My Mom (79) and very depressed. Any advice?


We lost my dad almost 3 years ago, he did everything for her cleaned, cooks, shopping worked, pay bills, driving, well she lost everything she is very depressed does not want to go anywhere or see anyone, does not shower can hardly get around (cant walk), we have a physical therapist come in twice a week but she's giving up on that, the doc. keeps giving her more drugs, i am all by myself i work 2 jobs plus have a family of my own so it really is getting hard, any suggestions??

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Depression following the loss of a loved one is hardly a 'mental' illness in the generally understood meaning of that term.

It is a natural emotional response to a circumstance that is unpleasant, but it impacts almost every aspect of human life.

There is a concomitant physical component to emotional and mental conditions that vary from the norm, just as there is always an emotional and/or mental component when physical illness is present.

It takes some time to understand these correlations, but those that take the time to educate themselves about them are richly rewarded, especially when they are required to assist someone suffering from either physical or mental illnesses.

I had a patient that had been diagnosed as schizophrenic for more than forty years. One day his brother visited him and asked me whether Dougie had 'just given up.'

How sad that in forty years this brother had not understood the nature of psychosis, and too to remonstrating with Dougie about 'pulling himself together,' etc.

I told him that he should never blame his brother for what was happening to him because he was the victim of a serious mental illness over which he had no control.

The main problem with mental illness is that it has no face that the general population can recognise as illness. If someone has a bone sticking out of their leg then the diagnosis and treatment are usually easy and straightforward and one needs not be a genius or specialist to understand it.

Not so with mental illnesses. There are times when only a specialist can recognise the signs and symptoms of a severe psychiatric illness, and this often leads relatives of persons so afflicted to run short of patience, even kindness, with their afflicted kinfolks.

With mental illness it is often the case that what we do not know can hurt others.
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As caregiver 99 states...many of the younger generation just don't understand fully the feelings of seniors , their lives are too busy, too demanding... and thinking of death is something most folks push to a later date.... I am even surprised when I think that I may only at best have another 10 years, considering how fast the last 10 flew by... ...
Yet to get back to your situation, as Iwentanon stated, Sertraline {Zoloft} is a low side-effect medication... my Dad was on it and it calmed him to a pleasantness, that helped his pulse rate and BP a lot ...
he forgot his anger and sadness.. and enjoyed his great-grandkids a lot more...
That is why I hope your Mom can find a pet that gives her happiness +the feeling of being needed, a go take a walk even if it is just in the backyard... or otherwise realize that the pet needs her....
Zoloft however will need that Doctor's visit and evaluation... it's an Rx medication... wish you well, +the best possible results !
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The way she is feeling is quite natural She has lost her best friend in the whole world and probably feels lost. I do not think a psychiatrist is the answer because they will label and drug her and say she has a chemical inbalance even though there is no test which can prove this . Telling her she is mentally ill will make her feel worse !!! She needs lots of love and support There is no time limit when it comes to a bereavement but please spend as much time with her as you can Make a special album of photos of your dad and take her out somewhere nice Give her lots of hugs and let her know that youre still here and that you ll always love her Drugs are not the answer to all lifes problems !
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"Sometimes all the therapy, sometimes all the talking, sometimes all the day care or socializing, sometimes helping with chores doesn't help ... "

Perhaps. But sometimes it does, and that makes all the difference. As I have said before, the cared for is more important than the carer.

My disabled wife is almost totally dependent on me for everything. She is 78, and anyone that thinks 79 isn't old [see post above] is living in another reality than the one we know.

I live to love her and care for her. I have to lift her from bed to wheelchair, etc, because she is physically weakening almost daily. My joints and back are feeling the strain, but I'm not giving up on her.

Loneliness is cured by therapy, day care, socialising, visits, taking time, doing nail jobs, massaging, applying skin lotion, and just generally being accessible. You know the kinds of things I mean.

Old people do sometimes get tired of living. My 90+ year old mother was the same. When she wasn't living in her invented world where everything was as it had been when she was a child and she wanted to go home to her mother, she would want to die. When my step-dad was dying from complications following amputation of his legs from untreated diabetes I, he wanted to die. He was in his 70s, but had been through the storms of life and had been laid low by a serious heart condition and gangrene and just wanted to be done with the struggle. This 'readiness' to die is a normal part of aging.

I am almost 80 and were it not for my wife and two old dogs I wouldn't mind being called home. Some, especially the young, think that thinking about death and being prepared to die is morbid. It isn't. We're all going to die, so better treat death as a friend, a great adventure, rather than living afraid of it.

Old age itself can be a serious insult to a healthy person because it takes away faculties that we have enjoyed for so many years. It is essential not to lose patience with our elders because we rarely get a glimpse into their world. and so never really understand what their lives have become.

The pity and the real tragedy is that so few are capable of being properly sympathetic and understanding to the aged. When they are categorised as nuisances, or perceived as being more generous to others than than are to those that consider themselves the rightful beneficiaries of their largesse, then we have fallen into the 'pity me' trap that shifts our attention away from those that need it most, even when we judge them to be undeserving.

