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My 89 year old mother had a fall four months back and had to undergo a hipbone surgery. Although a physiotherapist comes home every single day and gives are the excercises, she is refusing to stand up. She sits up only for 30 mts a day. She is attended to by two nurses 24 hours a day. Toilet needs, wash, eating, drinking fluids, everything takes place in bed. On top of it, she refuses to use her hand and wants to be fed like a baby, that too only by her children.

Otherwise all her physical parameters like BP, sugar, blood picture are near perfect. She eats well and mentally razor sharp. She has not developed any bed sores, so far because of the good nursing care.

Now our problem - I am 67 and working still, my brother is 70 and both of us find it extremely taxing to be around our mother on a 24x7 basis. My mother is very demanding, and insensitive to our stress. She has no outside interests and does not even watch TV.

We are unable to outsource any of our activities to other family members, as they are busy and also not acceptable to my mother.

Although we feel very guilty, we some times look forward to a relief either in the form of her coming back to normal life, or her passing away. After all we also ar ein our sunset years.

My question - how long one can last in bed taking normal food at a ripe old age?
If we know the answer, we can think of some solutions.

Any suggestions?

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Hi, Vijay.

 

Welcome to the board.  You have found a safe place to share your feelings and experience as a family caregiver.

 

You pose a very interesting question in a direct and honest way.  Unfortunately, there is no good answer to the "how long" question.  I'm not a medical professional, but if she is in otherwise good health and continues to get good physical care, she could go on for quite a long time.

 

Has your mother always been a challenge?  Was she physically active before?  It may be that she is depressed or seeking to maintain some sort of control.  Does your mother have any friend outside the family, or a minister / spiritual person she can talk to who might help her work through her emotional issues?

 

Mothers have a way of manipulating us.  They know which buttons to press because they put them there.  Setting limits with her will not be easy, but it sounds like it's time to do that, too.

 

As to you and your brother, I admire how you both have been there for your mother.  Four months is a long time to have this stress.  It is important that you take care of yourselves: eating well, getting exercise, etc. to maintain your own physical and mental health.

 

I'm sending positive energy to you and your brother today... prayers, too, if that's okay.

 

Barb

Dear Barb,

 

Many thanks for your response. 

 

Let me give a little more background to my situation. My parents lived in another city until 10 years ago. When they moved into the city where I now live, they were living in a separate flat in the same building as my younger sister. I live 10 kms away. My father died of cancer 9 years ago at the age of 87. He was such a high spirited and religious person, so looking after him in the hospital in his last days was not at all difficult.

 

Since my father's death, my mother  lived alone in the same flat, but my sister insisted that my mother should not do any work and we should start serving her food cooked from our homes. We then started sharing the cooking, travelling 10 kms every day and serving her food for nearly 6 years. Then my mother had a minor fall. So my sister insisted that each night one of her brothers must come sleep in my mother's flat. Strange it may appear to you, we accepted and did that for nearly  3 years. Then came the day, she fell and had a hip bone fracture. 

 

Coming to my mother's nature - she is highly focussed on herself and wants her way all the time; she has been getting it all the time. She is the most intelligent person I have come across in my life, although she studied only up to high school. Her analytical powers are superb even today, but her empathy for people is low. She does not have many friends. She is harsh with servants, nurses. She is not very religious, but is mad about cleanliness. Her firm belief is that it is the son's duty to look after their parents (according to Hindu darma), even it affects their family life. Strangely my younger sister also shares the same view.  Of course she does quite a lot of service to my mother, yet we find the going tough. 

 

Now the last part. Out of the four children, I only was brought up by mother's mother in another town and I had never been with my parents. Due to family pressure those days, my mother was never with me to share my feelings during schooling or when I was seriously ill many times or to share my happiness when I achieved many distinctions. 

 

To cut the story short, she is just my biological mother. So I do not have normal feelings of a son towards a mother.

 

But, I have no regrets as my childhood was glorious and happy, as my grand mother was more than a mother to me and her brother and few other elders gave me all and more what I wanted. That is the reason I have a positive outlook in life today. 

 

But whatever I am now doing for my mother is more because of a duty a son owes his parents than otherwise. I have shared this feeling only with my wife, but she is not able to understand my feelings.

 

Thanks for reading my story and giving me a chance to air my feelings. 

 

Cheers!

 

 

Hi, Vijay.

 

Thank you for the additional information.  I hear what you are saying about cultural norms and pressures, and also about not having the usual emotional bond with your mother.

