What can I do to help my mother-in-law?

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My mother-in-law is becoming increasingly more disagreeable every day. She refuses to take her medicine, refuses to get up out of her rocking chair, refuses to eat (or conversely eats way too much), and screams and yells at my husband (her son) and myself for no good reason at all. (At least in my mind. In her mind I'm sure it's a good reason.) She's been diagnosed with NPH, depression, and diabetes. We go to the doctor monthly, but this month I had to literally drag her to the appointment. We also have three dogs, but she yells and screams at them just like she does with us. I'm at my wit's end. No one else in the family will even talk to her at this point. She and my sister in law disagree with each other so badly that she hasn't seen her grandchildren in almost a year and I know this adds to her depression. I love my mother in law and consider her one of my best friends but I just can't handle her constant anger and bitterness any more. What can I do????

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holsocks: Your mother-in-law is NOT the same person and SHE IS NEVER GOING TO BE! There is no way to fix acrimony! There is no way to fix her! So what answers, if any, are you left with? See a geriatric psychiatrist. However, you are talking to a brick wall to get your elder to be the person the once were.
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holsrocks, next time you have your Mom at her primary doctor, have her tested for an urinary tract infection [UTI].... an UTI can cause an older person to become angry with outbursts. It's worth having the test done which is pretty easy to do.
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NPH is treatable and her doctor needs to adjust her medication. She needs to understand with medication her symptoms can get better, unlike dementia which has no cure. Your "best friend" is not acting like a friend and you need to tell her how her behaviors are affecting the family. Get her on another anti-depressant since the one she is taking is not working (so it seems). Stress the real need to take her medicine and if need be crush it up and put it in food/drink. Keep the dogs away from her she they will not understand what is going on or give them to someone who can care for them properly. Hang in there and let her know this behavior is unacceptable or she leaves...
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I'm not sure Pam, but I'll definitely ask now. I finally got her to take her medicine last night. Yay! Thank you for the advice!
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Sounds good, Pam. But of course she still has to let you put it on when it needs changing.
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Can the MD prescribe an antidepressant in a patch form? You put it somewhere she can't peel it off.
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You could probably focus on the diabetes because if she is not eating regularly her sugars will get out of whack. She may sign it if you explain to her that if her diabetes remains unstable and she looses consciousness someone will have to make decisions for her and it is important that that person knows what her wishes are. Hearing this from a third party may make her more amenable to agreeing.
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The trouble with setting consequences is you have to follow through. Under what circumstances would you send her to the hospital? If she missed three medicine doses? Ten? If she misses two meals? A week's worth? The threat of the hospital is too vague to be motivating, I think. Laying it on the line seems appropriate, but it has to be meaningful and something you could really carry through on.
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Thanks Jeanne! It's difficult to balance wanting her to be healthy and happy with just letting her be. I just talked to her doctor on the phone and he said just lay it out to her straight, you do this or this or this happens.Take your medicine and eat right or go to the hospital. Your choice. Unfortunately we have not gotten her power of attorney taken care of yet. She's only 69, so we thought we still had time to take care of that but she's declining very rapidly. When she's taking her meds, she's very pleasant and funny. But when she's not it's the complete opposite. Thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it!
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Since she is one of your best friends, I take it that she has been reasonable and "normal" at some point in the past, right?

I assume it is mostly the NPH that has changed her personality, though the depression isn't helping any. I don't know much about that kind of brain damage. Do her doctors suggest any treatments or drugs she hasn't tried? How is her depression being managed? With the diabetes I worry about her irregular eating habits (and I'll bet you worry, too).

I wonder if it would be possible for her to go to a psych ward for a few days, while they determine a combination of drugs that might help?

As I am sure you know, this is a medical problem and not a matter of MIL suddenly hating everyone and the dogs! So I would try to pursue any medical solutions that seem feasible.

And consider the possibility that you will have an easier time remaining friends with her and interacting in more normal ways with her if she were in a care center and you visited often. Perhaps even SIL would allow the grandchildren to visit in that kind of structured environment.

This is a heartbreaking situation. You love her. You want her happy, or at least happier. And you have so little control over that. Whatever else goes on, remember that this is Not Your Fault, and keep guilt totally out of the picture.
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