I just don't wanna ...

JaneLovesJesusOctober 26, 2005

Is it immoral to place my mother in a nursing home because I just don't want to be her caregiver anymore? I know 'the world' would tell me it's fine to do. But what is the RIGHT thing?? I know many of you have challenges to bear that are more difficult than mine. Am I throwing in the towel too soon? I could 'stack the deck' in my favor by just sharing the downside of my situation here, to try to win your sympathy so you'd tell me to go ahead and do it and don't feel guilty. I have wrestled with this & generally wind up in tears, and feeling like a weenie and a failure for seeking 'the easy way out.' It's not THAT hard to care for her. When is enough enough?? How do you figure it out?? I guess I should give a few specifics, eh? But I think I'll have to add that later. In a way, the details are somewhat subjective. The Big Question remains. Blessings to all who read & post here. I have only stumbled on to this site recently, but have laughed, cried, and been encouraged by you already & I hope to learn more from your experience & willingness to share. thank you / jane

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We will never tell you that it is the RIGHT thing for you to do if you are concerned if it is IMMORAL. To most of us immoral means "sinful." What we will tell you is to weigh the situation of caring for her or caring for your family. You were given a brain, and you are expected to use it. Where is she going to get the best care 24 hrs a day? Where is she the most apt to see people and where is she the most apt to just sit and do nothing all day long?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 4:16PM
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I didn't mean to come across so bluntly before. My viewpoint is that you are supposed to do what's best for everyone. If you do what's best, then that will be the right thing. It may not make you feel good, you may even regret your decision at times, but what is needed is to see that she gets the best care possible. There's no Right or Wrong to it.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 4:51PM
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I hear guilt speaking! Trust me, everyone here is acquainted with guilt. Remember that part of doing what's best for everyone includes what's best for you. And nothing that the mere thought of reduces you to tears could be considered "the easy way out." Make a list of the pros and cons, and get people close to you to add to the list. It might help you see things more objectively.

Some people experience that moment when they absolutely know that it's time to start thinking about nursing homes. It's much murkier for the rest of us.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 5:10PM
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Such things are almost always subjective. That's the way of it. Others may be able to objectively evaluate your mom's condition, but you're the only one that knows what you can take and what's too much. Honoring/caring-for your mother doesn't require your crushing yourself to accomplish it. Everyone has different abilities and tolerances. Nobody but you can judge what your own may be. I wouldn't put any of it in the context of "morality" from what you've written. When you're done thinking, you'll know what's right. Do that.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 5:18PM
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Logfrog: Blunt is fine with me! 'Immoral' wasn't really the right word.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2005 at 5:28PM
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It's never an easy decision. But if you feel "burned out", if you feel that your mental and physical health and well-being are in jeopardy, if you feel that your mother needs more than you can reasonably provide, if there is a safety issue with her being left alone while you work....etc., then it's time to think seriously about it. But without knowing details of your situation, it's hard to offer much advice.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 10:01AM
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Jane, there is no right time, and there aren't many wrong reasons. I, too, was burned out, alongside of having to be available 24/7....I needed my time, too...time with my dear, dear hubby, who has been and continues to be so supportive of all my decisions.

I don't know your circumstances, or your Mother's condition, but if you have to ask the question of "when", then it's time to consider it. Are you able to voice your concerns to your Mother? There is such a thing as short-term care....a month or so....if you feel you need to take a break.

This has nothing to do with morality, however. Something like this, done with kindness and caring, isn't morally right or wrong. You have to look after yourself, your own family as well as your Mother's interests. Balance is key here....and if you and she decide on the nursing home option, you both may be pleasantly surprised at how well that can turn out! I found my Mother so interested in the other residents, playing 'games' that help their mobility, interacting with the staff....she had no such stimulations here, as much as I tried to help her. Your visits will be lovely, and you'll be able to take her for lunches and shopping trips, back to your home for holiday or birthday celebrations....she won't be just "dumped off" if that's how you see it. It could be the start of a very nice time of life for all of you.

