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Parenting my parent

Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2014

My mom has brain cancer and I am acting as her primary caregiver. I am really struggling with being both a good caregiver and a good (new) roommate. I try to keep open communication and understand why, when she seems to be feeling well, she can't participate in the simplest of household tasks - namely putting food away when she is done with it and closing doors (car, garage, etc) so the pets don't get out and the house isn't open to anybody who walks by. I don't mind doing her laundry, cleaning, really everything else, but I am getting irrationally angry when she plays solitaire for hours but can't put the milk back in the fridge, even when asked. Does anybody have any experience with a parent who is physically capable of helping, but doesn't have the attention span nor the desire to make life any easier? We also argue over things I feel like you'd fight with a child over, like why she needs to bathe everyday, why she shouldn't open mail and leave the wrappings all over the floor, etc. I'm trying to pick and choose the most extreme and safety needs, but I'm getting so frustrated.


Thanks in advance.

Posts: 761
Joined: Apr 2012

Being a caregiver is hard but one thing you must do is take care of yourself.  I have been my husband's caregiver for almost 4 years and it does get frustrating.  While he is not fighting brain cancer, that I know of, he is fighting laryngeal cancer, cancer at the cervical of his esophagus and right lung cancer.  He declined further treatment this time last year and while I am happy he is still here and doing okay, I do frustrated because all he does is sit and feel sorry for himself and while he does do most things for himself, he doesn't take into consideration my feelings about anything or if I am sick, he doesn't care.

I know that a person with brain cancer has a change in personality.  And I know how hard it is to care for a parent.  My mother spent her last two years of life with us.  While I was still working my husband took great care of her, but she didn't appreciate it one bit.  Evenings and week-ends she expected me to wait on her hand and foot.  While she didn't have cancer, she did have heart failure.  She would doze most of the day and then be wide awake all night and expect me to keep her company.  Something I couldn't do as I had to get up and go to work.  

I am sure your mother is depressed as most cancer patients are.  Maybe you could talk with her doctors and get her something for depression.  But the main thing is that you have to take care of yourself.  Be sure you make time for yourself.  There are support groups for caregivers and don't fret the small things.  

Posts: 107
Joined: Feb 2007

Have you tried setting up a structure everyday and stick to it?  Sometimes routine is better remembered.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2014

My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 endometrial cancer 2013. She has had extensive surgery, chemotherapy. She responded well to the treatment. And then after the 9th round of chemotherapy. The cancer resurfaced with some mets. She is strangely very well.

Initially I left my training program to be with her for the sugery for 7weeks. Then my dad took care of her. And currently I left it again for an extended period to be with her. I have been with her for 5weeks now . I have 15months to get my qualification, but it seems that my mother does not want me to finish it. I understand that she wants me around. And it is difficult since I live in another country- 8hours flights away. When I am away I email, skype and whats app.

I explained to her the inconvenience and repercussions of extended leave and the hassles to get back into the swing of the program. But she gets all cryey and whiney and 'I thought you were staying until I die'.

My fiancee and I have been away from each other for both these lengthy periods which is also difficult.

My sister works and helps when she can. My father was with her when I couldn't be. And he will be with her again in one week. She can also afford caregivers.

I am torn as what I should do.

I read on other discussion forums how mothers wanted their children to go ahead and live life and continue with their goals. And they seemed to be quite understanding. I cannot understand how my mother wants me to give up everything to be with her for an indefinite period of time. My job, training, relationship.

For the last 5 weeks, I have been waiting on her hand and foot. And she appreciates it. It has been difficult as she needs assistance at night every 2 hours to reposition/use the potty. So not getting to sleep at night and then taking care of her during the day (washing, cooking,etc)  has been difficult.

She is young 59.  Currently she is recovering from the pleurodesis so things are difficult and can get painful when she moves. So she needs assitance with activities of daily living. But she is mobile. She also has a stoma.

Can anyone help me, advice etc. Are there any moms that can shed some light on this please?

Thank you

Posts: 761
Joined: Apr 2012

This is a decision you have to make.  When my mother lived with us the last 2 years of her life, my husband took care of her because I was still working.  She wanted me to quit my job and stay home with her.  But I told her I couldn't afford to do that, then she said she would pay me, but again couldn't do that because for one thing I needed my health insurance.  The last month of her life I did take family leave but then again we knew the end was very, very close.

Now I am dealing with my husband having terminal cancer.  Thankfully I am retired now.  We have grown children but they aren't able to really help because they work and I don't expect them to be here constantly.  Their jobs are important for them and their families and I understand that.  But I also know if I need them, they will be here.

Just tell your mother that you will be back when needed but you have to finish your training.  This is your future.  Your father is with her and if he needs additional help, they can hire someone to come in and help.   Don't let her lay a quilt trip on you, and yes mothers are good for doing that.  Voice of experience speaking.   But once again it is a decision that only you can make and then again not feel quilty about what you decide to do.  Talk with your father and sister about this too, but in the end it is your decision.

Wishing you peace and comfort


Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2014



Thank you for your advice. You hit the nail on the head when you spoke of guilt. Because that is exactly it! Strange enough though my sister seems to be carrying on with her life as usual.

Thank you for your wisdom. It has helped to make things clearer to me.


Thanks again.


God bless.



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