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My 90 year old father with dementia no longer wants to live and has argued with caregivers about eating. When I ask him what’s wrong, he says, “I’m just waiting to go. I’m not interested in this program. All of my relatives are already gone, etc.” He sits in silence a lot of the time and must be roused to get out of bed. He doesn’t seem to enjoy anything any more and really gets blue in the winter months! Any suggestions or thoughts?

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I don't know if you have done it already; but getting him occupational therapy and/or rehabilitation care could be helpful. If he is starving himself he would end up on IV nutrients and possibly anti-depressants by IV as well until he gets better/until the end. Hard to get enough vitamin D for the elderly especially during COVID let alone winter, which makes things worse. Also I always heard trying to play music and/or tv shows etc from their prime could help reactivate happy memories.
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Depression in seniors is very often overlooked. May want to talk to the doctor and see if he has it and can be treated.
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I watched this play out with a gent at my mom's nursing home. While on the one hand he seemed physically and mentally much more capable that most of the people there on the other it was undeniable that he had a low quality of life and his future was only likely to be something worse. I made a vow to myself that I would never force my mother to eat - wheedle, plead and tempt maybe, but never, ever force. The very old have so little control over where they go, what they do and even of their own bodies, the choice to eat (or not) is often all they have left of their autonomy. Yes do look into whether antidepressants help, but also be willing to allow him to make his own choices about this.
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My Dad was ready to go for a couple years before he passed. We would talk about it & sometimes I would tell him I wasn't ready to be without him. He had a DNR & did not want any extra measures taken to sustain him, which I strictly adhered to. The day I got the call that he was fading, I gathered what I needed because I would be beside him til the end. He would rouse and talk but eventually fell unresponsive tho I could still see recognition in his face. I talked to him for several days before he passed, sharing memories & stories he'd told us growing up. The day before he passed, the aide brought him breakfast but he wasn't interested until I mentioned his fave cereal was included. He roused, ate the entire bowl, drank some coffee, spoke to me then laid his head back on his pillow and was back to being unresponsive. It was wonderful and heart-breaking at the same time. He passed early the next morning & I was at peace because I knew he was where he wanted to be. In heaven with my Mom, his Mom & his Father he hadn't seen in 84 years.
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castone Feb 23, 2021
Thank you for sharing ❤️
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My dad didn’t have dementia but he definitely reached a point of wanting this life to end. He did take Zoloft his last few years and it was a help with being depressed. But it’s very understandable for a person with multiple medical issues going on, missing those who’ve gone before them, and not seeing a bright future, to want out. Mostly I just told my dad that I understood
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castone Feb 23, 2021
Thank you. What dose was he on and how long did it take to work? Any side effects?
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My Dad was the same. He was exhausted with life and I would lay on the bed beside him and let him tell me about it. I was a nurse and had so many patients tell me that, and tell me they could not speak with their families about it. My Dad wanted to tell me he had a wonderful life, a good life, wanted to tell me about the one thing he had done he was sad about, wanted to tell me he just longed to sleep, and it was so hard just to get up "for your Mom" and just to eat "for your Mom" and to get on scale "because she makes me" and etc. After he was gone my Mom said she was sorry she had pushed him to stay with her; I was able to tell her he always knew it was out of love.
So my advice, let him tell you. Tell him you understand he is exhausted. That you aren't ready to lose him, but that you will love, remember, pass on anything you learned.
Your Dad is ready. Please, and with all my heart, acknowledge that. It is hard to understand, but you will get there, and now, pushing 79, I understand how close it is. We get tired. We are ready. Please be happy about that for us. And I must tell you, my Dad will never be gone from me, nor yours from you, but what a grown up gift you will give him by sitting and saying TRUTH to him now, and listening to his own truth.
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Harpcat Feb 23, 2021
What a wonderful response. And so very true.
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do the best you can, make his life happy, do not argue with him, tell him you understand.
As alvadear said, truth... make it about the truth.. tell him, you understand, play music, give him his favorite treats and the caretakers... it is okay.
give him his party with all the hoopla.... it is okay..
these bodies are not made to last for ever... so.... if you find something he enjoys... let him enjoy it... food, treats, music? movies etc... bring em on!
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Reply to MAYDAY
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I'm sorry for the stress this must bring you. I hope you have had some conversations about EOL end of life, if not start talking about it. At some point the will to live ends, don't let it be a surprise. We all are only here for so long and then we pass on. At some point you have to let your loved one go if that's what they want and be at peace with their decision as hard as it may be.
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My father said the same thing to me many times and quite frankly, I totally understood. His quality of life was a slog, with dementia, disability, loneliness. I felt so sorry for him. Eventually he lost interest in reading and TV and just laid in bed a lot and dozed. At the end he told the nurses he was going to stop eating and he did. It took him 2 weeks to die.

