When elderly people refuse to think, refuse to eat decently (only junk, won't eat real food), and refuse to physically move, what do you do?
Is it okay to be forceful and insistent for their health and for the sanity of everyone around them? Or is that when you say they've had to think and work and do the right thing all their life, he/she's old enough to do or not do whatever they feel like now? If an old person gets agitated and annoyed when you insist they give the slightest effort for something, do you stop? Respect their wishes or their humanity? Is it kind to allow them to slip into a vague, sub-human daze when they make it clear that's what they want?
It is difficult to make a person do anything and best not to force or argue. Sounds like depression is afoot and would try to introduce activities or people that can provide moments to uplift their spirits. Maybe try healthy finger foods rather than meals or junk food. Use 'past' information, likes and dislikes, to wake them up. I would even ask if they would try their hand at a personal memoir of their life, thoughts and lessons to pass onto others. Just some thoughts.
As adults, they have a right to make their own choices, even unhealthy ones. Often it is a slip into a depression because they feel unneeded in life and our insistence that they change their behavior makes them feel even less valued in life. As you get older the simple things can seem overwhelming. Perhaps suggesting easier alternatives that seem possible to them would be better. Giving people choices makes them feel like they still have control over their lives. I think people deserve to keep their dignity and treating them kindly while offering other options is the right thing to do. The final decision is still theirs unless they have digressed into stages of dementia and are unable to decide for themselves. That needs to be diagnosed by a medical professional, of course...not just your opinion!
How old are you talking here, and at this age do you feel that they can realistically have a better quality of life if they do what you want. I work as an occupational therapist and we work with the elderly community. I have always felt that if they refuse therapy, I ask them what they actually want to accomplish, how would they like to live. Most say I just want to be able to get around my home independently.
So we work toward that goal. Such as being able to dress themselves, cook for themselves, walk around the home, etc.
If it is do-able then we work toward those goals and yes I have to constantly encourage them because they want to give up. But if they want to get better we have to do it.
But, However, if they are so compromised that anything we do accomplish will be miniscule,and the quality of life will not be much better, I just would rather make them be happy because in most cases, they are probably close to the end. And I would rather them have a happy life as long as possible.
Sorry to long, hope this helps.
I've found that some older people will take advice and do the things suggested by doctors - only doctors! Caregivers or relatives are not doctors and so cannot tell them what is best to do. If you can, take your elderly relative to a good doctor who will gently suggest some of the things you have been suggesting - and "prescribe" regular exercise, healthy food, etc. doing the exercise at the same time each day is best. I am a caregiver and have found that making things part of each days regular routine - same time, same place, same activity works with most - and the rest of the day they can sit and watch tv or whatever. Most older people like the attention and the regularity - we do these things together. However, it does no good to insist if someone is really not going to budge. Also most changes in routines have to be made gradually.
yea....i've learned from trying to help ma mere....listens only to the doc...problem is i don't get to talk to the doc about making suggestions they may assume she already knows....doesn't matter what i say...and the small changes are really key....
Thank you for the replies! This is my mother, she's not old enough to die purely of old age - she's 70. The fact that she refuses to eat anything but junk food, refuses to move, refuses to go to a doctor is bad, but sometimes I feel that's her business. She's old enough to lie back and do nothing if that's what she wants. There are some things she does, she can still cook and usually doesn't make too many mistakes. We have to watch her but that's what we're here for. She can walk and is willing to go for family walks in the evenings, she even signed us all up for the gym! She rallies, goes a bit overboard and then quits entirely. Better to keep it small but she won't.
I think I'm mostly concerned at her unbelievably selfish and bossy behavior and way more than even that - her refusal to think. At all. She can't complete a sentence and can't understand even simple, basic conversation. How do you tell someone they're senile and get them to agree to go to a doctor? She knows they'll just tell her to eat right and exercise, doesn't want to, so she won't go. I wonder if there's something actually wrong that could be fixed but we have no way to find out I guess. It's just that none of us (the family) is prepared to deal with this behavior for twenty more years.
Tough lot that is to navigate through. At her asge the B12 is usually low - happens naturally. A quick blood test and monthly shot can do wonders. With a B12 deficiency the mental faculties are impacted.
