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Old 09-20-2011, 11:06 AM   #21
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This may not be just alcohol and could be her way of dealing with pain.

She probably needs a complete physical but you cannot force her to get one. You might consider one session with a therapist that specializes with substance abuse to ask for advice on specific things you can do to help her.

Without a HIPAA consent form her doctors are unlikely to talk with you, with one you could discuss it with them. Perhaps you can get her to sign one when she asks for a resupply. If she does, at least you can discuss this with her pain management physician.
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Old 09-20-2011, 12:42 PM   #22
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Your story is a carbon copy of my own history with our mom.

She smoked 3 to 4 packs a day and drank 15 or more beers (Canadian beer at that - much stronger than US stuff). She didn't eat - a half a bologna sandwich would last her 3 days. We enabled her - bought her the beer and cigarettes because, after all, she was our mom.

She was down to 76 pounds, had broken several major bones from falling (hips, ribs, arms, pelvis at different times) and spent 12 hours on the floor in her kitchen one winter's night, after falling and being too weak to get up or reach the phone. That's when we persuaded her to move to an assisted living residence.

Unfortunately, they turned out to be highly abusive (we sued and won). From there, she moved first to my brother's and then to my sister's place. The bad habits didn't change until her doctor finally told her that she had to go into a nursing home and wait to die, because she obviously wasn't going to listen to medical advice.

That made her so mad, she quit smoking cold turkey, quit drinking, started exercising and eating. She put on 50 pounds, which brought her to about 125 pounds. She bought herself an extra 10 years of life, we figure. It was great - a lot of damage was done - but she travelled, camped and went to concerts and the casino. She died in February at the age of 83.

My advice: TOUGH LOVE. Take her car keys away (she shouldn't be driving on drugs or booze!), stop buying her booze and tell her that her options are to either start eating or go into a nursing home. I always feel that if we had done that when mom was in her 60s instead of waiting until her 70s, her quality of life would have vastly improved and she could have kept her house instead of going to the horror of that assisted living facility.
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:11 PM   #23
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So sorry to hear this, both for you and your mom. I agree with everyone above, tough love is the only way to go. Perhaps she became depressed aft the death of her husband? Did she have an grief counseling at the time? Often in the elderly depression is overlooked when one of the couple dies and the other tends to let themselves go.

I know for a fact a good assisted living home will not keep her if she is drinking, they are worried about falls and such.

Also very important is that she not detox alone from either the alcohol nor the other drug. She must be monitored.

Wishing you the best of luck.

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Old 09-20-2011, 01:49 PM   #24
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I'm so sorry you're going through this.

Have you considered talking to your doctor about it? Perhaps she/he could suggest more options...
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:32 PM   #25
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I'm so sorry you're going through this.

Have you considered talking to your doctor about it? Perhaps she/he could suggest more options...
My wife and I are healthy as a horse so we dont really even have a family doctor.
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:39 PM   #26
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One thing you have to consider which seems obvious from her actions is she seems like she does not want to live. If that is the case does anyone have the right to intervene? Does anyone have the right to impose their will on her.

It must be tough to watch this going on, you are in a no win situation. I wonder if a few sessions with a shrink might help her deal with what is going on with her mentally and help her get on the path to resolving her issues that are behind her current actions.

Good luck with whatever path you take. It must be painful to be an observer in this situation
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:43 PM   #27
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So sorry to hear this, both for you and your mom. I agree with everyone above, tough love is the only way to go. Perhaps she became depressed aft the death of her husband? Did she have an grief counseling at the time? Often in the elderly depression is overlooked when one of the couple dies and the other tends to let themselves go.

I know for a fact a good assisted living home will not keep her if she is drinking, they are worried about falls and such.

Also very important is that she not detox alone from either the alcohol nor the other drug. She must be monitored.

Wishing you the best of luck.






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Yes Im sure that shes depressed over the loss of her husband, although she never talks about it. Im sure shes even more depressed now that her life consists of wake up in pain, watch TV all day and go to bed in pain. She can barely drag herself and her walker to the bathroom, let alone leave the house. She only drank socially before her husband died and she didnt have anywhere near the kind of debilitating pain back then so no need for the pain medicine. She was a normal happy 60 year old.

Im really at a loss on how to even breach this whole subject with her.

The few times Ive said anything to her at all went like this:

Her: I need to see a doctor about how badly my feet and ankles are swollen.

Me: Its probably from sitting in one place all day. You need to try to move around more to get better circulation

Her: How am I supposed to do that? I cant even walk to the refridgerator.

