My mother, 84 is sleeping most of the time, getting up to eat about every 2 hours. How can I help her? - AgingCare.com

My mother, 84 is sleeping most of the time, getting up to eat about every 2 hours. How can I help her?

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Is my mother bored, tired of living?? She’s had it rough but has always bounced back. Stroke with TPA and good recovery 2001, since lost husband to cancer in 2004, congestive heart failure, worsening sugar control (sugar pills for 20 years) and 4 years ago hemmoragic right side stroke —long but recovered and walking but left with short term memory issues. Same time they found stage 4 lung cancer and gave her six months. 3 chemo treatments nearly killed her and 1 radiation killing the main thorax spot. I call her Murphy Ironsides. I, her daughter moved in with her 4 years ago (I am single) trying to keep her life as normal as it could be. Had a CHF attack in June. Put her a step further down. As we own a business I had to bring in caretaker help. The last 2 months she has created a pattern of sleeping and getting up every 2 hours hungry. She goes from chair to bed. Hard to get any conversation out of her. Cancer Dr and regular Dr says health ok. We have always been close and shopped a lot together for store. She loved Goodwill and I can’t even get her dresssd or out. What can I do—very frustrated, hurt, feeling helpless. Is she that depressed. Is she giving up and silently trying to die. What can I do.

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CCassidy1955,

I went through the exact same thing with my own mom. She had had lung cancer but her lung was removed and she was cancer-free. No chemo or radiation was needed. She went to a rehab and did well. I have a vivid memory in my mind of the day I went and picked her up to take her home. She was sitting up on the bed, makeup on, hair done, wearing a pink sweatshirt and she looked beautiful and she was thrilled to be gong home.

Once she was at home over the course of a few weeks she went to bed and barely ever got up again. She'd get up to use the bathroom and around 7pm she'd get up to drink an Ensure but that was it. She wouldn't answer my calls and my dad had no idea what to do. I would try calling her around 7pm each night but she wouldn't stay on the phone. I tried to explain to her that she needed to get out of bed, that it was harmful to lay in bed around the clock. I tried to reason with her. Then I began begging her. Begging led to pleading then to anger then to tough love. Nothing worked. She had given up and I knew it and there was not a thing I could do about it. I think the enormity of what she had gone through with the cancer and the surgery hit her and she just gave up. She began falling when she got out of bed and my dad would call me and I'd run over there and pick her up. One night I feigned sickness and told my parents I was unable to get her off the floor, we had to call 911. 911 came and took her to the hospital but so much damage had been done by her just laying in bed that she died soon after.

CCassidy1955, I suggest you try anything you can to get your mother out of bed. Wait for the slimmest of openings and call 911 and get her to a hospital. I was too late with my mom but we can't exactly throw our parents over our shoulder and force them to go to the hospital. If she has a fall, even if she's not injured, seize on that and call 911. If she gets a fever, call 911. If she becomes coherent, call 911. Use any excuse you can find to get her to the hospital. When I called 911 after my mom's last fall she wasn't injured but when she was in the ER and they had done blood tests her electrolytes were screwed up. They admitted her based on that. I believe her electrolytes were abnormal because she had laid in bed for weeks.

I'll be thinking about you and your mom. Good luck.
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I'm sorry. It's very hard to watch this sort of decline even when you do understand the reasons behind it.

I would ask her two doctors to define what they mean by "ok." What is the state of her cancer? - is she in remission, is it progressing as he would expect, what does he mean by okay? For her regular doctor: what is her heart function? What is her kidney function? Is he satisfied with her general management? What would he recommend in terms encouraging her activities of daily living?

You could also ask her regular doctor if he agrees, or doesn't agree, that a hospice assessment - just the assessment - might provide useful insight. It doesn't commit you to accepting their services, but nobody knows more than they do about good practice in palliative care.
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