Need advice!

lindajewellMay 17, 2008

Hi all, I could use some advice concerning my mom. She had a massive stroke in Dec. and is now in a nursing home long term. Her right side was affected and therefore she has no use of her right arm and her right leg is iffy at best. She can do very little to help herself other than washing her upper body some, brushing her teeth and putting on her face cream. Beyond that she needs help.

She thinks she is going to be able to come home, or at least go to assisted living. I can not take care of her at home and the cost of round the clock in home caregivers would be as much, if not more than the nursing home. I did talk to the home and asked them to not say much in regards to her future, lets just take it a day at a time. That is problem one, problem two is she is now pressuring me to come see her every day. I feel guilty when I don't go in but I am also taking care of my dad and there are days that I can see he is tired, more confused with his dementia and should just stay home and rest. My mom does not want to hear this so it makes for a very hard time. Let me say that if the situation were reversed and it was my dad in the nursing home, there is no way my mom would be there every day.

Mom and I have had a dysfunctional realationship for years. One time after a fender bender I ended up having to go to the hospital, mom drove me over, but did not want to park the car because it looked like rain and she did not want to get her hair wet! She just left me at the hospital to fend for myself. This is the way mom is............

So, what would you do? Would you go every day? Should I? Don't get me wrong, I do love my mom and I know I will miss her terrible when she is gone. If she were "terminal" I know I would be there every day, but right now she is doing okay, at least that is what the doctor's say. How do I explain to her that I would like to have a little bit of a life, or should I give up every aspect of my life for her now?

My brother is also in a nursing home in the area and I do go to see him, but not every day and he is okay with that. I would like to get both in the same nursing home, but right now that is not possible.

Please help me with some advice, I am very torn inside right now and would appreciate your input. What would you do?

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Don't be torn. You have a life, too. Do what you can without apology to anyone. Surely something will go wrong sometime and you'll go through this thing about how you "should have been there". Encourage you to not do that. It's an imperfect world. You can't do everything. Don't try. Do try to do what you are able to within the context of the rest of your life. It's all you've got. Don't let anyone tell you it's not enough. It is. It has to be. There isn't anything more you can give. And nobody in your shoes could do any more.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 11:02AM
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Linda, at this point, you are the most important person in your family. You, and your needs, MUST come first. And you are the one that has to make it happen. You have to be at your best in order for their care to be good.

Your mother will probably never understand that she isn't able to make the world stand still for her. That's her personality and it's not going to change. Don't worry about it. Don't wear yourself out trying to do what SHE wants. Do what needs to be done and that is enough. You don't need to see her every day. She doesn't need it either.

I don't want to seem hard hearted about her. But at this point, you have yourself and two others to think about. It's a shame that she can't see this.....but sometimes, that's the way the cookie crumbles. Selfish people just don't think about others in the same way that non-selfish do.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 12:13PM
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"You, and your needs, MUST come first. And you are the one that has to make it happen. You have to be at your best in order for their care to be good."

Well said. You do have priority. From time to time you may have to guard it and/or assert it. You must take care of yourself -- first. You must decide on a an attainable, survivable balance. No self-pity. No guilt. Do what you are able and know your abilities and your limits. Do not make yourself nuts. And do not apologize for what you cannot do.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 3:38PM
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Linda, I'm once again seconding what Asolo & Agnes have already said. You cannot run yourself ragged trying to be everything for everybody. Don't feel guilty about not visiting your mother daily. You must take care of yourself first. These others may need your oversight, but if you're weakened, their care will suffer. You also need a life beyond just care-giving.

The reality is that even if you were with your mother 24 hours a day, it wouldn't be enough to make things right. You can't turn back the clock and make the ravages of time & disease go away. You can't give her back the life she lived 20-30 years ago.

Do what you are physically & emotionally able to. Try to handle the situation without overextending yourself. Don't sacrifice your own health & well being. And don't feel guilty. I've said it before, that if I could change anything about my dealings with my mother these last few years, it would be my willingness to run myself ragged trying to please her & take care of all her "issues." In the end, the only thing I accomplished is adversely affecting my own health and ignoring my husband who had his own health issues.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 3:54PM
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Wow, you really do have a full plate. I agree with the others as you have to take care of you. Some how us care givers forget that important step. Tell your mom that you are doing the best you can.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 9:16PM
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Thank you all for the great advice! I know my mom is some what jealous that dad and I are able to go out to lunch or dinner and she can't anymore. She never did like me spending time alone with my dad so this must be very hard on her.

I feel much better after reading all your supportive responses, not feeling so guilty right now. I did not go see her yesterday as it was laundry day for me. I did not call her until evening and she seemed fine, but did question all that we did yesterday, suspious that we were out having a good time. However she ended the conversation with "call me in the morning and I love you" which told me she was okay at the moment.

