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I have cared for 89 year old mom with alzheimer's in my home for the last four years. I also babysit my grandchildren 6 days a week. They range in ages 5 months to 4 years. They are used to being around "Grammy". She is currently in rehab after a hospital stay for pneumonia. During her hospital stay, it was discovered that she has a tumor in her lung and nodules throughout both lungs. She has had 2 previous bouts with cancer, so without going through a biopsy, the doctors are certain that it is cancer again. I have been advised to start the process of hospice when I bring her home. . My question is, has anyone experienced adverse reactions from young children on being around a dying person? Should I consider placing her in a facility when the time comes near? 2 of the children are very sensitive, and while they love Grammy, I don't want them to be scared. I also want to do whats right for my mom, and I also don't want to have regrets later. I'm torn.

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Start the Hospice process. Work with them. See how things go. Many Hospice programs have a facility available for the final stages of the dying process if it is more than you or your family can handle in the home. You will know if it is something you can handle soon enough and Hospice will give you help with decisions along the way. Even if she does not remain in your home until the end everyone will benefit from the time she is there. With her mental issues the comfort of the familiar will be most helpful. I am writing while sitting beside my mother-in-law who is in the final days of her life. We have been her caregivers since last July. Now my husband and I remain with her in her home as her Hospice caregivers. The decision to do this is something I will never regret. The support we received from Hospice made it possible these final months as the demands of caregiving escalated.
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I have to agree with all who said to keep her at home. Dying is just another part of life and shouldn't be frightening. If a child becomes confused and afraid perhaps it is a reaction to those around him/her rather than the person who is ill. Hospice care should provide a calm and relaxed atmosphere and if the adults act the same the child should be ok.
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My friend took care of her great grandmother on Hospice for only a week. Her four year old son was at first confused and then terrified. The boy became combative, even with his mother. His instinct was fight or flight, perfectly normal, and since he could not escape, he struck out at everyone. The behaviors persisted for a few months after GMa died. It was a bad choice to expose a small child to the tension, suffering, moaning and crying.
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In addition to nursing care, hospice provides a social worker and clergy to help you with questions and concerns like this. I'm sure they have a wealth of experience and would be able to guide you and assure you that you are doing the right thing.
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I Had my Dad home with hospice fwhile babysitting my 1 1/2 year old grandchilde. He Died with her in my arms by his side. He had dementia too. I feel it was the greatest gift I could give him to be sourounded by family at the end, and my grandaughter seems to be a loving child and very loving to older people because of it. Just pick the right hospice company. I used Vitas, and they were great. They gave us books about death for the child and books for my siblings so they would understand how the end comes. I feel at peace and lucky I could do this for Dad. I went on to become a CNA because of this experiance. I want to halp others care for their loved ones. You are a special person to do this for your Mom.
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Today some of us teach our kids about everything but DEATH, why? Death is something that can not be avoided. Why not try to explain whats going on and talk about death just like you talk about the news! I talk with my daughter as early as four, so she could understand just what happens when I died. That life goes on!!! But the memories stay forever in your heart. I hp[e this helps.
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I know it's hard to predict how the kids will react. For what it's worth, when I was 5 years old -- I'm 76 now -- my maternal grandfather lived with us during his last year while dying with cancer.

I didn't know what was wrong with him and I certainly didn't know he was dying. Several times, every day, I'd go into his room and visit with him. We talked, laughed, and played. These memories are the best and, in fact, only I really have of my grandfather.

I can't remember when he died, whether it was at home or at the hospital. The only memories I have are of the wonderful times while he lived with us.

Your grandchildren might very well remember their great-grandmother in the same way I remember my grandfather and our relationship and suffer no negative consequences.

I don't know how my mom handled it, but obviously she didn't tell me that he was suffering and dying.

Just one experience that you might consider when resolving this problem.
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My experience with hospice was wonderful .with my Dad. He went very peacefully and without pain. I would think that with their age, the only issue would be the 4 year old. I don't think he will be traumatized and most children do have to face the issue of death at some point, even if it is with usually a pet, or farm animal. Its how YOU handle the passing that will effect the child the most. It can be peaceful, loving and with compassion, or it can be a big drama.
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Keep her at home.
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