How long can MIL live in her current state disregarding doctor's orders?

Afragie asked...

My mother in law has diabetes, congestive heart failure, is a double amputee (half her leg on one side, half her foot on the other), she has had a heart attack, a stroke, and she is only 60. She refuses to take care of herself, she uses a heaping spoonful of sugar in her tea, she thinks sea salt is a low sodium alternative for regular salt. We as her kids have explained to her that if she takes better care of herself she can live longer. (We have even put sweets on the top shelf so she can't reach them, but soon as my father-in-law gets home her gives her what ever she wants, telling us he rather see her happy with the time she has.) My husband, myself, his brother, and fiancee are the main care givers for her. What kind of life expectancy can we expect if she continues to travel down this path, and what are the signs and symptoms of her getting worse. Her husband takes her to the doctor and he doesn't go in with her, and she won't let us go with her. So I am sure she is telling the doctor that she is following all his rules. She also in the past year has developed kidney problems and has had sepsis, a few times, and came very close to going on dialysis. Any information will be helpful we are basically in the blind besides when she is in the hospital. That's the only time we get answers, because we go behind her back and talk to the doctors. So thanks for your help in advance.

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Due to her chronic conditions, and the fact that her diabetes is not well controlled, her life expectancy is not long at this point.  It sounds as though it will only be a matter of time before her kidneys fail, and then she will need dialysis, which is not easy.  Since I cannot see her and do not really know how strong she is, my best guess would be about 5 years more to live.  If she started to take care of herself, she may live longer.

Reading your question, you are obviously frustrated by her lack of compliance with medical advice.  However, it is her body and her choice at this point.  I hope for your sake that she changes her ways.  Good luck!