My mom (74) has never had any serious physical issues. She retired and did not prepare by finding any other activities. Any advice?

Follow
Share

She retired from her 30 year job 4 years ago and did not prepare for her retirement in terms of other activities she was going to do to take up her time/day. She has been married to my stepdad for 30yrs and he is 16yrs her junior and still works. My mom is obsessed with her bowel movements and eating foods to help her have them. She is ritualistic in her food consumption to the point of it inflicting with family outings, vacations, visits, etc. She cannot really leave her house anymore for a period of a couple hours or more. If her eating ritual is off track she has a complete mental breakdown. Also, a serious concern I have is the toilet in "her bathroom" is disgusting. Because she eats such roughage, oatmeal, salads, prune juice, etc. she is constantly having bowel movements and it's mostly diarrhea. She does not clean her own self properly and her toilet is a mess of which she has no issue with. It's to the point now that no one can go into 'her bathroom' and she even has soiled robes that she will sit in and not clean. I find this to be very abnormal behavior and am quite concerned about her mental state. I've asked her several times why she is so obsessed with bowel movements and she finally yelled out to me "because they make me feel good!". My little brother and wife live in the same town as she and my stepdad and the rest of her children (my 2 older brothers and myself) live 200+ miles away. She continues to isolate herself to her bedroom, bathroom and her kitchen. Her entire world now is watching the Gameshow network in her bedroom, eating and defecating. Her ability to carry on conversations has also diminished in the last year - although she has never been a social person and is very introverted, but one could at least talk to her for a bit. She loved her work and her coworkers and got a lot of 'purpose' out of her job that I to talk to her about this and try to determine other outlets she can find that will help but she says she's retired now and she's not going to work nor volunteer anywhere. Please help. I really don't know what to do. I'm scared for her and feel very bad for my stepdad as well as they pretty much have no relationship anymore.

8

Answers

Show:
Ruffy
One other thought is that your mom might need a gastrointestinal look see.
Here is a great book that might interest her.
“Gut Bliss” by Dr. Robynne Chutkan.
I agree it sounds like she’s dealing with something more serious than constipation or diarrhea but she might be able to benefit from looking at this data about digestive issues in tandem with a complete workup.
We are being taught these days that our digestive system is linked with our brains, that one affects the other has been proven and is no longer just a “ gut feeling”.
“Grain Brain” and “Brain Maker” by Dr Perlmutter are also good reads on how what we eat affects our brains.
Keep us informed on what you learn.
You are a great daughter who knows her mama needs her.
I wish you well on helping her break this cycle.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to 97yroldmom
Report

I agree with all of the above. This is not age decline, really Mom is not that old for it. But, I do see early Dementia of some sort. Bowels seem to be a big thing with Dementia patients. Maybe it stems from potty training. Mom needs a complete work up. There could be other reasons for her symptoms. If Dementia is the problem, get a neurologist involved. If she refuses, tell her Medicare recommends it.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Thank you for that comment and thoughts. My mom has done some beautiful work on family tree research, in particular her father's immigrant journey from Sweden. She found the picture of his papers at Ellis Island and the boat that he was on when he made the trip to the USA. She's framed them all which is very cool. I know she would enjoy more of this. Right now, she's so spiraled down the rabbit hole, we gotta get her out first and then incorporate these kind of activities.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Ruffy1973
Report

Ruffy, retirement isn't easy, and not everyone is cut out for it, sounds like your Mom is one of them. And retirement isn't all it cracks up to be, unless one has a solid plan.

Do you have any old photo albums where you don't know who the people are in the photos? Have Mom play detective, and if she seems to perk up doing that, then try to get her interested in doing a family tree.

My gosh, I been climbing my family tree for almost a year now and it has been fascinating, and does consume a lot of time. Good time. So much info is now on the internet, such as joining Ancestry.com, which to me is well worth the membership :))
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to freqflyer
Report

Thank you so very much for your words, support and suggestions.This the first time I've reached out to others besides our family for help and your kind words and insight are very helpful. My mom does have a primary doctor, and, throughout her life she has believed she has had several physical issues (ex: if she gets a bruise or cut she will obsess about it and think it's cancer). When she sees the doctor, typically nothing or minimal things are wrong and are improved with medication. We discussed her seeing a psychiatrist, but she does not believe she needs one and says she is fine. I agree with you all that she is spiraling down into dementia with the isolation, sanitation and obsessive behavior. I'm going to reach out to my stepdad and ask him for my mom's primary doctor's contact information and reach out to them. My stepdad is a very kind, reserved man who is in the prime of his life and he does not deserve this life. I know my mom suffering terribly and she doesn't have to live like this either. It will be extremely hard to get her to a mental specialist, however, I believe we're at a point where we have to insist.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Ruffy1973
Report

Hi Ruffy,
Does she have a Dr she sees when needed? She sounds depressed and obsessed.

Is she open to seeing her Dr? If so maybe you can call and give him the heads up on her new lifestyle. In turn he'd probably refer her to 
A psychiatrist.

I recently learned of the mental havic a UTI can cause in seniors. With her lack of cleanliness odds are good she'd have one.

If your Mom is like mine was, before she got really sick, getting her to go to a Dr on her own might be like pulling teeth!

I had to drive 3 hrs. And get my Mom in my car to see her Dr. After I made the appointment also.

I understand your concern but if Mom is fine with how she's living, your hands are tied, IMO. Hopefully others can be of more help then I am.

Good luck and keep coming back for support. 💞
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Pepsee
Report

Duffy, you've done the right thing in reaching out for help, is the first thing to say. You're right to be concerned; and from the detail of your description it sounds as if you're looking for suggestions about where to start getting her mental state assessed, yes?

Retirement doesn't suit everyone. It could have had a major impact on a person who was, perhaps, already vulnerable to depression.

It could be, of course, that there actually is a physical bowel issue which your mother is trying - out of fear or shame or a disproportionate desire for privacy - to handle herself.

And that too could have a serious impact on her mental wellbeing.

Whatever is at the root of it, you are completely correct to believe that the self-neglect, self-isolation and obsessional behaviours are definite signs that your mother is not well.

It is hard to know where to start. Do you or does your brother have contact details for her doctor? I think what I would do first off is get in touch with your mother's primary, tell him/her exactly what you've told us, and ask for advice about how to get her seen.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

It sounds like Mom has begun to spiral into dementia, unfortunately. A visit to the doctor is in order, if you can get stepdad to take her. She needs a complete health check and the doctor needs to be aware of her eating habits and obsession with bowel movements, as well as the sanitation issues in the house. If need be, Adult Protective Services could be called in to evaluate the situation and make recommendations for in-home care, if needed.

74 seems young for dementia, but it's not unheard of.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to AnonymousMember
Report