How do the rest of you deal with lengthy hospital stays? - AgingCare.com

How do the rest of you deal with lengthy hospital stays?

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I am a small business owner and staying with a loved one is too much. Dad is in the late stages of cancer. He has been in and out of the hospital for the past two months. Myself, my sister and my mom switch out staying with him. I do not feel someone has to be with him at all times! What are the nurses for? There is no rest in a hospital and I cannot hold my head up the next day and we depend on my income from my small business. Sister doesn't work outside the home and mom is retired. Every time I try to talk to them about my situation I am met with condescending attitudes like I don't care about Dad or am refusing to "do my part". I had someone recently tell me this sort of thing either brings families closer together or drives them apart, mostly the latter, and I can sure understand why. I am just venting. I know there is no easy answer for any of this.

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Woodswalker, you are correct about Yahoo Answers or any thing similar... stay as far away from those sites as possible when one has a serious question. I use to go into Yahoo Answers and/or Ask and found way too much misinformation given by other writers, and sadly found a lot of bullying going on :(
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I really REALLY appreciate everyone's replies to my post! May I say also that yahoo answers is NOT the place to go for help and support. I posted this same scenario and was berated and shamed by this one person who obviously had no clue as to what we are going through at this time. Thank you all so much!
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My dear step father always said, "Hospital rooms are no where for a family reunion." IF this situation arises again, say "I couldn't possibly do that." And stick to it. You are right. They are wrong.
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I remember in the past when I was hospitalized, I know I wanted some quiet time to either rest or watch something on TV.... guests are nice, but some are like deer in headlights not knowing what to talk about and they just sit staring at you, like I was going to burst into flames or something.
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VStefans, you make some good points which I completely overlooked.

I do recall the anxiety of leaving and thinking something drastic may have happened while I was gone. Some comfort was given though by directly asking the nurses on scene as well as calling the doctor(s) directly and asking the blunt question - i.e., how long?

Another thing Woodswalker might be able to do is ask the attending physician or oncologist what might be expected, what changes might occur, what options existed, and when would she be called on to make any necessary decisions.

If some perspective and frame of mind can help quantify those issues, it might be easier for the family not to feel as if they need to be there as frequently. Still, I do know it's an emotional as well as rational issue.
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I think everyone's fear is that Dad will die alone without any family if someone is not there all the time, and/or that errors in medical care can be made that a family member can catch and correct more readily than the patient always can. I was in a similar difficult situation with my Mom in residential hospice and having no one to cover some things at the hospital where I work; my son and husband did step up and cover some. Mom really needed one of us with her to calm her because otherwise if she got upset she promptly got oversedated by staff. Most patients there had cancer and needed round the clock pain management and not dementia plus bad heart disease like my mom did. They had what was for me a pretty comfortable sleeping arrangement with sort of a day bed by the window, so I did nights as well as any days that I could, and the one night I was ill with a cold and stayed home was probably worse for me at the time!!

I would say the Saturday night offer is an excellent one, and if you can't be there that much more, maybe just bring pizza or whatever for everyone and spend a little time during the week when you can, and make it a point to do other things that your siblings will appreciate and remember. I know you don't need for your small business to permanently tank because you fail to tend to it properly, but hey, you only have one dad, and there are few things more important than this time in his life...I would say do what you can, and stretch a little, don't feel bad about what you really can't do. After all you know how much you really care, and if you do that and know that, you can make sure you have no regrets when it is all over!
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I think there's another issue here which I often forget, and that's that someone ill, very ill or in a terminal stage needs a lot more rest and down time than we can ever imagine.

About 4 months before my sister died, one of her "little sisters" wanted to visit her. My sister had been in the "Big Sister" program and mentored a number of troubled teens and young adults. This one had turned her life around and was so proud of herself, and grateful, that she wanted to comfort my sister by sharing her success story.

She stayed 2 hours, even though I had told her that her visit should be kept short. My sister told me afterward that she was so exhausted from feeling the obligation to be social, cordial and make conversation that she just wanted to sleep for the rest of the day.

So, Woodswalker, I think the suggestions of setting general times when you can visit would help all of you, as would each of you getting more rest for yourselves.

Ask your sister and mother to determine between themselves when they'll visit. That takes you out of the equation. You don't have to negotiate with them, worry about when they'll be there, or listen to excuses. If they go, so much the better, but if they don't, it's their choice and you can make your own decisions and set your own schedule.

And truthfully, you know that you're not responsible for them and probably can't influence their actions. They're going to do what they want to do.

It's also possible they aren't prepared mentally to deal with a terminal situation and the more they visit, the more distressed they become. It does take a lot to see a loved one at that stage. Sometimes I could barely "hold it together" before I escaped from the hospital room to compose myself.

Something I used to do was write consoling and uplifting messages in cards and leave them on my sister's or father's lap, whether they were at home or in the hospital. Then each could awake and be surprised, and the cards were with them after I had gone.
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ba8alou, I apologize for not being clear. No, I do not TOTALLY support us. My husband works very hard as well. Neither he nor I make enough to cover for the other ones' share of the bills. Thank you all for your encouragement and answers. As I stated, I am mostly just venting but yes, I've already taken steps to be more assertive in the 24/7 thing. I've told them I can do Saturday nights only as my business is closed on Sunday and if they feel that someone needs to be there at all times then it's between the two of them. Also, I failed to mention the hospital is an hour away which adds to the issue. Another thing I told them I would be glad to do is to attend to mom and dad's household, lawn mowing, etc., during these lengthy stays. Sis and mom won't have that hanging over their heads and it's 10 minutes away so I can do that much. Again, thank you all and God bless us all during these times!
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All of you feel the tension and uncertainty. It might help you to have Hospice in the picture to relieve some of the caregiving and they are actually good listeners when you need to vent. You ARE doing your part, your father would expect you to carry on the business and do well. That is his greatest hope for you. As my daughter lay dying, we were all snapping at each other. It's part of life and you can get through this.
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The only answer is that you do something differently. Stop making excuses. Stop trying to talk to them about your situation. Resign from the 24/7 program. Just tell your family what you CAN do, like, "I'm able to sit with dad _________." And when they play the "You don't care card," in your head go lalalalalala. Your dad knows you love him. You have nothing to prove to him. And nothing to prove to your sister and mom. In my opinion, if you are more assertive, you'll have less drama.
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