I have been taking care of my 87-year-old mother who has Dementia and COPD. Now I may have breast cancer. Who will help mom now?

Asked by

My brother and his wife are in denial and do not even know there is a problem. Further, mom refuses to go to assisted living or nursing home facility. She has outlived her assets and has no money to hire a nurse or home health aid to attend to her in the event I have to have chemo or radiation treatments. What can I do? Mom can not help herself anymore even with the most basic things like bathing or dressing. I am in total despair.

Answers 1 to 8 of 8
Top Answer
There has to be a way financially to get your mother into either adult foster care, asst. living or a nursing home without her having a fortune anymore. Start making some phone calls. When my mother-in-law had to go temporarily to a nursing home for rehab for her hip, there was the gal in administration that was friendly, very informative and explained every single financial thing to me. I'd start there if it were me. And as far as mom saying 'no', you're gonna have to put your big girl panties on and tell your siblings and her how it has to be. Because if indeed you do have cancer, you're going to have enough on your plate without adding that too. Doesn't mean you're throwing your mother away for heaven's sake, it just means that if you DO have to go thru chemo, you're gonna be busy for months. Either they step up, or you'll have to be the one to make the final decision. Even if this ends up being just a scare, maybe it's time to be yourself prepared how to move your mother out and in somewhere else. Time to get educated on what hoops you have to jump thru to get her taken care of financially. You can do this. You have survived 10 years of having to be the sole care provider for her, so I know you've got it in you to get thru this cancer thing if necessary. Having breast cancer is no longer a death sentence, but I admit it's not gonna be a picnic. My mom had one of her breasts taken off when I was 13 years old. She lived another 50+ years after that, and I know there are thousands of stories out there like hers, so hang in there. But you are gonna have to dig in your dresser and get out those 'big girl panties' though. Keep the faith glornorth59, it'll be okay.
glornorth59, Mom is not able to take care of herself, and she is not able to make decisions in her own best interest. Sorry. She cannot be the one who decides what kind of help she has and where. As Nancy says, you have to be the big girl here. Mom can't and brothers won't.

Start with the financial end. I'd call Social Services and ask for a needs assessment. When they send someone out, explain the entire situation. No doubt they will have Mom apply for Mediciad and perhaps a program such as Elderly Waiver. This will be a good start whether you need extra help while you are dealing with your own health issues or not. Perhaps Mom will qualify for some in-home care, such as a bath aide. And if she has to go to a care facility, either temporarily or permanently, the fiancial aid process will already be underway.

Don't wait to see about your health needs ... get this process rolling today!

And best of luck to you!
In my area we have a very active senior services center that helps seniors (and their children) with all sorts of information and some services such as home delivery of meals. In addition to the good advice given above you might want to check your telephone directory for senior service offices in your area. Typically they are run by the county or parish (I'm from the south) in which you are living.

I will keep you in my prayers with regards to your pending diagnosis.

I would encourage you to check with your local Area Agency on Aging. Many of them have caregiver programs that could benefit you. There are many programs available to those with lower or little income. Elderly waiver is a program that helps with expenses and will arrange services. You are to be admired for helping your Mom. However you do need to take care of you too...
I am so sorry you are having to deal with this in addition to your own health problems. I have been through this with both my parents going in the nursing home. My mom asked me to place her there because she realized my dad couldn't take care of her any more, that made things easier. My dad refused to go and as a result ended up sells falling in the bathroom and having to go regardless. I must say he has thrived. He loves the interaction with others and just being around people. He had stopped eating before he went in the nursing home and now thy cant fill him up. There is a social worker at the nursing home who can answer all your questions and if she can't she knows who to call to find the answer out. I agree with the others about if your brother want help then you have got to think of yourself and your health. You didn't mention a spouse or kids but I am sure they want you to take care of yourself. If your mom has dementia then she isn't thinking clear enough to understand consequences to your health. Both my parents have dementia and I have learned that it s a selfish disease in more than one way. I wish you all the best with your decision and your health, keep us posted.
If she has outlived her assets (she has less than $2000 in savings) she should qualify for Medicaid which will pay for a company like visiting Angels to come to her home and help her. You need to take care of yourself right now and need to decrease your stree load. Call all your other relatives and tell them in no uncertain terms you are handing over your mother's care to them as you can no longer do both and you have to take care of yourself first. then stick to it.
I am so sorry about your diagnosis.
I had breast cancer several years ago, surgery, chemo, adjuvent therapy for 5yrs.
Try to take a breath, don't panic. Breast cancer is treatable, breast cancer is curable.
For you. Learn what stage of cancer you have. ask lots of questions, get on the internet, the Susan G. Komen site is pretty darn good. In my town we had the Sarah Cannon center...... Lance Armstrong Livestrong website has some information............my local hospital let me use their gym for free during the treatment and for a couple of months after treatment.