I want to impress on you that this is natural. We just get tired at the end and you will hear this is very common. I liked Alvadeer's suggestion. Honor and acknowledge his words and try to help him feel loved. That’s all any of us can do.
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Hiimwes Feb 23, 2021
This is the first answer that has actually made sense to me. Maybe it's because I had to watch my grandpa slowly starve himself to death, but I have a deep hatred for this ignorant medical system. They keep them alive, AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, just to drain their bank accounts. Why not put them down humanely when it's time, instead of forcing them to suffer even more? Oh... because then they don't make as much money if they do that. WHERE'S THE COMPASSION FOR ANOTHER HUMAN LIFE!? God, it really grinds my gears just thinking about it!
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Sounds like he has just lost the will to live.

My Dad is 96 but he has dementia and says he's going to live to be 100.

I tell the Caregivers to let him do whatever he wants as I feel at that age, he deserves it.

If he wants to have a snack every couple hours, let him.

Let him watch TV whenever he wants.

Redirect his talk about being ready to die.

He deffiently needs things to do, mostly, he needs Companionship.

He needs to do things he use to enjoy doing.

Every Day Play music that he use to like as Music is very soothing, can bring back good memories, very therapeutic.

Go thru old pictures and reminise with him about the good old days.

I give my Dad foot. Leg arms and feet massages with organic coconut oil and he loves it and always relaxes him and he goes right to sleep.

Old people do sleep a lot. They sleep on and off all day.

If he has problems sleeping at night ask his Dr about giving him an over the counter melatonin to help him sleep.

At that age, let him eat and drink what he wants as long as it's not alcohol.

At this age if he wants Little Debbie chocolate mini muffins and milk that's what he gets.

If he doesn't feel like eating my rule to the Caregivers is Never Force Him To Eat! Just save the food and offer it a little later. He'll eat when he's hungry.

Old people lose their taste as they age and that's why they lean towards liking sweets.

Old people especially ones with dementia even will forget how to eat and swallow and don't want to because they think they will choke.

My Dad started spitting out his food after chewing it instead of swallowing it so he couldn't eat meat and other foods any longer so I went to easy foods like pancakes and syrup, apple sauce, oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, mash potatoes and gravy, soup, beans and cornbread, baby food chicken sausages, ensure. Breakfast drinks, Breakfast Fruit Bars, Shakes, Ice Cream, Doughnut and muffins nothing with nuts or berries or even tiny bits of onion or relish in a potato salad, if he felt a pc in his mouth, he would spit it out like we would if we got a bone thinking it was a foreign object, that's when we switched to soft food.

He needs to be stimulated...

Play Cards or Dominos with him..

Buy him lg pc puzzles, lg size paint by number, easy kids model plane, car to put together and paint.

NEVER EVER ALLOW A FEEDING TUBE!

Remember, in the end it is his life and if he's ready to go let him go.

Also please go over his meds tgat may be making him feel suicidal and make sure he does not have a UTI.

Dissues with him and have a Do Not Resuscitate.

