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My mother is 89 years old and has severe hearing loss. More than a year ago her doctor said she has dementia and should not be living alone. My brother and his wife, who is a nurse, live 2 hours away and I live 2,000 miles away. My father died four years ago, they were married for 65 years, and lived in my mother's current home for more than 20 years. My mother has never lived alone. My mother's physical health is generally good; however, my brother says she weighs around 80 pounds. My brother and I think that she is depressed and her cognitive ability has seriously diminished, although it's unclear how much of this is her hearing. He is overwhelmed and extremely concerned and upset about my mother. I want to respect my mother's wishes and am also very concerned about my brother's assessment of her situation. I spent a week with her about a year ago and she was mostly OK. I plan to visit her for another week this September.
Any suggestions are very much appreciated.

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Thanks so much for your very helpful response. My brother wanted my mom to move closer to them, but she is adamant about staying in her own home. She is very hard of hearing, and refuses to wear a hearing aid. She also refuses in-home help, which would come once a week, and Meals on Wheels.
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I am an advocate of the "aging in place" movement, if it is at all possible. My Mom moved into an apt. near me a few years ago. With a lot of help from us she is able to live independently. But, like you, it has been challenging to get her to do certain things.
For example, she has convinced herself that she cannot swallow properly, so she stopped eating for awhile (when she is with us, she eats everything that is placed in front of her). She lost a lot of weight and I finally got to the bottom of the problem (seniors will lie and tell you that they are "eating all the time"). I finally told her that, at the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own well-being...we could help, but we cannot keep her healthy if she doesn't take care of herself.
I have also tried to convince her to use a "life alert" type device....no interest. She thinks that since I live a few minutes away I could get to her in an emergency. She doesn't understand that she needs to get to a phone first to let me know there is an emergency.
For your Mom's sake, take her to her doc. Get a complete physical and a mental profile. Ruling out any physical problems, it sounds like depression or she has lost the will to live. (Be careful of a diagnosis of "dementia" untrained docs seem to be throwing around that term too freely these days. They rely on anecdotal evidence from family. If your Mom has a hearing loss, most docs are not patient enough to deal with communicating. Medication interactions can cause some of the same symptoms as well. Also, severe weight loss and dehydration can wreak havoc on one's mental state as can a UTI.)
(btw, my Mom initially resisted an in-home helper that comes once a month. But I found a great company who hires locally and had a manager who actually came to her home and found the perfect fit for Mom. Now, she looks forward to her coming and we get a bit of a break from it all.)
Have you or your brother considered moving your Mom closer to where either of you live? That way, you could check on her once and awhile and she can still live independently. She needs people to interact with...or other mental stimulation...can you imagine sitting alone in your home everyday with no social contact? I would be depressed too.
Good luck...sometimes caring for a senior is just a big guessing game.
Lilli
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