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I'm 40, married, the mother of a 3 year old. I work full time, as does my husband. We own a house and have 2 dogs. I'm also an only child. My father is deceased and my mother is 85 years old, morbidly obese, and suffering from what appears to be Stage 3 or 4 COPD. My mother lives 2 hours away from me.

I'm not aware of my mother's condition because of her offering up any information - quite the opposite, actually. She will not allow me or her sister (my aunt) to attend any medical appointments or speak to her physicians. So we've pieced together her medical information by writing down the names of the inhalers/medications we find around her house when she's not looking and then researching those drugs online. Recently, she's started using a nebulizer 4x/day, and oxygen therapy at night (I got this info from my aunt).

She's always been a bit of an emotional challenge. At the very least she's suffered from Major Depression (untreated) her whole life - though I strongly suspect that if she had ever met with a therapist, she would've been diagnosed with a personality disorder. Her most recent visit coincided with one of her "mood swings." She spent 3 days at our house crying, making inappropriate comments to my 3 year old about how grandma is always alone and cries herself to sleep every night. The day she left for home, her breathing was really bad. She blew up at my husband & I as we tried to help her pack, telling us that she'll never agree to go in a nursing home. She'll die alone in her house if we won't take care of her ourselves.

My 3 year old was witness to this emotional scene. Not okay.

I have no idea what's really wrong with her - what the prognosis is of her medical ailments - if this increased level of depression is related - if it has the potential of getting more severe - nothing. So I don't know what to do. My biggest fear is that a serious medical crisis is going to come out of nowhere. I don't know what to do.

