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My 97 year old mother is in Independent Living with some assistance. I spend one afternoon a week with her. She has had several strokes, which she calls TIAs, and is mobile with a walker, but has bladder incontinence and some bowel, as well, and uses protective underwear. She should be drinking water and other liquids, but avoids them, because they increase her urinary output. She also claims that water gives her diarrhea, which pretty clearly is from other reasons. I think she feels she has a bit of control if she doesn't have fluids, and she won't acknowledge that dehydration could bring on another stroke, in spite of medical advice. Should I just give her the freedom to choose how she wants to live (or die)? She is pretty rational, lucid and active for her age, though her stamina is understandably low. My sister and I are perplexed over whether we should let her live life on her own terms (she's pretty happy) or constantly try to get her to do what we and other authorities think is best for her. When we discuss topics like this with her, she understands and seems agreeable to some changes, but in practice, she does it "her way". We are starting to feel that this is a quality of life issue and we should stop badgering her--lovingly--and let her live her own choices, even though we find this worrisome and frustrating. She is not being neglected in any way, but she is not supervised in her living situation, so she can do as she pleases.

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My mom doesn't drink a lot. I feed her foods with liquid. Soups, grapes, berries, peaches, pears, etc. Also be sure she is getting enough salt. Low salt can be a issue for elders too.
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My husband, who is only 78, does the same. He doesn't want to get up in the night (hey, nobody wants to - at any age) He is in excellent health, but he doesn't drink enough water, never did, and his skin is so dry and flaky, and it is easily bruised and cracks. He's done this for 20 years. Enlarged prostates make it more likely to have frequency regardless of how much you drink. Unfortunately, with some men - you can't tell them anything!
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Many elders go through this. When getting to the bathroom becomes more difficult, they compensate by not drinking as much. We wish they would drink more, but those trips to the john can be long and they may not make it. Having a portable commode near them may help, but many elders don't want to use them. So we end up following their lead. It may be that it is just all part of life. We want to hold on, but they are finding it more difficult. We really have to think about how much longer they have to live and how much better life could be if they were hydrated, then find a solution that would work best. My father was near death when he stopped wanting water, so I didn't push it on him. He would drink a bit of coke, though, so I kept one near him. A little liquid made him more comfortable and gave him some extra calories. It wasn't as good as water, but it was a time in his life when trying to prolong it didn't have as much meaning as his comfort.
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I found something at the grocery store this week that has been helping my mom to drink more water. The Dr. wants her off tea and cola which is the only thing that I could get her to drink. The product is called Stur and it comes in a little squirt bottle that I can carry in my purse when we go to restaurants. It is sweetened with Stevia and comes in different fruit flavors. She still won't drink near as much as she's supposed to but at least I've been able to take away the tea and cola since her kidneys are going bad fast.
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Songbird, my Dad was the same way when it came to not wanting to have liquids, too many trips to the bathroom... yet he would fall due to dehydration.... but trying to get liquids into him was a chore.

One of his caregivers gave him watermelon which he loved, which has a lot of liquid. She also gave him fruit juices mixed with cranberry juice, which is good to help keep urinary tract infections at bay.
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My mother's 81 years old and acts exactly the same way. Won't drink, barely drinks any liquids, has incontinence ( wears diapers) and doesn't do her exercises shown to her by the therapists who come at home. She's as stubborn as a mule and won't listen to reason. She's had several falls, hospital stays, dehydration and kidney problems, seizures because of her dehydration and high blood pressure. My brothers and I have become frustrated and stressed out and just don't know what t do. Any suggestions???
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I don't claim to know what's right, here, but here's another way to look at this:

Elderly or otherwise, none of us make all the right choices to extend our lives. How many of us exercise the way our doctor thinks is best for us or eat the diet our doctor tells us promotes the longest lives? Very few of us, it seems. As such, we should be careful about judging others regarding their "bad" decisions when ours probably aren't as good as we like to pretend they are, either.

The other thing, here, is the issue of "quality of life." I'm not saying to just give in and let Mom do just anything she wants if it happens to be really dangerous or detrimental, but I'm just saying that you have to place some value on her happiness.

From my own experience, prioritize these things and decide very analytically which of these battles are most important, in your mind, which you think you can win, and what the likely outcome will be. If you'll just end up constantly on her case with no change from her in sight, that probably isn't worthwhile -- spend your efforts on something where you can make a real difference.
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I went through this with my kids--trying to guide them away from poor choices, which sometimes they chose anyway--but now they are grown and doing well. My mom, on the other hand, isn't going to "grow out" of her unwise decisions. They will ultimately bring her to her end. So many caregivers here have much more difficult situations to deal with, bless them! I feel bad complaining about my little problems, but I truly appreciate the support, encouragement and advice. I'd like to think that my mother is teaching me by her sometimes-bad example, how to age well and I only hope I won't make the same mistakes when I'm in my last years.
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I send you hugs and share your pain and worry. Your mother sounds exactly like mine. Mom is 99, sometimes incontinent too, barely drinks any liquid, barely eats, doesn't bathe and is stubborn as a billy goat. She lives in independent living because she won't move and there is nothing we can do (so we do all the cleaning, shopping, laundry, finances and everything in between) Mom won't listen to advice and as with your mom, she needs supervision, but doesn't get it where she lives. We have pretty much decided to let her do what she wants because she will anyway. But to watch a loved one make bad decisions and refuse to help themselves is so frustrating isn't it?
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