If it is alzhiemers you would want to catch it early. Meds can really slow it down for some which equates more quality time.
Can you get her in for a check up?
She sounds DEPRESSED. Also she may not want to let on that maybe she's ok...so as soon as she hears your voice...Well, there goes all the complaints....Real or Not. The fact that she is capable of doing things for herself...IF SHE WANT TO, should tell you something. It's not easy starting to feel all those aches and pains of life. Right now you are in two different worlds. There are some great vitamins out there that can help her. Try that route...As for eating...maybe at times she's just not hungry. Just remember that could be YOU someday. Hopefully not, for seventy is suppose to be the new sixty. If you can get her to go to a senior center and be with her age group...they take them on fun outings etc. If she's not mentally sick, try talking to her as you would a friend, not your mother....no miracles are going to happen...but you might in the end look at her differently.
Some people just wait until it hits them hard, then they start thinking what is healthy etc. You can do nothing about that. If a person does not feel that he needs changes, he/she is a grown up person, set in his ways,- no amount of advice will help, just don't waste your time. For 20 years I've been telling my husband: don't do this, don't eat this, don't smoke, you'll end up with a stroke, etc. You know, - he never listened. He,indeed, ended with a massive stroke. I was right, but for some reason I don't feel good about my being right. Stupid woman.
"I think I'm mostly concerned at her unbelievably selfish and bossy behavior and way more than even that - her refusal to think. At all. She can't complete a sentence and can't understand even simple, basic conversation. How do you tell someone they're senile and get them to agree to go to a doctor? She knows they'll just tell her to eat right and exercise, doesn't want to, so she won't go. I wonder if there's something actually wrong that could be fixed but we have no way to find out I guess. It's just that none of us (the family) is prepared to deal with this behavior for twenty more years."
...sorry, I cant make the qoute thingy work..
have you looked into dementia or alzhiemer's? If she is making decisions that are endangering her life..not just annoying...You can get power of attorney. Then you can kind of "go over head" and speak with the doctors a bit more freely.
It's a difficult question and it's up to your family to decide what to do next. Sometimes family have to step in.
70 isn't all that old. My mother was taking care of "everyone and his brother" (and cooking nightly for a lot of those "brothers") right up until she had a heart attack at 75. We've had presidents and people running for that office over 70. So, one question is whether your mother has been "officially diagnosed" with Alzeimer's or other form of dementia (people can be younger that and develop some form of dementia), or not.
My mother always said one of the worst things about being 70 and over was having a lot of people attribute some of the stuff people that age do to "being senile" and "aging". People over that age see things differently, have different experiences, different reasons for thinking one way or another, etc. On top of whatever changes or thinking they may have, they live in a world where people can start treating them as if they don't know what they're doing because until someone gets to that age they don't know how it feels to be that age, and they can't imagine that someone over 70 (or 80 or 90) may possibly have a different perspective but still be making perfectly good sense when it comes to their own choices.
If she's of sound mind, respect her for the adult she is. You, I, or a whole lot more people who aren't there yet may discover we think the same way when we get there. If she's been diagnosed with Alheizmer's that's a different thing, in which case asking her doctor(s) for advice about what to do is what I think you ought to do.
Anyone who has to live with/around people who think they don't know enough to make the right choices, or who pressures them to do/think what they do, will be driven inward and maybe even to the point of depression where they don't even bother trying to talk any more.
She won't go to the doctor - she agrees (when my dad insists) but then refuses. Still, it's been a GREAT week! She's conversing, knows what is going on around her, she's been up and moving, going places. It's got to be something medical that happens but it's up to her to take care of it. She's not bad enough for us to take over though she would happily let my dad do that to a degree. And my dad is showing "us kids" things about their lives so we can help when he needs it too.
I'm just very happy about this week so I decided to look in here again and be grateful for all the points of views and advice.
that's great that she appears to be doing better. even if you could get her in for a basic check-up would be helpful.
my mom used to get B12 shots and what a difference it made for her! we could see her energy level increase, her color looked better and her overall mood was lighter. your mom may benefit from a shot or a supplement recommended by her doctor.
Situations like these are difficult. I can see you care and are realistic and involved. I hope you have more good weeks than worries with them Take care, Holly
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