Visit some homes with her....have lunch out and discuss each visit with her...consider her concerns and address them.

Hope it all works out for both of you!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 12:43PM
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My mom's dimentia is pretty advanced. She says words sometimes, but usually not in a meaningful way. She still understands when someone is being nice to her. Like if you give her a big smile & hold her hands and tell her you love her, or bring her a treat, she will smile. Sometimes she says 'good night' or even 'i love you' after I tuck her in bed at night. She smiles & points when her grandchildren are leaping about, or giving her a hug. She can still read and look at photos. She has a battery-operated cat that she likes to pet. (It meows in response to touch -- I highly recommend these -- she has found it very comforting). In many ways, she is in great physical shape: the only thing she takes meds for is OTC acetominaphen for arthritis & Reminyl for Alz. (I doubt if it does anything . . . but hate to stop it. Who knows? Could be worse if she wasn't on it.) She can walk without assistance. BP is fine. Blood sugar fine. Pretty impressive for someone 87. Main physical problem: toileting issues. Thank God for Depends, but you know they don't work when you have the presence of mind to lower them first -- but NOT the presence of mind to know what room you are in. ;D She needs help with dressing; hygiene, and isn't super cooperative in having me help her. (I'm not as good of a 'cajoler' as I could be.) You know, I tell myself, especially after reading what some other people are wrestling with, that it's not THAT hard to care for her. Why can't I just buck up? She does go to a MemoryCare Day stay program 3 afternoons a week, which is a massive, massive help. In alot of ways, she seems better off there. They do lots of activities, even field trips. And although mom is pretty passive, she does seem to enjoy being around the activity vicariously, if nothing else. She does join in when they do some ar or music, and she'll bat a balloon if you toss it to her (who knew?) Compared to at home, where she sleeps & withdraws to her quiet corner mostly. Mom has lived with me almost 2 years; I homeschool my children, now 7, 8 & 10. Mom is never home alone. I know I have it good, in that there is such a good DayStay program nearby. But I miss having evenings and weekends with my husband and family. There have been moments when I have felt angry ... frustrated ... resentful (I'm embarassed to admit). But I don't feel any of those things now. I just feel wrung out like a dishrag. There are 2 ways to go when one is confronted with a challenge: You can rise to the occaision & grow to become the person that you need to be to succeed in the circumstances. Or you can admit you just aren't that person. I feel like I'm done trying. *sigh*

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 2:59PM
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Jane, don't assume that you have to continue to care for your mom at home to rise to the occasion and grow. Would your mom be less happy living in a home other than yours? And if your mom moved, your visits with her might be better quality time with you than what she currently has. I'd guess that it's hard to just sit and enjoy being with your mom right now because there's always so much that needs to be done at home. And, if your mom enjoys her afternoons out, she'll probably enjoy living in a group setting. Quality of life might improve for you and her both.

Even if you decide that now is not the time, it is time to start visiting the homes near you. This isn't a decision that you want to rush, and you might get a better idea of what you want to do.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 3:48PM
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You should not feel guilty in you choose to place your Mom in a different enviroment. Back in the mid-80's when my Mom got so ill, and my Dad lost his eye sight, some said I should take them into my home. NO WAY IN -----. My Mom was very very difficult, and my Dad was angry and did dangerous stupid things. I was lucky enough to find a single parent with3 wonderful boys that needed a home to live in and she had some medical training. My health was not good due to very high uncontroled blood pressures, living in a mountain area, way too far from Dr's, and major problems at work.
I am not a caretaker, but do bless those who are. We are very fortunate to have some wonderful nursing homes and asst. care houses in this state.
You and your family can sit down and evualate this situation and do what you feel is the best. You can also get support form the social workers at the hospitals, and her Dr should be able to give you some support groups in your area to help out. Many times just talking to a complete outsider helps. It helps put things in perspective.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 4:31PM
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Just want you to know Im in the same position as you..Ive only had my Mom with me since July 1st but I miss the time alone with my husband..He has been a dear but I wrestle with the idea of a home every day..I promised her I never would do that a long time ago never knowing what dementia was..There are days she dont know me and is continously asking me who my husband is..For 6 nights straight last week she was up every two hours until I called Dr. and got Ambien to help her sleep..She is so confused most of the time I can never leave her alone..But I just miss my freedom, like taking my grandchildren to a show, or just a walk with hubby...I always tried to get her to move in with us after my Dad died in 82 and she always said No, it will make us hate each other...Didnt understand that then but do now..Good Luck in your decision and keep me posted as to how you go about telling her shes moving out or whatever..