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Keep her away from your children at all costs. Let her pursue her stubborn independence all the way to the grave. Do NOT rush over there when she calls to announce her imminent death, it is simply manipulation. Tell her to call 911. My father NEVER let anyone go to the MD with him. He dropped dead at 83. So be it, let them live and die on their own terms.
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First of all, in my opinion, you need to take into account her age. My mom too was in her 80's and that generation never talked about their health issues or as you have noticed probably, any issues at all. It was all kept within the home. So she may not be withholding deliberately but as a matter of how she was raised. Another example, my mom didn't get a second opinion, another indicator that "back in the day" they were able to trust and believe the one doctor who did everything and actually knew what he was doing. My mom had several problems that she didn't tell me about so it could also be fear of the terminal diagnoses, plus maybe your mom's friends are all dying too, and that's what contributed to my mom's depression and mood swings. It could be all of those things plus another thought, she might not want to leave you since you are an only child. She might fear for your future so the less you have to worry about the better. These are guesstimates but these are also things my mom did and looking back, probably we should have consulted her doctors. Maybe her doctor can extract some info for you to get a better handle on how to help your mom without going the route of medical records and dealing with privacy issues.
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Try a little kindness. If she is suffering from some sort of emotional disorder then your caring will definitely help. Just let her talk about what is going on with her over a cup of coffee. Or a little shopping trip or just go see her from time to time and take her a little nicety. You feel less threatened and alone when someone cares.
She sounds fearful that she is ill and alone. If you help her feel less alone and cared for her response may be less emotional. Whatever the case you still need to make some sort of gesture of caring. The fact that your three year old saw this is not going to scar the child emotionally....can you remember your 3yr old events. She probably felt she could not communicate with you or your husband and the only non threatening one was the child. Try to remember, without her there wouldn't be a you and it sounds like you turned out pretty well. I know you care deeply about her to write for suggestions and I hope you find the time and opportunity to talk with her. I think you'll find it will help. I also know it is probably is frustrating for your husband as well but given the same circumstances with his family it would be just as difficult for you. Hopefully he will be understanding. Praying for you.. Blessings
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I know this is hard... My Mom is 85 to to say the least difficult at times! She had a heart attack not two weeks after my Father passed away. We then had to move her to an independant senior housing it is a really beautiful place. She was not eating when she was alone she was locking herself out of the house frequently and really just was not doing well. We still have some issues, she is forgetful and she does not want to take her medicine. I am telling you all this to say that if she is having trouble breathing she definately needs help. Lack of oxygen to the brain on a consistant basis has it's impack. She may not really be capable of making good choices at this point! Kids are resislent I would just explain that to you child that Grandma is not feeling well. Encourage him to love her and say prayers for her! I think you and your Aunt need to think seriously of placing her, or getting her some home care help!
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Ditto. Her doctor can't communicate with you, but you can communicate with him/her. But, your mom may be making her choice by her behavior.
If she wants to die in her house, she can decide to do that. For your piece of mind, maybe you could call her county's office for aging to inquire about them doing a home check to determine how your mom is living and whether or not she needs to be evaluated further.
As for her moving in with you...that's your decision and it sounds like you've already made it. Stand firm. Don't let misplaced feelings of guilt or obligation cloud your objectivity about what life for your family would be like if mom moved in.
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My mother also had COPD. Her mind was good and she also wouldn't let anyone know about her medical condition. Was your mother always a private person? If so, that is not going to change. It is hard in this situation, however sometimes we children do become the parent and need to do what is best not only for our parent but for ourselves. Do try the different agencies as has been suggested as they do have resources you may not know about.
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I agree that talking to her doctor is the right thing!! When my mother became an issue I wrote to the doctor and explained what we were seeing and our concerns about her safety and health. Then I set up an appointment to discuss what I had written. The doctor was able to give me good solid advice on how to care for her. You may run into a confidentiality issue but it can't hurt to try.
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We placed our mother in an assisted living facility. Even though she threatened suicide, arson, and wanted to die alone in her house. She was not happy and the facility required we have 24 hour care for the first 30 days. After that she was amazingly content. There are still challenges but it wasn't a wrestling match. We also had her evaluated for hospice and she was admitted. That got her blood pressure an other meds under control. The most difficult part was learning to talk to her like the parent instead of like her child. Telling her she must be polite, must wear pull-ups, must take her medicine, etc. Firmness is required with a rebellious child or elder. Our mom lies and hallucinates. It's hard to determine which is which, but correcting her is not always needed. For instance, if she starts talking about someone that is dead, I'll ask, when did they die. If I can get that in before she starts talking about going to visit them, then I won't have to decide whether this is the time to correct her.

I would try to get a hospice evaluation. A fatal diagnosis is required, but not a fatal diagnosis that will kill you in less than six months. Her doctor could suggest it. And when she is admitted, there are financial benefits. Medicare will then pay for all her medications related to the diagnosis. They send a nurse to the house at least twice a week, provide social workers, nurses assistants, supplies such as pull-ups, shower supplies.

She also may not be competent. You can have a conservator appointed if that is the case. That is not cheap, but in some states you could be the conservator.

Does she have a best friend? They may help, although, my mom's wouldn't.
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I agree with littletonway. I feel that when our elders act out in these ways, and if they will only accept our help on THEIR terms (no access to docs, just take me in as I am), they are asking us to up-end our lives in a way that is unhealthy for all involved. Giving choices to people with the kind of personality problems that you describe is sometimes helpful, i.e., "mom, you have a choice, you can let us help you with your medical condition, or you can go to an assisted living enviornment where you can get the help you need" Or, "mom, you can stop talking that way to my child, or I can call you a cab so you can go to the mall". I know, easier said than done, but you are dealing with a mentally ill person.
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Have you tried talking with her doctors and explaining the situation. Maybe they can talk with her about the importance of others being involved with her care. They should be able to get social services involved as well.

Doesn't sound like it is a good idea to have her in your home; very negative environment to raise a child. For your family's sake, I hope she can afford to have home health care. An assissted living or NH may be her only option! However, staying in her house and dying alone is her choice to make!

Your family (you, husband and child) is your first responsibility! Good luck!
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