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Mental Health Issues: Support For Families Community
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Need help for Mom

My mom has been gradually declining and avoiding social contact, even with family. She is 75 years old and in good physical health. Her mood is generally positive, although my dad says she can become quite negative at times. Medically, she has struggled with anxiety 40+ years (monitored by a general physician) and has developed Type II diabetes and hypertension from poor diet and inactivity.

My mom's sleep and eating patterns are erratic. She stays up until 5-7a in the morning before going to bed and will sleep during the day getting up at 2p or even as late as 4p. She will eat her breakfast, lunch and dinner over the course of 5 hours, sometimes less. She showers maybe once a week and wears nothing but nightgowns. The only time she dresses and fixes her hair is to go to doctor's appointments. When she's there, she laughs and jokes with the doctor and acts as if nothing is wrong.

My mom is a devout Catholic and has attended mass every Sunday, yet she has stopped going to church for the last 2-3 years (which is unusual for her). When asked to go out or attend a family event, my mom makes excuse after excuse why she can't go. When you come up with a solution to one problem, she'll come up with another excuse. She claims she is constantly fatigued and "feels sick." When asked to tell that to her doctor, she acts as if there is nothing he could do to help, so why bother. My dad and I have been to her doctor three times (privately) to talk about our concerns, but her doctor acts as if he doesn't believe us because every time he sees her she looks great and is happy and laughing. We asked for his intervention with possibly a referral to a psychologist or a different anxiety medicine, but he has done neither.

I've asked my mom if she is depressed and would she like to talk with someone. Her response is always "no." "I'm happy," she says. Me: "Why don't you get dressed and get out of the house?" Her: "I'm comfortable in my nightgown and I'm happy at home."

In October of this year, my mom and dad will be married 50 years. They have had a good life together and I can truly say I had a happy childhood. My mom used to make supper, clean the house, cut the lawn and do gardening. Today she has no hobbies or activities other than lying in bed, eating or watching late night TV. My mom is the youngest in a large family. Almost all of her siblings have developed some type of dementia in later years. My dad and I are worried for my mom's mental and physical health. Her diabetes is out of control (she eats during the night when she is up) and the fact that she is isolating herself and not practicing basic hygiene is very troubling. It is especially stressful for my dad to watch her decline because he lives with her. My dad and I think she is depressed, but my mom thinks nothing is wrong and adamantly refuses to talk with a psychologist. The only person she will leave the house for is her general physician and he has not helped.

Please, please, what can my dad and I do to help her?
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