Mother refuses to help self, so should I help her? -

Mother refuses to help self, so should I help her?


My mother is relatively young (63) she had an aneurysm 16 years ago that has injured her cognitively. I moved several states away about 10 years ago -at the time she was functioning OK, not great but had a little job etc. About 3 years ago her faculties started to decline and I had her move in with me for a while and then she moved into the small rental house that is next door. The health problems have since blown up, the list I of diagnosis is long and her physical ability is rapidly declining.
The biggest thing is that she won't do anything to help the physical situation. EVERY doctor tells her she needs to quit smoking in order to get better. She barely moves out of her chair all day and she eats like a 14 year old -frozen garbage and chocolate bars, candy and soda.
I'm not silly enough to think that diet, exercise and quitting smoking is going to solve all the problems -it won't. But it will certainly improve the situation dramatically.
Without doing at least the minimum to take care of herself I'm pretty sure she will not be even the somewhat independent she is now for long. The next fall (and they are common) can likely end her the hospital at any given time.
I have told her repeatedly that if she doesn't do for herself I can't do for her. I have quit doing any chores at her house that she is capable of and it shows. Currently she can't walk even 100 yards but the only physical reason she can't is because she sits all day long.
I'm very frustrated, I'm an only child and she has no friends (because she refuses to be social) and the little family that is left is states away and /or could care less. Couple this with the fact her personality changed dramatically with the stroke so I'm not even taking care of the same person I grew up with.

What chaps me the most is that I am the one who will be taking care of her when something happens but she doesn't do a thing to stop or slow it down. I have young kids and they are getting more independent by the day while my mother is getting more dependent so I resent it because she doesn't even try.

Anybody else in a similar situation? There is no money for assisted living, she's not quite bad enough for a nursing home, and she doesn't think she needs home health -though she hasn't taken out garbage in a long time and rarely cleans. Any suggestions? Do I just let her go until some big event happens and let her flounder? I've threatened it but she doesn't believe me though I've let her sit n the ER several hours alone a few months ago for a self induced episode (dehydrated)

Sorry just stressed and hoping to get some insight from those who have walked a mile or two.

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When you say financially out of the question, is your mother on Medicaid? They will pay. Medicare won't pay for rent, just doctor visits, skilled nursing, some pharmacy, PT/OT, durable medical equipment.

If your mom is not on Medicaid, her assets will need to go to her care prior to a Medicaid application. I will not get one red penny as inheritance because it all is going to pay for mom's care and final expenses. To me, it's a good deal. My home is not a dementia ward and I am not prepared or able to deal with everything that entails as she degenerates and has worse & worse behaviors.

I probably spent 5-10 years in denial about my mom. We all did. She still drove and was living alone. She stopped getting up for the day, bathing, dressing, and would be up all night long. She got weirder and weirder. She couldn't handle her complicated medication schedule. She was incontinent and not managing that. Her house was a holy mess. Rotten food in the fridge. Laundry not done. Dishes not done. Home repairs not done. Bills not paid. Missing doctor appointments. Taking old medication.

Mom didn't want to stop driving, but it had to happen before she killed a car load of innocent people. No, she wasn't happy about it but so what. She was a danger on the road.

We moved mom out of her house and into care. No, she wasn't happy about that, but so what. She was in danger in her home. Safety was objective #1.
We just didn't give her a choice. It happened and was over with even though she bullied, threatened, hollered, cried, and put on a real show. The people who need the most help are the least able to recognize it.

Maybe your mom doesn't need the nursing home, but should be in assisted living where they have shuttle buses to everything and there is no longer a reason to own a car. Saying she won't get up & get dressed is a red flag to me there is possible depression going on too.

Where there's a will, there's a way.
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Thanks for all of your input. I think she would bounce well if in assisted living but that is financially out of the question. Her GP is specialized in geriatrics and she is also seeing a shrink. Most of what everybody has said is right on. Feeling really ticked just this minute because I was going to get her to walk and she isn't even dressed -it's 2:00 pm -only time I can do it today because I've got stuff with my kids when they get out of school. She proclaims she has to go the library first though it's open till 9 pm. Unfortunately she is still driving. Doctors have stopped it for a while but say she's ok now but I absolutely have forbidden my kids to ride with her. I have put my foot down she is not to leave our small town and to be honest she is scared to so I don't really worry about that. Tired of this b.s.
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There are several things in play at the same time.

- Cognitive Decline. No amount of reasoning in the universe can persuade someone with cognitive decline to do differently. They have to be in a care situation where the essential choices are made for them and care levels can increase as care needs increase - because they will. My mom has a period of doing quite well when she was put in the care unit from an apartment. Her meals were prepared for her, she was put in front of the food, the meds were handed to her, and somebody got her up, dressed, and out of the bed every day until she became violent. She had been taken to PT and was walking quite vigorously with a walker down the hall more than 200 feet. And then she became combative and had to go to the memory care unit.

- Depression. So very common in the elderly. Without anything resembling the life they had when much younger, it is way too easy to get depressed, over/under eat, become jaded, detached, alienated, bitter, and what we used to call a voluntary shut-in. Soon "don't want to" will become "I can't anymore".
Depression is easily treated.

- Passively Suicidal. This is a mental illness symptom and can be the red flag behind a much more difficult problem than run of the mill depression. There can be medicine to help.

All of this can be recognized by a good Geriatrician and not recognized at all by your family practitioner/GP who is not trained on aging.

