View Full Version : What to do for my Elderly, depressed Mom?

09-27-2010, 11:36 AM
Any insight from anyone is greatly appreciated. My elderly mom is now repeatedly telling everyone in the family that she's "dying" even though there's no medical diagnosis to the contrary. My dad says she takes her blood pressure at least 30 times a day, and obsesses over the numbers. She goes to the doctor repeatedly, the last time he told her to quit taking her blood pressure so much, and to start focusing on things she enjoys doing, instead of all her real or imagined ailments. She will not let me dad out of her sight, is extremely needy of him, yet continuously verbally bashes our soft-spoken dad for "not caring" and brings up every thing he's ever done wrong for the past 50 years, over and over. He waits on her hand and foot, and takes more abuse than any human being should be able to handle. It's really wearing on him. It's very hard to listen to her continuously belittle him, yet she doesn't want to do anything but complain about her health, insult my dad, verbally abuse him, what a cheapskate he is, how he doesn't care, and so on and so on, without end. The absolute only thing that she enjoys to do is go on drives, with him driving, her silent and staring straight ahead, for up to 6-7 hours daily. We love her so much, but this is horrible for everyone. We are trying to set up regularly scheduled dates to go over and be with mom for a couple of hours each week to give Dad a break, and invite her to our family get-togethers, but she goes into an almost panic mode of any change in her routine or comfort zone. On his end, he loves her, and feels its his obligation to be loyal to her, but we can see he's cracking under the strain. To even suggest depression medication is futile, she won't admit it, and even if the Doctor did prescribe it, she'd get immediate horrible side effects like any other prescription she's ever had, and stop taking it within 48 hours! OMG, this is a nightmare! HELP!! I feel like a traitor even writing this, but it's gotten so bad, we are all desperate!

09-30-2010, 12:39 PM
I hate to say this but I can't help thinking she might be in an early stage of dementia. I have seen this happen in my own extended family. My Aunt used to accuse her husband of cheating and/or flirting with other women. She would tell everyone about her suspicions. When we asked how she knew this was going on, she would say, "Oh, I know what's going on, he can't fool me!" None of us could figure out what was going on with her at the time but years later it became obvious. She had a serious case of dementia. Eventually, (the last time I saw her) she couldn't walk or talk. Her husband (my uncle) was like your father. He was very loyal and took care of her every need. Every morning he would wash her, dress her and put her in a wheel chair. He would feed her and talk to her, although he didn't know if she understood anything he said.

For an accurate diagnosis she would need to see a neurologist.

09-30-2010, 06:01 PM
Thank you so much for your input and for caring. I will share this with my father and other family members, and I will encourage him to make an appointment with a neurologist. Again, thank you!

10-23-2010, 12:17 PM
sounds like she may be going through a depression. I take Trazodone to help me sleep but I think it did help with my mood. It's an antidepressant you take in a larger dose for depression. For sleep you take 50 to 150 mgs. Maybe it would help her.

10-23-2010, 12:36 PM
For an accurate diagnosis she would need to see a neurologist.

FWIW, our PCP referred DH to a neurologist/psychiatrist for dementia Dx. Although PCP was 99% sure from family history that DH was probably on the road to Alz, the fact that the diagnosing physician was both neuro and psych allowed for the possibility that some of DH's systoms would benefit from psych approach.

If your DM is not experiencing deteriation due to dementia but experiencing another mental illness, being referred to a doc with both neuro/psych credentials could help with her perceptions and behaviors. Covering two bases at once kind of thing.

Either way the diagnosing physician should be able to help you link to caregiver support groups, respite care, and information about your DF's other options/resources.


10-23-2010, 01:45 PM
May be she lacks oxygen, sometines when were older we over look the obvious, hppe this helps Behavelee

11-08-2010, 09:39 AM
We went through the same types of problems with both my mom and dad while they lived with us their last years..four to be exact! They were treated differently though. My mom was depressed and on a hair trigger for anythng and she was overly nasty to everyone. We finally convinced her to at least TRY taking an antidepressant, that if it didn't work or made her feel better, she could always quit taking it. She did not like it when my dad didn't take his medication, se we told her that for this to all work, everyone had to do their part and take medication if itwould help. She didn't like the idea that she was taking a psy med, but I approached her from the stand point that she just needed some of these extra chemicals in her brain to feel better as she was under a lot of stress with my dad because of his advanced Parkinson's. Lucliky for all, the Remeron 25mg. she was prescribed helped immensely and it helped within a week. I also know that Zoloft is for anxiety, depression, and reportedly helps a lot of other conditions, so with your mom, you might want to talk to her doctor about trying something like a Zoloft that covers more areas. I know from my studies that Zoloft is well tolerated by a lot of people so it might be worth a try. Just remember, any new medication with the elderly has to be monitored very carefully for side effects. My son takes Zoloft for anxiety and depression and it makes him very sleepy in the afternoon, so wit an elderly patient, you would want to make sre they are overly tired and fall, etc. Again, something to talk to her doctor about. All I know is that Remeron helped my mom.

My dad however, was angry and paranoid and especially that we were spending his money, which is common in the elderly with relatives. etc. , His money was being spent, but on him for his full-time caretakers, etc. and it was money he had saved for all his life so that there would be money to take care of them in their old age. That is even why they moved in with my husband and me so that we could help them. He would get so wound up and almost combative. His doctor finally prescribed Seroquel - which was as off-labeling -or whatever it is called, meaning it was prescribed for purposes not intended. I believe this medication is commonly being prescribed this way and it would be something to talk about to the doctors who are familiar with geriatrics. The Seroquel helped and make him pleasant to be around and he seemed to tolerate it well. But as with any medication, there might be side effects and you just have to weigh everything out. My dad might have had some dementia starting, but with the Seroquel he usually seemed pretty stable and coherent.

Hope this information helps you. My advice woud also be to change doctors if theirs isn't willing to work with you or you sense that they don't know as much about some of the newer things they are doing with elderly people. All I know is that once you find the right combination of medications, it can greatly improve everyone's lives. A lot of behaviors we see in the elderely are often caused by the way they take their medications or the wrong combination. But, you did not mention your mom's age, but I am assuming she is elderly.

11-13-2010, 02:36 PM
I have suffered from depression for many years and refuse to go on medications which dumb me down and produce side effects I don't want. The thing is, it's a matter of brain chemistry and we all have the magic within us to produce chemicals that put us into one frame of mind or another. My advice would be to try to explain to her that no matter how unhappy she feels, it's actually her choice to keep her mind on those negative thoughts and she isn't helping her family or herself by dwelling on them. In fact, it's selfish. A good exercise to change the brain chemistry is to insist she make a list of things that she is grateful for in her life and then review it every morning. (It's so easy to dwell on what we don't have while overlooking the blessings we do have). A second thing that produces self-esteem and well being is to give to others: - whether that's a call, a visit, a kiss, baking for someone - anything like this will actually help her. If she had any bible training as a child, remind her of that old adage "It's better to give than to receive" In fact, it is amazingly true. If she won't believe it, help her volunteer for something. (Volunteerbc.ca has something for everyone). It only sounds stupid until you actually do it. It's very rewarding.
Hope this helps.