My 92-year-old mother seems to be giving up on living. Has anyone experienced this? - AgingCare.com

My 92-year-old mother seems to be giving up on living. Has anyone experienced this?

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My ninety-two year ole Mum, who is a former school teacher and who I am her only son and elder representative as her POA and Health care proxy in a state 700 miles away for the past six months since I got a job here. Ok, for the past four years, I got her together in the house she has lived in since 1958 with the Acorn stairlift, full-time live in home Attendant . She has balance issues and dementia which are getting worse. In the past week, suddenly she says she cannot walk. Yes, she has "spinal stenosis". She sometimes resists her home attendant's attempts to get her out of bed and they took her to the hospital, thinking she had a urinary tract infection. According to her primary doctor she was "dehydrated" and released her the next day. She seems to be giving up on living. Her neurologist says "this is typical and will pass"; Her Primary wants to give her anti-depressants. Maybe she should stop taking all high blood pressure meds? I am fielding any and all suggestions and similar experiences here please. She speaks to "wanting to die" sometimes, but we all know it is not as simple as that. Many Thanks.

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GuvnaBee, you really have a challenge to keep tabs on your mom from 700 miles away. (And you deserve to be away. I'm not questioning that.) Two things might help. Hire a Geriatric Care Manager. Or place Mother in a care center.

Mother, of course, wants to stay in her home. It sounds like you have done everything possible to make that work for as long as it could. That fact of the matter is, most people with dementia cannot live in a private home with only one caregiver throughout the later stages. Dementia gets worse. What worked in the beginning may not work later on.

My mother had a broken hip that could not be fixed. She could not bear weight on that leg. The nursing home used a lifting machine and two aides to get her out of bed and position her in a comfortable wheelchair. Someone came and wheeled her to meals and activities. They used the machine and 2 persons each time she needed to use the bathroom. Mom also had dementia. I can't imagine her getting as much stimulation, attention, and care in a private home. She was quite content in her last 2 and a half years in the nursing home. She died at age 94.

A care center might be very good for your mother.

Meanwhile, if you mum needs high blood pressure meds don't discontinue them without talking to the doctor! Risk of a stroke is serious. Ask for other ways to prevent dehydration.

Mum is 92, has dementia, high blood pressure, and possibly depression. She is tired. Maybe some days she should be allowed to stay in bed. I think a nursing home would have staff that would be a good judge of that, and staff that could provide as much assistance as she needed with getting out of bed and getting around.

She says she wants to die. At 92 I think that is probably better than being afraid of dying, don't you? I heard this from my husband early in his dementia. I replied, "Yes, and you will die. Everyone dies eventually. We are not in control of when that will be. I want to help you have a pleasant life until it is your time to die."
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GuvnaBee, if we put ourselves into an elder parents shoes to see life as they see it, it can be discouraging. Gone is one's independence... no longer able to drive... no longer able to walk where one wants.... one's hearing and eyesight is not as sharp... one's siblings and cousins, plus friends, have either moved away or passed on. My gosh, one now needs help getting to the bathroom. And food has very little taste.

I remember my Dad [94] was doing ok living at home with a caregiver, but he really perked up once he moved into senior living and was around people closer to his own generation. He made sure he was always on time for his meals in the main dining room... he had trouble walking but could move pretty well with his rolling walker... just don't get in his way if he was heading to that dining room :)

Just an option.
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freqflyer, that is a very good description of the situation of many seniors. It is something we all need to stop and think about now and then.

Early in Coy's dementia we attended a seminar about Lewy Body Dementia, put on by the Mayo Clinic. For one part of it the persons with dementia went into a different room, and the caregivers had a separate presentation. The presenter asked us what we do to cheer ourselves up? What gives us pleasure? She wrote our answers on a flip chart. They included things like drive to the river and take a walking path, hiking, making cookies, putting on favorite music, taking a long bubble bath, etc.

Then the presenter went through the list, one by one, from the point of view of the person with dementia. Anything that involved driving was crossed off. Can no longer get in and out of bathtub. Hiking and long walks don't work. Can't remember how to operate the radio or other sources of music. Not allowed to use the stove alone and need assistance in the kitchen. We saw almost all of the things we do for pleasure removed from the list for persons with dementia. No wonder they are crabby! No wonder they want to stay in bed some days!

This was a very sobering experience. I remember that presentation 15 years later, though I've forgotten anything else from that day.
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jeannegibbs, thanks for more excellent examples why an elder can be grumpy.

Even for myself, now 70 years old I am feeling my own age decline starting. Now it's a struggle to get out of a sedan, so I am sticking with my old SUV which is so much easier.

