Mother is slowing down

fairegoldJuly 25, 2005

Today was different, because I didn't go over there until about noon, and only stayed until 4. I stayed home and did laundry, paid bills, watered plants and played with the puppy.

When I got to the nursing home, she'd been up and in the wheelchair for a couple of hours, before lunch, and had been having dizzy spells. She ate a few bites of her lunch and then wanted to get back to bed.

We are talking, finally, about her dying. She hates where she is, but I am gathering my own nerve to tell her that she's stuck, and she won't make it back to her pretty apartment with a view. There is no way without full time nursing care.

She is wilting daily before my eyes.

Tomorrow I promise that I will tell her that if she wants to hasten her death, she can refuse to eat. That much is in her own hands. So far I have played along and urged her to eat as much as possible (she's 80 pounds, remember) with the lure that she has to get strong in order to go home.

I need to stop doing that. But it's hard to do. How do you tell someone that they can die on their own terms, not eating or whatever, and fade away?

I suspect that she knows already.

The question learned from this story.... would you rather be fully mentally aware and not in control of your life at age 95, or would you rather be suffering from memory loss and related problems? End of life issues are not what I had ever imagined before I faced this.

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derryw

Helene....Having taken care of a parent in each of those positions, it is a question I have asked myself many times. Also, how do you bring up issues with a person who cannot speak, and may not be able to voice the fears and anxieties that result. It is a hard situation to be in.
For your Mom, maybe just to listen to her and tell her you will support her in any way she chooses, without spelling out the alternatives. She can come up with those. Sometimes the decision may not be a conscious one. Or maybe she cannot overcome anorexia.You guys are in a tough position, that's for sure. Derry

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 10:06AM
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tnlady

Helene, Thanks for your post on my post!

Well, I did use to teach Death and Dying and have also run Grief Groups...so I may could offer a suggestion.

It has to do with what is called Reminiscense Therapy. A therapy there are many uses for with the Elderly. In short, you want to get her involved in the topic of death by prodding her long-term memory and letting her "tell stories." You would begin by broaching the subjest somehow or another and I have an idea on that: My Mom will hear a song or something that reminds her of the Irish wakes she use to go to. Men drank, women cooked, and the deceased lay in an open casket in the parlor. This was common when your and my Mom were younger (and where funeral parlors got their name!) in all social groups. I was thinking that you could laughingly say you heard about this from someone and was it really true?! - then encourage her to tell some stories. This MAY lead into her talking more easily about her own death because she will be thinking about it in a less personal way. There's more to the "science" and it is good to do this type of talking with anyone having memory problems as it stimulates long-term memory. At any rate, there's on idea. I'll get back to ya if I remember anything else (speaking of memory problems!!)

TNLady/Jean

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 12:20PM
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PeaBee4

I doubt that she is receiving much nutrition at this point from her food. It most likely doesn't make much difference in the remaining time. If she eats, fine! If she doesn't, that's fine too. Just let her know it OK.
I have reached an age where some of my friends are getting fuzzy minded. I can see it. I don't think they are aware that they are going downhill. I think Time passes more quickly for them. And that's a blessing!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 2:29PM
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heydeborah

Helene, not being in your position, i do not have any advice, but thank all the others who have been there. the only thing i can offer you right now, my friend, is an ear to listen to. debbie

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 3:19PM
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sharlee

Hi,

I understand. My Dad is very alert & yet fading. Mom is the one with dementia & they both have eating problems.

I don't know if this will help you, but a couple days ago I told Dad I can accept his wishes of not eating & he touched my hand & said, "thank you".

As for Mom she does not understand that she's "not allergic" to all her food. It's hard & we're fortunate to have a wonderful caregiver for her. She keeps introducing new foods. Mom's about 85# now.

I just try to enjoy her each visit & go along with things. Makes it so much easier for all.

The best to you, Sharlee

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 4:26PM
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paulines

Helene,
I've been following your postings about your mom and I just want to let you know I'm thinking of you and wish you strength.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 8:53PM
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