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 6:10PM
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Brena has the problem in that she made a promise to her mother. She is going to have to decide which is the most important to the entire family, doing things with her husband and grandchildren or keeping a promise. There will be little she can do to make life more meaningful for her mother. She has more than one obligation. She has to pick which is the most important.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 7:45PM
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Not one of us is capable of telling another when "it's OK" to throw in the towel and say, "I've had enough". Reaching that conclusion is something everyone in this group has to do for themselves, and not one of us will arrive at the decision "easily".

Mum has been with me for just over 2 years now. And I'm wondering if it is ever going to end for me and the helpmeet. I am not a "caregiver", either. But she's my mother and she's not so far gone that her needs cannot be met by me, the helpmeet, and my brother. It's plenty "inconvenient", but we've accomodated elderly pets this much... . She's able to walk with her cane, she reads, enjoys the (real) cats, and maintains her sense of humor even if she forgets a lot of things.

Here's what's permitted me to keep my nose above the water:
1.) Mum operates on MY schedule. I work full time, as does the helpmeet. Mum has to get up with us and she goes to bed when we do. I have to get her up every morning and help her "get on course"... she unhooks herself from the night urostomy jug, gets washed up and dressed. We make her bed together and then I clean and disinfect the jug. Then she comes up and has breakfast and her pills. Twice weekly I change the urostomy appliance for her because she is no longer able to do it for herself.
2.) I hired a woman to come in 3 times/wk. to bathe her and help her select her clothing. This Mum's special time.
3.) I schedule doctors' app'ts. at MY pleasure and my convenience. We see doctors I like. If I don't like them or get a good "vibe" we go to someone else. I'm Mum's advocate and if I don't like the way a doctor relates to her, I speak up on her behalf. (I think her new doctor is great; he's YOUNG, dialled into the importance of diet and exercise, and keeping medications to a MINIMUM).
4.) Insisting my brother take her for 2-3 wks. at a shot to give us a break. It's not the day to day "chores" that wear you down, it's the MONOTONY of your days. Water will wear stone smooth given enough time... look what it did to the Grand Canyon...

I won't lie to you, I want my "old" life back! I'm sick of an existence that revolves around pills, pee, and water. But this is the hand I accepted and it's the one I'm playing. It's not time to "fold", yet. When it is, I will do so. And will suffer all the guilt pangs and regrets you have now.

You'll make a good choice; don't be afraid to say, "enough". Putting yourself first on the list is not a "bad" thing... "hair shirts" have been out of fashion since about the 1300s... you know? Life is for the living.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 3:56PM
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Thank you everyone! How refreshing to talk with people who really get it. Chelone, you have a wonderful way with words. I just want to say to Brena, don't let the word 'promise' get to you. No decent person (and I'm sure that includes your mom AND it includes yourself) can hold someone to a promise they made when they couldn't comprehend what they were promising. And no one can fully comprehend it until they are IN it. Promise or no promise, you have to act on what you think is right based on the data you have today. My mother never used the word 'promise' but she's been saying, "no hospitals, no nursing homes" since I was the one in diapers.
On the plus side . . . I have to say that being 'forced' to be home has made me more productive as a home schooling family. And it has been nice to have a built in excuse for bowing out of outside activities ;D It has been a different phase of life for me, and definitely not all bad.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2005 at 11:10PM
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