Prayers
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Hiimwes Feb 23, 2021
That's a good answer, but you're talking about prolonging the inevitable. Do you really expect her father to start enjoying life now? Sometimes it's best to just know when to call it quits guys. I have no idea why everyone insists on keeping him alive as long as possible. Why should someone have to starve themselves to death slowly, instead of being humanely put down? Is this entire world full of sadists or something?
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What a kind and compassionate answer, AlvaDeer! And what a precious opportunity for you, castone. All the best!
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Please get him to see a geriatric psychologist. Depression is very common in seniors - and can be successfully treated.
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Hiimwes Feb 23, 2021
Okay, so this psychologist can just revive all of his dead acquaintances? Can he also revive pets? I'd like to have my first hamster back, please. In all seriousness, keeping someone alive who just wants to die at an old age is ridiculously ignorant. Are you in your 90s? No? Do you know the chronic pain, inability to do stuff you used to be able to do, or the pain of losing everyone you know and love? No. A psychologist can only do so much. He's not so much as depressed, as he is just tired of living. There's a difference. He's probably depressed that people like you think it's a good idea to keep him alive for as long as possible. Not everyone wants to live near their 100s, and I've seen that again and again. Humans weren't designed to live that long and it really shows.
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I'm so sorry for your father and for you for having to see him like this.

I was in the same situation; my father was grieving my mom (his wife of almost 60 years) who passed away on Christmas day and didn't want to live anymore. The best I could do was keep him company, play his favorite card game as often as we could, pay attention to him and let him know that he mattered and I needed him here as he did make a huge difference. Just be with him in the present and try not to worry about what tomorrow will bring. My heart goes out to you both.
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My aunt was saying similar things, and she'd even joke about blowing her own brains out with her 9mm handgun sometimes, which was... highly disturbing to say the least. I know she was just joking since she's a catholic, but still. Anyway, the doctors diagnosed her with late-stage dementia, which can cause severe depression. Honestly, I believe that people should be able to die whenever they want to at older ages. Keeping someone alive into their hundreds when they just want to pass on is rude. All the hospitals care about is draining older people of all of their money. Now, before someone calls me insensitive, think about it like this. In the old days, before medical science came along and f***ed up the cycle, old people were considered to be 50-70 years old. They could still somewhat function. Now compare that to my aunt who's 96 years old this year and your father who's 90. At those ages, they have so many pills that they can't even remember if they took them all. She had to take 20 pills every single morning, each for something different, She can't walk more than a couple of steps, she can't drive, she can't make her own food, she can't play with her cat, and everyone she knew well has already died. My grandpa before that lived to be 98 before he refused to eat and passed away. They refused to put him down and made him starve himself to death instead. I think more people should be wary of the medical system in America because it's a disgustingly corrupt system that preys on those in need. Not to mention, we pay more for everything, and we're still the least insured developed country in the WORLD!
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SZHNJ1023 Feb 23, 2021
I could not agree with you more, Hiimwes.
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I would talk to him, and remind him of fond memories of the past....it may stimulate his mind, and if nothing else it will take his mind to another place.... I'm sure it's very hard to see your dad in this state, and I hope you can both find some kind of comfort during this tough time.........
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Rafaela Feb 23, 2021
This is what we did with my grandmother who was 99, still quite sharp, had been ready to go for some time and was sure the minimal medicine she was getting from her nursing home was keeping her alive against her wishes. She couldn’t see and could barely hear, but would participate when old memories and music were brought up. It hurt us to see her suffer for so long, but there were those bright spots for her and us.
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first the basics of fresh air and sunshine, water. Not eating is difficult and very common when someone is nearing their last days. Eating with them usually helps rather than trying to eat alone. Make sure he knows how appreciated he is and you enjoy his company...assure him he is not a burden. What has been his interests in the past? WWII? Watch some good WWII movies with him. Being outside lifts the spirits. Do what you can, but many times our loved ones have come to peace with when the hour comes they are ready . Btw for winter months when too cold for outside or too gloomy, try a light therapy lamp. Companionship and affirmation is key. Always get his opinion and inputs. God bless!
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castone Feb 23, 2021
Thank you for your thoughtful response!
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I know this upsets you, and I'm sure you want to relieve his emotional pain.
I would suggest that you not ask him what is wrong and be as positive as you can when you talk to him. Does he have any favorite books? Perhaps you could read to him.You don't say if he is a man of faith, but if so, reading some of the Psalms to him might comfort him. Would he play a board game or a card game with you?

