My mom is quickly becoming less mobile. What can I do to help her out of this downward spiral? - AgingCare.com

My mom is quickly becoming less mobile. What can I do to help her out of this downward spiral?

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My mom is 73, has high blood pressure and fibromyalgia type issues, but no other known health problems except maybe thyroid. She had a complete hysterectomy/ovary removal in her 40's. She sees her doctor every 3-4 months to get her prescriptions refilled. She has never been very active, except for gardening when she feels up to it. At this point, she is very housebound, but she has never been very social and has no friends who aren't online. I am really concerned about her because all she does, day in and day out, is sit on her La-Z-Boy in front of the TV or listening to music. She's in a spiral where she is extremely sedentary and she says all physical activity, even walking to the end of the driveway, makes her hurt because of her fibromyalgia she says, but she's so sedentary these days. She won't even try to be moderately active. Now she can't get comfortable sitting anywhere and can't sleep and seems to be in constant pain. I try to get her out of the house for a little activity like, going to the flower market, but often we have to turn around and go back home because she feels nauseated or gets bowel cramps just by walking around a little bit.


I'm concerned about her weight. She has never been very overweight in her life, but now seems to be very heavy, especially around the middle. I try to coax her to investigate how many calories she's eating, but she swears up and down that she eats healthy food and not too much of it. She seems to live on toast and jam, fat free milk and lots of eggs. Eggs, eggs, eggs, every single day. I asked her to list what she eats on a typical day and she is consuming more calories than she thinks she is, but of course, she doesn't think she is. I don't think a woman her age who is 5'2" should be 170 pounds and I think all this extra weight is wreaking havoc on her bones and muscles.


She used to take Ultram and then Meloxicam for her fibromyalgia issues, but she always claims the pills don't work, she doesn't like to take them, and she cries all the time. I'm sure the stress makes her feel even worse.


She now uses a cane all the time and she hardly ever did before. She can't pick up her cat any more. I don't know how to stop this sudden downward spiral. She is rapidly becoming immobile and I just don't know what to do. Her mind is fine, except for her insisting she doesn't need to lose weight. I don't think she has a very good doctor and I don't think she is very good at communicating to him in any case. I've tried to suggest very low-impact exercises she can do right in the living room, but she is having none of it.


I live with her so I'm basically her live-in health care, when I'm not working. How do you get someone to exercise and diet when they are SO sedentary that even climbing stairs is hard for them all the sudden? This came on after Christmas, after she gained quite a few pounds, and I think it can be turned around somewhat.
My mom has always seemed to suffer from depression throughout her life, she has always cried easily and her lack of social connections doesn't help. This has been a life-long issue for her, so it's not going to be as easy as telling her to make new friends or join a senior center. She DOESN'T do that sort of stuff, ever. Oh, and she does not like talking to counselors or anything like that. It gets too personal for her. That is why I am focusing on trying to get her to lose a little weight, as it's something she MIGHT be persuaded to do. When she had a knee replacement some years ago, she did extremely well with her physical therapy.

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One thing I can suggest is to have a doctor reevaluate the medication she is on. The ones you mention are not typically prescribed for fibromyalgia. Different medications could make a lot of difference. The one I know that is prescribed often is Lyrica. I'm sure there are others.

You are right to be concerned. "Use it or lose it" is a truth when it comes to living. I know you already realize that. My mother does the same thing that yours does -- sits in her recliner in front of the TV all day -- because it hurts her to move. However, my mother is 90 years old with spinal stenosis that bends her double. The thing is that the less she moves, the harder it becomes for her to move. I've given up on my mother, but your mother is still young. I would get her to another doctor to see if there is a better medication for her -- one that relieves the pain without making her too dopey. I hope you're able to find some relief for her. Good luck!
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Depression can cause pain. She may not realize that. Her height and weight indicate an obese person but just barely. If she lost just a few pounds she would be considered overweight but not obese. I'm thinking the pain isn't from her weight. What is she taking for pain? Some pain medication is harmful to her liver. Some could harm her kidneys. It's important that she know her health status so she can treat her pain responsibly. You are right that what she eats is very important. Some food will help diminish inflammation and some increase it. Try to convince her that your health is affected by her health. Especially since you two live together. Going to a dr isn't an instant improvement to ones health but it might make her feel better to take control of her health and rule out a few things. Could you get her to go to a different dr for a second opinion? Does she drink plenty of water each day? Sometimes people won't drink enough water when they are dreading the trips to the bathroom. She may have a UTI. even if you could get her to go to an Urgent care and get a pee test it might help her. When people have surgery and then have therapy they usually take effective pain medication in order to do the exercise. Perhaps she does need a new pain medication and an order for pt. The therapist could work with her to help her get going again. Tell her you will stop pressuring her about her weight if she'll get a check up. You are a good daughter to try to find her help. She has to move or it will get worse.
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I agree she may be depressed (in fact that may be a lifelong problem for her), but she WILL NOT accept that idea I'm afraid.  Her view is "I'm not depressed.  I'm just in pain, and I need something that will help me -- a chiropractic adjustment, a new pain medication, a new La Z Boy"  
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It sounds to me like she needs a complete evaluation of her health, including mental health. She may be depressed and need medication.
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