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Worried about my mum - long

(12 Posts)
MissM Mon 02-Nov-09 11:42:11

There are many reasons that I worry about my mum, but I could really do with some advice on this one.

Last year my brother died (aged 34, terrible dreadful loss that I deal with on the 'Bereavement' thread). My mum has dealt with it as she does everything - stoically, and with more consideration to others' feelings than to her own (she was brought up not to complain or make a fuss, and this is how she generally lives her life, even when she gets treated appallingly by life and other people).

In the past few months she has lost huge amounts of weight to the extent that her clothes literally fall off her. She has always had issues with food, and I'm afraid that my brother's death, coupled with her GP telling her that she had high cholesterol levels, has 'given her permission' to semi-starve herself. She was never fat, but always describes herself as so, for example when looking at old pictures she'll say 'God I was so fat then'. She claims to be 'stuffed' after eating a piece of toast or small salad, but will happily eat three chocolates in a row and has cake in the house all the time.

She has always loved clothes and taken a lot of care over her appearance. She is still wearing lovely clothes (although they are falling off her) but has grown her hair long and started to wear it in all kinds of strange ways. The other day when she stayed at our house it was sort of falling round her face and made her look quite bedraggled and witchy. To be honest I can't get the image of her looking like this out of my head - she had always said that old women with long hair is not a good look. When I gently reminded her of this she said 'yes, but I think it rather suits me don't you'. For some reason it is her hair which is really upsetting me.

What can I do? My mum is hyper-sensitive and thinks people are 'having a go' at her if they express concern. She gets very defensive about her ability to carry on working (she is 68) and stay fit and active. But we are all really concerned, and I just don't know how to raise it with her.

CybilCybilCybil Mon 02-Nov-09 11:43:31

CAn you just say I am so worried about you Mum

MissM Mon 02-Nov-09 11:48:24

I have a few times but she tends to dismiss it. She says things like 'Oh I'm absolutely fine/ I'm strong as an ox/ I've eaten really well recently'. But then she'll also tell me that she falls asleep as soon as she gets in at 6pm, and she is always going down with a cold.

CybilCybilCybil Mon 02-Nov-09 11:51:51

Could she come and stay with you for a bit so you can keep an eye on her and give her the chance to open up a bit.

MissM Mon 02-Nov-09 11:56:24

I wish she would - I have asked her to come but she always says she's too busy. The best I've ever managed is two nights, and she spent most of the time playing with the children. It's very very hard - I think she's so determined to 'be strong' and not ask for help that she finds it hard to admit to weakness or that she needs some looking after.

Winetimeisfinetime Mon 02-Nov-09 12:05:46

I read this, MissM and didn't want not to post although I am struggling to think of the best way to approach this with your mum.

I think if it was me, I would tell her that you are proud of the way she is coping with the loss of your brother but that you are a little bit worried that she is caring for everyone else and not enough for herself.

I use this tack with my mum, praise first and then subtly trying to deliver my message. I'm not sure how well it works but she always seems buoyed by the praise even if the message doesn't sink in.

It sounds like food has been an issue for her, in the past, and the stress she is under after the death of your brother has perhaps made her feel it is one area of her life she has control over. Possibly the same with her hair style.

Definitely think a talk with her is neccessary to let her know that you are worried about her.

frostyfingers Mon 02-Nov-09 12:15:39

Does she have any friends that you feel comfortable raising your worries with - perhaps the concern from them will encourage her to slow down/have a think about things. She may feel that you have enough on your plate, but if the comments come from a friend she might be able to take them on board.

MissM Mon 02-Nov-09 13:31:13

Hi winetime. Good advice, thank you. I have actually got her a card which has been sitting on my desk for about a month. Every time I start to write it I feel lost for words. But I will try what you suggest.

Frosty - also good advice. There are some friends that might be able to help. Or at least I can talk about my worries with them if nothing else. They've known her since I was really young so probably the best friends she has.

frostyfingers Mon 02-Nov-09 16:23:37

Talking about it definitely helps - my mother is unwell and although it feels a bit odd talking about her with her friends, it does help spread the worry a bit - and they see things a bit differently, and quite often don't have the guilt which all daughters seem to be burdened with. I always feel guilty that I'm doing the wrong thing, probably unnecessarily, but I think it comes with the territory.

MissM Mon 02-Nov-09 17:07:02

Gosh that is so true. Daughters do have so much guilt!

I'm sorry your mum isn't well frosty. I hope she will be ok.

frostyfingers Mon 02-Nov-09 17:16:13

She's had two strokes and is possibly having another atm - I live two hours away and am trying to get doctor out to her - nightmare. Problem is she thinks she's just under the weather (although she's in bed, has a headache and feels numb in places.....) and isn't being very cooperative. Waiting for doctor to call me back - otherwise it'll be another ambulance job and a mad drive. Problem is have ds at home with possible swine flu, and dh is frantically busy (plumber, and worried about letting people down etc).

Sorry, bit of a hijack - can you tell I'm stressed! But it does help to write it out!

MissM Mon 02-Nov-09 20:59:30

Oh poor you it all sounds horrible. Don't worry - part of my reason for writing about my mum was to try and think through it more calmly! I hope your evening has got better - wine helps. xx

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