How do I help mom, while she fades away from congestive heart failure, to live in comfort and with some joy?

Asked by

My mom insists that she wants to continue to live in her own home. She is sound mind. Short of breath and such low energy. Losing weight. Some times it is so scary, I don't want to leave her house. Yesterday I was afraid she would not wake from her nap. I called the cardiologist and got an appointment for her for today, but while I showed up at her house feeling OK... I didn't exercise, my hip is in terrible pain when I walk, I feel like crying, cancelled time with my son who I haven't seen since January. This morning I can hardly move. I need to be strong so that mom doesn't see how worried I am.

BTW, when she woke up after an extraordinarily long nap, she was better and said I shouldn't have cancelled on my son. I got home and ate fudgecicles for dinner... could go a long way to explaining why I feel so terrible this morning.

Mom interviewed the daughter of someone who does 'healthy bones' exercises with her, and acquaintence. The daughter is lovely, younger than me, lives closer than me, is happy to go to mom's house and spend time with her. This woman can be helpful, but the ugly truth is that I feel like I've disappointed my mom because I haven't given up my home (I quit my job... stress), and I'm not there 100% of the time. When I see my mom like she was yesterday, I had to coax her to eat something for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is beyond sad ... it drains the life out of me.

To get her to the cardiologist I cancelled all of the things I planned today, but I don't feel like doing them anyway... It's a terrible cycle and I'm struggling to find ways to stay happy and strong.. seeing her this way knows the life out of me and that's no good for her. I should be thankful I've had mom around for many, many years and I should be able to help her fade away in comfort and with some joy... but it's crushing me.

Answers 1 to 10 of 14
Oh my goodness, can I relate... Situations different but feelings are much the same. I never feel like I do enough... Everyone tells me how happy I should be to still have my mother- but I only have her physically with me, her dementia leaves me with almost none my mom emotionally or cognitively... I cry easily, eat worse than usual, don't feel like doing anymore than I have to... It's the depression taking over... I'm going to try the 10-60: allowing myself no more than 10 minutes of griping or sadness, and making a real effort to be happy the remaining 50 minutes of each hour.. After having mom with me for 18 years, the last 6 needing me to be home with her almost all the time, I'm burned out... (hope your hip feels better...I had a hip replacement in 2004 and know how bad the pain can be when it hurts with every step). Hope you have 1 extra special thing happen in your life today.....
Sooozi, it sounds like you are doing all that you can, and it sounds like you are doing a very good job at taking care of your mother. The health problems our elder parents suffer with usually can't be fixed. All we can do is take care of the essentials and try to keep them comfortable.

Even when we aren't helping 24 hours a day, the people we care for are still on our minds. Five minutes rarely pass that I'm not thinking something about caregiving. It makes it hard to have a life of my own. I know there's nothing I can do to make my mother well, but it is like a part of me keeps searching for the solution to the age problem. And another part of me gets mad and upset because I feel I'm in a hopeless situation.

It is not easy to watch our parents fade. Sometimes I think the wonders of medicine are a cruel thing in prolonging life when many are so sick when they get old. We would have to have exceptional strength to not be torn apart by the slow decline of our parents. Sometimes I wish we could all be completely healthy until our last day when, poof!, it would be over.