 

Unless the medical people can appeal to her intellect and persuade her to walk and resume her own personal care, I doubt that aspect will change.  Likewise, if no other family members will step in, then you and your brother will have to manage things as best you can.  At least there are two of you.  Here in the U.S. it is typically only one family member, usually a daughter, who takes on the role of parental caregiver.

 

In some ways you are fortunate that you are somewhat emotionally detached.  You can look at it as a job that can be separated from the rest of your life.  Put in your time, but keep your own physical and emotional health in the forefront.  Set limits in whatever way does not violate your personal honor.  Make time for yourself to de-stress.  There are several articles and journaling exercises on the main Empowering Caregivers site which might help.

 

We're here for you, Vijay.

-Barb

Hello Vijay,

 

Welcome... It sounds as if your mother can live a lot longer especially since her vitals are all healthy.

 

I think what most surprised me in your sharing was the demands your sister placed on the ways to care for her and how she enrolled you and your brother to assist..

 

Are you living in England or India? It is difficult to know since the term " her flat" could be in both places. Here in the states we have senior day care centers where many of the elderly are picked up to attend the day. There are programs and opportunities to be out and around other people. However, it does sound as if she is determined not to do anything.

 

Many cultures have either the daughter or son being responsible for the parent. Unfortunately in this day and age, it has become more difficult to care for them because medicines keep them alive so much longer.. but times are changing and the children are feeling pressured because they are working, have children of their own to care for and travel as well becomes an issue.

 

I have been living in Mexico and New York City. I notice in particular that the stresses have compounded for the caregivers and for many, it has become necessary for the children caring for a parent to have a family meeting with the parent listing the choices that are available to them. Your mom is obviously living with a belief system that is no longer serving today's younger generations in terms of what they are able to contribute. 

 

A family meeting is an opportunity to discover all the options that are available for her... including you all contributing less time due to the stresses that fall upon you as children. But it is important in the end for her to make choices based on the information you present to her.

 

In other words, I was rallying for my mother... taking her to new doctors, seeing their prescribed methods... and she was open and excited. But when push came to shove and she returned home, she wouldn't take the medications and do many of the things they had suggested. I finally got to the point where I lovingly explained to her that I would advocate for her only when she asked for help. I found it stressful and burdensome to research and bring her to competent professionals and she would reject the treatment. I explained to her that there was a fine line where I would be dancing in all directions, spinning my wheels to advocate for her and that she really wasn't interested.

 

I explained to her that I was working long hours and that if my own health should fail, who would then take care of her. I explained to her that she would have to take my needs into consideration if she wanted me to continue caring for her lovingly as I did.

 

And you know, she got it... she really began to see how it was for me caring for her.. and this is the picture you need to paint for her... each of her children explaining what they are and what they are not capable of doing..

 

My mom would accept outside help from an aid only when she would need them... but when she would be feeling better she would dismiss them. I explained to her that she was needing more care on a regular basis and that she couldn't let go of them. I explained that she would need to be responsible for paying them even when she was feeling good as I couldn't keep on spending so much time to interview for the right person so that she would be happy. My mom was living in the past with her expectations of how she thought I should care for her... I also reminded her that she didn't have to care for her mother for as long... since people had passed much more quickly 40 years ago...

 

I think if you and your other siblings and their spouses all came together with this understanding you might actually be able to open her eyes to another way of living for her.

 

It is a shame that a person just wants to exist as she does without having a single interest other than being waited on...If God, or the higher power wanted her on the other side, she wouldn't be here.. but the fact is she is and the reasons might be for her to begin opening to the possibilities of living and not just existing..

 

I hope I am expressing it ok for you... you will never know unless you try.. and just maybe her eyes will open a bit more and she might be more cooperative...

 

She is truly blessed to have all of you caring for her as you have been...

 

blessings in all you are doing

 

gail

Hi Viijay, I cannot offer much more than has already been posted, and such great support and advice. It sounds like your mother is depressed and I wonder if anyone has addressed this. Antidepressants may be the way to go to get her moving again. The cultural thing is another story and something that sounds difficult as you are emotionally removed from her but still attending to your "duties".

 

I wish you all the luck... She sounds healthy otherwise. Some people at that age range after a crisis tend to want to give up on life, maybe wanting to join her husband. If you haven't already, I would talk to the doctor about getting her on a good antidepressant. It may help to lift the burden on all those that are trying their best to help her.

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