My Mother is blind (macular degeneration) and just lies in her room with the blinds drawn. She obviously can't read or watch TV. What to do?

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She is very withdrawn and is afraid to leave her apartment. My husband (my dad) is also afraid to leave the apartment because he gets 'lost'. They constantly bicker and quarrel all day. My sister said once that she didn't think that either one could even comment on the weather without starting an argument. I would visit more often (out of state travel involved) but the atmosphere is very hostile.

We've tried 'books-on-tape', CDs and headset radios, but she manages to break the players pretty quickly or "they're just too complicated!". We've tried to get her to join a group of women suffering from the same affliction, but she's too afraid, and I think too proud. She is embarrassed to even go to the common dining room because she spills food on herself and thinks everyone is looking at her. We've told her that that isn't true and that many other people have the same problem, but she won't listen.

Mom is now mad at God for taking her eyesight. Church has been important to her in the past, but now she won't even consider it, even if my sister takes her and stays with her for the entire service. I've tried to tell her that she was never guaranteed a life without trials and troubles, but she just verbally attacks me if I suggest that she pray for guidance. I told her that back when I got cancer and prayed fervently "Oh GOD! Why ME, your good and faithful servant?" and got the answer in an almost audible voice "Why NOT you? If someone else got this disease they might not be able to handle it. You can, with my help." Mom's response? "Well, that was you, not me!"

I believe that my mother is depressed and that the only thing that she can do now-a-days is to argue and fight. She has been to therapy (only at my sister's insistence) but now refuses to go "because it's too expensive". She won't even consider mood-altering drugs. Heck, she'd rather die than even drink a beer (literally)! I suggested that once when she was dehydrated and that was her response. Medical marijuana is legal in her state (Washington), but if she won't even drink a beer how do I suggest that she might consider "dope"?

My sister and I don't know what to do other than just love her and pray for her, but that just doesn't seem to be enough when mom is obviously suffering. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Love and Light to all.

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Your mother needs to be seen by a geriatric psychiatrist. some of them are pretty good at explaining that antidepressants are in no way "mood altering drugs". Antidepressants correct chemical imbalances in the brain. Your description (perhaps it is your mom's) makes it sound like she's being asked to go on an LSD head trip!
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Mom still needs Vit. D from the sunshine. If not that, get her Vit. D. It can make her feel better. Vit. D is required to assimilate calcium.
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I would suggest antidepressants and a visit from her priest, in private.
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You said your mother has had therapy, but has she had a low vision assessment and occupational therapy geared toward living with vision loss? Here in Canada we have the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), which were a wonderful resource when my mother was first diagnosed with AMD. A volunteer offered tips on coping with every day tasks, we were shown a range of assistive devices that we hadn't realized existed, she was even signed up to their library of "talking books" which were mailed to her periodically. She was given a white "identity cane", but they would have trained her to use a mobility cane as well.
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The distance between you and your parents means there really isn't much more you can do for them. I would suggest it may be time to explore a greater level of support for them such as assisted living, for your dad's sake if not your mom. It would probably do him good to be able to mingle with others without fear and to escape the negativity around your mom.
As for your mom, I don't think you can help those who won't allow themselves to be helped. It would be good if she could be given an antidepressant, but that will probably only happen if you are somehow able to "trick" her into it, so that she is not aware that is what it is for.
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Michael, I wish I had some suggestion that would make things better, but I don't. I can understand how your mother feels. Losing our sight is a terrible blow. She is the only one who can pull out of the bitterness and anger, however.

I had two friends with serious macular degeneration. They kept on with friendships -- something I think helped them through it. I wish your mother could do this, since friends help a lot when the eyesight is going. She is isolating herself and it isn't your fault or anyone else's. You are probably doing all you can do. The only other thing I can think of is having old friends call her on the phone. Do you think she would enjoy that?
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