How can I reasure my mother that it's ok to pass away with our her getting offended?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 28, 2016
Kim.elliott27 asked...

This question is regarding assuring a loved one that it's okay to pass away. I have read on this website and already knew that the standard way is to lovingly tell them that I'll be okay and they don't need to struggle anymore. Unfortunately, my mother has lead her life in a very guilt-provoking and manipulative way. Therefore, when I express this thought, she chooses to be offended and respond with "oh, you want me to die, eh?". She is 91 with moderate COPD, hypertension, hypothyroidism, two hip replacements, a fracture of the L-5 vertebra (extremely painful) and most recently she can't empty her bladder without the use of a catheter. She is scheduled for a cystoscopy on 7/1/11. With every fall or set-back, she always recovers quickly. I certainly know she has the right to live as long as she can but her quality of life is drastically diminished. As for me, since her first hip replacement in 3/09, I've gone from her part-time caregiver to 24/7. I became unemployed in 12/10 and we share a one-bedroom apartment wherein I sleep in the living room. What's worse is it's in the same building that I believe she developed COPD due to smoking in the apartments and I'm afraid I'm going to develop it. Because I'm unemployed and her caregiver, I can't look for work and therefore could get into legal issues if found out. I absolutely do not have any inkling of a life of my own. I am lucky if I get out to the grocery store and have to rush back. We have very little money between unemployment and social security, therefore cannot afford any caregivers to supplement my care. I am seriously at the end of my rope. I feel like she's just going to keep bouncing back and I'll be stuck here forever.

Expert Answers

Audrey Wuerl, RN, BSN, PHN, is education coordinator for Hospice of San Joaquin in California. She is also a geriatric trainer for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), which promotes education in geriatric nursing and end-of-life care.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming"”especially when there seems to be no relief from the day-in, day-out role of providing for another person. But, let's stand back and analyze what we can do to help.

The first thing that comes to mind is if your resources are limited, your mother (and you) could qualify for Medicaid. This is the government program that provides resources for low-income individuals. Because you state your mother has many medical conditions, and is scheduled for a cystocopy, she may already have Medicaid. If so, find out what in-home resources regarding care giving are available for her. If she does not, contact the social services in your county regarding assistance in receiving Medicaid.

You could try to have your church or other social groups you or your mother are acquainted with, provide some "respite" care for you. Respite is all about the caregiver, and helps by providing some relief from day-to-day care giving responsibilities. This could be very helpful for your mother as well, as she would have some socialization. And, while you now express feeling "trapped", nothing is forever. Enjoy your mother as long as you can.

Community Answers

Kim.elliott27 answered...

Unfortunately, because we live in California, the state program is Medi-cal. This agency has a very low threshold for income ($600) per month and therefore my mother has a share-of-cost of over $1000. This means she has to pay out her share-of-cost before Medi-cal will pay any medical bills. They also do not have any resources for assistance in the home. There's a program here call In-home Supportive Services to financially supplement for caregiving however it only pays per task. My mom is pretty self-sufficient except for cooking and shopping.

Now, I don't want to sound evil but my mom bounces back from every ailment that she is striken with. The problem is the longer she lives the more likely she will get to the stage where she's gasping for breath due to her COPD. I don't want her go through this. Other than the obvious reasons, she is extremely high anxiety and this situation would be tremendous difficult for her and the family. Yesterday, her pulmonologist stated that the new fracture in her spine has reduced her COPD status from moderate to severe.

I am workig on getting a back-up caregiver for when I am out for two or more hours so that I can start having breaks and feel like I'm more than just her servant.

A fellow caregiver answered...

The expert answer sounds very helpful. I just thought I'd add an idea. Maybe you could write a letter to your mom about your feelings, then just put it away. Sometimes getting the idea "out" is help enough, plus you'd have it ready to go in case you ever felt it was necessary and could show it to her mi us the stress of trying to confront her "live". If it means anything, I think it's very admirable that you're doing so much for her.