I'm losing my strength to deal with end of life with lung cancer and Alzheimer's. Why does this have to happen? - AgingCare.com

I'm losing my strength to deal with end of life with lung cancer and Alzheimer's. Why does this have to happen?

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My mother is in the final stages of her life in a hospice facility. It's a beautiful place, and the nurses are so caring. My poor mom has been suffering terribly since her stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis a couple of months ago. To make matters worse, she has mid to late stage Alzheimer's and dramatic hearing loss, so she cannot understand what is going on. She can't even understand that she has cancer, but she knows she is constantly sick and exhausted. Her pain is somewhat controlled but she is gripped with nausea every waking moment even though she hasn't eaten in literally weeks and drinks only small sips of water. I'm her only family and it is killing me watching her suffer and slowly waste away like this for what has been nearly 6 weeks. It's like some sort of torture. The nurses don't seem to have any answers. Is there anything that will ease her suffering? Why does this have to happen? It's so unfair.

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All I can do is add to the compassion already shown on this forum. Life IS unfair, and for your mother to have to suffer from cancer and Alzheimer's at the same time is horrible. I'm glad that you have hospice to help. My mom had developed cancer and she had dementia but not AD and not a severe as many. Still, it was terrible to watch. Our hearts are with you and while no one has exactly the same experiences, we do have many things in common. Know that we're thinking of you.
Carol
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Another thing, you have to let her know that it's ok to go, that you'll be okay after she passes. A friend told me that recently. She said her mom hung on and hung on, and got last rites several times, and finally, the priest told her to tell her mom that she would be ok after she passed. Her mom passed that night. Sometimes a parent hangs on for us.
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It is unfair! Cancer is never fair. And for your mother to have the other impairments that complicate comforting her is doubly unfair. I don't blame you for feeling absolutely outraged that this is happening.

Be glad she is in a hospice house. They know better than anyone how to minimize suffering. Keep encouraging them to keep your mom more comfortable.

My heart goes out to you both. Do your best, and don't worry about being strong enough -- just keep loving her.
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Once again I don't have much to add; everyone has said it already-but I can humbly add what I believe to be true.
We are not just a body which can fail and even seem to turn on us, and we are not just a mind which can seemingly or literally let us down too, we are also a spirit and no matter what is happening to our minds or bodies this is still true too.
I believe that many times it is when we can't see that the mind or body is able to comprehend or engage that the spirit is doing a great work in secret. I believe many times, if we look past what we can see with our eyes, we will see the possibility that God is with that person's spirit helping them to do the healing or letting go needed so they can go to eternity in peace. Sometimes we can ask God to give us eyes to see and He will give us peace knowing that even at the very worst times our loved one is not alone within themselves but surrounded by the Spirit and Angels and God is actually doing a very HOLY work out of compassion.
I know this comforts Christians because we are more familiar, hopefully, with the ideas of a human spirit and of the Holy Spirit and the unseen spiritual realm. God be with you and give you both peace. Amen
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This may or maybe not help you and your Mom, but I found it wonderful with my husband, whom I lost September 10th to metastatic cancer. If you can warm a lotion, and spend time gently massaging lotion on arms, hands and fingers, feet, calves, and slowly repeat, it is so relaxing to the patient, and lets you be close. Lack of human touch is so sad, and if you can be close and provide comfort and care, you will have the loving actions to look back on. Cold lotion is met with rejection, but if you can warm it first, it does feel so good to them. As often as you want.....it causes no harm, just warmth, love and caring touch.
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There is one blessing with late stage Alzheimer's which my mother has. They do not worry. They don't go through the psychological processes people without this disease go though. Just keep her as comfortable as possible, love her and do contact friends and local support groups to deal with your grief.
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Please talk to the Social Worker or the Chaplain that is available to you through Hospice.
Please talk to the Nurse from Hospice as well.
They can assure you that she is not in pain but if you feel she is this is a concern that they can address. (and if she is in pain that needs to be taken care of)
Express your concerns and how you feel.
It is normal to feel exhausted, drained, helpless, frustrated and any other feeling imaginable.
If your Mom is anything like my Husband was the last several months, sleeping most of the time this is sleep that she needs.
I read a very interesting "pamphlet" that I found on line it was from a Hospice website that I found. The pamphlet is called "Crossing the Creek" and it was interesting reading as it put a different aspect on some things for me.
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Be glad about the wonderful hospice team that you have for her. They do keep the patient out of pain and comfortable though it may not appear that way to us. Just seeing our loved ones this way is mentally very painful to us. My Mom went through a decline that lasted over a year and a half before she passed on last Winter.It was very rough and I developed some health problems myself going through this. I am in only child and have no relatives nearbybut my husband, and not much of a big support group people always seem to have. Sometimes I think the whole awful process was more painful to me than it was to her as I took care of her 24/7 for that time in my home, but I did have a great hospice team to help. I try each day to remember things the way they were before that rough time....that it was only a short time in a very long and interesting life my Mom had. Please know that hospice is taking the best care of your Mom and that she is not feeling pain. Do remember to take care of yourself at this time, though that is not always easy to do. She would want you to stay strong and be good to yourself. You are a good caregiver to her. {{{HUGS}}}, Katie.
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Dear One,
This forum does understand and does send you support, a shoulder to cry on, and yes, love.

