Advice for my Aunt, please.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Advice for my Aunt, please.
4
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 3:27pm
2002: My aunt is 55. Smokes 2 packs of cigarettes per day. Drinks tons of black coffee. Eats fast food once per day and eats dinner out every night. She's 5'3" and 320 pounds. She's been morbidly obese for 25 years. She NEVER exercises. She can't walk 25 feet with out losing her breath. She can't walk around the mall anymore. Her daughter is pleading with her to quit smoking, stop eating greasy, fried foods at every meal and start exercising.

January 2003: My aunt had a stroke. She is learning how to use the right side of her body again. She is put on a low-sodium, low-fat diet, told to quit smoking and physical therapy. She quit smoking but nothing else has changed.

June 2003: Physical therapy has ended but my aunt won't exercise. She's "tired". She still won't climb the stairs so she sleeps in the den. Her boyfriend sleeps upstairs. The shower is upstairs.

My aunt insists that she has "no appetite" but we see what she eats. We watch her eat two plates of pasta with four meatballs and two rolls. Then she asks her boyfriend to go to Dairy Queen for some ice cream sandwiches.

The last time I was visiting my aunt, she asked me to throw away tons of uneaten rolls and biscuits. I noticed the wrappers. Kentucy Fried Chicken, Popeye's Chicken, Outback Steak House, The Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Luigi's Pizza, etc. I asked my cousin who was eating all this fast food? "My mom" she replied.

WHAT? My aunt is supposed to be on a low-salt, low-fat diet. She's supposed to exericise. She's not following her doctor's orders.

Okay. My question is, how do fix someone that doesn't think that they are broken? Wouldn't a stroke be a MASSIVE WAKE-UP CALL for you?

My aunt honestly believes that quitting smoking is all she has to do! She truely believes that she doesn't eat much. To her, sampling four different appetizers and eating some of everyone's dinner is "not much". She's alway "too tired" to exercise. She spends all day watching TV in a dark den where she also sleeps since she refuses to climb the stairs.

If my aunt doesn't lose weight, change her diet and start exercising, she will have another stroke. And (god forbid) what happens if she can't walk? Or worse?

Now, I know she is an adult woman. I know losing weight is hard. I've been "not thin" most of my life. But I am getting to the point where I refuse to sit back and watch my aunt SLOWLY KILL HERSELF. My cousin is so ANGRY at having to sit back and watch her mother slowly kill herself.

So, how we approach my aunt (my cousin's mother) and let her know that BECAUSE WE LOVE HER, WE CAN NOT WATCH HER SLOWLY KILL HERSELF with a poor diet and no exercise?

We've tried cooking her good meals...she won't eat them. We gave her reading material... she won't read it. She makes fun of our weekend walks and trips to the gym. She won't come to the gym. She won't go for a walk. She won't go on any outtings with us because she's too tired. Yet, she won't let us rent her a wheel chair.

Basically, my cousin and I want to tell my aunt that we want her around for many years to come. But if my aunt doesn't CHANGE NOW, she will not see her next birthday.

God forbid my aunt dies tomorrow, I want to know that at least we tried, at least we said SOMETHING. We don't expect to change her after one conversation, but NO ONE in the family will say anything!

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.



Avatar for cl_themummy2001
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 7:47pm
Hi, dietblackcherry.....welcome to the board!

You've said it ALL, Hon! Copy and paste what you wrote here to wordpad or notepad...print it out in BOLD letters....and sit right there with her while she reads it! You've said everything you wanted to say to her RIGHT HERE....and very eloquently! Show her what you wrote to us.....sit with her while she reads it....and then she'll know EXACTLY how you all feel!

You're right in saying that you can't MAKE her do the things she should be doing. And what she IS doing is reverting right back to her old habits! My guess is that she just may be very depressed after her stroke....and maybe she'll agree to see a good psychiatrist or psychologist. Tell her how important this is to YOU.....and if she'll agree to see a mental health professional, make that appointment for her....go with her...and offer as much support as you can. Have you spoken to her doctors about her general attitude and what she's eating (and how she's not exercising etc.)? If not, please do so! Would she agree to seeing a nutritionist? if so, make sure to get her a good one! Who is GETTING all that food for her? Tell them to STOP! All in all, you've done just about everything you CAN do.....she needs to WANT to live, to change her eating and exercising habits! She may need medical intervention AND mental health intervention to accomplish the goal of staying alive! If she rejects all of that....if she reads what you've written here and is un-moved by what you wrote....if she REFUSES to change......... :0(

Good luck, Hon! I have a feeling you're going to need all the luck you can get....this is NOT going to be easy. Hang in there and try again with your aunt. She needs to have that affirmation that she really IS loved and that you DO NOT want to see her die! Post soon and let us know what happened, okay?

