My father lost his wife 2 years ago and has not been the same since. He has lost his will to live. He barely eats, he drinks wine all day, he sits in his chair and won't move except to use the bathroom or to fill his wine. He watches the news non-stop. He is so very depressed and he says so all the time. He tells me that he can't go on without her. I think the heavy drinking and not eating is his way of trying to end his life.

When he has had too much he stumbles and gets angry when I try to help him. He says "I am not a cripple, I can do it on my own". He gets angry when I try to slow him down on his drinking or when I try to get him to eat. He has lost all life inside of himself.

I want to get help to try to force him to get better. I am scared because I know he will be angry and he will want me to go away. His doctor says there is not a whole lot she can do until he harms himself or injures himself. I have all the legal documents in hand to take over his care. But is that the right thing to do?

Even if I do take over his care, I still cannot force him to see his doctor or eat, stop drinking, etc. Is there anything one can do to make them want to live again? I am struggling with this, I don't want to watch him kill himself but I know he is going to do it no matter what happens. How does one cope with that?

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mycakesnthings: Alcoholism is a horrible disease. Your father would have to want to stop his consumption of alcohol. There are many programs to help, e.g. one being Reformers, BUT he must want to stop and perhaps at age 75, it's going to be more difficult, depending on how long he has had his crutch. He CAN get help.
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Reply to Llamalover47

What you're describing is severe alcoholism - with or without the bereavement. You don't say whether your father needs you to buy his wine or take care of other tasks, but if he's only 75 and still ambulatory, you maybe will be doing the best thing all around to give him the ultimatum that either he enter an alcohol treatment facility and get safely detoxed and treated, or you will have to go home and stop helping him out. Reading this, I'm worried for your mental health, having to be around him very much in this current state. It's not pleasant and perhaps if you talk to him about how his behavior is hard to watch and witness and you're not going to do it anymore, it MIGHT help him do what he needs to do to stop drinking and start to recover, or it might not. At his age and with "drinking all day and not eating" he's no doubt quite addicted to the alcohol and has done some damage to his liver, etc., so would need to stop under medical care, not on his own. I would not want to participate in that behavior by hanging around, so an ultimatum may be the best step for you. If this seems too difficult, I'd suggest trying a support group, even Al-Anon, and/or seeking support from other family.
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Reply to KatyAdams

Does your father see anyone except you? I see from your profile that you're spending time away from your own husband (with your husband's agreement) to care for your father. I'm just wondering if the sacrifice you and DH are making is, possibly, having the opposite effect from what you're making it for.

How far away from your father do you live?
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Reply to Countrymouse

Grief is a process. You don't say how long your Dad and "his wife" (so I assume this was not your Mom) were married. Nevertheless, after 2 years, he's obviously still grieving his loss. Perhaps taking him to a grief support group for widowers would help him realize he is not alone in his feelings. I think he would benefit from talking with other widowers. No amount of "distraction" activities is going to make him work through his feelings of grief. He lost his life partner. Talk to him; in fact, just listening could make a world of difference. Tell him you love him and are here for him. When my FIL passed, my MIL immediately stated, "What am I going to do now? I'm all alone" when she had a very large family to look after her. Grief is so personal. Two years of drinking is a cry for help that he hasn't worked through his loss. Does his church have a grief support group? Even if he doesn't go to religious services, I'm sure if you contacted them they would have suggestions.
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Reply to help2day

Short answer No, don't try to make your Dad to something!
Let your Dad make his own decisions for now.
You should not make him do anything.
It won't do any good to fuss at him about drinking as he will do it anyway and it just makes him mad and possibly even drink more.
You just need to be there for him and try to get him out of the house.
Invite him to go out to lunch with you, invite him to go to the park, beach, zoo or to a movie.
If he has a couple friends, you could arrange for a poker night once a week.

Imvite him to Church, maybe they have a Senior Group that meets.

Maybe you could go with him to a meeting for Adults that have lost their spouse, where he might meet someone going through the same thing he's going through.
The point is, he needs to have things to do in his life to help occupy his mind.
See if he'll work on a puzzle with you, Buy a large Paint by number for him to paint.
Buy a model car or plane for him to build.
See where the closest place for Seniors to meet where they have things for them to do, games, cards, puzzles, ect and they have lunch together.

