How do I get help for my Mother, who is caring for my Father with cancer?


My parents are in Florida and I am in New York.

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And I should add, start thinking about taking control of the bill paying and finances. It may not be an issue yet but it will be.
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I'm doing long distance care for my folks also. I'm recently retired so I'm dealing with it ok for now. If I may, a few tips:

Start collecting any and all information pertaining to your parents affairs. Legal, financial, medical, all local contacts, neighbors, docs, ER info EVERYTHING.

If you have not done so, get wills updated, POA, end of life directives and get copies of everything.

Set up a time for regular phone calls with mom and dad, not emails. You need to hear and read between the lines for problems.

Keep a daily log of your conversations noting any problems, memory issues etc.

Keep a list of local contractors, plumbers etc.

Start looking at care facilities for when the time comes.

Finally, you can only do so much from a distance. Someone needs to get an eyeball on things occasionally and deal with whztever crisis erupts. Your folks are getting older and their needs are going to become greater very quickly. Be prepared.
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I should have written that Canadian geese periodically paddled around the pond and strolled on the grounds, sometimes right up to the infusion center.
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Ask the social worker if the hospital or any infusion center for chemo or radiation also have support groups, including art therapy, or a healing center. This is an example of what a healing center can offer:


My sister had Reiki treatments/therapy there, and I went after she died to participate in the art group. It wasn't a structured class but it was incredibly relaxing, especially given the architecture and the atrium facing a little pond in which Canadian geese periodically strolled. It soothed the spirit.

The Center also had an exhibit of paintings by people getting chemo; they were incredibly creative and emotional. The Center served in part as a means for people to channel their fear, grief, anxiety, sadness and better yet, their relief.

You might want to check as well to see if there's a Gilda's Club in your area. Ours had a wonderful variety of support services and programs. Although I haven't checked recently, it used to have support groups specifically for various kinds of cancer, pot luck suppers, art, crafts and music programs and even more.

Being with others dealing with cancer could help with the overwhelming aspect; I would imagine that tips on coping are part of the discussions.

The get togethers could be great therapy as well - it's "dining out" with kindred spirits and others facing a similar battle.

Are there any other family members who could help, say with trips to the infusion center, or staying with your father while your mother gets some well needed rest? Of friends, neighbors or acquaintances from church?

My sister's oncologist said she could arrange for house help, such as with cleaning, but my sister said I could do it (not!) so that never went anywhere. But I've always wondered what kind of support she would have suggested.

Another source I've found helpful is the CURE magazine - curetoday website.

It has articles that are scholarly and scientific, but also includes down to earth helpful articles such as how to handle appetite loss and chemo fatigue.

Subscriptions are free to people with cancer as well as their caregivers, but you can also search online for articles on specific topics.
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Thanks, I did contact the Florida Dept. of Elder Affairs, just waiting to hear back from them. Dad is getting treatment at a hospital, I will find out about a social worker there and the HIPPA release. Mom is healthy & capable of taking care of Dad (so far) but I can tell that she is stressed,exhausted and just overwhelmed. Moving her closer is not an option, she wants to stay in Florida.
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There's help. And I'm going to assume that Florida has a goodly amount of it due to its large senior population. Here's a link to Florida Elder Affaies with all sorts of phone numbers:

I'd get myself a 3-ring notebook and start making calls and taking notes...what is you get mom you pull the trigger, etc. one call will lead you to lots of questions. Meals on Wheels, help with In-home nursing, etc, etc. if you concentrate on gathering that information like it's your full time job, I can't even imagine it taking a week.

After you've gathered as much information as you can, make arrangements to go down there and meet with all the appropriate people, make decisions and move forward.

And after you've done all of this, you may find it makes the most sense to move her close to you.
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Not sure what of help you are seeking; more details will get you better answers.

Every county has a local Area Agency on Aging. It's probably best to start with a phone call to them. If your dad is being treated through a hospital , there may be a social worker attached to the oncology service. Do you have a signed HIPAA release from your dad? It makes talking to the hospital folks easier.

Come back and let us know how it's going. We all learn from each other here, and many of us are long distance caregivers, so welcome!
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