Welcoming (((hugs))),

Linda.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 06-16-2003 - 12:54pm
What a great idea! I never thought about giving her this "letter".

Denial is a powerful thing and my aunt will deny everything in the letter, but I suppose deep down inside, she'll know it's true.

Her doctors all agreed that until my aunt takes the initiative, there's nothing else they can say or do. If my aunt believes she doesn't need to change, what can ANYONE say?

She already saw a nutritionist as part of the post-stroke therapy. She wouldn't read the information that the nutritionist gave her. She cried and said it was too confusing. *shaking head* The info wasn't confusing. It was info she didn't want to believe. GOing on low-salt, low-fat diet, no more caffiene and eating crap.

Her boyfriend gets the food for her because that's how he eats too. We've already tried talking to him and he's in denial too. If he brought her home a healthy meal, she would scream, throw the food at him, etc. It would be ugly. The only way he knows how to pacify her (long, unhealthy relationship) is with food.

I know she needs to WANT to live. That's what gets me. What else needs to happen? I can't believe she doesn't have diabetes (runs in the family, both her parents had it) yet.

And I forgot to mention, she's been on blood pressure medication.

Thanks for your excellent advice. No, this is not going to be easy. As I said before, how do you fix someone who doesn't think that they are broken.

She definitely needs a mental health professional. An objective, third party that she won't feel inhibited around.

Thanks again. I'll suggest your advice to my cousin and see what she thinks. This is her mom.

Avatar for cl_themummy2001
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Mon, 06-16-2003 - 7:35pm
Good luck, Hon!

No, it won't be easy....but your post here was far too eloquent to say it any other way to your aunt! She may be in denial, but I'm betting she'll read the letter and keep it and keep reading it too! Maybe (hopefully!) it'll jog her into wanting to live! I sure hope so.....for her sake, for your sake, for your cousin's sake, and for the sake of the whole family! Let me know what happens, okay?

(((hugs))),

Linda.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-30-2003
Mon, 06-30-2003 - 5:05am
I AM LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS HEALTH ISSUES AS I DO/ SEVERE OBESITY/HEART PROBLEMS/CAN'T GET AROUND TO EXERCISE EASILY/ LEG CLAUDICATION/ATHLESCROSIS /...

REALLY WOULD LIKE SOMEONE WHOM CAN SHARE WITH ME THEIR GOOD DAYS/AND BAD...

CAN WE JUST MAYBE START CHECKING IN AND SHARING AND CARING..

I AM 5FT.3" AND WEIGH ..PROBABLY 280 AGAIN.. I AM TIRED AND EXHAUSTED ANDUSE A GROCERY CART TO GET AROUND A STORE. I SMILE AND NO ONE KNOWS THE PAIN IN MY LEGS.. THAT IN A STORE WITH NO BENCH TO SIT ON IN DESPERATION.. DO I DARE SAY THIS?? I GO THE THE REST ROOM.. NOT FOR DUTY SAKE.. BUT I NEED TO SIT DOWN.. OR FALL DOWN!! TEARS ARE HEREAS I EVEN SHARE THIS. MY DOCTOR DOES NOT EVEN KNOW THE EXTENT OF MY WALKING PROBLEMS..

I ..NOT NEED.. I "MUST" WORK AT GETING SOME WEIGHT OFF. I HAVE BEEN HOSPITIZED FOR CONJECTIVE HEART/ FLUID BUILDUP//LOST 18 POUNDS IN TWO DAYS AS THEY HAD TO GET FLUIDS OFF QUICKLY..

OH, IS THERE SOMEONE WHOM WOULD LIKE TO JUST BE A PAL AND WRITE. A LADY/ I AM 59..MARRIED TO A GREAT HUSBAND.. I DO NOT KNOW IF THESE MESSAGES ARE PRIVATE TO THE ONE WE REPLY TO ONLY?? CAN YOU TELL ME? HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU..

I REALLY AM IN FEAR OF A STROKE.. THAT IS MY DR'S WORRY TOO. HOW CAN WE GET ON TRACK , EAT MORE OF WHAT WE SHOULD. NOT NOT THE GOOD JUST ONE MORE BURGER!!THIS WILL BE MY LAST ONE!! OH.. HOW MANY PROMISES I HAVE MADE.. WHILE EATING YET ANOTHER.. I REALLY DO UNDERSTAND. WRITE!! LET'S SHARE.

NEED TO SHINKYDINK!!