One thing I wish I had done when my grandparents and parents were still alive was to ask them about other family members and identify old photos. Perhaps that would give him a feeling of purpose. Does he have grandchildren or great-grandchildren who could call or visit him or send him a card or drawing they made?

I'm not one of those who likes to bring up memories, because it reminds me of what I have lost. You would have to judge whether your dad would like to think about old times or if it would just make him sad.

Does he have any friends who might call him and chat or visit him? I've seen a lot of old guys getting together at McD's or some place several mornings to have coffee and shoot the bull. Would he like to do something like that?

As others have said, you should talk to his doctor if you haven't already, and if it is his time to go, then nothing will prevent that. It's just sad that he is so depressed. Hope you find a way to help him and to ease your worry.
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castone Feb 23, 2021
Thank you for taking the time to respond. With his dementia, he’s not able
to answer questions, even something as simple as what would you like for lunch?
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My 92 yr old mother wanted to live. She said choice to live or die at any age. Find something he enjoys. Movement. Involve him in something. Laundry (fold towels, etc.). Sing. Play music. Up beat. Get him to dance to music. Children and pets. Family. Don’t put him somewhere depressing. No nursing home. But maybe a new friend his age. Pictures and videos. Can make some happy, some sad. Give him important role in life. Talk about his life and video tape it. Ask questions. Get him to tell stories. That will keep him friends and family alike. Ask him What is favorite memory. Play. Laugh. Tell jokes, riddles. Get him new friend/family (pet). But not a big strong dog that could knock him over. A lap dog. Movement will help a lot. Somewhere to go. Church. Car ride. Some reason to get out of bed. Be careful that he doesn’t fall. Life is miracle. Live each day. Each phase of life can be hard. I took care of my mother 24/7until she passed. Best time. I got the I love you. Non movement makes you stiff. Go for walks. But of course not bad weather. The indoor mall or food store. Get a cart. Bring a small towel to put over handle. When this virus time is over do this. Communication. Attention. Hugs. Good luck. Today will only be today. You never know when our last moment will be. Check vitamin D and Thyroid. Could make depressions worse. His family and friends are gone. But he still has you. With this virus, it’s safer to stay home. Does he get up for meals, bathing or potty trips? Eating. He should have favorite. Old people like ice cream. Get ensure ( check all to see which has best that he needs ( protein, etc.). Put the ensure in breakfast oatmeal,etc. make sure he moves = circulation. Non movement can cause wounds.
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castone Feb 23, 2021
Wow thanks! Are you interested in a caregiver position? 😊
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When dementia advances to this degree, it's natural for your father to want to stop living. He's tired. Not everybody WANTS to live and prolong the suffering that goes along with dementia, and to suggest otherwise is not accepting or validating your father's WISHES in the matter. Please don't think YOU are doing 'something wrong' here or that you can change his attitude if you take him home & make every moment of his life a joyride. Yeah, no............not likely to happen, my friend.

My mother is 94 & in a similar situation to your father. I listen to her tell me daily how she's ready to die and I actually commiserate with her b/c I'm validating HER feelings about her OWN life and death here. She says I don't understand how much pain & suffering she's going through *when she's lucid enough to speak like this* and I agree with her. Every night I pray that God comes to take her Home. She deserves peace.

I suggest you get a hospice evaluation for your father asap. They won't force him to eat or sleep less; they will accommodate him and make him as comfortable as possible until his time comes to enter the next phase of his eternal life. They won't try to suggest giving him a happy pill because let's face it, dementia has ruined the quality of his life..........why should he WANT to extend it? That's what blows my mind; when people suggest prolonging a demented elder's life no matter WHAT. Why? My DH and I have already had the discussion about 'what to do' if one of us gets diagnosed with ALZ/dementia, and extending our lives is not one of the options.

