How do I get my mom to want to live?


My sister and I are at a loss on how to get our mom to want live. Her down hill slide began in 2011 when my dad suddenly passed away. Admittedly, she does have multiple medical issues that have contributed to her loss of interest in living, but not anything that can't be dealt with. She has had both shoulders replaced, a hip replaced, and still needs both knees replaced, which has made her mobility significantly decline. The biggest issue medically though, is she suffers from achalasia. It took so long for the doctors to come to that conclusion that she lost a lot of weight and muscle. After multiple procedures to try and improve her ability to eat, she is still having difficulty. We were able to FINALLY convince her to get a feeding tube, but she practically refuses to allow the health care providers that stay with her 24/7 to use it. My sister and I have tried to encourage her to do what she needs to so she can build her strength back up and get her mobility back, but simply won't do it. I would be a little more sympathetic if she weren't only 69 years old, but when her own mother comes over everyday to check on her and shows that life isn't over at that age it's kind of hard to be sympathetic. Granted my grandmother doesn't have the same medical issues, but even still, there is life beyond 69. So any ideas on how to convince her of that?



I think there's an important point to remember and that's it's HER life. If she doesn't want to rehab and/or live with the conditions she has, that's her decision. Unless you've had a feeding tube, you can't really know how unpleasant it is.

She's had a lot going on, is going to have trouble eating, and that's not going to change, from what I've read about achalasia.

I can understand your desire to see her recover, but she has to want to do so, and if she doesn't, no amount of encouragement will change her position.

Perhaps it's time for a frank talk with her about what SHE wants for HER life.
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Reply to GardenArtist

I've lost a wife and it wasn't a healthy loss either. She cheated on me and it took 4 years in court to get what custody I do have of my daughter, so I am all to familiar with being depressed. I've also been inured on the job and was without the use of my hand for several months, so I'm also familiar with surgeries and rehab. Granted, she's older and it's harder for her to heal and rehab, but she is still capable. If she wasn't, I wouldn't be on here asking for others perspectives on how to motivate her. This is more of a depression issue than it is physical, that's why it's frustrating for my sister and I.
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Reply to TRossInGa

It would take all of those. Regular feeding, rehab, and exercise for her to get back to a healthy and mobile life. We've tried to encourage her that if she did one step at a time it would happen. If she would go through this process, she would gain about an 80% mobility from where she is now. She currently transfers from her bed to a wheelchair, then from her wheelchair to a lift recliner. There, she'll sit ALL DAY. The healthcare providers will ask her to get up and use the walker for a stroll from the living room to the kitchen and back but she refuses. If she were to take the necessary steps to get in the condition physically and nutritionally, she could handle the knee replacements, and wouldn't even need the healthcare providers to be there anymore. Granted, that would be a slow process, but it is very plausible. Our problem is getting her to be willing to do it. I go by there just about every morning before I go to do whatever job I've got lined up for the day and ask how she slept and how she's doing that morning. I also go once a week with my daughter to have dinner with her so she can see/visit my daughter, so it's not always nagging. That's just generally when we take her to a doctors appointment and tell them what she's not doing. She enjoys seeing my daughter, but that's about the only time she perks up. She'll play checkers with her and watch cat videos on YouTube but that's about the extent of anything she will do. She won't participate in anything that's going to remove her from her recliner for longer than an hour or two. Family get togethers, church, or outings of any kind except doctors appointments. She enjoys seeing her mother and my sister and I, she even comes up with crazy excuses for us to come to her house. I'll certainly look into that book and see what kind of insight it may give us. Also, she refuses to take a anti-depressent. Her regular doctor wanted to prescribe her one, but she said no.
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Reply to TRossInGa

I'm wondering how many surgeries you and your sister have had? Do you know what the recovery entails? Do you know what it feels like to have a feeding tube? Or not being able to enjoy foods?

Have you lost your husband?

Please stop discounting your Mom's ailments and grief.

Maybe therapy will help you deal with your Mom's limitations. This just might be the new normal in your family. Learn to cope, you can't force others to live how you think the should.

I'm sure your judgement and harping is making her feel worse.

I know you love your Mom and want her well, but how about dropping what you want and just love her.
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Reply to Pepsee

I understand that you want your mom to get better and go back to being your mom. To you, it might seem like the thing to do to have her get her strength back, doing whatever it takes to do that, and then have the knee replacement and then go through another course of rehab and therapy. But, honey I’ll tell you something. No, she’s not “old” but she probably feels like her body has betrayed her. Joint issues are hellish. I have two bum shoulders and a bad hip. Because of my situation with a bedridden hubby and issues related to that, surgery is pretty much out. My right shoulder locked up on me at Target the other day and it was so painful I left in tears. My young, able bodied kids ask me why I don’t have the surgeries. Because I’m tired, dear ones. I don’t have the energy to deal with all that surgeries would involve.

Take care of your mom as best you can. Tell her you love her and respect her choices and decisions. It’s all you can do.
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Reply to Ahmijoy

What is a realistic prognosis for getting her strength back? What would it take? Regular feeding? Rehab? Exercises? Something else? And if she gets her strength back, and has surgery on each knee, how good can her mobility be expected to be? Walk on her own? Walk with a walker? Be able to help with transfer to a wheelchair? What are the likely best outcomes?

If I were in your mother's situation, I would want to know exactly what my options are and what the likely outcomes are. If I built my strength up and had knee surgery, what are the chances I'll walk again on my own? 25%? 40%? and the chances I could at least transfer my weight? 85%?

I know that your mother's condition is rare, so there might not be a lot of statistics to go by, but in her situation I'd want to talk to the most knowledgeable medical professional I could find, about long-term prognosis.

In the condition she is in right now, what can she do for enjoyment? Play board games with an old friend? Go on wheelchair outings to the botanical gardens or zoo or museum or antique store? Sit on the patio and read? Watch every comedy movie since the talkies started?

Between mourning for your dad, multiple procedures to try to correct her ability to eat, and several joint replacements, has she been able to maintain any kind of social life?

Does she enjoy her mother's daily visits? Does she enjoy seeing you and your sister? (You don't spend the whole time nagging her about what you think she should do, do you?) What do the caregivers do with her that she considers fun?

I'm going to suggest a book about quality of living at the end of life. "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande. It may give you some insights.
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Reply to jeannegibbs