A year ago, I lost my Mom to dementia (lost swallowing response) and pneumonia. She was hospitalized and then put on hospice. For 2 weeks, my father sat in his wheelchair holding her hand, stroking her hair, and praying. 69 years of marriage.

Nothing could be done. I have a medical education and it was devastating to watch. The hospital nurses put in extra time to help my Mom and my poor Dad.

One afternoon, I returned to the room to see the wife of a friend holding her smart phone up to my Mom's ear. A nurse, she turned to me and said=, "the last thing to go is "music". I am playing Christmas Carols for your Mom."

I melted with gratitude.

She also rearranged the pillows about her head to make her as comfortable as possible every time she visited.


During the day, I combed my Mom's white hair. As a little girl I curled my Mom's black hair - she was so beautiful. I talked to her and thanked her for all her gifts and love. I asked for forgiveness.

I called a pastor of her faith from another town to request a "last communion". She could not partake, but my father could take the wine and cracker for her. The pastor gave a lovely talk and brought out a small box that he had never used. It was a traveling communion set. Everyone in the room then joined hands as he blessed my parents.

And then a dear sister-in-law came to me and told me about the notion of telling my Mom "It is go to let go". She held my hand as I did so - I cry now from the pain of that moment and still hope it helped her.

It was simply exhausting. I went through all the emotions but focused on trying to make all the right decisions - the decisions she would have made if she had been capable.

My thanks to you for letting me write this. I really have not been able to grieve the loss of my Mom because my attention is now on my Dad. He is absolutely lost without her.

Please take care and my heart goes out to you.
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Oh Honey, life as well as other life experiences are not always fair. Perhaps that why they are called experiences?
As sad and tormenting as this experience is - it is how life often ends. It has to end somehow - somewhere - sometime for everyone, you included. I can hear and feel your pain. It is the pain of reality when you are loosing someone very dear to you. I am sure you have done everything you could to make this transition as comfortable for her. Now look for the same comfort in that for yourself. Death is an end stage of life - for all of us. It is how we stop living when our body cannot function anymore. No matter the circumstances involved.

I lost my father from a kidney disease when he was 32 yrs old and I was 8. That was in war years and the medicine they have now were not available to him at that time. I often talked to him in my private moments in the days of upheaval in my life after his death. In fact I often privately have conversations with him now in my mind - I am now 78 yrs old. I was 8 when he died. He was my hero and life for me; changed drastically after he died He remained my hero and silent confident - he was (and is) always in my heart.
When he died I was a child and had no way to help and the good meaning actions of my mother and his family decided to protect me by not letting me (and my 4 yr old sister) to take any part in the process or the ceremony of a burial etc.. That did not protect us but left us abandoned and not able to take part in the ritual of services for the family of the deceased. That left me at 8 yrs old with nothing to hang on to - the family thought they were protecting us but we needed the ritual that is acceptable in our society for death of a treasured loved one. We were sent to be babysat across from the church and had no part in the funeral or burial services but watched from a strangers' porch across the street.
That only increased my loss but perhaps it was best for my 4 year old sister who had no real relationship with our father. It angered me at 8yrs old.
But life requires us to adjust and carry on best we carry on. Actually we have no choice there but to accept reality and adjust and make the best life we can.
I did that and am proud of the family I had and often just sent a prayer up to tell him how proud he would have been of his grandchildren. So I still have maintained a imaginary relationship with him and I although I know that is not reality - enjoy having that very personal relationship. It is a hug to the little girl still in a part of my heart and brain. My experience occurred just at the end of WWII. There are many support groups now that know how to help people in your situation. Try going to one of them - if that is not your thing - try another because you are not alone in your situation. Someone, somewhere, is going thru (or has gone thru) the same thing you are now. If it helps not going thru this alone it may be the right thing for you. If not, keep looking for answers to help you cope with the pain you are suffering. You are not the first or will be the last person that will go thru this journey. I wish you peace and am hopeful that you will find a way to heal and return to a life of happiness. I am sure your loved one would have wished the same for you.
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