My mom is still a smart, manipulative yet charming person. She’s in her late 70’s and has numerous medical issues but not life threatening as in cancer, etc. She has a history of alcohol and pill addiction. 2 yrs ago her son and grandson were killed in a plane crash. (my brother and nephew). 3 months later her best friend died of cancer. Since then she has completely spiraled out of control leaving my brother (who’s son and brother was in that plane) and myself to pick up her pieces. After numerous visits to emergency rooms she decided to move into an assisted living facility. Since then she has completely withdrawn from life. She was a vibrant, loving, nurturing, busy body who loved to shop and garden and was heavily involved in her church. Now we are left with a hermit who won’t eat, take her meds, won’t except visitors and is a total recluse. She has never dealt with her grief and claims she has nothing to live for. Death is next according to her.

Her latest incident ended her up here up in a nursing home for over a month and now she is back home at assisted living and we have made the home in charge of her meds. That was one of the issues we were having was that her meds were getting all messed up. I’m not sure why? There is only 8 PAGES OF THEM! Different discussion on a different day.

She is pissed of course because she doesn’t have that control anymore. Side note- remember we are dealing with an addict and while she was in nursing home I found secret stashes of pills everywhere. They were prescribed. But she hoards them. Then when she doesn’t want to feel anything anymore that’s her escape.

So fast forward-she says nothing will ever make her stop feeling the pain of her loss, that she has no real reason to live, she is just existing. She has no desire to find relationship or form new ones. She’s given up.

How do I help her?

How do I help my brother who is also still grieving?

How do u process the fact that the mom you once had is gone ?

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She has years of pills and alchohol. This alone has effected her brain cells and probably caused a depression. There was a reason why she drank and took pills. This really isn't new. Then she loses a son and grandchild and she already is vulnerable. I doubt she ever came to terms with the reason why she drank and took pills. An addictive personality or something in her life.

She needs help but she has to want it. You can support her but I think she needs professional help. She can will herself to die, my MIL did it.
Helpful Answer (8)

"Numerous visits to the ER..." "After the latest incident..."

Has your mother been trying to take her own life, in fact?

How have you dealt with the loss of your brother and nephew? - I ask, because I'm not sure you can help other people unless you've at least found a way that works for you.

What kind of best friend was it that she lost? A person she'd known for decades, a close companion, effectively her other half, what sort of relationship did they have?

Presumably, at some point over the last couple of years your mother has been seen by mental health specialists of one sort or another, hasn't she? What have they had to say, any recommendations?

What reasons did she give for her decision to move to the ALF?

Just on the face of it. I wonder if one thing you can do in the immediate short term is accept that perhaps your mother has a point. She is in terrible psychic pain (I know others are too, but that's another matter). She thinks she is too old to begin again (she isn't, but again). It is easier for her to give up. So... what if she's right? If you were to accept her point of view, would it change how you interacted with her?

It sounds as though your mother is a job for a specialist. Love from close family is incredibly important in healing grief - that's not only obvious but also well demonstrated through research :) - but it can't do the trick on its own.

And to repeat - how are you doing?
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She has gone through a lot; there is definitely cause for her deep depression. Her pill history of addiction plays a role here as well.
Is she taking an antidepressant?
Grief counselling is an option. If that doesn’t work would she regularly see a counselor?
Grief has several stages and it sounds like she hasn’t worked through to reach acceptance for resolution.

What did you mother like to do prior to all these unfortunate deaths and her health issues?

What used to make her happy? Grandchildren, etc?

She appears to feel despondent and alone. You are a good daughter to be caring for her and your other (living) brother and you appear to be on the same page in wanting to help her.
For that, your mother is very lucky.

Her grief is real and until she recognizes and copes with it, it will continue to plague her.

Try to offer her grief counseling and assure she is on an antidepressant. Good move in acquiring medication management going forward.
So many people take their medications incorrectly.

Also have her geritrician or PCP or local pharmacist (if you supply AL with her meds) or request the AL staff to ask their pharmacist to review all her medications closely. Pharmacists these days often perform Med reviews on those taking many medications (polypharmacy).
Maybe some of those medications can be stopped or have lost their effectiveness and are no longer needed. Your “8 pages” of meds supports my statement.

