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93 is a difficult age - Carers UK Forum

93 is a difficult age

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I'm finding it much harder lately to get Mum to do anything. If I'm with her, showing her photographs or talking, she takes an interest, but as soon as I leave the room she gets back into bed. I'm running out of ideas, not to mention energy.

Perhaps it's the weather. It's been cool, grey, and rainy. Or perhaps it's me.

Talking to my family is useless as their automatic response is to put her in a home.
Have you tried Talking books, music, jigsaws. Does she like puzzle books, word searches.

Does she have a DVD player? If so you could consider transferring photos on to one that she can play even when you are not there.

Just a few thoughts

x x
Thanks for the suggestions, Rosemary, but Mum is way past the point of anything like that. She used to do crosswords, but that was years ago now. She also used to watch TV, but then stopped having any interest, again a few years ago.

About all I can get her to do now is look at photos, but that only works if I'm there. And even then, she'll only look for a while and then go back to bed. Sometimes she forgets that I'm getting her meal and is in bed when I bring it. That's happening increasingly.

I think it's the sleeping all day I mean, rather than any thought that I could interest her in anything. She's not hungry at mealtimes, and she's thin enough as it is.

It's just 24 hour a day pressure to keep the house and garden going, and keep her fed and exercised.

And the feeling that the end is near.

My mum is going through something similar. And she's only 84. Sometimes I think I'm torturing mum by insisting she drinks her Ensures, and then she recovers.
But is that for me or her? I don't know?
I want it to be for her, but her short term memory is so poor now, I don't know?
I am lost in a Limbo Land.
My mother want's me to smother her; I won't do it. I stand on precipice, I WILL not strangle my mother.
I've know Idea how that helps others, but it helped me.
Koala there comes a point when all our persuading, cajoling and, even pressuring just stops working.

Your Mum is 93 that means she was born about 1911 (only 10 years after Queen Victoria died) - she's outlived three kings (Edward VII. George V, Edward VII (although he abdicated in the same year he was crowned) and George VI; she has seen two world wars; and too numerous to mention technical and medical advances. Naturally she is now tired and yes, perhaps she is 'winding down'. But she has had a good long life - well beyond the 'threescore years and ten' that the bible tells us is out lot.

I think that, maybe, you have to now accept that there is very little that you can do to keep her interested and motivated beyond what you know already works.

My Mum was 87 when she died from Alzheimer related conditions - but long before that she had lost all interest in those things that she used to enjoy; tv, reading, crosswords, knitting - they all became beyond her capabilities and, as with your Mum, all she wanted was someone to sit and chat with.

With regard to the eating/drinking - I found that the only way was 'little & often' (and I mean little, she had virtually no appetite except for McVitie's Rich Tea biscuits and cups of tea !). There were times when I was convinced she was trying to starve herself to death, but it was the Alzheimer's - she just couldn't 'understand' hunger.

So please don't stress about it - to try and 'force' her to do things she has no interest in now would be almost cruel; just take each day as comes, spend as much time as you can with her now while you still have the chance and s*d the housework/gardening - they will still be there long after she has gone from your life.
Thank you Sajehar and Susieq. Your words mean more than you could ever know. Because I am worried.

Thanks especially for the biscuit information, Susieq. I give Mum small amounts often, but then worry as the food she wants isn't exactly ideal nutritionwise. I think I should stop worrying and give her what she wants.

1921. And when I did the family tree, Mum has outlived everyone on it.

Again, thank you.
I think "a kind of limbo land" is a good way to describe this kind of situation. Hubby is 87, has outlived all his relatives and friends, he has tv on all the time but sleeps on and off most of the day and isn't interested in anything much. As regards food - I have read that what you describe is perhaps the most common food problem but sometimes it's the opposite and that's how it is with hubby - he'll just keep on eating and doesn't know when he has had enough. Recently I had to answer the door and he ate his own dinner then scoffed mine too!
Koala - in your words, I hear Matthew Arnold's poem with its line 'the slow withdrawing' in my head. The disengagement from life. Do you not think that perhaps for your mother now it is like it is when we are very, very sleepy, and all we want to do is close our eyes and drift away? When we are that sleepy, we simply don't want to take an interest in anything, engage with anything or anyone - we want only to be left in peace.

