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My mother who I care for is refusing to eat & is restricting her fluid intake as she wants her life to end. My sister has informed her doctor who says there is nothing he can do until she gets ill. My mother refuses to see the doctor & constantly blames my sister & I for not respecting her wishes in wanting to die when we try to encourage her to eat & drink. Advice please..

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every situation might be a little different but when an elder is in genuine mortal decline , at some point they will have no need for food and water because their systems are slowly shutting down. starvation and dehydration both produce a euphoria that is far from the worst imaginable way to pass on.
this sounds kind of negative or defeatist but it is often the reality of end of life.
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Does your Mom have dementia? When my Mom was diagnosed with dementia, she was placed on medication to control mood swings, periods of violence, anger and extreme agitation. She suddenly stopped eating, would not drink, and refused to get out of bed. She suddenly started soiling herself in bed, refusing to go to the bathroom.

I had to give her bed baths and clean her up regularly. I found a wonderful GP who actually did house calls. She dropped in every week to see how my Mom was doing. Things were getting so dire that the doctor recommended a feeding tube. The doctor worked with me to arrange Visiting Nurse Service during the week. The diagnosis: Infant Failure to Thrive.

The doctor discussed various options with me but said I may want to consider palliative care in the event my mother did not improve. After another week of "no progress," social services were in the process of setting up regular visits by a chaplain, counselor, and others to help me and and husband care for her in the event palliative care was needed.

A few days before the decision was made to regarding the feeding tube, my Mom woke up, got dressed, came downstairs for breakfast and was in great spirits. My husband and I were shocked but incredibly relieved. It turns out that medications, if they work, can take a while to do what they are meant to do. My mother's extreme mood swings improved, she was no longer violent or having fits of rage. She became much easier to deal with, although she still had her moments when it came to getting in the shower?

So if your Mom is on any kind of medication, I'd find out if the meds are in any way linked to what she's experiencing. It is very frightening. My prayers are with you.
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Hmm.... 89, fit and healthy, no meds, just wants to die?? I would immediately suspect depression, which can be easily remedied with and anti-depressant. My suggestion is to either have a serious chat with her primary care doctor, or get her to a geriatiric care specialist. I can understand respecting an elder's end-of-life wishes, but it does not sound like that is where your mother is at from a medical/physical standpoint. If she does not eat or drink, she will soon go into dehydration, may start twitching and slurring her speech, possibly a urinary tract infection, kidneys can shut down, and maybe even start hallucinating. This happened to my Mom just from too little eating or drinking (very hard to keep track of when there is plenty in the fridge, and she assures you she ate this and drank that, but you are not actually living with her) If that happens, she will end up in the ER, where she will be most likely admitted, and you can insist that she be thoroughly evaluated. At that point, you could start working with the Case Manager and/or social worker to figure out the next steps. Do you really want to play it out that far? If I were in your shoes, I would get her to the doctor ASAP. Just tell her the doctor's office called to remind you that she needs a check-up and some blood work. Then get really serious with the doctor. Good luck.
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Thank you to those I not replied to & sorry it`s taken so long to reply but I not had time.
Against my mums wishes we called the doctor, he put her on Anti-depressants like many of you suggested & although they seem to have brought dementia on she has started eating & drinking again. We are struggling to cope but while ever we can we will & now she is eating n drinking again we can only hope for improvement. Thank you again everyone for your thoughts & advice , greatly appreciated, hugs to you all & a big up for carers alike x
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How old is mom and what is wrong with her? Your Dr is right if mom is refusing there is nothing you can do. Will she drink anything nutricous?
She will eventually die from starvation but as long as she is drinking even a few ounces a day it can take several weeks. You will be amazed especially if she has a good fat reserve. Is she actually approaching the end of her life now? if she has a terminal illness call in hospice and they will offer you support and advice. Is there a DNR and HCP in effect and are you prepared to honor her wishes. Please give us some more details, there is no simple answer, but from what you have said I believe you should honor her wishes and make whatever time she has left full of good memories for those who will be left behind. Do you really want to see your mother in a hospital be being force fed? It is not a pleasant experience for anyone.
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Thank you for you response..
Mum is approaching 89 & yes I appreciate how she feels & that her life is probable coming to an end. The problem is right as you pointed out I don`t want to see her in a hospice/hospital, I just don`t want to see her get ill thought that may be inevitable. I do respect that she has had enough, but what makes it harder is that she is perfectly fit & healthy {well, until the starvation came in to effect} she is on no medication,my sister & I care for her in her own home preventing her from going into a home,she has 2 other sons that visit regular. It is just simply a case of her wanting to die & selfishly we don`t want her to but more important we don` t want to see her wither away & get ill as she was only a little fail old woman to start with. Thanks again for you input, greatly appreciated.
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Just want to say, relative to possible depression, there are drugs for depression that also work wonderfully to increase appetite. My Dad got into this state about a year ago, and lost over 20 pounds in 6 weeks. Doctor put him on this drug and within about 2 weeks he started eating well again, and laughing about his poor memory. He's been pretty stable ever since and gained about 10 pounds back too. As I recall, his drug was Celexa??
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Me again, and my dad is on anti-depressants. His doc has changed his medications at least 3x since Feb, and he is back on the Celexa. But, he just wants to die and get out of here. He feels he has no real future and is just draining the money and draining me, for what? He asks. He wants to "go home" and be with my mom. He is a widower. I so understand his frustration, lonliness, etc. But, the medications can help somewhat, but sometimes you just cannot get back the life they once had, and the energy, stamina, friends (who have now died), etc. He wants to be with his friends, family and wife! And all of them who he was close to have all already transitioned. My gosh. I get it, and yet to see him just make a deliberate decision to waste away. Whew. We have a counselor starting next week, and the caregivers are coming in now, but... hrmmm... I don't know. I just don't know... I'm hoping the doctor can get in-home nursing help or something started. I'm going to do everything in my power to keep him out of the hospital or nursing home, etc., but, I may have to. He's already told (yelled at) me, with a fist in the air, that he will hit anyone who tries to take him out of that bed and to the hosp. Jeez. Good luck everyone who is dealing with this kind of situation. It's basically inexplainable to anyone who's not dealing with it. Love him so much and it just tears you apart to see them go through something like this. Blessings to all.
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So sad. My father wanted me to call Dr. Kevorkian for him!

There's probably nothing to do, but I have two suggestions. First, what helped my father was pain pills. The VA nurse said, "Give him two. He will fall asleep, and when he wakes up, he will have forgotten about it." Your dad probably has a level of pain that he doesn't quite notice, but it gets him down.

Second, cook a really delicious meal that smells wonderful, something he always used to like. Or homemade bread. If you don't do that, you can buy dough at the market or at the pizza shop. If the smell of that doesn't tempt him, he may be too far gone.

Ask his doctor for a hospice "assessment." His expected life is probably more than 6 months, but he is showing "failure to thrive," and they might have useful ideas to make him more comfortable.

God bless you both.
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wow, I am going through something like this with my mom. She got sick, rehab etc. Had to move her and Dad (alz) in with us a few months ago. they are no problem, we love having them, but she is depressed, feels like she is "ruining our lives" etc. I got her new Dr to give her an antidepressent yesterday. Hope it helps! Just alot of changes and hopefully we will get through this. She keeps telling is to just Let her Go if she falls, etc. I explain I'll have to call 911.. she has a fit. This is a retired RN !! I am also in medicine, but it is hard.
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