The final stage of life is most like the first stage when we were helpless infants struggling to make sense of a buzzing, booming, and confusing world.
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Sometimes all the therapy, sometimes all the talking, sometimes all the day care or socializing, sometimes helping with chores doesn't help, sometimes it could be they are lonely, sometimes they do not even know, my grandmother whose husband died when she was 60, used to go to my grandfathers grave, used to wish to die, asking him to take her now, she was getting tired of living, she also died 23 years later with Alzheimer's...
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I really hate drugging people who are depressed for a reason. My psychiatrist told me - back when I was 40 and going through a bad divorce - You don't have a chemical imbalance, if you did I would prescribe drugs. You have a life altering shift that you are not dealing with. I believe this is what your mom is dealing with. My suggestion is to use B12 and herbs to "perk" her up and then try to take her into new surroundings, introduce her to new friends. Help her to find a purpose for her life - that's what is lacking. You cannot be everything to her, you are her daughter, not her husband or her friend. She must fill the gap left by the death of her husband in a healthy manner. Yes, seeing a psychiatrist might help, but she is depressed because she lost her lift mate. Even my cat got depressed when his female life mate died. 79 is not that old. Get her off the drugs and ask her to help you out with your family. it will give her purpose.
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Sertraline works good without the side effects.
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To cas4317…Hmmmmm... how do you do it ???... I empathize very much !! … Everything mentioned in the answers here is right, but either costs money … [which might be a problem seeing you are working 2 jobs] - or takes TIME , again, working 2 jobs….you may not have much of that…to get her to more appointments….
You did not mention if there is any diagnosis relating to types of memory loss ..?? I assume there is that loss, since your Dad managed everything …
If however you can find time to find another new geriatric psychiatrist [ as one blogger advised ] and BEFORE you make that appointment… and this may take several days to get it together and double-checked - before your appointment :

1]…MAKE A LIST of all her medications, with spaces between each item into which you can write the info this new doctor gives you about each medication.
2] MAKE A 2ND COPY of that to give to the Doc. In general they like that, as it saves them charting time…. And you can go thru it together faster…which Docs like also…and you have the spaces on your list to note changes down… and the nurse may grab it as you arrive even.

3] MAKE A LIST of all the Behaviour Problems that worry you - numbered -- item by item…
4] AGAIN MAKE A 2nd COPY for Doc…. So you can go thru it together faster without forgetting items important to you….. Docs often include these lists in the patient chart which saves charting time + in future appointments reminds both of you what was talked about to review results ! This specialist's assessment may require 2 Appts.+ would give you this 2nd opinion !

5]…CALL HER INSURANCE, prior to making the appointmt. to see that they pay for a 2nd Doctor, as a 2ND OPINION and NEEDED assessment. Most insurance do that…IF NOT, tell them it's a change of doctors…. You can always change back later…

6]… For a later review Appt. update that medication + Behavior Problem list with your observations of daily or weekly changes your Mom exhibits, + of course - yep - MAKE COPIES FOR DOC !

One suggestion given here in AC was "Supplemental Oxygen" … a Q. you could include in your "Problem List" above … and I would not be surprised if Doc would look at your Mom at that moment…. He would be checking to see if her lips and fingernails exhibit a bluish hew … indicating low O2 saturation…
But I think , unless Doc decides she really needs that, due to some lung or heart problem - he may have a hard time to justify the expense to Medicare….
However… I have had patients with "BLUE" lips before…. Easily solved - by getting them up and exercising them in whatever way possible for a few minutes, until those lips turn pinkish again,,, i.e. the bluish tinge disappears ….
Sometimes it just involves raising arms up+down - while deep-breathing in sets of 5 arm-raises each !
That may even make them dizzy… which means O2 is now sufficient… and you can stop the arm-raises…..Walks are also considered to ease depression symptom by increasing the O2 level…

Last Item: you might consider to find out what Sunday hours a local no-kill animal adoption place has …and take her there whenever you have time… without the suggestion of having to even adopt a pet… just to look what's going on there… I would think that after several visits , one animal would catch her fancy eventually…. Due to those ill affordable very expensive vet visits, I have fostered a dog through a no-kill animal adoption foundation , which continued to provide Vet-care, and I paid the food needs, until he passed 3 years ago. My adoption-place even has volunteer dog-walks around their property, which in your case might require to take that walk with her …. It's a good way to find out her reactions and abilities to such an endeavor, before you actually go into the foster mode… To foster before adopting also allows you to return the animal incase it does not work for you later, { and I would make sure that's on paper before you sign } I brought photos of my house and fenced-in yard to prove that I had a good place for the dog. They do check that.
Without a doubt, attachment to such an animal in need of love…does ease depression, even my cranky orange cat has that effect on me now… It may give your Mom a sense of still feeling needed, which also combats depression. I wish you well and patience and success !!!
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Personal time, ease her loneliness, personal attention, soak, clip, trim nails, bathe her feet, make sure she is comfy, and do talk to her regardless of whether you get answers.
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Geriatric psychiatrist.
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