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Hi, I am new to caregiving and dont even know where to begin...except to first express gratitude that I found this site :) My mom is 63 and was diagnosed with leukemia about a month ago. We have not been close for a while but I have been taking care of her since she moved in with me last month. I was working two jobs that I have had to leave and I also have a five year old who is very excited to have nana living with us (silver lining :) ) When my mom first came home, I thought it would be no problem with her insurance to pay for a nursing home (yeah i know, so naive lol) so when the reality set in that she was just going to be home, with me..just...until....my heart just sank. I did not sign up for this. I am not ready for this. How can I even begin to get ready for something like this? I have surprised myself as I am handling the situation a lot better than I imagined I would...my mom however is another story. She has decided not to go through with chemotherapy because she remembers how hard it was on dad (we lost him to cancer in 2010), but whenever I try to talk to her about it and just offer support the best way I know how, she either shuts down completely or goes on and on about how its too early to be talking about chemo and that God is just going to make her cancer go away. She goes back and forth between depression and denial and its exhausting. Her hospice nurses say that she can still have a very good quality of life if she makes an effort to get more mobile(while shes still able), but she does not want to put forth the effort...its very hard for me to deal with because she has always been a very manipulative person...I find myself having getting more easily frustrated with her I just cant help it because I know what her personality is. Her nurse told me once that she may be depressed and may need some encouraging to get her motivated to fully live life to the fullest while she is still with us...its hard for me to find encouraging words for her when she never truly enjoyed life before she was ill. She has been unhappy for years for reasons that I have never really been able to pinpoint so how am I supposed to encourage someone who gave up on life long before she was terminal? I know I have been rambling and I apologize if I am not making much sense...I just wonder if anyone else has dealt with a situation similar to mine and what solution they came up with, if any?

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Hi lostandtrapped. You are not alone in being caught up in more than you "signed up for." Many of us have felt that way.

JesseBell and Eyerishlass have given exceptional advice. You cannot change your mother's personality. She is making her own choices and she does have a right to do that.

You are a wonderful person to be giving her so much already. You could to talk with the hospice chaplain. He or she may be able to help you and/or your mother cope with less stress. Counseling could help one or both of you. Please keep in touch on this site. We'll want to know how you and your mom are doing.
Carol
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lostandtrapped, this is a sad situation. There are people on the earth that are just not going to be happy no matter what you do. We can try and try, but it won't make any difference. We end up feeling like something is wrong with us because we can't make the other person happy -- if we could say or do the right thing, then they would be happy. It doesn't work that way, though. It is like some people are not capable of being happy. The best we can do is to not knock ourselves out trying to make them happy. It is like trying to make a turtle fly.

Many people opt not to have chemo. It is a personal choice. Chemo is very hard on people, so many don't want to go through it. You didn't say which kind of leukemia she has, but I assume it is along the line of acute lymphocytic. This is a very hard disease to go through, so my heart goes out to you. It would be nice if hope or faith would heal your mother, and there is always a chance. Do you have anyone to help or is it just you? You have a lot on your plate with your mother and young son.
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You're a good daughter to bring your mom in to live with you. As you've discovered it's one of the hardest jobs in the world and no one who hasn't gone through it would understand.

It sounds like you've offered your mom all the pro's and con's, I'm sure you've spoken to her numerous times about living with the diagnosis. My mom had cancer, they found it and removed it. She didn't need chemo and was sent to rehab where she did very well. Once she got home, I think the enormity of what she had been through hit her and she took to her bed. Day in and day out she refused to get out of bed. I would talk to her, plead, cajole, yell, criticize...She just refused to get out of bed. And she was cancer free! Eventually the immobility at her age did her in and she died shortly after deciding to stay in bed every day. At times I think she willed herself to die.

We can't force people to do anything they don't want to do. We can be there for them, encourage them, support them, but when it comes right down to it if they don't want to do something they're not going to do it. If your mom has been unhappy for years she's not liable to change at this point. I begged and pleaded with my mom every day to get out of bed. I told her she was going to die. I pulled no punches in trying to get her to get up but I couldn't physically pick her up and make her start living life so I had to find a way to make it ok in my own mind so I wouldn't go crazy from the stress. I couldn't change it so I had to accept it. I did everything I could so I would have no regrets and I let her be. But once my mom gave up on life there was no changing that. I know that now.

Do everything you can do for your mom but you may have to do what I did and just accept that this is the way it is. Trying to get your mom to change her attitude will only drive you crazy and it won't work anyway if your mom doesn't see the need to change her attitude.
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JessieBelle, I have an older sister who lives a few hours away. She does not work, only her husband does. She has told me that she is physically and emotionally incapable of taking on my role (when it was up to the two of us and my two jobs were on the line). She did stay here for 3 days while I moved moms stuff into the house so she did contribute somewhat. I hate the fact that I am struggling with resentment towards her because her situation is so much more different than mine. I know it is wrong to hold peoples feelings towards them but she basically told me that if I hadnt 'decided' to become mamas caregiver then she would have allowed her to become a ward of the state as if she had no other living relatives to take care of her. This hurt me on a level that Ive never felt before, not only did it anger me, but it breaks my heart. Ive always been at odds with my mom but I could never allow this, and Im just afraid that my relationship with my sister will never be the same. Sorry I know this is a bit off topic...
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Eyerishlass, your mom and my mom sound pretty much identical. However her stress and depression is expressed mostly with crying fits...she feels sorry for herself but she HAS to make those who surround her feel sorry for her or worry about her too....recently she was doing pretty well, she was getting out of bed and coming to the table for meals, etc and then i went to town for an hour....while i was gone the hospice aide showed up for her bath. she told the hospice aide that she was in such horrible agonizing pain from burning everytime she urinated. I know my mother well enough to know that if she was in ANY pain at all what so ever she would have no trouble at all telling me about it. And she hadnt! Not once! She had been all smiles and then the opportunity came when she was by herself with the aide (that never happens) to score some worry points. So the fact that she was able to manipulate the aide and the nurse for more attention because she was only getting positive attention for a few days straight frustrated me to no end....like I said in my original question my mom has always been a very manipulative person and it took me many years to realize this. Im going to take your advice and stop making myself responsible for her happiness. As much as I want her last days to be filled with laughter and smiles, I dont think I can bear the guilt of something that she does not even want for herself.
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Having experienced depression myself, I always find it stunning that so many people in that Greatest Generation just lived with untreated depression for years and years and years, and they and their families lost out on so much happiness they could have had instead of tortured self concern and guilt and manipulation.

One option if you can finagle it is to try antidepressant medication if it has never been done. There are certainly stories of people coming out of even long-standing depression and experiencing some relief and even some happiness again, better late than never, though you can't quite expect it to totally change a whole personality. Giving up on life before its time is a sad mistake.
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