The treatment for BC is SO MUCH better and effective than it was just 7 years ago.
What your treatment will be will make the decision for you.], you have options. Unless the doctor says you need to start treatment this week, you have a couple of weeks to think.................
There is LOTS of support for BC people. Meals on Wheels, transportation, free wigs and hats, and much more. In my town it was the Sarah Cannon center.
I once knew a lady who worked full time all the way thru her treatment for BC.
Me, I was OK, I was able to take care of myself, drive myself to treatment, etc., but I was sore and tired. Very tired. I lost weight (which was great, chemo is an excellent diet drug), but I had to make sure I didn't lose too much weight........I babysat my toddler grandson, but my daughter also helped me drive sometimes, kinda' kept an eye on me, and I had wonderful friends who were always around. I also lost a good friend - he just could not handle the cancer, he got spooked. .....
Everyone handles it differently, no way to tell how your body will react to the treatment until you start. But try not to panic, really. It is going to be OK.
Your family may be in denial because they are afraid of being overwhelmed with the caregiving, or just plain scared of everything. Or, they may just be unwilling to help, I don't know. I have found that most people are good, but when something big comes along, like caregiving, like cancer, they don't handle it well.........
Generally speaking, you must focus on your BC. If that means that she goes into a facility, that is what you do..you must reduce your stress level, no matter what it takes - stress affects your response to treatment. So, get rid of the stress. Just stand up and say to family and friends, "Get this off of me". "This causes me great stress, take care of this and make the stress go away" "I can't do this anymore"............. "Make this stop"...........Really, do this. I did, and mostly, it worked.................
Think of it this way, and please don't take it the wrong way: If you die, there may be noone else to look out for her, so, if you have to do this even temporarily, you are doing was is best......you would make arrangements for your minor children, wouldn't you?
1 more thing. If you possibly can, find some counseling, or at least a support group to help you during the treatment. You will have questions, you will have feelings, you will need to vent, and sometimes it is best to do that away from family. My oncologist had an in-house counselor who was wonderful. I did my support group over the internet (I am quite shy). But is was so comforting to have people to talk to.
Hang in there, you can do this.
Actually, with a little help, you could continue to care for mom. First, you have to find out if you actually have cancer. You might not and I hope that you don't. I had both my grandmother and my mother to tend in my home and as a single mom with a birth child and several adopted special needs kids and a writer who works from home, I had my hands FULL when diagnosed with uterine cancer and the suspicion of possible ovarian cancer (runs in the women on my mom's side of the family). I went through treatment, surgery, multiple chemos, etc while caring for all of them (and homeschooling the kids) and working full time from home. So I do understand what your fears are.

Here is what I did. It might be useful to you. First, I got some in-home nurses' aide help (bathing, changing linens, etc) from Medicare. They came 5 days a week. The other two days meant sponge baths. I hired very responsible older teens and asked women friends to help prepare meals and freeze them and to watch everyone when I had appointments. I took advantage of adult day care to the hilt.

It worked out nicely and I am 5 years with NO signs of relapse so am feeling pretty positive. My grandmother has died and we miss her very much but were so grateful that she never saw the inside of a nursing home.Having those who really moved me around actually inspired me to fight to survive and to heal as there were people who loved and needed me. It enhanced by healing. My little Grandma wanted to do stuff for me she couldn't do but she mostly hugged me a lot and held my hand and told me I was pretty even when all of my hair was gone. Mama called me her Baby Girl and tried to hold me in her lap. This is what a family does. I am so lucky!!!!!!!

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