She has basically lost hope.
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:46 PM   #28
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One thing you have to consider which seems obvious from her actions is she seems like she does not want to live. If that is the case does anyone have the right to intervene? Does anyone have the right to impose their will on her.

It must be tough to watch this going on, you are in a no win situation. I wonder if a few sessions with a shrink might help her deal with what is going on with her mentally and help her get on the path to resolving her issues that are behind her current actions.

Good luck with whatever path you take. It must be painful to be an observer in this situation
Trust me, Ive considered that at great length. I sure as hell wouldnt want to live in her situation. Thats the main reason up to this point that Ive continued to buy her alcohol and cigarrettes. We dont talk about this kind of stuff but Im sure she realizes she doesnt have much time left based on how quickly shes deteriorated. Who am I to tell her not to drink if she only has a year left no matter what she does?
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:49 PM   #29
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Utrecht, She is crying for help. Be tough, she will kick and scream but I have a feeling she will be grateful. This looks like a major depression, get her into rehab and to see a psychiatrist who can once she is detoxed prescribe anti depressants. She can kick the addictions and get her health back. Don't let her just slip into death this way. No one deserves that, she has only lost hope, help her not lose her dignity also.

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Old 09-20-2011, 02:59 PM   #30
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One thing you have to consider which seems obvious from her actions is she seems like she does not want to live. If that is the case does anyone have the right to intervene? Does anyone have the right to impose their will on her.
That was my first thought as well. Perhaps she has decided not to go on for much longer.

The tricky part is how does one determine if this is her own, conscious decision or if her addiction and perhaps other medical conditions (depression for example) have warped her reality so much that she doesn't see anymore the choices before her.
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:20 PM   #31
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The stubborn thing is very common. No single way to handle it (IMO).

You might consider contacting your community's social services for information and help getting pointed in the right direction.

You may have to have a family intervention with her (other children, her siblings, etc.).
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:34 PM   #32
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Me: Its probably from sitting in one place all day. You need to try to move around more to get better circulation

Her: How am I supposed to do that? I cant even walk to the refridgerator.
I understand that this is just meant to illustrate the general problem. Nonetheless, I'll point out that this specific difficulty may have a solution. After my mother had a stroke, then broke her hip, the home care therapy nurse recommended an inexpensive little pedal device that you can use from a seated position to exercise the large muscles in the legs. You just pedal it like a bicycle. I found one at my local drugstore.
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:58 PM   #33
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She has basically lost hope.
She may have lost hope, this may be depression, or the drugs and alcohol may be affecting her judgement.
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What would be my first step when you guys say "lay it out to her doctor"? If she needs a "new doctor", what kind of doctor? Im going to try the advice you guys are giving but remember that shes not mentally disabled or incapacitated so I have no power to make her do anything and shes VERY stubborn. She wont even admit that shes weak because she doesnt eat enough.
I would write a summary of the facts. Which doctors she is seeing, what medicines she is taking, how much she is eating, and how much she is drinking, how long this has been going on. The lying on the floor for 10 hours. Then check to see if any of the physicians she is currently seeing are internists or family doctors. If so, schedule an appointment with him/her. Otherwise, choose one from her insurance plan. Accompany her to the appointment, ask for a HIPAA form, fill it out and ask her to sign it. Make copy, give original to the office staff. Now you can go in with your mother to see the doctor and later discuss her case without her being present. Give him/her the paper you wrote. She needs to be treated for her swelling but now you can also ask for a physical and/or blood work to see if there is another undiagnosed problem.
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Im really at a loss on how to even breach this whole subject with her.

The few times Ive said anything to her at all went like this:

Her: I need to see a doctor about how badly my feet and ankles are swollen.
This is your opportunity.

It is very difficult to deal with family members that need help, almost impossible without their cooperation. Support groups can help and there are therapists with experience in this. If you choose to attempt to help the first thing you need is qualified, professional help to guide you.
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:46 PM   #34
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...She has many doctors.

1) A pain management doctor
2) Lung doctor
3) A new doctor shes about to see for severe swelling in her feet and ankles (to me its obvious its from lack of circulation from never moving around)
4) Some other doctor she goes to every 4 months to get some spinal tap type of cortisone injections directly into her spine...
It is very possible that your mother is engaging in what they call "doctor shopping". If she takes the painkillers in great quantity, it is possible that she has multiple Rx, all active, from different physicians. Do the math.