Perhaps 'making her peace' is now what your mother is intent on doing?

Would it help to think of it like this? Surely, one of the worst ways to die is when we feel full of life? When we are vividly aware of this world, and want to participate in it, and engage with it, and savour it, and are filled with goals and purposes and intentions and ambitions? Surely to be 'called to die' when we are still in the middle of living fully, is very cruel? (It seemed cruel to my husband 'called to die' when he was in the middle of living, in the middle of being a dad to our son, a husband to me, planning all sorts of things that we would be doing that year, and in all the years to come thereafter....)(And how much crueller, seeing your Anzac day image, for all those young men who were never given the gift of growing old.....)

So, if your mother is indeed now 'withdrawing' from interests in this world, is that not a blessing? If she is feeling the tide running out of life, taking her with it, is that not something to welcome for her? That she is not being 'cut short' in the middle of living vividly?

Yes, your instinct will be to fight it, to hold her back, to try and re-engage her, to make her 'want to live', to turn that tide......we who are living can only, truly, understand wanting to live.....

Yet remember the 'last blessing' bestowed upon the dying King Lear - 'Oh let him pass - he hates him that would upon the rack of this tough world stretch him out longer'.......

Accepting that my husband was dying, was in his final days of end stage, was the most terrible realisation of my life, and yet it had to be done - I had to make that mental journey, to stop trying to hold him back, keep him with me. I had to let him pass. And there came a time when all I could do was simply take his hand, and hold it ......

Perhaps that time is now coming for you, and for your mother. Perhaps having you beside her, holding her hand, is what she now wants most in all this mortal world.....

Wishing you courage and strength and reminding you that those we love we never lose....


Such a difficult situation for you, but you're not alone. From what I've seen once people go into their eighties many of them decline quite rapidly and life becomes increasingly difficult for them, so it's not surprising that your mother may be feeling tired of life.

All I can suggest is to indulge your mother with all the foods she likes, no matter how unhealthy they may be, because at the age of 93 a balanced diet probably has fewer benefits for her than simply eating foods that she enjoys. Elderly people often seem to enjoy sweet things rather than proper meals, and in her position, I'd rather live on cakes and chocolate for 6 months than salads and steak for a year.

Sajehar - I thought you'd been quiet lately, and now I understand why. That's a horrible situation to find yourself in, and of course it would be totally wrong to give in to your mother's request. (That said, I do think that elderly people who are in extreme pain with incurable health problems should have the right to exit from this world when they are ready, but from what you say your mother still has some good days, so that does not apply to her.) Is your mother starting to get a lot of pain again? If so, can they increase her pain meds?

Sajehar, please don't feel guilty that you are in some way keeping your mother alive just for your sake - that is so obviously not true, from everything you've posted before, it's very clear that you are just trying to make the time your mother has left comfortable and enjoyable for her. You are not force feeding her, just encouraging her to take some fluids and food as you know she will feel better if she has something inside her. Koala seems to be in much the same situation, along with myself and many other people caring for elderly parents, because as they lose their appetite for life, they also lose their appetite for food/drink. So, I would say encourage them, but don't get hung up on food issues.

Koala, you mentioned keeping on top of housework and gardening... although these things are not a priority, I find that sometimes these tasks are quite therapeutic. Sometimes digging out an old tree root etc is more satisfying than trying to get an elderly person motivated, when they have given up on life. If you're with them for hours on end, getting nowhere, you need a diversion of some sort or you'll go stir crazy.

Jenny, I have no words... just sending you a virtual hug for everything you've been through.
Koala wrote:
1921. And when I did the family tree, Mum has outlived everyone on it.

Again, thank you.
I lost my Dad last year, age 93.
There are little people in our family too and I often joked with him about 'the seven ages if man' and that, as others were moving from all fours to standing and sleeping less and less during the day, he was doing it all in reverse.
My pagan friends refer to death as 'the long sleep' and putting this and the seven ages together made sense to me. I felt that Dad was moving towards his long sleep a little more each day...gently moving away to another world where Mum had gone already and was waiting for him. When he passed over I had a sense that I had handed him back to her and that my job was done.
I hope this helps a little. Sending hugs.