major cognitive decline that eventually led to their deaths) and I think he just sat there all day thinking about how he didn't want to end up like them (in nursing homes, hospice) and he just "willed" himself to physical decline. Mental health is so important to physical well-being, however, again -- men of his generation do not want to speak of this. I did as much as I could but I could not "reach" my Dad. I would lay awake at night crying, trying to figure out what can I do for him. I finally had to accept that "it is what it is." Believe me, it wasn't (and still isn't) easy.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, I can only suggest that you keep up the home visits and try (I know it SO difficult sometimes) to keep things light and pleasant -- for your mental health! He is not going to change. And he most certainly is not going to suddenly jump up out of his chair and start bathing himself, going to the dentist, become cheerful and outgoing. He's just not. This is how he has chosen to live -- you have to live within his world. Short of him harming himself, unfortunately, there is little you can do until he either gets ill enough to where he is hospitalized, or he has a fall (again, where he would need to be hospitalized or taken to the doctor then). Good luck to you and I am sending (((hugs))) to you.
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You've tried to discuss this with him and you've tried to offer him options. Aside from that there's nothing you can do. How are you supposed to force him to see his Dr. and dentist? How do your force him to get out more? If he doesn't want to there's no making him. If you could get him to the Dr. maybe the Dr. could prescribe an anti-depressant if he's not already on one. It sounds like your dad may still be grieving if this is new behavior (since your mom died). Many spouses who are left behind feel this way.

And to the person who posted above me, please refrain from describing elderly loved ones as "lunatics". It's incredibly insensitive and cruel.
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winelover, it is so hard to sit and watch them waste away, knowing that it could be better. My father did it. He didn't want to see a doctor or dentist. He didn't want to bathe or change clothes. He was just waiting for God. He just sat and looked out the window until he finally died. We just maintained him the best we could. My father was deaf and nearly autistic, so it was a difficult circumstance. My moods went from compassion to anger to disgust, then back again. The whole circumstance was painful.

Now my mother sits and looks out her window -- the TV -- most of the day. It is better, though. She will go to the doctor and does stay clean. But she is a difficult personality. Again I just do what I can. Something that made it easier on me was realizing how little control I had and that I didn't have the ability to fix things. I can only help hold things together by doing what they will let me.

I do wish you could encourage your dad to visit a doctor. I think that one thing could make a big difference. Since he is diabetic and has had heart trouble I don't know how he can avoid going to the doctor. Somebody has to prescribe the medications. This may be the key to getting him to visit the doctor -- getting prescriptions renewed.
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My dad was doing this. He had colon cancer surgery and my mom is late stage Alz. He was grieving and sitting around watching TV. I realized that what he needed was an interest and all his life, dad has been athletic. But he was sitting around so much he got weak in his legs. It was becoming a self defeating cycle - he went through physical rehabilitation twice but kept sitting around upon graduation. So I did the "unthinkable" and I hired him a personal trainer - an incredibly nice man who is 38 years old and specializes in personal training for elderly. He has also worked as a physical therapist. He is so motivational, that even though dad didn't want a personal trainer, dad started exercising with him twice a week. I told the trainer, in front of dad, that he works for me and dad can't fire him. LOL! It's been a few months now and dad looks forward to his sessions. The weather is nice and the trainer has got dad out on the street walking. He puts dad through a complete workout. This has lifted dad's spirits and dad is doing better emotionally and strength-wise. So much so, that dad went back to his country club to exercise on the stationary bike several times per week on his own. Of course, by doing that dad also got to socialize with others he knows. Dad is now going out to lunch at least one or two days per week with friends. Of course, the personal trainer has become a close friend of dad's. The personal trainer costs $75 per session but what he has done for my father is more than worth it! I will never regret the expense and when my parents are gone, I will know I have done my best by them.
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I wish my husband, 90, would watch any TV at all. It makes him so nervous that he leaves the room or goes outdoors if the weather is nice; or goes into the bedroom slamming the door! His vision is very bad which does not help.

He has NO interest in anything but finding his wife. I think he is mourning her 'disappearance' also, although I am here 24/7.

The only thing that works are frequent hugs and expressions that I am sorry and cannot fathom how badly he feels most of the time. His expressions of wanting to die hurt the most. When he gets frustrated with little things like his buttonholes are too small and zippers don't work properly and just explodes - he feels better afterwards - letting off steam as it were..

'Just gotta' remember to give those hugs, etc.. in spite of his moods..
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Cherish the fact that he likes the TV. My mom is in the same state but refuses to watch TV, does not even want it on in the house. She just stares at the walls and feels sorry for herself 24/7. It's awful.
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I also should mention that dad told mom's caregiver before the trainer came the first day that he didn't want a personal trainer and he also confronted me about hiring the personal trainer and was asking about the cost to try to get out of it and I told dad that he could tell everyone how "his mean daughter hired a personal trainer for him and was making him exercise" but that the personal trainer was "a done deal." And it has worked amazingly well. BTW, my dad is 89 years old. He turns 90 this September.
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My Dad was the same way after he lost my Mom. He was depressed. First we redid his house in a more cheerful color scheme...bright, but not too busy. I got him a DVD player and played more upbeat movies and feel good films such as animal flicks (not old stuff which would remind him of days past and mom). I planted a garden for him to have some reason to go outside to care for something. You might just want to get him a few plants to grow from small. Caring for things gives purpose. Also, we got him a cat. It was less trouble than a dog, but dogs have a profound effect on the moods of people and someone might come over to walk it or help him care for it, but it may make him go for walks. You can adopt from a shelter a loving, house broken, mild mannered and house trained dog. Good luck.
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