Feeling a Bit Lost

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
I wrote on here a few months about my mother and her illness and lifestyle. Since then she has continued to get worse. I am now at a point in which I do not know what to do.

Let me tell you about my mother..
My mother has had arthritis for about 4 years now, however it never really affected her life. She became very unwell about a year ago, and we discovered she had had a stroke after 2 months of being deeply unwell. Since then, her health just seems to get worse and worse, with something new being diagnosed every time we take her to the doctors. She suffers from oesophagitis (due to her meds and being unable to eat much), which makes her very sick and weak. Her arthritis has now become so bad she cannot walk, and her stroke has damaged her memory a fair bit and she just does not seem herself anymore.

We have tried to get carers in everyday to help her, but she refuses them and wont even let them wash her, and so they always stop coming. My father won't stop his long days at work and 12 hour days working on a railway (he volunteers), and so my mother is often left alone a lot. So she sits at home alone most days unable to eat or wash or even take care of the dog.
(sorry if I am rambling on- theres a lot of background info)

My sisters and I have basically been trying to juggle jobs and our own lives as well as visit mum, and read her post (my father doesn't bother to look at it and we miss appointments) and basically take care of her, and it is making us all so upset because she doesn't seem to want any help.
My parents are big drinkers and all my father does with my mother is take her to the pub and give her alcohol. He even does it when they get home and he goes out again and leaves her with wine (hidden in a water bottle so we cant see it). He wont move out of the house either.. my mum sleeps in a bed in the living room and has no access to a shower.

Basically I am just asking for some advice... i fell as if my mother is fading away and there is nothing my sisters or I can do... she doesn't seem to want to get better and my father wont help either, he leaves everything for us to try and figure out.

I just want my mother back, and I am not sure what to do anymore

Thank you.
Hi Msmith,
Welcome back.

Your poor Mum does sound depressed and like she has given up on life and your father is burying his head in the sand and opting out. It's very hard when relatives refuse to engage with outside help. It's too much for you and your sisters to do alone and juggle work.

My caree has autism, but others will be along who have experience of elder care, to advise, so do check in for replies.

You say 'I just want my mother back' and oh, that resonates with so many of us here. We just want our loved one 'back'.....but the desperately sad truth is that they have 'gone'. We CANNOT 'get them back'.

Your mother is not going to become the woman she was, even a year or so ago. Whatever is ailing her, I agree with Melly that there is probably depression in the mix - and of course the 'alcoholism' (or at least dependency or high-usage) isn't going to be helping at all.

Has she said to you WHY she won't have anyone else in to help her?

Many elderly parents say that because what they actually want is US to do the caring - so do you think that's what your mum wants? In her 'ideal world' she would be whisked away from the husband that's effectively washed his hands of her (and in a way, I can't blame him - if she is depressed, as well as infirm, then a depressed person is VERY hard to live with - many partners just throw in the towel and 'opt out')(though of course, you dad might have been like this for decades, way before your mum got ill??)

If she is depressed, then 'everything' will be 'pointless', including looking after herself, or wanting herself looked after. She's just' 'gone under'.....

I think it may be time for some sort of family conference, first of all you and your sisters, to come up with a 'game plan' and then involving your dad - forcing him to confront what he has either thrown in the towel on, or simply in denial about, or even worse, couldn't care less about.....

The sad truth is that one possibility is that you will simply have to 'walk away' yourself. To me it hinges around your mum accepting she does need help, and that help is not coming from her husband, and not coming from you/your sisters. It has to come from paid carers.
Thank you Melly and Jenny.

I know that what you both said is true, it just seems like an endless task of trying to get things settled and get my mother (at least) comfortable.

She doesnt explain why she doesnt let the carers help her either, she just says she never told them to leave.

Thanks again for replying, its nice to have an outside view and help
Hhmm, if your mum is saying she can't remember telling the carers to leave, I wonder whether memory problems are setting in? I know that both depression, meds and of course excess alcohol can impact the memory, but there is also the grim spectre of dementia as well.

Do you think there are any other indications of poor memory and confusion?

