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Mom (74 y/o) moved in with me 8 months ago. We all thought she had dementia. Now, I'm pretty sure it's severe depression. She swears she doesn't have either.

A little history...Mom was never a Leave it to Beaver mom. Mom was selfish and uninterested in her kids, grandkids or great grandkids. She's always been very needy, too, running from man to man since my father passed. She only wanted to talk about herself and her men. About 7 years ago, she lived with me for a few months. She tried online dating and seemed very happy dating several men at once. She would brag, "All these men are interested in me!" She even moved to Fla once to live with a man she'd never met. Mom was ALWAYS very concerned about her appearance and what people thought about her, and she would brag about how much money she had. My dad left her with more than enough money and investments to live on. She's gone through all of it and has nothing now.

She moved into my nephew's finished basement for 3 yrs. After a little while, she stopped going to church and the only place she went was to the grocery store or a restaurant. She stopped showering and caring about how she looked. Then, she moved in with me. She's always lived with one of her family members since my dad passed in 1997. He was 60, and she was 55 then.

She always struggled with her weight and now is very overweight. She doesn't care what she eats. She won't eat good food that I prepare. Instead, she'll go to fast food drive-thru's in her nightgown and bring it home. She has difficulty walking and moans and groans all the time. Although, she doesn't make the noises when I have company. She lies in bed when she isn't smoking on the porch or reading. She doesn't even watch TV anymore. I try to engage her in conversation, but she talks very little or ignores me. That's it. I have to wash her clothes and bed linens, clean her bathroom and bedroom and do all of the shopping. I can't 'not clean' or the house starts smelling because of her incontinence.

She refuses to see a doctor. It's maddening to watch all of this. I'm a single 51 y/o just starting nursing school, and I feel helpless. A friend who has sat with dementia patients her entire life came to visit. She talked with Mom (or tried to) for a good while. She told me Mom doesn't have dementia, she's depressed. Is there any way to make her see a doctor? She needs depression meds but is in denial.

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Do you think you can get your mom to take the meds for depression? I hope so!!

And here are a ton of videos about how diet, music, and exercise can help depression: http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=depression They're worth watching as well!! Good luck and please keep us posted on how your mom is doing.
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Rtg, thanks S o much for the update! I hope the depression meds kick in in a few weeks.
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Update! I finally got Mom to the doctor! This was her physician years ago when she went on a regular basis. He called me at home to speak to me without her present. He said, "She could have some mild cognitive impairment, but in my opinion, your mother is the same woman she was 20 years ago...she's just worse. Bless your heart. You've got your hands full." He said she has severe depression and ordered meds for that and cholesterol.
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These sound like good ideas! Thank you, Babalou and blannie!
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The only leverage I see that you have is whether your mom wants to continue to live with you. And whether that's worth her seeing a doctor or not. If she'd rather move, there's not much you can do, since she's evidently competent enough to take care of herself when she needs to.

She sounds like she has some very long-term behaviors that may or may not be from some kind of personality disorder. But whatever is going on, the only thing you can do is get her out of your home if she doesn't see a doctor and/or clean up and act like a responsible adult. You can only do so much with the leverage you have. If she refuses to see a doctor, you need to stick to your guns and have your mom leave and figure out what her next step is.
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She's incontinent? What's that ftom?

This is your house, right? "Mom, I'm very concerned about your health. I'm going to have to insist that you have a physical by the end of the month. Othereise, you'll have to make arrangements to live elsewhere. I can't risk being taken to court for neglecting your health. They passed a new ordinance about that recently. " It's a start.

Look, this is not going to work out, because it very much soundscas though your mom mentally ill. Finding her a senior apartment is probably the best thing to do.
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She is very stubborn and refuses to see a doctor. I can't drag a 300 lb woman out of my car and into a doctors office. She can drive herself to visit my sister 1 1/2 hours away and make it back just fine, but says she can't do her laundry or clean up after herself. I didn't say we diagnosed her. I said I believe she has depression, and the other woman agreed. This past week is the first she's gone anywhere besides a restaurant. I guess my question should have been, 'How do you force someone to see a doctor.'
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It's difficult to say what is causing your mom's behavior, but it's not possible for her or you to diagnose her. The doctor may order tests to rule out certain things and he may also do tests in the office regarding her mental state. He may likely order follow up with a neurologist or other specialist. I would make sure as Babalou says above to provide the doctor with a list of what you have witnessed and even if you fax it in advance, take it with you in a folder. Sometimes the doctor doesn't get the paper work until the last minute. Confirm with the doctor he has read and have another copy with you to hand over at the visit. I found that to be very helpful. It lets them know the problem areas up front.

It sound like your mom may not be competent to sign a Power of Attorney at this point. I hope you already have it and Healthcare POA, so you can act on her behalf.
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Your mom needs a complete physical. Take her out to the fast food drive through for lunch and then stop off at the doctor's office on your way home. If she's in her nightgown, that's a plus. Fax the doctor's office information about what you've observed the past couple of weeks.I'm sorry, but "a person who has sat with dementia patients" is not qualified to make a differential diagnosis of dementia/depression. Nor are any of us. In truth, mom could be suffering from both;many dementia patients are depressed.

The important thing is that mom needs a physical exam. She could have low B12, thyroid problems or a host of other conditions that are treatable. Tell her needs to have a physical or Medicare will drop her. Do anything you need to, but get her to see an MD or Nurse Practitioner soon.
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