Q: I can't take care of my mother alone anymore, but I've heard horror stories about nursing homes. How can I get some help?

A: I don't know where you live, but not all nursing homes are bad. Many are excellent. You need help and this may be your only choice. When a caregiver gets so she can't care for herself, she can't care for others, either. This isn't good for you or your mother.

And you need to lighten your load so you can study and improve your life. You are seeing one problem with in-home care. I hear it a often. It's on-going, but worse with some agencies than others - no-shows. The fact that they are disrespectful, however, means this is not a good agency, in any way. If you keep in-home care, please try to find another agency. However, from what you say, it sounds like your mother is in need of more care than you can give, even with in-home care.

Just think how horrible she would feel is she knew caring for her was hurting your health. Please tour the nursing homes in your area, ask questions of others who have people in the homes, and at least get her on some lists, as many have long waiting lists - especially the good ones. Whenever someone is in a care home, the caregiver is still a caregiver. You just have more help.

You need to keep an eye on how your mother is treated and visit as often as you can. Don't be too predictable. Go at different times. If she is abused in any way, report it. That said, don't be unrealistic. If we could, we'd all have one on one care for our loved ones, but that isn't an option for most of us. So, visit with open eyes and an open mind. But start visiting and looking and asking questions. You are at a turning point and you must do something in order to survive, yourself.