In a way, when we have two parents, both with 'issues' let us say, it can almost be harder to look after the needier one (in this case your mum) because of the presence (or in your mum's case, mostly the physical absence!) of the other parent. You might even be saying to yourself that 'if Dad weren't around, I could sort mum out more easily'....

That said, sometimes, you know, we just have to accept that a situation CANNOT be sorted out - that all we can do, in effect, is 'walk away', or offer partial, and unsatisfactory support/help.

One of the reasons, sadly, we want things 'sorted' is for OUR sakes -we just dont' want to have these problems hanging over our heads all the time! We want to go in, sort it out, and then get back to our own lives....

All too often, that just isn't possible. We are, whether we want to be or not (and most of us don't - as in, we wish we didn't have to be!), becoming their 'parents'......
All of your advice is helping me, and it makes me feel better knowing that myself and my family are not alone.

The doctors cannot seem to find anything majorly wrong with my mother that would make so ill. The doctor actually said that she 'has the body of a 85 year old' even though she is only 55. She wont eat, doesn't dress properly and has to wear incontinence pants. It is like she has given up and is a shell of herself. There have been talks of doing some psychological tests too.

My family and I are finding it very difficult with what to do next and how we can care for her. We have managed to get a carer in once a day, but we are not sure how long this will last.

This whole situation is a very heavy weight on my shoulders and I am finding it very difficult to not think about it. I lose sleep because of it and it makes me very anxious (I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder anyway). I worry that she won't be around for very long even though we are doing everything we can.

Sorry for offloading there! It's good to speak to people that understand what I am going through. Thanks :)
I do think you are facing an exceptionally difficult situation, both because of your mother's youth (55 - and to be SO ill then, horrible horrible horrible) and your father's attitudes.

Do you think, speaking 'bluntly', that your mother would be happier/better off in some kind of residential care? I don't mean an 'Old Folks Home' (she's a decade younger than me....) but a nursing home of some kind, maybe even something along the lines of one specialising in mental illness, since that does appear to be 'in the frame' to some respect??

It just seems that being at home with a husband that is either in denial, or refusing to care, or both, or at the very least, not exactly a nurturing environment for her, is not really doing her any good?

This may be painful, but have you had an honest discussion with her doctor as to what her life expectancy is likely to be, given her current condition? That might give you some ability to 'forward plan' a bit more. If they are saying she will 'limp on' for another decade, or if they are saying the opposite, that she is unlikely to see 60, then you could plan a little more accurate, and perhaps emphasise to your father that things 'have to change'. BUT, if both mental illness and addiction (and possibly early dementia?) are affecting them both, HE may not be capable of change either.

It's a very 'sorry' situation, and I can understand totally how stressed you are getting about it all. They both 'won't and can't help themselves and trying to help people that neither want help, nor think they do, nor are prepared to do anything to LET you help effectively, is intensely frustrating and emotionally distressing....
I know how difficult parents can be, all four of ours have died, all lived nearby, within 6 miles, all had serious health issues.

Ii only realised after she died how much my mum's controlling behaviour and OCD affected me after she had died, because we grow up with our parents and what they do is "normal" because we don't know anything different as children, and can still have behave as children (i.e. doing what we are told) as adults.I had counselling aimed especially at helping me deal with my mum, and I think it could help you too.
If mum continues as she is, it is unlikely she will make "old bones" but this is NOT your responsibility, it is hers and dads. Not eating during the day, having hidden wine, going down the pub and having alcohol are all very serious issues, but it may be behaviour so entrenched in their lives that they cannot change, even if they wanted to. It's like a self destruct button. To try and change it will be like flogging a dead horse. Futile.
If you tend to have a conscience, then you need to realise that you cannot be held responsible for this, and it would be an even greater tragedy if you wasted your own life too.
Start by going to see mum's GP, or write a letter saying you are very concerned about mum because ..... (I find putting things down on paper easier than saying them sometimes).
Do you have an antidote for all this unhappiness? Do you sew, go to the gym, go on holiday? Make a real effort to do something for yourself to keep your own life balanced.