He needs something to occupy his mind to help him to see that Life can go on.

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Reply to bevthegreat

Think outside his box. If it’s financial feasible take him somewhere for a few days change his scenery. Spend some time finding a low stress easy option. Change his four walls, it will help him maybe he’ll see life goes on. ❤️
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Reply to AT1234

I do not think you can do much about your Dad’s thoughts or actions of taking his own life. He obviously loved his wife very and is broken hearted. I would remind him that you too miss your mother, and love him very much, and you will be devastated if he left you. Let him know that you are concerned about his “attitude” and you know that your mother would want him to live on and be with you.
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Reply to Ricky6

Your father has 2 mental health issues: depression and alcoholism. If he is mentally competent, you can not "make" him do anything. However, you should not make it easier to drink, that would make you an enabler in his problem. If he is not competent, I would suggest talking to a psychiatrist about an involuntary admission to a medical psychiatric unit. He could be safely detoxed from alcohol as well as being evaluated and treated for depression.
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Reply to Taarna

There was a beautiful photo in our weekend paper of an elderly man in a suit with flowers, at a bustop, about to go on his first date for umpteen years. He had been married for decades, widowed (is that the word for a man too?) & drank himself sick for a few years since. Somehow he pulled himself up & out of that hole.

I'm not suggesting your Father get out there online dating (some are lonely & do..). Some people partner for life once & once only. No, I mean sometimes somehow when the waves of grief subside a bit, he may rejoin life.

Profile says he is 75? Young enough to do loads of things if his health is ok! Go fishing with a mate, lawn bowls, join a men's shed - whatever he's into.

Is his drinking new? Since being alone? Or always been there? Maybe it's time for him to own his depression, take it on, take some antidepressants & try some talk therapy.

Group support like grief councelling is not for everyone, maybe 1:1 may work for him?
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Reply to Beatty
Cover99 Aug 2, 2021
I also have the DNR and POLST papers in his home, and showed what they were.
Yes it's their pity party, but it is only 2 years ago that he lost his love.
My dad kept his Air Force diary. So one day I read his journal to him and we discussed his life then. It was interesting and he did not feel sorry for himself, at the moment. Then we found all the cards mom sent him and read those. We reminisce about her as a young lady. Maybe if you asked him questions about his youth, things he did with his wife, etc he would feel closer to the memories. I don't know I tried everything!! Dad would say "I pray that the man upstairs take me tonight" I'd say you know mom doesn't want you up There yet!! Then we would talk about what a pain in the a## mom was and laugh. If course he would say she was my pain in the A##.
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Reply to Barbeem

Yep, dad was constantly expressing he just wants to lay down and not wake up. I got tired of hearing it, plus he would say it to anyone who asked how he was.
He is 99, mom passed 4 years ago. So one day I said, well I understand how you feel so let's get all our ducks in a row!! Let's prepay your funeral, you can pick out your clothes, and what you want at your funeral. Let's call the priest to give you your last rights, etc. He said absolutely NoT!! Now he doesn't mention as much, but when he does I give him that look!! And we laugh.
He complains no one calls him, I remind him that none of your great grandchildren want to hear that you want to die.
Don't know if that will help.
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Reply to Barbeem

It can take a long time to get over the loss of a spouse. If your father is mentally capable of making his own decisions, you should let him make them. You could suggest to him to get involved in some activities with other seniors, or join a grief couseling group (you'd have to be the one to do the research). But it's his choice. It sounds like you are POA. Be sure you are on file with Medicare and Social Security to be able to speak on his behalf, and many finanical institutions (banks, etc.) have their own POA forms. He needs a will (if he has assets) and a living will. You may need an attorney to help, if there are assets. Try not to argue with him or to be "bossy." My mother told me that I was being bossy and I hear this a lot from seniors talking about their children. Talk to him about having a care giver (if he can afford it) who would come in to cook for him and clean. Some men prefer male care givers who don't hover as much as their children do. Get connected with a social worker and caregiving groups in his area who can advise you of his options.
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Reply to NancyIS

