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I live in another town and my sister is in her Masters program, has children and works. Our Mother wants us to take care of her without outside help. What do we do, we are both close to burnout, our Mom has end stage cancer, and is becoming more and more difficult, she is mad at everything we do, nothing is right or good enough. We are now taking turns every 2-3 days with staying with her, we don't know what to do. Help!!!

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Thanks everyone, these comments help. We are prepared to bring in Hospice, we have used them before with our Dad a year ago. Mom has always been very independent and took care of our brother and Dad when they were in their final days. We spent the morning with her Dr. as she has been in the hospital this week, her Dr. insisted we get some help and made it clear to her that he would not let her go home until we have some help set up in advance. She is starting to get confused about meds and things like that, and argues with my sister and I if we say anything. I am looking through nursing help right now and we will bring up hospice again. The Dr. indicated to me today he does not think she has much time left so I think it is time for hospice. I can handle almost anything she throws my way because I realized she has changed drastically in the last few weeks mentally and I know it is fear on her part, where my sister takes it all personally. I also realize she is going to lash out at us more because we are her children. It is incredibly hard to see this vibrant, independent woman change so much. Thank you all for your comments and I will be checking back.
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Ya know, I got to thinking about when I was in ICU, shortly after my husband was diagnosed with dementia. The family was overwhelmed trying to provide 24 hour care for my husband. No one was staying with me, or even visiting the first few days. I remember being terribly sad and thinking that if I died no one in the entire building really knew me. They'd have to look in the computer system to get a name they should call.

I'll bet very few people want to die among strangers. Looked at that way, it isn't surprising that your end-stage mother wants you around.

So while you are arranging other people to provide care, reassure Mom that you could be there very quickly if needed. Post your cell phone numbers near each telephone in the house. Be sure every helper knows to call you if Mom worsens, and that Mom knows they know that.

Hospice can be very helpful with this kind of planning and with emotional support.

Figure out what you can reasonably do, and stick to it, but also work on reassuring Mom of your love and your willingness to drop everything and be there at a moment's notice when the need arises.
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The fact that you're both close to burning out is an indication that you can't comply with your mother's wishes to do all the caring yourself.

Your mother may be frightened of the cancer and how it will progress, and of dying, and may be trying to keep you and your sister closer because you're apparently the only family involved at this time.

Recognize that fear and work with your sister to create a good program that does involve outside help, and explain to your mother that you want the best for her, which is to bring in professionals who have experience that you and your sister don't.

Be there when hospice or other help comes for the first visits to help your mother ease into the new regiment. Otherwise, she may resent you and feel as though you've abandoned her.
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You and your sister decide on how much help you can provide and when. Together explain your decision to your Mom. Offer to help her get the additional assistance she needs. STICK TO YOUR OFFER. Do not deviate except for emergencies.

It is important that you and your sister get to related to your mother as loving children, not simply as caregivers. That is really hard to do if you are overwhelmed and burned out.

When she is gone, are you going to feel good that you were able to sit, hold her hand, and go through some photo albums with her, or laugh about old memories, or are you going to regret being so overwhelmed with her laundry and housekeeping and medical attention and you had little personal time with her at the end?

Is she on hospice?

Does she need around-the-clock care?
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You need to get hospice involved. They are a loving, caring group of caregivers who will manage her symptoms (including her mood) and help her on her journey. When our parents get to a certain age, it's unfortunate, but they lose the right to choose their care. We have to be strong enough to do what they need...not what they want. Your mom loved you all of her life. Now it's time for you to love her enough to do the right thing. She may not agree with it, but you will know what you're doing is in her best interests. It's what loving children are destined to do...
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52needshelp, Everyone here tells me just dont keep giving in, do what you can and only what you can. Tell your mom you want to help her more but by doing so, she must accept outside help. Let her in on who is hired, have her meet with agencies or even other caregivers and ask her to try, she may really connect with a few. And she would have some more company. Others have wonderful advice here, they will be here soon. Hugs and good luck.
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