How can I help my deeply depressed, physically ill, elderly mother who wants to die and makes it clear that I'm the root cause of her tragedy?

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I'm truthfully incapable of figuring out what to do anymore, if I could give my own life in exchange for my mother's little bit of peace at this point in her life, I would. But I really don't know what to do anymore. A little recap, I moved with my mom to care for her, I used to live in the US, had my career, my house, etc. no husband or kids, I'm 44, only child and sincerely overburdened with guilt.
Since I moved with my mom she had actually showed some signs of improvement as she's eating better (I cook) and not feeling as lonely. Then I had to go back to the US for 5 weeks to tak care of several things pending and came back last week. My mother is in a deepest depression now, she told me -and had before, several times- that she wants to die, desperately. When she opens her eyes she just feels sick because she's still alive. She said she's tried not eating, taking cold showers at midnight hoping to catch pneumonia, stopped taking pills (she takes her pills though, maybe she did that for a period of time).
Says that my decision to come here was a result of my immaturity and lack of character...I made that decision because firstly it was obvious she couldn't be alone anymore and second because she told me these exact words: "I feel abandoned, alone, left as a dog in the street with no one that cares about me". What would any other child have done after hearing that? Multiple attempts to hire help to care for her, nothing, no one works. Plus, overseas the resources are different and limited.
I know what could improve her life, she needs contact with other people, her and her thoughts alone have done great damage to both of us. But she has no one other than me. Her family and friends? Pushed away with her critical attitude ("it's the truth, it is their, your truth, why shouldn't I say it? Attitude). It's only me trying to bring a little window of peace to a person that is in a deep dark hole and doesn't seem to want out.
I'm dying too. She makes it clear, telling me "my truth" that I'm a failure, my life is a failure, but she wants me to correct that by going back to the US and starting to live...to then I'm sure tell me that she feels abandoned, left like a dog in the street.
It's my mom, I love her more than I can write her, more than my self love I guess, it breaks me into pieces to see that she'll likely die feeling SO miserable because I cannot figure out what to do to help her (refuses medical help too). I don't want my mom to be this sad..all I do just makes things worse..I feel incompetent yet I'm the only one that can make a decision.
If you see a light that I don't, please tell me!

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I have a friend who complains about her boys and their families not being close. Its always them. Would love to say she needs to look at the past and see how she contributed to the problem. But at 68, I don't think I should. I can't change her life. I have my own problems with Mom, nephew and Gson. Same with ur Mom. Tell her your sorry and does she know, besides dying, what she needs. That you are willing to make life easier for her but you can't change how things are, that she is older.  
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Hi Rosses, I'm sorry, but your mom is way off base when she says your life is a failure because you followed your heart. You did NOT ruin your parents' lives because you chose to follow your own path. That's some very flawed thinking.

Any culture believes that you raise children to go off to form their own lives, independent of their parents. You are not joined at the hip (and shouldn't be). So your mom is wrong there - very wrong. Everyone makes mistakes - some bigger than others. But to say that your mistake is the cause and source of her her unhappiness and your father's demise is ridiculous and cruel. I don't know your mom at all, but she sounds like a very cruel woman to me. You can be "honest" without destroying the self-esteem of the one you supposedly love, which is what I perceive she's doing to you.


I know you love your mom and I respect that, but I would say you need some counseling for yourself so that you can see that the cruel, self-centered statements of your mom are not the truth of who you are and the effects you've had on others. That is NOT a burden for you to carry. Her statements may come from a broken brain due to dementia, I don't know. I just know they're not your truth. {{{{Big Hugs. }}}}
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THANK YOU, so much! Yes, you're describing my mom. Same pattern all her life but now it's gotten to levels I never thought I'd have to deal with. The problem I have (mine, not hers) is that I know that although her words are harsh she is fundamentally right. Since this is a place to vent I'll share something very personal, for example I left my parents to marry someone that lived in the US, I think back then the opposition I faced was such (emotionally drained) that I did what she does, the more she pushed the more I said I'll marry him. It ended up not well, he ended up being a really bad person. So my mom now tells me that I will always carry in my conscience the fact that I left my parents (my dad was alive back then, I was in my twenties) and by doing that I destroyed them, that she doesn't know how easily I forgot my dad's tears letting me go, that she can see how life is making me pay for that, that my life is a failure. Looks at other people my age in her family and always says things like how much she wishes my life was like theirs, that out of everybody I'm the only one that didn't succeed, real success, in life. BUT as hard as it is to understand it, she doesn't mean bad. She is being truthful, again, that's the only way she knows how to be.
I'm sharing this to support why her words are harsh, but truth. Her mind is not missing a bit. She's just more negative and with that more cruel, yet, to use her own words, it is the truth.
So, is it dementia really? I don't know. It is hard for me to digest that she doesn't care about the fact that I'll be marked by her words forever. That makes me think that she might not be thinking clearly because even though she is how she is, that lack of awareness of the extent of the consequences of her acts and words makes me feel that something might really not be right in her mind.
To answer your questions, we are in Nicaragua, she is 82 years old -I'm the only child, she had me late in life, I've been her entire focus-. Here resources are scarce, good resources that is, a good geriatrics dr! I don't think they even have them here. Will keep researching.

Again thank you, I feel people that have walked in my shoes can understand and give me hope. I wish I could find a geriatric dr and that she accepted to see him, to find that miraculous combination of treatments that gave her back some peace, that's really what I hope for, some peace for my mom!
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Rosses - can I ask what country you and your mom are in? It might help us get a feel for potential resources.

