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Alternative Medicines. What can I do to help? - Carers UK Forum

Alternative Medicines. What can I do to help?

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Hi, I'm new to this forum. I've posted my question other places but I haven't recieved a response. I hope there is someone here who has experienced similar problems to me because I feel really alone at the moment.
I am currently off work caring for my Mum, who has numereous health problems that result in her having difficulty walking. My main frustration is that most of her conditions are easily treatable but she will not accept medical help. She has always been interested in alternative medicines, but in recent years it has become an obsession. She has been brainwashed by the conspiracy theories about 'big pharma' companies and 'vaccine damage' and is now totally convinced that conventional medicine will kill her. I feel that she has taken over my life, and, because she has caused these issues herself, I often struggle with resentment. However I mostly blame the alternative medicine companies that have fed her all these lies. She has refused to get into ambulances, discharged herself from hospital, without treatment after a heart attack and a DVT. Currently she is having a lot of trouble breathing and I am concerned that she may have a pulmonary embolism caused by her DVT, but she refuses an ambulance and the doctors say that without her consent there is nothing they can do to help her (as she is mentally capable of making her own decisions). Consequently it is all on me to keep her alive.
Every day she gets a little bit worse but she says that she feels like she is improving (despite the fact that she has gone from total independance to needing 24/7 care in the last year).I was wondering if anyone else had dealt with anyone like this and if so what was the outcome, how can I convince her to take her medication before it is too late?
Also I was wondering if there was any legal way I could stop these companies spreading their poision before this happens to someone else?
P.s. I have no problems with complimentary medicine (where supplements are used together with conventional medicine), vitamin or mineral supplements, I am talking about companies that make false claims about their medication, such as cinnamon can 'cure diabetes' and natrokinase can 'prevent heart attacks'.
I hope someone has some ideas about what I can do, because I really don't think my Mum will have long left if she doesn't stop what she is doing.
Sorry to hear about this, Mary. The simple answer is, nothing at all: as long as she is compos mentis she can refuse all conventional care and insist on sitting on a Himalayan mountain in a blizzard wearing a bikini and listening to Pink Floyd through her iPod headphones, and you can do nothing about it at all. Once she loses all facilities, that's a different story. Do you have a Power of Welfare Attorney in place for when she is no longer able to manage her affairs? Even then, you are supposed to respect her wishes, I'm afraid.
No, she won't give me power of attorney for anything, financial or medical. She is only 72 and could have many healthy years ahead of her, but things are not looking good at the moment. She has had 2 heart attacks but discharged herself without treatment after the first and refused to even go to hospital after the second one. She caused a stroke by stopping taking her insulin for her diabetes and is currently extremely ill from an undetermined cause (as I said, I suspect a pulmonary embolism, but she won't let the doctor into the house anymore). I want to move her in with me and my husband but I'm worried she will not survive the move. I'm scared to even try to discuss this with her because she becomes so upset it causes her angina to flare up and I'm scared she will have another heart attack. I feel like I'm watching her kill herself and it's killing me. How am I supposed to live with the fact that she could have been saved if (when!) she dies? I'm convinced that if I could just talk about it in the right way that she might see sense.
Its a bit like having a child with anorexia: you can argue with them till you are blue in the face but they will only change when they want to. You do, of course, have a perfect right to withdraw care if she is being totally unreasonable, as long as you inform the GP and social work of the circumstances giving them a couple of weeks notice. You are only one of several people on this forum currently trying to cope with very obstinate carees, hopefully someone who has succeeded my get in touch. We did have a few problems with my fil persuading him into respite and eventually long term care, but not on this scale - our approach was gradualism. If your Mum needs 24 care then a nursing home may be the only option, but of course she will refuse: sectioning is the last resort and only if there is a clear sign of serious mental illness, which appears not to be the case.
Thanks for your support. I've been advised to think of her as having a terminal illness and just to try to make her as comfortable as comfortable as possible until the end but I'm (not suprisingly) having difficulty accepting it, especially as she is so determined to get better. Maybe if she wanted to die I could understand, but she really wants to get well. I have to accept that I have no control in this situation but it's heart breaking.

I feel for you, it's so hard watching the health of a parent deteriorate, whatever the cause.

I wonder though, if the legal position re consent/refusal of medical intervention would change, if your mother had some sort of attack and lost consciousness? In that case maybe you'd be able to call an ambulance and get her treated via the emergency admission route?

I will offer you another thought - hard as it may be to watch your mother's health fail, I think there are worse things than dying at the age of 72. My father is 84, he is an alcoholic, has mobility problems, is quite deaf and has mid stage dementia. He is reasonably content in his care home at the moment, but I hope he does not live long enough for the dementia to rob everything from him. There are some really sad cases in his care home, residents who are barely functioning on any level, who are blind and deaf, are doubly incontinent and have totally lost their minds. Given the choice, I would rather die in my seventies than survive into my 80s but have no quality of life.
Hi, I'm going to agree with the other posters here. I really don't think there is anything you can do - except accept that, bizarre as it may seem to you, this is your mother's choice as to how to live her life - and, yes, die her death.

