I'm dealing with my own major health issues, can't continue to be mom's caregiver.

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My 94-y-o mom and I have been living together in her home for 10+ years and I've pulled her through non-Hodgkins lymphoma when we first moved here and a couple of falls since. She's basically pretty together for 94 except for mobility problems -- uses a walker, verrrrrryyy slowly. Her legs have been swollen for several years with none of her doctors able to get to the root of the problem. She's had little or no social life except to go out once in awhile with me and my friends, who have most graciously and patiently accommodated her.

This past spring I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Early in the morning of the day I was supposed to have my first chemo, she fell. I was the one who called Lifeline for help, and while we were waiting for them to arrive, my oncologist's office called, one of my drugs did not come in. Long story short,my treatment was postponed a week.

Mom went to ER, was in hospital a week, then transferred to rehab. She is to be discharged later this week but we are having a terrible time resolving where. The geriatric care manager who is working with us, my lung cancer support group, my friends (who include several cancer survivors themselves and a former hospital administrator) -- to a person, everyone says my mom should absolutely not come back to the house while I am having my treatments (if all goes well, that should be about two more months). Emphasis is on a stress free environment for me during a life threatening illness.

Care mgr and I are trying to get her to do respite as a temporary, trial step, MAYBE with an eye to coming back to the house, MAYBE with a home health aide as needed. But even though we've visited a couple of very nice adult group homes together, Mom is dead set against it in her heart. She's says some pretty mean things that I think are more about losing independence and control than against me personally,but they sure do hurt anyway. And she's convinced I don't truly love her no matter what I say.

I have been trying to bring mom along gently (in my mind) but in my exasperation know it hasn't felt gentle to her. She's even asked why shouldn't she be the one to stay in her house and I (age 64 and otherwise ok except for the cancer...!) go into assisted living... Any suggestions will be welcome!


I am sorry you are going through all this. Caregiving is hard enough without having to deal with a life threatening illness yourself and alone. You didn't mention your financial situation, other than that you are living in her home, so I suppose she holds all the financial cards? Not sure if you are looking for suggestions re how to convince her to move out temporarily so you can get through your treatment. If she suggests you move out, does she think she can manage things alone or would she be willing to hire help? If she would be willing to hire help, maybe, just to get through your treatments and if financially manageable, couldn't you have her hire 24 hours round the clock aide care for her during those two months and you remain in her home with her but not having anythiing to do with her care and maybe the aides could help you also? If she would have to private pay for this respite care, if might work out the same financiall if you had to hire full time aides. Then after you recover, you can tackle the future living arrangements. Have you thought it also might be stressful for you dealing with her living in another place. My personal experience has been, especially if the person has to go against their will, is that unless the facility can get them to adjust, you will have to deal with issues anyway when they call you with problems. If she is digging in her heels now, do you think she would change once in the respite facility?
Oh dear. What a dreadful mess.

Mom has accepted your help for ten years, but now is not willing to help you for a few months? She thinks you should move out and she should stay put? Is there anyone in her life (another relative, a good friend, a clergy person, her Pinochle partner -- anyone? who might be able to point out how selfish she is being?)

Is it feasible for Mother to stay in the house on her own? If you said, "OK, Mother, you come back to your house and I'll go elsewhere," could she really do it? What would have to be in place for this to work?

Could you rent a place for three months for a stress-free (OK, less stress) environment while you recover?

Unfortunately, a lot of this will be dictated by who holds what financial cards, won't it?

Is there anyone who can buffer you from your mother's needs and demands while you recover? The care manager? Another relative? Anyone? So when she is living on her own in her house and the power goes out, she doesn't call you at your friend's cabin -- she calls Buffer Person? (Same deal if she is in a respite center -- you are not the first person who gets called when needs arise.)

I don't know the answers here, but I sincerely wish you well and extend cyber hugs to you!
as i reread your question, I'm now wondering, how did she do all those months in rehab since the spring? If she adjusted well, I assume it was b/c she was working hard to get back into her home from rehab? Is there anyway the rehab has a lower cost respite wing that can keep her for another two months untili you finish your treatments? What level of care has the rehab recommended? and assuming your medical situation did not exist, would they have said she was safe to go home and with what assistance?
Thank you, 2much2cover and jeannegibbs. Almost all of our family members have passed on years ago and the couple who are left (out of town) are more on the side of mom staying at home. There are a couple of professionals who could state the case as you suggest, but my mom won't listen to them any more than she is to me at the moment.

Today my mom said she'd rather pay for 24-7 home health care (which is about three times more costly than AL, and we are in an expensive metro area to begin with), but I don't think she'd like that for long. If she doesn't like how things are going (for ex., if she doesn't like the aide), her usual recourse has been to look to me to handle it, which I just can't see myself doing right now. I have already given her two companies to research by phone, several days ago, and she hasn't even tried to call them.

My personal finances have been much lower since I switched from university teaching to the nonprofit world, so staying in my mom's home is much preferable. I do handle all of the utilities and manage all of the maintenance, not to mention past availability as caregiver (for which I once calculated I've lost thousands of dollars if anyone wanted to be mercenary about it, but I don't). I've thought about a temporary move for myself but that would add enormously to my monthly expenses, and would also take several weeks to arrange, at best. Not exactly a stress reducing solution, IMO.

Tomorrow afternoon I have an appointment with an oncology social worker for me, but don't know how familiar she is with geriatric resources that would be specifically relevant for the particular mix of issues we're wrestling with. Also hope to speak again with our geriatric care mgr. Agree, it's a mess. At least my mom did allow me to hug her as I was leaving rehab today.
This rehab does not have a respite wing. I have to find out from the visiting doc if Mom will continue to have a PT after she leaves rehab. Also am thinking, from the way my mom's been talking, there mmight be some depression -- another thng to ask the doc about. Perhaps one of the meds she's used successfully in the past might help.
This is a really tough situation.Stressful for both of you. I thought of another thing. If she insists on going back home, would she be willing to go to adult day care during the day and then have a private aide for the other times? This might be less costly. And are the out of town relatives in any shape to come and stay with her for at least part of the two months? What were you planning to do when you first were going to start your treatment and before she fell and ended up in rehab?
As difficult as this is going to be for you, at this point in time if you do not take care of you, you will no longer be able to help anyone. You must put yourself first. I have done both: chemo and radiation for myself and care giving. This is not a win win for anyone. You may have to either let your mother pay the outrages costs for home care if she is able to make that kind of decision and wash your hands for this short time. Your recovery depends on it. Truly. Peace my friend. Good health.

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