Anyhoo - my mom was also incredibly intelligent. Mom was also driven, ambitious, creative, manipulative and unbelievably head-strong and stubborn. She was like that my entire life. It was always impossible to get my mom to do anything she didn't want to do. In fact, the harder she was pushed in one direction the more she would either dig in or push back in the opposite direction- even to the point of her own detriment. I believe it was a critical flaw in her amazing intellect- that her stubbornness could blind her to what was best for her. So, I get what you're saying and how overwhelmingly frustrated you must be.

My mom had the beginning of dementia- probably long before I dialed in and bought a vowel. In fact, the dementia had progressed to mid-stage before I understood what I was dealing with - I'm a bit embarrassed to admit for the longest time I thought she was just messing with me. I mean, how could a woman as smart and accomplished as my mother actually be saying and doing the things she was? Because her brain was failing.

I say all this in the hope that you will come to realize your mother probably doesn't really mean what she's saying and the way she's acting - but that she can't help it.

I didn't see where you said how old your mom is but given your age I'm guessing mid 60-70. What was her original cancer diagnosis and prognosis? How much of your mothers thinking and behavior is maybe due to the cancer and then, perhaps worsening dementia?

I ask because there are two paths - both previously mentioned - that you could try to take.

One is the geriatric psychiatrist. Whether it's cancer or dementia this route could make a tremendous difference. I finally found out about this resource pretty late - likely from Brooklyn Barb here but my own doctor also brought it up when I was seeing him for my own anxiety in dealing with my mom. With no exaggeration I can say it made all the difference in the world. The psychiatrist overhauled my moms medications and in about a month my mom was more her old self than she had been in a number of years. And - she was not medicated into zombie mode. I wish I had known to do it sooner!

The second route is more difficult, I think. And that is to do as jeannegibbs suggests. Agree and accept. This takes more patience and a thicker skin. Stop pushing and persuading and just agree - still doing your best to help her and make her comfortable- and letting the harsh words roll off your back. Easier said than done. But if your mother and mine are alike - the less you push and persuade the less she may act in oppositional defiance.

Please take care of yourself. Know that you are of worth and that your own wellness is as important as your mothers! Best of luck to you during this difficult time.
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Thank you so much Djhughs for your follow up comment. It's a good reminder that her intellect is not prevailing right now, instead its emotions. I might be the one needing to fin a geriatrics dr and talk to them even if she doesn't go.
I just need to make sure I'm truly doing the best I can for her, not the best I can think of, but the best for her.
Thank you and God bless.
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Hi Rosses003, your mom may be highly intelligent, but right now her emotions are taking precedence. My parents are also frustrated with their limitations. My dad just wants to die to end his pain and us kids understand that because he doesn't have any quality of life only pain. Know that you're doing the BEST you can with your mom and you are NOT A FAILURE! My mom is very intelligent as well and she is at the beginning of dementia and she too is fighting me. I don't know the answer, but I do know the frustration and hurt of being belittled. All you can do is be there for her. You can't change how she feels or what she says, you can only know your mom doesn't want to hold you back. I can tell you love her very much and I believe she loves you very much as well. There is nothing you can do if she won't let you. You just need to tell yourself no matter what I'm here for her.
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Can you get her to a geriatric Psychiatrist for an evaluation of her overall mental health, including depression, reasoning ability and ability to plan for herself? 

It sounds to me as though something is "off" in your mom's thinking.
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Thank you so much. I feel I should add that I don't know where she is in terms of her illnesses because she doesn't want medical help, and I'm trying to respect her wishes. She hasn't had the checkups for cancer for about 4 years nor any other medical checkup. My mom is very intelligent, intellectually alert, yet I wonder if a little bit of dementia if affecting her...although all this fits very well with her personality characteristics, made worst by age and illness.
I went to see her old doctor (a really bright man) last week for something not mom related and he mentioned that my mom is one of the most intelligent persons he's met, I mention this so you get an idea of who she's. Hence she's having an incredibly terrible time facing her limitations, and my mom doesn't accept well my ideas.
Every time I suggest a walk (just to see something different) she tells me she can barely walk, yet she does go to the backyard and bends down, cleans, etc..not because she enjoys it, but because I know she wants to feel useful.
She will never quit. Yet she wants to die.
I'm pretty much an spectator because I'd I tell her to stop, change something, she simply won't.
My mother isn't the type to play bingo, nor anything like that. She feels that's foolish. I get she's even now an intellectual being, carrying an incredible amount of sadness and I've no idea how to help her carry it.
She does mean it when she says I'm a failure, she also says that's why she cannot take anymore suffering, because seeing my life she feels she failed too. She isn't trying to be mean, she's just being honest, it's her way. I understand that but haven't gotten to a point of managing it so it doesn't hurt. It hurts terribly because I know she means it, and a mother knows a daughter..she might be right, hope that makes sense.
BUT, my main concern is not me, it's her. I don't know what to do or say, I'm here with a clear purpose and that is to help her...yet I'm not. I made things worst.
I know i cannot change her feelings or illnesses, but I just want to make it a little less hard, Just doesn't think of death as the only way..there I think is where dementia (not medically identified) is probably playing a role plus the deepest depression. What can a responsible daughter do? That's my dilemma.
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You are not responsible for your mom's feelings. Or her depression. Or her life. I know you love her, she's your mom. But you can't change the way she feels no matter how hard you try. You can't make her well and you can't take away her sadness and depression.

You are not immature or lacking in character and to hear such things from someone you love so much must be very painful.

Your mom won't die because you can't find a solution. Please don't put that kind of pressure on yourself. You're not a Dr. It's not within your power to keep her alive. All you can do is love her and take care of yourself and know that you are powerless over how she feels.
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How very hard this must be for you!

Your mother is very sick indeed, to be saying things like this. She has cancer, right? What stage? What do the doctors say is the prognosis? Is hospice available where she is?

She wants to die. "Yes, Mother, and you will when it is your time. All I want to do is make you comfortable and provide you company until then."
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