One accepts he is an adult and provided he doesn't cause harm to anyone else then he is entitled to make whatever decision he wants to on his way of living and whether or not he want to. You cannot force him to do what you want unless he is incapable of making his own decisions.
Have you actually sat the two of you down and had a heart to heart discussion on how he feels and what he wants. Does he want help, does he want to feel better, does he seriously want to be dead, is he willing to help himself, does he know how his current behaviour is affecting his health?
Lots of questions - which as an adult with mental capability he is entitled to answer even if the answers are hurtful to you. If you have the conversation and he chooses to carry on in a way you don't want to see, you may have to restrict your visiting for your own health.
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Reply to TaylorUK

A POA, if Springing, will not be in effect if the father has not been found incompetent.

You can do nothing for your father until he wants to do it for himself. He may have to hit bottom and be out of it before you can step in. Like found passed out and taken to the hospital. Even then, once released he can go right back to drinking his wine. As long as he is not a danger to himself or others, not much anyone can do. You can not force someone to get help. The help does no good if they don't want it.

I would say, go home. Be with your family. There is nothing you can do for your Dad.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Have you spoken to his doctor about the possibility of anti-depressant meds? If he's resistant to this notion you can point out that he's already "medicating" himself, only it's with wine and it's failing miserably. You can tell him that you must set a boundary to not be around while he's in this state of mind (maybe this will be a motivator)? You are not responsible for his happiness. You can't have his recovery for him. But you need to put up a boundary or you will be sucked into his black hole with him.

One strategy is to try to get him in for a medical exam and use a therapeutic fib to get him there ("Medicare now requires an annual physical in order to continue to receive the benefit"). Once there have his assign you as his Medical Representative (ask for this form at the check-in desk). Having this designation allows his doctor to discuss all his medical issues and decisions with you without him needing to be present. Bring your PoA paperwork to get it into their files. Go with a pre-written note that you secretly hand to the staff saying who you are, your concerns about your father's mental state and requesting a cognitive and memory test. I did this with my MIL and they staff was happy to do it -- they see it all the time. Wishing you success and peace in your heart no matter the outcome.
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Reply to Geaton777

You’re right. You can’t force him to do anything. He has to want a better life for himself. His doctor has told you the same.

It is truly sad. He is grieving. He feels that his life is empty without his wife. I am sorry for his loss.

It has been two years. I understand that he will always love her but he isn’t progressing towards a better place. In fact, he has deteriorated and is going in a downward spiral. How far will he go? Who knows?

Do you think that he would be willing to speak with someone, a social worker, therapist, clergy? If not, what else can you do for him? I would say that you have been more than patient with him. You’re not a miracle worker. He needs professional support. He may need antidepressants in order to cope. Drinking isn’t the answer. Starvation isn’t either.

I think that I would tell him that you are willing to set up appointments for him. The rest is up to him. If he doesn’t want to cooperate, then at least you can have a clear conscience, that you offered what he truly needed, in order to proceed in his life.

I am so sorry that you are in this tragic situation. Tell him that you have a husband that you will be returning to, and that he can call you anytime, if he is willing to make positive changes in his life. Tell him that you are no longer willing to watch him self destruct.

Please don’t feel as if you have failed him in any way. You have done all that you possibly could and more.

Wishing you and your family all the best. Keep us posted. We care.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

That's heartbreaking.
He's clearly suffering from grief and depression, but does he have any other major health issues?

You might either have to just let him wallow in his misery, or get tough on him and demand he get help. It's unlikely he'll drink himself to death with wine, so you might have to use some tough love and call him on his self-pity party.

You aren't required to enable this forever, nor do you have to sit by and watch it. Give him an ultimatum, then remove yourself from the situation and let him make his decision.
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Reply to MJ1929
bigsispjt Aug 2, 2021
A person can drink themselves to death with ANY type of alcohol, and there's nothing you can do to stop them.

Try to sign him up for adult daycare. You might have to take him the first few times. After that, arrange for transportation so it doesn't require you to do one more thing. If he's mentally still alert, find one that has lots of activities. Is he a military vet? Can you get an UBER or caregiver to take him to the VFW every month?

Not to be cruel, but at his age, I would let him do pretty much what he wants.

Finally, join a support group. Maybe those people can help you get the parents together for "play dates" once a month.
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