My good thoughts are with you. {{{{sooozi}}}}
Top Answer
Her doctors should have advised you to Hospice care. They are there to help. They have nursing staff and care staff that can stay 1 hour up to 24 hours if needed. Medicare will not pay for this, it will be out of pocket. Ranges here in Texas $12-$15 hour. Medicare will pay for all medical equipment needs lthat would make her homelife safer and easier to move around in. They allow the patient to die iwith dignity and managed pain. I cannt say enough of the team that is helping me with my Dad. Unfortunatly I do not have the means for hiring nursing but I do have provided 24/7 contact with nurse by phone. She visits one a week to monitor meds and pain. One day a week provided attendant to bathe,clip nails,massage and cut Dads hair and shave. Transportation when I can not take him to doctors, and mostly the support from the whole team about the progression of his disease, what to expect and assurance they will maintain his comfort and keep him out of pain. So sorry for you but again reach out and at least look into it.
We've about decided to put mom in a private assisted living/long term care home. One of our daughters is a doctor and medical director for a small home which keeps 5-8 clients and she says they are really well taken care of by the staff. I feel terribly guilty to even be thinking about it but know I'm about at the end of my limits emotionally...
Thank you all for your responses and for your ideas and support. My mom insists on living in her own home and thanks to my dad, she still has a pension coming in that helps her cover costs. So, it's not a financial crisis, but everyone knows she loves her lovely home and for the moments when she is strong, (when others are around and she rallies for them) they all insist that she should remain at home. Today at the cardiologist I will ask for resources for in-home help. It is really crushing to watch. I love the 10-60 rule! Am going to try it right now, so I'm signing off and am going to pay bills for my own house. That should make me feel better, right? haha... laughing already. Love to you all... thank you for your kindnesses!
Ask your doctor for a referral to hospice. They will come and do an assessment to see if your mother is appropriate, no cost, no obligation. Or call hospice directly. It doesn't mean she will die in six months or be kicked off of hospice care. They will be helpful to HER and just as important, TO YOU. Do it. Hugs, blessings, GT~
Totally understand and how hard it is to recognize when we are emotionally taking on too much. If it is possible, try to think differently about what you and your Mom are trying to accomplish together: support for her decision to age in her own home AND your own health and well-being. Unfortunately, most of the burden to keeping this dual need in balance does sit with you. Looks like others have made some helpful suggestions, find that inner strength that I suspect you have and put those resources to use for both her and for you.
I spent the day with my mother in same condtion for 5 winter months of her last year. We hired a girl inexperienced and 3 days she called my brother saying she was choking taking pills. He called my sister in Alaska. She came imm. and relized hospise needed to be called. They were wonderful. My sister rubbed my mothers feet a lot and she loved it. She died shortly but cherish the time I spent w/her.
Soozi - it sounds to me that you are the one who needs to live with more joy. I read on another thread that you are seeing a therapist. Good! You can't stop the normal decline of aging and illness, but you can do somthing about yourself. Sounds to me like you need to grieve what is happening to your mum, and start looking after yourself better, while providing for her, You are right that fudgcicles won't help you feel any better. You sound depressed. Have you considered antidepressants?
Let us know how the therapy goes (((((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))))))))
So, I had the first therapy session and you know it was spent pretty much catching the therapist up on the history and issues. I had to reschedule the first apt because mom needed to see the cardiologist and the first apt was a scheduling conflict. So, I promised not to cancel for any reason, and agreed to pay if I had to, but still mom's life seems to me to be the right priority. The big news is that Friday was my only day off (went to the Therapist on that day), then Sat am, super early mom called feeling terribly ill. I drove over. Seemed like lungs this time. Said she was really hit in the chest. This weekend we called the pulmonary doc. The nurse practitioner ordered about 5 new meds. I got them, got ink for her computer, got food for a fresh lunch and dinner, got gas and headed back to the house. Made lunch, organized the new schedule for all the new meds, made dinner and sat for a while... then headed home. Mom still felt terrible. This morning, she felt much, much better. My husband and I went over this afternoon to make her another fresh early dinner... trying to keep her weigh up. Yes, emjo... you are correct, I'm not joyful... because as someone else mentioned, with a schedule like this I don't have my work, don't have many friends left, don't do anything for fun, because when I try to ... mom calls to say she is feeling crummy. She is currently feeling so well that she wants to go to exercise class tomorrow. I suggested that she give it another day. My brother arrives Monday night. He informed mom that he is fasting!!! Seems like he partied too much and wants to lose some weight. Do I really need to explain to him that he should think of his mother's health situation... or should he just not worry about her and go on with his happy life? I have another appointment with the therapist on Monday... trying to cram them in to try to get to some understanding... today I feel like mom will live for many years, yesterday... she and I spoke of her dieing... it was quite sad. I just really am at a loss to see that as a happy possibility. So, again... this has been my 10 minutes, so I will stop now. Gonna watch the Emmy's. Love all those pretty dresses!! ;-) Love all of you for being so kind and helpful to me. Your perspectives on this roller coster are much appreciated!!!

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support