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67 year old mother has terminal cancer, on last chemo. My brother and I visit daily to check on and give any help we can. Mums husband is a functioning alcoholic which is very played down by both. Mum is frail from cancer but husband manages to shop and do meals but then drinks vodka rest of day. Mum has fallen over recently herself but husband is also falling from being drunk, sometimes reaching out to support himself on mum who's sat down. She recently fell out of her chair trying to stop him falling as he walked past her. I know he needs help but he won't comply as they both just want to be left alone don't think mum realises how dangerous this is to them both. They feel like they are being nagged by us. Mum has a macmillan nurse but does not use any services available. I don't even know what they can do to help. I think mum puts off asking as her illness will be more real to her once she needs help. What can be done to help that's not too invasive. Mum and her partner are adamant t they don't need home carers. But I know mum probably has not bathed properly in months. She lies to keep the peace and won't let us help her more than take her to appointments and pick them up off the floor when they fall. He always says he doesn't need an abulance when he falls as it's just his dodgy knee. Although it's probably the drink he's ashamed off. I don't want to call an ambulance when he falls drunk if he is actually physically ok. Don't want to waste time but maybe then he can get some help. Just don't know what to do.. He won't stop drinking so nothing will change. Are we really resigned to wanting to give our mum care with having to worry about his drunkeness increasing her stress and safety. He is not aggressive or loud.. just in a stupor which gets worse until bedtime when mum has to help him get undressed and worry about him falling. Mum was walking well until she fell out of a chair breaking his fall as he walked past her.

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I think you are doing all you can, visiting daily. Things only need to start happening when you are there, like a fall, and then you can act. All the best. Arlene Hutcheon
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smorris, you are so supportive! The lack of bathing is sad, too. I've read lots of responses on this site like the ones here - call an ambulance at the next viable opportunity, to get some intervention. Best wishes, you've got a lot on your mind.
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I agree--after much of my own experience.

Dad an alcoholic; Mom co-dependent to an exasperating degree, both steeped in denial. I kept waiting for the day "when they would realize what was going on and change." (Read: rays of sun through clouds and majestic music.)

You cannot help people who are in denial.

When they are willing, then you can help.

But they won't be willing until things get so bad that they themselves can't stand it anymore. This usually comes in the form of a major illness or accident.

In the meantime, do what little you can, keep a clear and guilt-free head, take care of yourself.
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I think you are doing all you can.
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Thank you so much for your positive comments ☺ I have decided give them.a call before they go to bed and ask mum if they need any help to get to bed.. If not, probably not, I'll wait for the call when one of them falls and just call an ambulance. This sounds harsh but it's only luck that neither of them has had a broken hip or something more serious. I've explained to them both this evening that they need to keep their walkers close by and use them for every time they need to get up. (They had been in the corner of the room for weeks). I have tried to explain to mum that if one of them falls and breaks a hip they'll be in hospital for some time and we owould have to get carers in to support the one at home. I think it's sinking in that they are not indestructible! Intervention is the only way things will change. Thanks again for your feedback ☺
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One thing I would do is see if there's a local Gilda's Club in your area. Even if your parents won't participate, the activities would connect you to others living with the cancer experience and help relieve some of your own stress.

I would also check out the CURE magazine; it's free to those with cancer as well as their caregivers, and there is an online site. Articles range from practical ones such as dealing with the cancer experience to more esoteric ones such as genetic factors.

The only other thing you can do is think about what might happen and develop a back-up plan. There may come a time when your mother needs to be away from the alcoholic situation and just have some peace.

Are there any social workers at the hospital or infusion center where your mother gets chemo? Also, if the infusion center offers palliative measures such as Reiki therapy, art therapy, etc., it might help either you or your mother, if she's able to tolerate participation in low energy activities. Reiki doesn't require exertion on her part though; a trained Reiki therapist provides therapy during chemo sessions.
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Your mom is in denial about her illness and about her husband's alcoholism. They've stated that they don't want any help. They've refused in-home care. They've both fallen several times but give excuses regarding why they've fallen and have refused an ambulance.

This is not a couple you can help. Their lives and their personalities are so ingrained that you won't be able to change their mind. The best you can do is wait for another fall and call an ambulance (over your father's objections) and get them to the hospital. Once you're at the hospital you can explain the situation to the nurse and hopefully your mom will be receptive to assistance. Your dad will refuse anything that might interfere with his drinking.

I had to do this with my parents too. They refused help, refused to acknowledge that they needed help. One of them would fall, they'd call me, and I'd go rushing over there to pick one of them off the floor. One night they called, my mom had fallen, and I pretended that I couldn't get her off the floor. We had no choice but to call an ambulance. While on the floor the paramedic gave my mom a mental status test which she failed so off to the hospital we went. When we were there I got the nurse alone outside the room and told her what had been going on, that my parent's refused help, etc. and she passed the information along to the Dr. My mom was admitted and my dad was presented with all kinds of in-home services.

Sometimes we have to wait for an emergency.
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