My Mum has been sleeping for three days now. I don't know what to do?

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I know it is depression. She just told me to let her sleep. She started having sleeping binges a couple years ago where she would sleep 48-72 hours at a time, waking only to use the bathroom. Sometimes I could wake her to eat but most times not. She is a smoker and would not get up to smoke at all during a binge. It started happening a couple times a year, then progressed to every couple of months, then every few weeks, now she sleeps more days than she is wake. All her doctors are aware of the situation. Her neurologist did a brain scan and found the onset of alcohol induced dementia due to alcoholism. She was told to stop drinking immediately and I'm happy to say she has not had a drink in a year. Unfortunately the sleeping binges became more frequent after she got sober. She is on Zoloft for depression. I asked her doctor to increase her dose but she didn't think it was necessary. Mum only has two interests reading and cooking. She use to cook all our meals. I felt bad having her do it but gave her a reason to get out of bed. Now she won't even do that. I miss her and I'm very concerned that she won't eat. She's lost a lot of weight. Has anyone else been in a similar situation?

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Just wanted to know, what does your mom do right before she goes back to bed? Could you keep her distracted for a while longer instead? I am not a health professional, but my mom had that type of behavior years ago when she was very depressed. Best regards, M88
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THANK YOU all for your responses. I appreciate each one. I'm happy to say that she has been up and moving around for at least a week. She has been cooking meals, getting a little fresh air on the porch (even though she goes out to smoke) and has contributed to dinner time conversation. I know it won't be long until she has another sleeping binge but I'm grateful for the time we are presently having.
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I'd take her to a different psychiatrist. She definitely needs an increase or an add on. But she is 84.
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Dear leftcoastannie,

Your mother is so lucky to have you take care of her. I'm sure you are doing your best. Please see if the following suggestions help.

1. Sleeping for long hours could cause bed-sores and less blood circulation to legs. Try making your mom sit in a chair for sometime. Its okay she takes a nap while sitting.

2. As your mom to change positions while she sleeps or you can move her yourself, if that is possible. At any rate, do ensure that she is not sleeping in the same position always.

3. Its very common for elderly to refuse to eat. As you might already know, giving several small meals/snacks is what doctors advice. Icecream is perhaps the best food for elderly. It packs lot of calories, is easy to swallow and tastes good. But the doctors advice to drink hot water after eating icecream though. Especially in winters. Chocolates, glucose can be kept handy so that your mom takes them whenever she feels like.

4. Do see your mom is drinking enough water. Sleeping long hours will lead to dehydration. Giving water in small bottles helps if see doesn't feel like drinking water.

5. Also ask her often if she is passing enough urine. One of the symptoms of kidney problems (high creatinine level) is less amount of urine.
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The brain controls all the functions of our bodies. One function often messed up by dementia is the sleep cycle. Her sleeping so much may or may not be related to her depression. Her doctor is monitoring it -- I think that is all you can do.

Most geriatricians and neurologists are well aware of show-timing. If you'd like Mom's doctor to know more about her at-home behavior, right a concise list of the concerns you have, with examples, and get it to him or her before the next appointment.

When Mom is awake, it sounds like you are doing your best to engage her. While she can apparently engage for 10 or 15 minutes in the doctor's office, she may simply no longer have the capacity to do it for extended periods. I wouldn't give up, if I were you, but I might adjust my expectations downward.

I don't know much about alcohol induced dementia, but in general dementia gets worse -- sometimes rapidly and sometimes very slowly.

I suggest that you ask the neurologist and/or her pcp whether it is time to consider hospice care, and if not, what the signs would be that it is time. Not that you'd have to enroll her in hospice now or ever. That's a personal decision. But having some notion of what to expect toward the end can be calming, and should definitely remove any self-doubts about whether you are doing anything "wrong." Dementia takes its own course.

I am so sorry that you and your mother are going through this. It sounds to me like you are doing your very best. Mom is lucky to have you at this point in her life.
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Thank you, blannie! I have never heard the term "show timing." It is a relief to know it goes on with others as well, not just her. I appreciate what you said about letting her live her life the way she chooses. Maybe I'm taking her behavior too personally. Thanks for the reminder; her life, her choice, her consequences.
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It seems to me your mom made her choices years ago with the alcoholism. You're trying to change long-term behaviors and the consequences of those behaviors. I think at 84 you have to let your mom live her life the way she wants, even though that's painful to you to watch. Support her in her choices as long as she's got some kind of cognitive function.

Her behavior at the doctor's is common with a lot of seniors - it's called show timing. They put on a great show for the doctor. As long as you offer help and support, whether she chooses to accept it is still up to her.

Maybe consider counseling for yourself, as it's got to be very hard on you and probably has been your whole life. Hugs...
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Thank you, Pam! I should have mentioned that she sees the neurologist every 4-6 months depending on what the doctor thinks is best. But I've noticed that she acts a lot different around the doctor than she does with us here at home. She is always full of smiles and acts like life is good. Makes me question if I'm doing something wrong. I try to engage her by talking about the present and earlier times in her life. Try to get her to talk about the books she reads or television programs. I ask her for cooking and sewing advice. But she just wants to be left along to sleep. It breaks my heart to see her sleep her life away.
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She should have an annual visit with the neurologist. A lot can change in a year. Upping the Zoloft will not restore her brain function and too much can trigger mania. I wish I could help you. At least you are not dealing with rages and hallucinations. Many others are.
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