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Elderly Mother/Inlaw

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I'm new here, so I don't quite know where to post.
After reading my post, I'm hoping someone suggest a more appropriate forum.

My mother, almost 80, has become quite a problem.
My spouse and I do not know how to deal with her depression, so we are looking for some guidance.
We recognize that in part, it is grief from the loss of her husband about 20 years ago.
For the first 10 years, she would not accept his passing, and would often speak of him in the present.
We think she probably has accepted his death by now.

At first she would see other people; friends family, she even went on a couple dates after 2 or 3 years.
But she divorced herself from most activities after that, even missing out on her only grand-daughter growing up.
She just simply would not participate in life, giving into seclusion.

When my daughter graduated from high school a in 2018, she had not been out of her house in at least 3 years.
She did attend the graduation ceremony, but begged off the family dinner afterwards, and has not been out of the house since.
This includes even the simplest of tasks such as walking to the curb to retrieve her mail.

She is an epileptic and must take anti-convulsion medication daily. She's actually quite consistent about that.

However, she sleeps for days at time, only awaking for bathroom and medication.
Many times a week, we have to go check on her because she won’t answer the phone.
We usually find her sleeping, and she rarely hears us come in.

Often if she wakes up several times during the time when she is sleeping, she thinks it's a new day.
She has bitterly complained that we haven't checked on her in 4-5 days, when in reality, it's been less than 24 hours.

We do her grocery shopping.
We get her prepared food that she can just open and eat, or occasionally heat in the microwave.
She won’t cook.
We have to constantly check the food expiration dates because she won't and has on many occasions likely eaten spoiled food.
My wife and I feel like we are enabling her by doing her shopping, but here's the thing.
If we don't bring her food, she just won't eat.
When asked about it, she responds with: 'You're right."

She also smokes a carton of cigarettes' a week.
Her house is disgusting with nicotine yellowing on every surface in the house.
When we try to get her to at least go outside to smoke, she doesn’t want to.
She tells us the paint is just old and yellowing.

She is a highly intelligent woman, politically astute, and sharp as a tack.
She is also very self-centered, arrogant, and feels the need to push her opinion on all that do not agree with her.

The few times we have been able to get her to go to the doctor, she is quite capable of convincing the physician that she suffers no mental conditions and in full control of her facilities.
Recently when we brought up visiting with the doctor once again, she informed us that it was pointless, because she can trick the doctors into thinking there is nothing wrong.

Ok, so the above is a cursory scenario of what we are faced with. There is a lot more…

Here’s our take on the situation.
* We believe she no longer wants to live, and may be trying to starve herself, yet she seems to have the desire not to suffer the pain of hunger – so she eats.
* She is pissed off at God because he took her husband just as he retired.
They had big retirement plans, so that didn’t happen.
* Her social skills even on the phone are non-existent.
* In the last 2 years, regardless of the time of day, I’ve not seen her in anything other than a nightgown.
* She says she wants to get her affairs in order, yet will not. She wants her grand-daughter to receive the bulk of her sizable estate upon her death, yet won’t make the arrangements.
We have offered to take anywhere she needs to go.
* She has recently made dentist appointments, but every time, on the day of the appointment, she turns up “sick”.
“Must be something going around.”
How can she catch anything? – She never leaves the house, and my wife and I are the only ones who go over there.
I think she faking most of the time, yet I also know she will take her anti-convulsion medication on an empty stomach, which is known to cause deterioration of the stomach lining.
* We are certain she is manipulating us, and is using the fact that if we don’t deal with her, she absolutely won’t.
We believe she knows we won’t abandon her.

So there it is in a nut shell. Ok, more like bucket, but….
She is wearing us out, and this needs to stop.
Please, how can we deal with her?

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Hi @Aithonwelcome to the forums 

That's a difficult situation and I sympathize. Nothing in life really prepares us for parenting a parent.

Depression can make a person very self-absorbed, that is the absence of connection to love, community, belonging. The lens we see everything through is so distorted, it's effortless to see the negative in anything. That is the hopelessness, emptiness of living with clinical depression. 

We cannot be helped until we're willing to accept help and the distorted lens, the self-absorption, emptiness and disconnection altogether make our life completely waiting for death. 

I hope this perspective helps. I cannot tell you what to do, I know nothing about your life. Here are some questions for you and your spouse, intended to help you reflect: 

What changes have you considered and why or why not make them? 

Why is it your mother is so consistent about taking the anticonvulsant medications, do you think?

Perhaps her cigarettes are like friends, companions, and a way to mark the passing of time? Try not to view them simply as a drug. 

What do you believe it means about you that for all your caretaking3, your mother doesn't seem to be improving?

I wish you insight and some relief from your burdens. This is no simple task. 

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