I am ready to invent some type of cat little box that one can raise up and not have to squat in front of it to scoop it out. Darn if I now I am having issues trying to stand up :P

When I was a decade younger, I never realized that the older generation was going through some of this.

Oh, and what is it with napping after lunch? I use to chuckle when my parents did it, now I am doing it. Seriously !! Glad I am on-call for work in the afternoons as the telephone will wake me up :P
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First, let me say it is nice to see a son taking care of his Mom! I think what your mom is going through is quit normal. Having been a school teacher, here she is at a place in her life where she no longer feels like she is contributing. That is depressing and makes people give up hope. I have no idea what your mother's personality is like....such as does she enjoy company, visits, etc. The dementia will definitely worsen, as will the balance issues. For your peace of mind and with you working so far away, I really think I would check into some care facilities close to where you live. She won't like leaving her home, but if you can get her involved in activities ( and a REALLY good care center will have plenty), she may find a renewed interest in life. Also being close you could visit her often and be a part of her final days and supervise her care. These choices are never easy and no one knows what is best for your individual situation but you. Just keep being a loving, caring son and your will find your way! Blessings to you and your mom!
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My mom is 80 years old, acts like she is 100. She has had chronic depression all her life. Runs in her family. Now adding Diabetes and Dementia to the mix it is really bad. She has laid in her urine, has had many UTI's and also got C-Diff from antibiotic's. I thought she was going to die from that. I have done everything to make her happy. She does not like aging and really wants to die. Medications and counseling have not worked . When elder's hit a certain mind set , it is nearly impossible to do much at all. Take care of yourself. I know it has effected me to the point that I was sick all the time and did not care to continue myself. Mom is not acting like my mom used to. I love her more then words can say. After 6 years with my Dad passing I have been through a lot. Cried a river, screamed, gotten angry, and finally starting to accept the things I cannot change. Do some things that you enjoy and know when God is ready she will go until then I do not think you can do much but when you see her hug her and tell her you love her , which I am sure your doing.
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It seems like people sometimes tend to do this when they know their time is nearing the end, I had an elderly friend do this. He did very similar to what you're describing and even started not taking very good care of himself to the point he was even neglecting his breathing treatments on the nebulizer. He had COPD and he even went so far as to eat mostly dry foods and he wouldn't drink enough fluids, causing himself infections along with self inflicted injuries. He eventually had to be involuntarily placed in a nursing home and then taken to a medical center where he died. I'm not sure there's going to be much you can do if the person is determined enough that they want to die. Sadly enough though, I think this is exactly what euthanasia is for. I don't know how many states legalize euthanasia for certain cases, but there are some cases this has been permitted for. I don't even like to bring it up because it's not even biblical. We were never intended to take our own lives or help others do so. The best thing you can do is just do what you can and let the rest go if you find yourself unable to do the rest because obviously there's not going to be much you can do. "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink it"
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Going through the same thing. I take care of my wife's parents both with dementia, the mother in law started talking about why was she was being forced to live. I had thought of antidepressants, but instead asked for others to come visit with there kids ,so far it has seemed to have lifted both of there spirits. They need like all of us to have someone to talk to, is there anyway you could arrange outings even just a trip to a park or a drive can give them something to talk about when anyone comes to visit or even the caregiver. All people have got to have a reason for living and some joy in there life.
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Although I have not experienced this with my 95 year old hubby, yes - it is common from what I have experienced through friends. One friend says that when her mother says, "I want to die," she just tells her, "not today!" and they go on living.

Let the doctor put your mother on an antidepressant. I finally had to put my Ray on Zoloft and I am so glad I did. It doesn't make him 'dopey' but it has calmed him down from his constantly worrying about what I will do after he is gone. It beats looking at him sitting "hang-dog" all day long. Now he smiles again and asks me to take him to sit outside every day.

If your mother has reached the point that she needs a little help to smile, let her have it please.

Also, find out if your mother has broken sleep from needing to get up constantly through the night. This is what is happening with my DH and I have had to keep to his 'schedule' for about a week and I can attest to lack of sleep = staggering and dopey. We are now working on finding a solution to his need to void every 1-2 hours.

Good luck, it's not easy being the caregiver but it ain't easy being the one cared for either.
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Put yourself in her shoes: Do YOU want to live forever? OMG...I am only 60 but after the last 2 years of back surgeries and non stop pain I would embrace death.

Perhaps antidepressants are helpful--I've not found them to be so in elders. Maybe go visit her, see what she's really feeling and accept that at 92, being OK with dying is perfectly normal. We're all going to go, one day.
Maybe you are the one who needs to accept this. Make sure mom is well cared for, and prepare yourself for the inevitable.
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