Being prescribed numerous pills make some people just give up or end up being too confused to realize what Med is prescribed by whom for what.

Losing a child is devastating for a parent. She lost a grandson too, then a best friend.

Does she have other grandchildren? They can alleviate the despair she feels on losing her grandson. Is she happy to see them when they visit?

Two years is a long time to be grieving. Work with her providers for their insight and keep being the good daughter you are. Thankfully you have another brother who feels the same way.
Together you two can hopefully help mother work this out on her own and get back to living.

Good luck to you!
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Countrymouse Feb 2019
This is a lovely, supportive and constructive post; only I wouldn't suggest volunteering other grandchildren's help at this stage. Mother could react to their presence in any number of ways, some of which might be very upsetting for young children or teenagers. For example, what they don't alleviate her sense of loss but heighten her terror of losing them too? What if they bring her a diorama and get not even a glance in response?

I think I'd wait for professional input.
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I don’t think she intentionally decides I’m going to end my life. However, I do think there were times where she just holes up in her bed takes pain meds or Xanax and just wants to sleep ..... and disappear.

Yes, I have and am seeing a therapist and I am always a work in progress.

Her best east friend was her best friend from childhood. A wonderful lady and they were inseparable. She was part of our family. However, since you brought up spouse. I didn’t mention in original post but her husband, my father, died 11 yrs ago. And honestly I don’t think she’s dealt with that either. It was a quick and devastating diagnosis of cancer. Diagnosed in January and died 3 months later.

I do see that from her view that this is what it is in her eyes and she doesn’t have anything to look forward to. But I have to believe that counseling can help in some way. Even if she can get out some emotions, anger, things that she won’t say to me because she doesn’t want to upset me.

I will I’ll never give up on her because she never gave up on me.

Thank you you for your kind words.
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But it all comes down can't force her to do anything. If she isn't ready, it won't work anyway. You cannot save someone from themselves. You cannot dictate what you feel they should do. The law sees them as adults being able to make their own decisions. good or bad. And unlessl they are a threat to themselves or someone else, those in law enforcement, Social work or APS can do nothing.
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You don't. Not without a counselor at least. Get her and your brother into therapy. It'll help them a lot.
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I am struggling with this same situation with my mother, age 91. She has dementia, but can be very clear headed sometimes. The question is "how do you convince a person of strong religious faith that living on earth is a better place compared to going to heaven?" I have talked to a number of people e.g. clergy, etc. and the only reasonable response is that "it is not their decision to make, only God makes that decision". Unfortunately, as far as I can tell that has not resonated with her. We keep telling her this, hopefully it will sink in.
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tornadojan Feb 2019
Rusbar, I have literally the same situation (my mom is 92 - :) ). It IS hard to come up with a faith-filled response, especially when I don't always believe it myself. To be honest, I really think my mom would rather be with my dad and her other loved ones in heaven. It is a challenge sometimes to understand God's ways.
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The sad state of the crutch of addiction is that the addicted person will go TO ANY LENGTH to get one pill -- one hit -- one drink --one trip to the casino. THEY WILL NOT GIVE UP. THEY WLL WALK THROUGH A SNOW STORM TO GET THEIR FIX. Only she has to make the decision to seek help.
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This is depression, plain and simple. In her case, it sounds like addiction plays a big part too. She needs professional counseling. You could try consulting her doctor or her minister to see what is available to her. You might even want to see if you can get her to an AA meeting. They deal with addictions quite well and would give you and your brother support as well as your mom. Maybe try family counseling. The tragic and sudden death of loved ones is so difficult to deal with. It sounds like you all need to take the time to grieve and get some closure. Best of luck to you.
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I’m so sorry. Are you, your mom and brother open to speaking with a counselor / therapist or attending a loss support group? Grief is love for those who passed. There is no stage or timeline. You learn to live with it. When my first child unexpectedly passed, we started seeing a counselor / therapist. My mom suffers from depression but was in denial although she was on anti-depressants in the past. We had other unresolved issues so it was helpful to see a professional. Also, my husband and I have found a wonderful support group and have learned to smile and laugh again. At the same time, we think of our first child every day and honor him in big and small ways.
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