My mum has Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and depression, How can i help her?

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I am looking for any advice to help me help my mother. I am 17 and live at home and lately i have been the carer fo my mum. My mum has had Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and depression for nearly 4 years. through out these 4 years she has done nothing to help her situation. she still smokes, does no physical activities and quit her job. She was diagnosed when she was 44 and her symptoms and overall health has decreases rapidly. my mum doesnt leave the house, doesnt let anyone in the house except for a few family members (my brother or nan). i cant do anything other than listen to her and be there for her. my dad also feels hopeless and helpess because it is only up to her to get help. she is foverever getting chest infections and coughs so much she cant catch her breath. if i mention the doctors or hospital she gets defencive and explains to me that they dont help, but surely its better than nothing. im worried that its going to get so bad she will do something herself to stop the pain and depression. i am looking everywhere for support but can only find little bits of information to help, like telling her to cut down smoking. me and my dad are always looking after and cant leave her alone, im helpless to do anything and its driving me mad. all i want is for her to feel bettter and happy but i dont know what to do or where to start. any help or adivce will be really appriciated.

Millie xxx

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  • Posted

    Sorry to hear of your dillema. The one person that can help your mum the most is herself. She realy is doing herself no favours smoking, she needs to stop and stop fast. Perhaps thats why she does not want to go the doctors because they will urge her to stop. Doctors cannot cure copd, but they are able to eleviate some of the symptoms and quality of life. Stoping smoking usualy brings a small improvement, but it also slows down the rate of decline. Gently but urgently coax your mum of the cigarettes and get her to a doctor, make sure she goes with someone so they can remind her of what the doctor says.

    I hope everthing works out well for you and your mum, but you must take urgent axion.


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    • Posted

      thank you, hopefully she will cut down on the cigarettes but becasue she doesnt leave the house she says is the only thing she enjoys. me and my dad have booked a doctors this friday to try to get help and advice.
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  • Posted

    hi millie

    like others have said, you mum needs to help herself....


    If shes depressed she wont be able to make good choices. I know through experience. So she will be impossibe to help.

    the first thing I think needs to be done is to get her to the docs and get some anti depressants. Citalopram is very good.

    This friday get the docs to prescribe her something and ask him / her about citalopram.


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  • Posted

    millie21209 -- You covered a great deal of ground by way of explaining your mother's situation. You will be aware that any sought after recovery will rest on a patient's own shoulders. It relies on a steely determination.

    In the final analysis, any steps taken are not as hard as they seem. The priority is to quit smoking -- not even one cigarette per day. It's all about will power. Also, I virtually ceased drinking coffee and tea as the tendency was to light up when having a beverage. Alcohol was not part of the equation as I broke that habit 8 years ago. It seemed to me that I often had a cigarette in one hand and a mug in the other.

    I would have thought the reaction of becoming introverted, followed by depression, was a natural sequel when health becomes compromised. Breathing aids will be necessary to get your Mum back to better health. The weather, also, will improve in a couple of months enabling her to practise deep breathing outside.

    A final thought, if she is so inclined, is to encourage her to join the forum. It could easily act as a stimulus. Updates from her every fortnight, telling of improvement, could really motivate her into doing something about her condition.

    Bless you, and as I say in my other language, "Vasbyt!"

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    • Posted

      I think I will show this to my mum tomorrow, me my dad and my brother are going to talk and listen to her and try to understand how she's feeling. I think she's just scared about the future and feeling alone, if she can see that others also feel like that and know what she's going through she might feel better. Thank you x
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  • Posted

    Oh Millie, that's a very heavy burden for a 17 year old to be carrying:  your Mum is very lucky to have you.

    I'd be fairly sure the reason she's not helping herself is because of the depression and it must be terrible to wach her health declining and nothing being done about it.   

    Telling her to cut down on her smoking is pointless:  as a non-smoking nicotine addict, I had to want to stop for myself and my family, anyone telling me to stop only made me smoke more.   

    Is there a Pulmonary Rehab Group near you that you and your Dad could contact to get some support?   Your GP may know or check with social workers etc at your local council.  They may have leaflets you can just leave lying around for her to find, with info on what can be done for COPD - because of course it's nonsense that nothing can be done for it, a lot can be done, not to cure it but to manage it so that life is still enjoyable for as long as possible.

    One approach which might work would be to leave her alone about her health, don't try and push her to do anything, just keep telling her gently that you love her and you want her to be around for you as long as possible.   What you've been doing so far out of love hasn't worked, has it?  So try that totally new approach and see what happens.  I don't mean stop helping her if she needs physical help, but don't push her any more.

    I wish you good  luck and please let us know how you get on, I'm sure we'll all be wondering!    


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    • Posted

      Thank you, I think I need to try a new approach, I know from previous times before that she won't quit smoking if I ask her to, she has to want to quit herself. I do feel helpless a lot of the time but I work at a care home and I'm regularly at my local hospital so I'm going to look for help there. I know its time I start doing more before it's too late. As for any type of local support group, there is none. At the moment my mother is completely against any type or reasoning and is just shouting at everything me or my dad says.
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  • Posted

    Wow, that's such a lot for a 17 year old to cope with, ,,,first of all might I suggest ,,,,,forget your mum,,,,,just for a minute,,,,,,get yourself an appointment to see your GP ,,,,,you need help ,,,and it's not your responsabilty to look after your mum,,,,,especially when she won't help herself,,,,,sounds harsh I know ,,,but believe it's so true, let the proffecionals do their job ,,,,and not YOU doing theirs, it's time your mum took responsibility for her own actions ,,,or lack of them,

