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My dad has had three surgeries this year. He is doing ok but my mom is very depressed. Everyone in the family is worried about her. Help!


Question:  My mom is 73, my dad 74. Dad has had three surgeries this year. He is doing ok but mom is very depressed, thinking he is going to die and she will be left alone. She has lost about 30 pounds and now weighs 95 pounds--she is 5'4". My dad has tried to get her to go to the doctor but she will not go. Everyone in the family is worried but she will not talk to any of us. She is sleeping 15-18 hrs per day. Help! 

Dr. Amy:  Your mom clearly needs help and it’s very important not to ignore this situation. She needs to see a doctor immediately. Many of the signs you describe are common to depression and other mental health and cognitive issues.  I suggest that in a loving and supportive manner you (and perhaps other family members) talk to her about the impact her behaviour is having on the whole family. Perhaps once she understands this, she will be more willing to go to the doctor and seek treatment. I encourage you to go with your mother and ask about support groups or counselling services that might also be able to help her cope. If your mother refuses to go to the doctor, you can ask her to give the doctor written permission to talk to you about her situation. If she refuses to give her permission, you may need to call Adult Protective Services, which is part of your county Department of Social Services.

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