I would interpret her behaviour as a form of conspiracy theory. When someone has CT they cannot be logically 'outargued', they can't be convinced by proof, they can't be persuaded by reason. They have remade the world in the image of the inside of their head, and that is that. I have a little experience of this in my own life in that my mother was what these days would probably be diagnosed as both biploar and paranoid schizophrenic. I grew up being routinely informed that people were watching her through the TV screens, bugging the phones, reading her letters, plotting things about her, spying on her, keeping notes about her, that everyone and anyone was 'involved' in some sort of 'plot' against her. No one could convince her otherwise - their attempts were simply incorporated into the 'plot - ie, they were trying to 'fool' her into making a mistake and playing into the hands of those 'out to get her' (etc etc etc....)

What finally 'diluted' all this was, as she got old, she finally accepted taking tranquillisers, and it made life a lot easier for us - and for her! All the 'conspiracies' seemed to ebb away, and she didn't talk about them any more. Whether they were still assumptions in her head I don't know.

What that makes me think is that, maybe maybe maybe, something similar might happen to your mum? I wonder whether you could 'fight fire with fire' so to speak! Two thoughts here - if you investigate 'alternative treatments' for anxiety, say, you might find some substances that are either placebos, or actually medically helpful (not all 'alternatives' are wrong - there can be medical efficacy that may go beyond placebo effects in some cases!) (remmber, orthodox medicine is not necessarily always right either - after all, it was 'orthodox medicine' that advocated taking chunks of people's brains out - they called it lobotomies....NOT very 'medically respectable' these days, but it was genuinely believed to be 'orthodox medicine' in its time....).

I seem to remember that something like St John's Wort, is that it, is good for anxiety???

In addition, would it be possible perhaps for you to consult a complementary therapist - ie, one who does not 'rubbish' orthodox medicine - and see what they might suggest as a way forward for getting your mum efficacious treatment. (I would argue strongly that it rally doesn't matter whether her treatment is orthodox, complementary or alternative - providing it's efficacious!). I was wondering whether if she could hear from a therapist she trusts that it's 'OK' to rely on orthodox medicine sometimes, and present orthodox medicine as something that actually derives FROM traditional medicine.

I can understand suspicion of Big Pharma - but not all orthodox medicine comes from BP - physical treatments often don't, and there are many drugs that are now generic, and no longer make money for BP, and she may be able to trust those as being 'exempt' from her conspiracy theory.

However, the bottom line is, as Scally has said, unless and until she is sectioned or deemed too bizarre to be considered compos mentis, or possessing legal capacity, she is within her human rights to reject orthodox treatment, whatever risk to her health. One of the saddest internet exchanges I have ever had was with a Jehovah's witness who rejected surgery for their cancer, as there was a risk of a blood transfusion in theatre, and so with their own full knowledge of the implications of his decision, he chose to reduce his life expectancy by rejecting surgery for his cancer. It was a courageous decision, and to most of us, completely pointless....yet it made sense to him, and he had the comfort of knowing he had stuck to his religious principles.

Your mother's life is, in the end, her own business, though her decisions make you so sad and so fearful for her. Has she always, I wonder, had this attitude towards orthodox medicine, or did something 'bring it on', and is she a conspiracy theorist about anything else, or just Big Pharma?! I was thinking you might find it helpful yourself to consult a pyschiatrist who may be able to give you insight not only into your mother's behaviour, but how best to cope with it yourself, distressing you as it does so much (understandably, as you fear losing her prematurely).

Finally, I cannot but agree with SheWolf. Long life is not always a blessing. I lost my husband to cancer when he was only 55, but if his fate otherwise was to end up with dementia, or paralysis, or blind, then I can only be relieved he never had to face that torment.

With kind regards at such a distressing and frustrating time for you, Jenny.
Carers centres all around the UK are gleefully and unwittingly contributing to this non-science nonsense by offering totally useless alternative therapies like aromatherapy and Reiki. "feeling stressed by your carer's role dear? Never mind, we have free Indian Head Massage and ear-wax candling, just go with the flow". It is all total new-age bulldung, but who are we to criticise when these semi-literates mean so well ...?
Sorry you are feeling as you do. I see how hard it must be.

Just a thought ....have you discussed with her if she wants to make an ADvance Directive which I believe is applicable in England and Wales. A living will, it is sometimes called.
Best to use a solicitor if she wants to explore this route. It would outline legal rights on which if any treatment would be acceptable (or not) to her, if and when circumstances dictate the need.

This might help focus on detailed decisions,on the reality, the complete picture.
As well as ensuring her wishes are complied with if and when that becomes necessary.

It could clarify the situation or even.....merely open up the subject for further thought and discussion. More understanding between you all or .......Even change of mind.

(Not much younger than your mother...how time flies)
I am wondering who advised you to treat her condition as terminal. If it's her GP, OK, as GP I assume has a good insight of the WHOLE picture, I hope so anyway.

Nor do I know what meds she is refusing at the moment.

But I do add that if she has access to her own insulin ....well to put it bluntly if she wants to die she has the tool for the job. I don't think she wants to die at all, from what you say here so far. She is, in fact, determined to get better you tell us.And maybe...she will.

But it might be worthwhile being aware that missed insulin resulting in DKA can be a horrid way to go.... It seems she was rescued once before so she and you will know what I am talking about.

Quack practices and mumbo jumbo psycho rubbish stuff?????
Doubt we will ever wipe it out. Image