Wishing you the best of luck with acceptance of your father's wishes and peace with all of it.
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MaryKathleen Feb 23, 2021
My husband has dementia, and when he was first diagnosed, that was his wish. He did not want his life extended or any feeding tube or anything else. I feel the same way. So many of my friends are gone. One hard time I had was in 6 weeks, I went to 19 funerals. That is hard. Sometimes more than one a day.
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Castone, thank you for your responses to us. So often people ask a question and are never seen again. We so appreciate that you took the time to respond. Our hearts are with you.
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When my father told me he didn't want to live anymore I didn't know what to say. I regret that I didn't pursue the conversation with him but just left him hanging. Shortly after he told me that, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and given four weeks to live, without treatment. After three weeks of radiation, he was very near death and the doctor wanted to insert a stomach tube to continue treatment. At that time I asked his physician to help us discuss hospice care. My dad embraced the idea and we took him home. He died 28 days later at home, under my care, on his own terms. My book, Loving Choices, Peaceful Passing: Why My Family Chose Hospice tells our story. I suggest you get a copy of Five Wishes (five wishes.org) and go over it with him to see what he really wants as he lives out his final days.
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Reply to AuthorKathleen
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He's in his 90's. I suggest you listen to him! He has every right to feel the way he does! If he doesn't want to eat any more, then don't force him to. In the end my Mother ate less and less. She barely drank any water and this went on for a long time before she finally passed. I miss her terribly. She was my best friend, but I was relieved she wouldn't have to lie there in bed anymore just waiting to die.

I myself, don't feel like living and I am only 66. If a person is not living, but merely existing, then they are not living.
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MaryKathleen Feb 23, 2021
((hugs)). I don't know how much pain you are in, or your general health. You are young enough to be my child. I am 86. I encourage you to find out why you are feeling the way you do and try some changes. ((hugs)). I remarried at 65 and worked part time until I was 84. I volunteer with my Sheriff's Department. PM me if you want to.
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I think I would feel the same in his situation. As hard as it may be, I think we have to acknowledge when people feel that way and listen. His life is not going to improve so if he doesn't want to get up, then understand and if he will only eat ice cream or cake or whatever so be it, give him his favourite food. He wants to leave, so awful as that might be, make him as comfortable as you can while he waits. Just be there with him and reassure him.
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My mother in law had the same problem before she passed away. She also had a phase of saying that all her relatives are gone and refused to see television. I did keep her up to date on weather and events in town. I tried to keep her entertained by reading her the bible and also singing some spiritual songs. Maybe there is something that he would like to listen.
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Many of us have had this experience with loved ones. One day my Dad refused to get out of bed, refused to eat and died within 2 days. His choice and really a good death. In the meantime, I find. Ideas of small children and cute animals can give some relief and bring an occasional smile.
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One idea that really helped my mom and has helped countless others are some inexpensive headphones available through www.AliveInside.org . Check out the website. This is an amazing group that offers these headphones which have an easy way to download A LOT of a loved one's favorite music. There is a documentary about the miracles they are achieving by loading these headphones with old tunes for the elderly, those with dementia, and even those that have been unreachable in other ways. If you haven't seen it, check it out! My mom loved her headphones and all the old jazz we downloaded. Then we passed them on to a 94 year old friend who has been locked down and he loves them also!
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I asked Dad at 94 if he wanted to get better or if he was too tired after a few small strokes and a small heart attack. He told me he wanted to get better, but he was too tired. I told him we loved him and would take care of Mom. He slowly slipped away, trusting me to understand and I do. Mom is now going slowly (3 years later). She has dementia but she is happy and knows she is loved and appreciated. If Dad is ready to go, just give him all the love you can and help him remember the good things from his life. It is the best thing you can do and the easiest way to say goodbye.
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many times at the end of ones life hunger diminishes the body is getting ready to go. I always have thought that Hospice care is good. Sometimes we can let them know that it’s okay to feel that way and you love them and just be there for them without words. Let them know you love them in ways. some times they try an stay for you. A nurse told us in the hospital that sometimes a person goes when you are not there. I have been with my brothers and sister. All of them passed when I was not there in the hospital.
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Have you considered giving him the right to decide when he wants to die? My own dear, dear mother, at 92, decided to stop eating. Nobody forced anything on her. I had been feeding her for some time, but it was clear to me that she wanted to die and that was her right. I miss her so much.
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Imho, many people can benefit from an Ott light for winter blues, although your father may indeed be ready to go.
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