What do I do when my mother seems to have lost the will to live?

2 answers | Last updated: Jun 16, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother's friends are dead. Her husband is dead. All she does is sit in her chair when she is awake.


Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

It must be very difficult for you to watch your mother in such a sad and listless state. But it is not unusual for older folks who feel lonely and isolated to act this way.

Have you made attempts to reengage her in life with some people or activities likely to interest her, even at the risk of being rejected? Perhaps propose a project knitting hats for the homeless, arrange visits with neighbors, adopt a new pet, or listen to a few books on tape? Anything to get her mind off her own solitariness and directed to others.

You might also go with her on her next trip to the doctor -- or make an appointment for her soon so that she can be assessed for depression. Many older people are experiencing grand successes with antidepressants, talk therapy, or some combination of the two as they adjust to the many changes that hit later in life.


Community Answers

Mich4567 answered...

My Mother has been depressed all my life and I am 55 years old. She was diagnosed with cancer in January and she could not finish her treatments....they were killing her. She has no will to live or to get better. There are folks that just like to live in a depressed world and they are the only one that can pull themself out of the rut. I have tried everything to try to help her. She takes Xanax, Elavil and Lexapro, but these meds are not doing the trick. She was on Prozac and I thought she was doing great. Then one day she got a terrible panic attack and blamed it on the Prozac. She then refused to take them anymore. My heart is so broke.