Thanks again for your support! I am so glad this forum is here for all who need it, good place to "vent"! LOL!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 7:56AM
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You could define the word love--meaning some people we "love", care for, accept, tolerate, more than others. And there is that wonderful two words--tough love. I used it for many years with my son and with my mon. I became the MOM, and Mom became my child--if you know what I mean. Many times we as caretakers, must not let others control us. We too need time out, away from the situations. My husband and I always took vacations while taking care of my folks, but we usually were one day's drive from the situation. And you know what--they survived!
Do not every feel guilty of either not visiting her, spending time with you Dad, or taking time off. All caretakers MUST take a vacation every year away from the situations. If you miss a day or two or three, yes you can make the phone call, but say Just checking in, can't talk much, hope you had a good day and will talk to you later. You control the situation, not let them control you.\ Yep, been there and done that

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 2:25PM
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Why not put them both in a home at the same time so they can be together. I had an uncle that moved in with my aunt when she had to be admitted. He took care for her there.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:59PM
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stargazzer, my dad is not ready for that step. He really enjoys being in "his" home and having the freedom to go outside when he wants. He loves to sit on the porch for hours when the weather is nice. He also enjoys trying to see the hummers coming to the feeder on the patio in the back. Granted he can't really see, but he enjoys his own television to listen to whatever he wants. Mom asked him one day if he wanted to come in the home with her, he answered "not particulary". My mom is a VERY demanding person and would run him ragged and then get mad at him for not being able to do all she wanted done. She did it when they were home together, so it would not change in the nursing home. I know in my heart the day will come that I will have to make the choice for him, but not today. He would go down hill very fast and I am not going to do that to him.................

Linda J

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 8:03AM
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Linda, it sounds as if you will be able to make your Dad a little more happy where he is. I can just imagine him sitting on the porch, enjoying the outside in a place that he feels is HOME. I don't think you could make your mother "happy" no matter what you did. That's the sad part, isn't it! It seems to me that you are making the right choices. Just take care of yourself while you can.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 9:14AM
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When I go out to pull weeds he will always say, can I help? I get him a chair, sit him down and hand him the garbage bag! He sits there and waits for me to put stuff in and he will keep "checking" to make sure it is not getting to heavy for me to handle when done. If it is he will generally say, "bag is getting a little heavy, do you want to get another one?" When I lived here before dad and I would work together spreading mulch, mushroom manure and so on. I have the best picture of the two of us in our work clothes, with shovel and smiles. I cherish that photo and believe it or not, my mom took it! LOL!

I hung the hummingbird feeder at eye level so maybe he will be able to see them feeding. I did tell him he must not swat at anything while sitting there as it might be a hummer landing on him!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 9:58AM
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I understand. My Mom is 96 and still lives alone. She has dementia, but knows enough not to wander off and she doesn't cook much anymore. My Sis lives 1/2 mile away and takes her food, plus she has meals on wheels. Mom loves her home and yard, her worst fear is a care home and I don't blame her if a person has dementia, it can be a nightmare.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 8:58PM
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Linda, I enjoyed reading about the special relationship you have with your Dad.
You're a good person.
Cherish the time you have with him.
You say your mom never really liked your spending time alone with him - that's probably what's behind her requests that you visit daily.
Oh well, you know what they say about Karma.
Go ahead and enjoy your time with your father; sounds like you've waited long enough for it!

Good Luck to you!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 9:55AM
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Yesterday dad and I were outside most of the day, I planted he watched. At one point in the morning he walked down the driveway and was looking up the street. I asked him what he was looking at. He said, who is mowing their lawn, is that Scott? Scott and his wife Pam live up the street, dad always enjoys talking with Scott. Anyway, I told him yes, he is cutting his grass. Well dad stood there for a good 5 min.'s or more, just looking up the street. I was laughing 'cause I knew he was hoping Scott would see him.

I finally went over and said, would you like to walk up and say hi? Dad started out of the driveway while saying yes. LOL! We walked up and visited for about 20 min. Gardening can wait, lawns can wait, making my dad happy can not wait!

We spent most of the day outside. Dad did take a nap in the afternoon, which gave me a chance to have some alone time, yanking weeds and relieving stress! LOL!

It was a perfect day, sunshine, 70 degree temp., nice breeze and knowing dad was enjoying himself.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 9:02AM
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Hi Linda,

Your mother sounds much like mine... maybe we're related some where along distant lines? ;)

Have things gotten any better? I hope so!

The main thing for you to try and remember, and I know, it IS hard to do, but remember that YOU have choices AND the right to make those choices. So if your mom is not accepting that you had other things keeping you busy, then she will just have to deal with it and you need to stand your ground.

Trust me, I know the guilt from having to handle things this way with my own mom, but trust me, it will get easier in time.

Best of luck! :)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 1:54PM
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