I would like to suggest that YOU alone make an appointment, first with her pain management doctor. Describe what her life consists of, and DEFINITELY inform that doctor about her alcohol consumption along with the pain killers. Show him/her the receipts for the booze and tobacco, and tell that doctor exactly what is going on.

By law, none of her doctors cannot discuss her medical records with you without the HIPAA, however...since the pain management doctor is the source of one of the addictive substances, this doctor has the power to withhold a prescription (new or refill) to ensure your mother's compliance with a scheduled appointment that that office sets with him/her. If she chooses to not show up, bye bye painkiller Rx. That in itself will be a powerful motivator for compliance.

If I am wrong, there are several medical folks here who may be able to correct what I am saying or refine your options. Please chime in.

A high school friend played the "doctor shopping" game for her painkillers, cleverly using different pharmacies, for 10 years until her husband finally put 2 and 2 together. He went to each and every physician, on his own, and rooted out the issue. Her primary physician confronted her alone and made her go to rehab. She is now drug and alcohol free. Happy ending.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:13 PM   #35
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The few times Ive said anything to her at all went like this:

Her: I need to see a doctor about how badly my feet and ankles are swollen.

Me: Its probably from sitting in one place all day. You need to try to move around more to get better circulation

Her: How am I supposed to do that? I cant even walk to the refridgerator.

She has basically lost hope.

She's crying for help! Unfortunately, as we learned with my mom, trying to make helpful suggestions only made her dig her heels in. She once told us that saying things like "it's probably from sitting in one place all day" sounded judgmental. It's like telling a fat person to lose weight. Well, duh!

A better response would be "You're right. You do need to see a doctor. Why don't I set up the appointment and I'll go with you. After that, we can take ourselves out for a nice lunch". It gives her something to look forward to but it also calls her bluff - and you can talk to the doctor about what your concerns too.

More important than her physical well-being though, is her mental health. A lot of aches and pains go away when you're surrounded by friends and laughter.

Please "tough love" her. And good luck!
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:32 PM   #36
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Based on my debit card transactions shes drinking about a bottle of Vodka every 4 days. I dont drink so Im no expert. Where would you say this ranks on the "alcoholic" scale? From 1-10 with 10 being "time for rehab".
I learned from a geriatric nurse that at that age, especially in women, one drink per day may be enough. Two would be pushing it. The body's not processing the alcohol quickly enough to enable her to sober up as fast as younger women.

Considering the medication with the alcohol, she's at about an 11 on the alcoholic scale.

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Who am I to tell her not to drink if she only has a year left no matter what she does?
I guess you have to decide how you'll feel when a family member labels you an enabler.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:04 PM   #37
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I agree with what many people have said. Your mother is at significant risk of sudden death at any time from an OD (not to mention a myocardial infarction or stroke). She is caught in a vicious circle of two addictions and possibly depression as well, which may be a big factor in this self destructive behaviour. She may have given up. You seem to have given up on her too. That's unfortunate, because with the right intervention, there is hope here. I hate to be so direct, but please be a good son and get her an intervention, NOW.
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:37 PM   #38
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I take her to her doctor appointments but have never spoken to any of the doctors because Ive been trying not to make her feel like a child by taking over her life. .
I am sorry to hear about your Mom and her problem. It is time for you to start speaking with the doctors. Yes, you may hurt her feelings for a while but you might also save her life. Hopefully she will appreciate what you are doing to help her at some point. You have to be strong and take the lead. That is just your responsibility in life now. Get some professional help if you feel you have a hard time taking the lead. That is why professionals are out there.
Best of luck to both you and your mom.
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:32 AM   #39
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After reading all of this advice and also talking with a friend who we just found out had the same issues with her mother, my wife and I are formulating a game plan. I will report back soon. Thank you to everyone who responded.
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Old 09-22-2011, 08:23 AM   #40
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utrecht..So very sorry for this situation. Don't think I can add much more than what others have said. Your mom is not thinking clearly....if at all. It's not the smoking. It is the pills, alcohol and depression. I'd say the first step is detox if you can get her to agree. If you can not, committing her.....becoming her legal guardian... is a very last step option but one that should be considered to save her life. We experienced a similar situation with my dad (alcoholism). He went into detox 3 times between the ages of 65 and 77. At one point we, the family, had to consider committment . His doctor finally talked him into the first round of detox. Whatever you do...do not take her alcohol or pills away. The withdrawal could kill her. She needs to be in a medical facility during any form of detox. She will also get the much needed support and counseling while in there.
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