I have tried everything and so has a Psychiatrist and Therapist.
My mom is severely crippled from Rhematoid Arthritis, Peripheral Neuropathy, Chronic Kidney Failure and complete bladder incontinence. I have been caring exclusively for her for about 20 years on and off and 3 years ago, my brother and I had to make a decision to move her here to where I live because she was making a financial mess of her life and was declining in health. I had already had plenty of experience taking care of her so I was the likely candidate to take on the long term responsibility. One year after we moved her here, my brother began exhibiting symptoms of some type of brain disease. He was finally diagnosed in January 2014 with Frontal Temporal Degeneration. Over the course of 2014 he lost his ability to talk and communicate and think. My mother fell apart emotionally and since he lived five hours away, I spent the next 14 months bringing her to see him and spending weekends with him. My mother refused to read anything about his disease and the prognosis and basically put her head in the sand. In January of 2015, his son decided to withdraw food and water because he could no longer swallow and developed aspiration pneumonia. My mom and I spent the last 9 days of his life watching the most horrific thing I have ever seen. Now, not only do I have to deal with taking care of a parent who cannot function without help everyday but she is in a deep depression that has enveloped my entire life. I have sought help from Psychiatrists, Therapist, Church and her veil of grief is not even beginning to lift. I haven't even been able to grieve for the loss of my only sibling due to carrying her cross too.
Someone creative might conceive of a Senior Peace Corps for domestic uses; there's a lot of experience and knowledge seniors could offer to others, including struggling younger folks, that has nothing to do with technology and which smartphone to purchase but rather with learning to live with life's challenges and find one's place in the world.
I was thinking of a program for child mentoring in which children read to animals, including therapy dogs. Apparently the softer tones of children's voices are soothing to animals, and the children have an opportunity to learn how to read aloud without peer or adult criticism.
I was wondering how this would work with elders, if their voice tones are also soft enough to soothe an animal. I guess it would depend on the specific person, as it wouldn't be appropriate for someone with anger issues.
This may be one of the reasons art therapy has been demonstrated to be successful with elders; they lose themselves in the designs and colors - it's a completely absorbing activity.
In both cases I didn't think my mother would survive the grief. She ended up in the hospital both times and I spent weeks nursing her back to health and keeping Dad out of trouble.
There was really no way to consol her. Pam makes a good point about feeling needed. I think the only thing that brought her out of it was the realization that my Dad can not live alone and her grandsons had lost their mom and needed their grandma more than ever.
She would talk of life not being worth it, I'm just going to die etc. I would tell her I would support her decision to refuse meds food and water, didn't try to convince her how wonderful life is and all that crap, just reminded her to remember that Dad would be all alone and the boys would have no grandma if she died.
To be honest, I wasn't playing around. I would have let her die if that's what she really wanted. But she finally was discharged from the hospital, I got some follow up in home nursing arranged and she finally started to come around.
And I don't think it was any decision or rationalization on her part. She had a job to do. She had to make sure Dad eats something besides Little Debbie's, takes his meds, doesn't burn the house down etc. The grandsons visited almost everyday and she loves them more than anything in the world.
Five years later she is doing better than she has in years. She is more mobile after a hip replacement, I got her off the oxy drugs she was addicted to and she wrangles Dad into all sorts of healthy things he would not do if left on his own.
I dont really have an answer or solution for you. Just sharing a similar experience. Good luck to you. I know how hard this is.
I helped my Mom overcome the loss of my brother. We talked about our memories of him. Laughed about the good ones. Cried together about the sad ones.
Maybe if you can get your Mom to a place where she can appreciate the good memories she has of him she will maybe grow to accept his being gone.
Are there neighbors who walk their dogs who could stop by for a short visit? Can you put on a CD of her favorite music or turn a radio to a channel with the kind of music she likes?
Writing little friendly notes on cards for Meals on Wheels patients is something that's done in our area. She could also write notes to people in hospice, to military members, to children in hospitals such as St. Jude's.
It might not be easy to get her started, but perhaps if you start some of these projects she'll wonder what you're doing and join in.
There might be a few free open air music concerts left for the summer; perhaps she might enjoy those. They're typically sponsored (at least in our area) by local municipalities and sometimes churches.
What did she enjoy doing in her younger years?