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She won't eat much less than 500 calories, hunched, alone, cries all day, very depressed alone. How can I help her? I am in CA she is NM. I work and she won't leave home.

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not to sound cold, but January is a short time ago and it is understandable your mom is still crying. I know that does not address all the issues, I am guessing other comments which I have not yet read will talk about what to do about the low calorie intake, but if it was a year and she was like this I would be more worried.
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My mother and father were active in the community. I call her daily. I have spent 2 months, weeks and just recently Thursday Thru Monday Mothers day weekend. She struggles to walk. If she falls or gets her I told her I would never put her in any facility. I would move and get home health care to help me. Right now she will not accept home health care of any kind. She drives to dr. Occasionally. It scares me. People call and check in on her but 90% of time she is alone. She will not use any aides for depression her dr agrees it would make her loopy and put her in danger of falling and hurting herself. I feel like broken heart syndrome will take her. There are bi support groups in her area.
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Daughterof1930 May 12, 2021
My dad had many things in common with your mom, missing his wife along with many family and friends he’d lost, huge struggles with walking, and depression/anxiety. I spoke with his doctor prior to an appointment concerning the sadness and depression. While it’s true that HIPPA laws often prevent a doctor discussing a patient with you, there is nothing that prevents you from talking to a doctor. My dad’s doctor handled starting on Zoloft beautifully. He never said the word “depression” or implied that anything was wrong with him. Zoloft had zero effect on dad’s balance or walking ability but it did help him tremendously with the pervasive sadness.
I hope you won’t hold yourself to the promise of never placing her in professional care. There are far too many scenarios that can play out, you can’t predict many events that may come your way. It sounds altruistic to make that promise, but it often ends in frustration and guilt when choices become few, or there is no choice at all. Promise instead that you’ll not abandon your mother, that you’ll care in whatever setting is required.
If your mother won’t accept help now an event will happen that will force change. Many of us have been in exactly that position, waiting for the fall. It’s not fun and extremely frustrating. Know that full time home health can financially break many people in faster time than you may think. I wish you well in this, knowing how hard the choices can be
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I agree that a visit would be appropriate; can you get any family leave time?   Alternately, are there any other relatives who can visit her?  Friends?    Church people? 

I would contact her local Senior Center and see if you can get her signed up.   Even though they probably couldn't come into the house, it would be a nominal interaction with others, she wouldn't have to cook and could probably get more nutrition than she's getting now.   In my experience the people who deliver meals are very caring, will observe her status, report anomalies or other concerns back to the SC staff.   At least that's the experience I've had, but it likely varies by jurisdiction.

Mom could benefit from having her grief validated, and shared.   Do you call her daily to share your grief as well, and confirm that she's not all alone?   

I would at least call as often as I could, and send cards too; getting lovely cards is something to look forward to, and that may be part of her grief; w/o her husband, what does she have to look forward to in life?   

I'm not sure how this might play out, or where to start, but there are pet grief programs.   I've read that pets have been quite helpful to Vets with PTSS.   They can also be helpful to people in severe stages of grief.

Perhaps others here are aware of the pet grief programs and could offer insight.   I think I would contact pet organizations, local vets (in my experience they're knowledgeable about these kinds of programs), the Senior Center, her local community or even post on social media if you engage in that.   I don't have any information on pet therapy groups w/o researching it, but you might try that.

Another option which may sound silly but worked for me.  I loved cats but couldn't manage caring for any during the later periods in my parents and sister's battles.   So I bought some cute furry toy animals.   Just caressing the soft fur relaxed me.

You might also contact her city/township, or county to find out if they offer grief counseling, not necessarily someone to sit and counsel but rather to interact with her and take her mind off her sadness.

Does she have a CD player, something she can operate but not a high tech device type?   If so, get some soothing CDs (like waves), or lively ones with her favorite music.

This is so sad; I do hope you find some solutions, or at least something to help bring her out of her depression.
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I hope you’ll soon find a time to go visit and have your mom seen by a doctor. She’s drowning in grief and depression, in need of help, likely meds to help. Wish you both peace and healing
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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86 is not necessarily old--but she has been through a LOT in the past year. For my mom, just being locked down during covid made her so incredibly depressed.

Your mom has numerous health issues, and one of which would land her in some kind of assisted living.

I think you need to go be 'boots on the ground' for a week and comb through this problem, away from there and you are getting all this second hair.

Mom defininitely needs some outside care. I imagine she's basically grieving herself to death, poor thing.
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Reply to Midkid58
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How was your Mom prior to your father's death? Is this extreme turn-around in behavior for her. Was she happy and active, and were they very much in love? How old is your Mother? Is she competent. Was she very active before you Father died? Does she have any support system where she lives? Other family or close friends? All these things make a difference.
Have you visited and discussed with her what she wants for her life moving forward?
She may require grief counseling or a visit to her MD to have some mild anti depressants that would be both appetite stimulating, and a bridge while she works through her grief. Other than being supportive, calling her daily to check in, there is little you can honestly do. Grieving is a very individual thing.
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Is there a neighbor nearby who can check in on her?

I am curious how you know so much aboout her condition if you are in another state.

Will she go to see her doctor? Will she attend grief counseling sessions?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Your profile has information that will be helpful to those responding:

"I am caring for my mother, who is 86 years old, living at home with age-related decline, arthritis, depression, hearing loss, incontinence, osteoporosis, and urinary tract infection."

And, "I am an only child." "Father passed away January 27, 2021. They live NM I live San Diego."

Without actually physically going there for several days to get her in to see her doctor, I think you will need to call APS and report her as a vulnerable adult. Do you happen to know any of her neighbors, or any other relatives local to her that you can contact? Are you her PoA? More info would help us to help you.
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