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Has there been a change in their medication or does your loved one have a UTI. I know when my mother had her last UTI, I thought she was on her death bed. But once she had an IV and antibiotic she improved and made an 180 degree turn around. Good Luck!
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What kittysharone describes the nurse doing in the doctor's office is called a 'sternal rub'.....putting pressure on the sternal bone, which is in front of the heart, between the nipples. That bone is sensitive if one puts pressure on it, and when we want to know if someone is unconscious or being non responsive, to put pressure on that bone causes discomfort and will awaken anyone who is not totally unconscious as in passed out....it is a form of a test re: whether someone is asleep or 'out of it' and in need of more medical attention. Aside from this, I agree with the other writers....either sleeping more deeply or doing end of life sleeping. If there is dementia or other disease factors, it may be time for a doctor to order in home hospice services, so that there is more help and better assessments for your MIL in caring for him. To have an RN coming by regularly, taking vital signs and assessing him, and helpers coming to help with bathing and getting him up, fixing food, communicating with both of them, may be of assistance, plus hospice provides such wonderful emotional support as a family member might be approaching end of life. Doesn't mean they are going do die in the next few weeks either.....just a support and assessment time to further figure out what is going on with him.
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You mentioned that your father-in-law is 88. Therefore, he is well up in years. What you describe sounds like he may be in the dying stage. You may want to speak to his doctor about this. If he does happen to be in the dying stage, it's been said that you really don't want to startle the person out of sleep, but permit sleep.
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Of course, always check with you doctor first. But does your dad have dementia? My mother does, is now in a stage where she is bedridden and is sleeping most of the time now. She's falling asleep at the table now when I'm feeding her. She has days where she will stay awake several hours at a time...but others where she sleeps most of the day. I find that when I force her to wake up...she just looks worn out. I let her sleep until her eyes open...then get her going by taking her to bathroom, breakfast, then put her on her bed to watch tv....until she falls asleep again. Just make sure you are rotating them in bed ... from side to side, then on back. I've read other posts...this is a dying stage. A doctor once told me that when seniors start sleeping most of the time...that they have five years to live.
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Metaphysically speaking, your father-in-law might be having an out-of-body experience (OBE) when he falls asleep, and might not be ready to return to ordinary consciousness when your MIL tries to awaken him. Everyone has OBEs, even children, when we sleep. Most of us just don’t remember them. I’d be curious to know what he remembers when he wakes up.
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My mother fell into a deep sleep in the doctor's office. When the PA could not awaken her, she began to panic and went to make arrangements to have her taken by ambulance to the ER. She stepped into the hall and grabbed a RN, who went to my mother and began rubbing and patting her on the chest, just below the neck, while calling her name. My mother woke up and told her to stop that. The nurse said it will work every time to awaken someone from a deep sleep.
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Sometimes, if you touch them and gently shake them it helps. Sometimes the voice is not enough.
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123456, how his your Mom-in-law trying to awaken your Dad? Is she just calling his name gently not to startle him? If just calling him, could be an issue with his hearing. He's just not hearing her.

Sometimes we all can get into such a deep sleep that a fire alarm bell wouldn't awaken us.
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You not telling us much about the situation but YEA, it sounds a little scary if she can't wake the poor guy up! Is he diabetic? Low sugar situation?
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