I know that my mom would probably be dead by now if she had continued to live in her home, alone.
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Sorry re-read above post and saw all errors that I made in grammar and spelling etc.etc Been hard last few weeks..
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Hi, spent the whole day with Mom (on Mother's Day) who is 90 and will not do anything for herself.
Lives now with my 90 year old Father who is like living less than alone. Am also an only child with a husband now with health problems. Back to your question. My friends Mother can do things but will not and wants to be waited on hand and foot. She is in her mid to late 80's. Someone said something to me yesterday and said the if you help a butterfly out of its cocoon it dies on the spot. It has to do it itself. My Mother use to remember phone numbers until we programed her cell to fast dialing. Then she went to the doctors and they asked her phone number an she said just dial 3 and you will get me. That is how everyone gets me. Well she dose not know phone numbers now and was fighting with the nurse. Use it or lose it. She does have dementia pretty bad now which I understand but think that we should not have done so much for her and she would be better than she is now. Who really knows?? Glad Mother's Day is over! But then I am glad any Holiday is over, rather skip them all.
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You are right that this is going downhill.

But, as others have noted, she is losing her judgement and cannot so clearly see the reasons for putting herself out and making big efforts when it is nice and comfy to grab a smoke and a candy bar and sit in a chair. It is not so much refusing as it is no longer seeing the value or understanding why other things need to be done. Since she been able to get to the doctor, dose anyone take a really comprehensive view and assess and then see if anything might help with her cognition? What I'm talking about is more of a comprehensive geriatric evaluation that they typically offer in larger or academic medical centers with organized senior services/geriatrics. A really good eval coul dhelp you get a grip on more of what she can't do vs won't do and how close you are to a point where she is not going to be considered competent to make all the decisions.

SO- if your goal is for it to go donwhill faster so it can be documented as bad enough for Adult Protective Services to step in, by all means don't help. That can be a good option, maybe the only option, for people whose parents refuse all help; I don't mean that to be cold or sarcastic. You don't want to be viewed as negligent or not doing what can reasonably be done though, if you are fully aware her cognitive and physical abilities are declining. If your goal is for her to stay in her own home as long as possible and enjoy life as much as possible, you want to do what she will let you do and organize outside help to make it practical rather than a long term impossible burden for you. You could even go as far as arranging for housekeeping in yoru place while you go clean hers if she refuses to let someone else do it. If you cannot realistically do the care or organize the care help she needs to stay where she is, you are looking at eventual assisted living, or skiled nursing if she is diabetic or incontinent. To get there from where you are requires knowing her assets, income, and local options. There might be a board and care home for less than regular assisted living. There is probably a Medicaid application in her future - do you have the information you will need for that? Your Area Agency on Aging would be a starting point. Depending on what you find out, you may need an eldercare attorney or at least an estate planner. You have to decide whether or not you want financial and healthcare POAs, and guardianship if it comes to that. Try not to let the highly understandable resentment be a huge factor in making the best decisions for all involved...not easy motto for today is "the easy problems solve themselves." Even if she suddenly started doing everything right, she is still likely going to need more help as time goes on.

As a fellow only child, I think we both face the temptation to think of this as being "about us" rather than about our aging loved ones. I resented my mom's poor health choices, and they were largely consciously made, with a side order of wilful ignorance, ("You can't really manage diabetes, you just live with it," while keeping jars of M&Ms all over the house...on the other hand it took ages for her docs to do anything but give insulin, and she probalby was hungry all the time). Honestly, I still carry some resentment around that she did not do better by herself and my dad, with whom we could have had many more good times together than we did. I had to come to realize she in some ways did what she thought was right and even did her best, and that in the end, it was her story to finish writing and not mine.

Hugs. And a few shared tears on Mother's Day, 2015...this is my fourth without my mom now.
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I don't think it's a matter of should you help her. I don't think you could if you wanted to, short of moving in as her housekeeper and full-time caregiver - and for goodness' sake don't give that even a passing thought, not least because it still wouldn't save her.

I'm actually not unsympathetic to her in that I can understand that she's got scant reason to get motivated: looked at through her eyes, the world can't seem a very lovely place. But I completely agree that she is sinking and if you're not careful you'll get sucked down too.

So detach with love, as they say. Start being a squeaky wheel with social services, get her every bit of help she's entitled to, and otherwise stay out of it. The greater her obvious need, the sooner things will start happening for her. It's horrible, but it's best.
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My Mom is 86, she had a stroke 10 yrs ago and is now living with me. She doesn't get up in the morning so I started bringing her a hot chocolate Ensure with a banana. Sometimes she gets up in the afternoon. Yesterday she didn't get up at all. Today she got up around 3. It's very difficult to get her to appts on time because she just piddles around. Yesterdays PT appt had to be cancelled. Can't seem to find anything for her to do that interests her. Right now I'm looking for caregiver respite.
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It sounds like you have your hands full. I'm sure you have done alot of things for her in the past. I have done the same with my mom and dad. However, my mom is an alcoholic, she quit smoking. But i would rather deal with that then seeing her drunk. She tries to be good around me. But its there. Shes fallen, many many times. Her body is wearing out, and she' about your moms age. At this poinpoint, i have concluded i cannot take care of her. I will have a breakdown! She will have to apply for medicaid when the time comes and go in a assisted living home. My health and the health of my marriage and children will come first. She would probably want that .
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It sounds like she is no longer capable of making good decisions and you have done more than your part. So you step back and let a county social worker check on her periodically. You focus on your kids and your own health. She can flounder all she wants, but don't let her drag you down with her.
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