    I was diagnosed with asthma, and then emphasyma, and Bronchietis ,copd when I was 43 ,,,,I to was a smoker,,,,,then I was blue lighted into intensive care where the consultant aske if I smoked ,,,,I said yes,,,he said wrong answer ,,,,the next one will kill you ,,,I never had another cigarette ,,,,I'm now 69 ,,,and when I recovered ,,,,I got off my ass and with the help of the pulmary rehab team I started to go to the gym 2times a week ,,,,I've been today for an hour,,,,,so if  I can do it so can your mum, she has got to help herself ,,,,,you can't make her well again,,,,,but she can improve the quality of her life,,,,this will then free you to enjoy yours,,,,so first step ,,,,,ask for help ,,,if you get your mum in with pulmary rehab team they will be a massive help to your mum, I know you love your mum, but by doing everything for her ,,,,,isn't going to help her ,,,,,stopping smoking is the first and biggest step to helping your mum cope with her illness, trust me her life will improve ,,,,,and so will yours,best wishes,


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  • Posted

    Hi Millie,

    First of all *hugs*

    I think everyone has already given the appropriate, helpful advice.

    My Mother refused all treatment, and was cared for at home, by family in accordance with her wishes, but had other medical problems too.

    I feel she must have known that something was wrong a long time before finally seeing a doctor, after a lot of persuasion. Effectively, very quickly, it was too late to change what happened.

    She'd also suffered from some form of mental health condition - I have many childhood and teenage memories of her symptoms. I feel that negatively impacted on her decline as she'd already opted out of medication and the medical profession.

    It sounds like your Mothers condition was caught fairly early, albeit four years ago with no positive attempt to affect her outcome - this could be the depression talking and/or part of the grief cycle, which is a very natural psychological reaction to many forms of life changing news, caused by anything from loss to chronic pain, and she possibly feels like her diagnoses is a 'death sentence', rather than knowing, understanding andaacknowledging certain steps may help her, like anti depressants, I've been on many including mirtazepine, sertraline, citalopram (the only one I've had problems with is prozac, also known as fluoxetine - the only time I've seethed with anger), giving up smoking, but your surgery should have an allocated nurse to offer an initial half hour appointment to assess your Mothers smoking levels, talk through quitting options, including nicotine replacement in the form of patches, etc, but there is also champix - highly recommended by a best friend, and a family member, both have not smoked since, so it's worth getting that information, pulmonary rehabilitation, and just things like finding out her passions, her good memories to try to spark ideas for her to try to regain a lust for life, to enable her to see what she could gain, how it's achievable, what she may want for herself, and what you all could miss out on if she doesn't face this. And let's be honest, no one wants to face this, or have to watch anyone else face illness, especially if there are positive action plans on offer.

    I think one of the best things you can do for your Mother is let her know that you love her, I'm sure she already knows but they are words we can never utter too many times, and let her know that you can be there to help, guide and support her as best you can, whatever her decision is, but emphasise your need for her decisions to be completely informed.

    More things to think about, I know, but take care of yourself, as well as each other, for if you don't takecare of yourselves, how can you take care of each other (yes, Millies Mum, I'm afraid that includes you)!

    You are a mature head on young shoulders, an old soul, you're a credit to your parents, and should be proud of yourself.

    Please keep us posted, we're here when you need us.

    With love and more *hugs*,


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  • Posted

    I wonder if you all still keep a positive attitude for her is there anyway to take her out to lunch or just out for coffee sit and talk about old times and really work on her stopping the smoking habit. I would just keep her spirits up and hopefully she will fade back into reality...
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  • Posted

    Hi Millie I am very sorry to hear of your situation and your mum's illness.  I am afraid all you can do is encourage her to stop smoking and offer to go to the doctors with her but you can't make her which is a sad fact of life.  How about calling the doctor out to her when she is poorly?   She is young to be diagnosed with emphysema and I think she is in denial which is a common response to it.   She might well come round to accepting in time and I hope she does.

    One thing don't nag her about the smoking - she knows she needs to stop and why coz I am sure she isn't daft.  Have you tried telling her how you feel and how much you love her and would miss her?    Tell her she isn't being fair to you and it is causing you a lot of heartbreak and you don't want to lose your mum so young.  

    I had a friend who had cancer caused by smoking.  She did pack it in for a while but then took it up again and chainsmoked.  She started drinking all day as well.   She said she had nothing else in her life and if she couldn't do that she might as well book a place in the graveyard right now.  It killed her within 4 years.  But at the end of the day it was her life and she took the decisions knowing what would happen.   I understood that while hoping she would pack it in.  

    I hope you have success with your mum.  Take care.  x

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  • Posted

    Very difficult for you and your dad. 

    It is well known that a lot of people with mental health problems neglect their health and many smoke. 

    A friend of mine as help from a charity called MIND. look them up on google for your local branch and see what they can offer in support of you and the family.


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  • Posted

    hi millie   i agree with wot all the other people have said  .make sure some body goes in with your mum when she see the dr  and tell the dr what is happenning at home. and remeber you need time out youreself to chill and relax , make plans to go out with friends and have fun at least once a week , take care and i hope thing go well
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  • Posted

    What a wonderful daughter you are Millie! Being in the same condition myself for the last 30 years and seeing others in similar conditions during all of my many many hospital admissions, has taught me that you cannot help those who do not wish to help themselves.

    There are so many wonderful people on here who could suggest ways to manage her difficulties, but she would need to read in this forum and the depression forum and then ultimately begin her own discussion if she wished. Then we could help her.

    Tell her that I, Dawn from the USA, would love to talk with her, support and cheer her on if she would like to send a private message to me. And that all of us on here would love to hear from her!

    Hugs 💛💙💜💚❤

    Dawn, US

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