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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 06/18/08
I have been taking care of my mom since January. She has lung cancer. I have been a stay-at-home mom with two teenage boys. One sister works with three children and one does not work and has one child. Do I have the right to ask for their help to go somewhere with my family? They have both been to the beach for a week. (My mom lives with me)
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Name: Karen Carter
Location: Rome, GA
Date: 06/18/2008
Time: 07:54 AM


You have every right to get the respite you and your family need to be rejuvenated to keep up with the caregiving you have been providing. Also, this may show your sisters what you go through in providing care for your mother. I hope it works out and you have a great time. And never feel guilty about taking care of yourself.

Name: Jane
Location: Kansas City
Date: 06/18/2008
Time: 07:59 AM


The short answer is yes, you have every right to ask for help. That is the biggest part of caregiving that we all must learn: we can't do this job 24/7 - we need to ask for help. The pool of potential helpers includes family, friends, church members, friends of friends, neighbors, etc. Think of all the people who have said to you "do you need help?" They have just volunteered and should be taken up on their offer. It is important to ask your sisters to help in ways that they can - if not being there to care for your mom, then helping to pay for someone who can be there. Not everyone is comfortable with the hands-on things we do as caregivers. Keep that in mind when you talk to them. If they can't be with mom, they can go to the grocery store for you or perform some other task that allows you to decrease your stress. You may be surprised at what they can offer. They may be waiting for you to ask. Don't try to read their minds - ask for what you need. Good luck.

Name: Cindy Miles
Location: Sylva, NC
Date: 06/18/2008
Time: 07:59 AM


Dear caregiver, You most certainly do have the right, even the responsibility, to ask your siblings for their help so you can take strategic breaks from time to time. If you don't, there's a good chance you could jeopardize your own health ... making it entirely possible that your sisters would suddenly find themselves in the role of primary caregiver to your mom. Studies repeatedly show that, unless caregivers take strategic breaks (respite) from time to time, 65% of them will precede their loved ones in death. Clearly, you can't risk becoming yet another statistic. There is a wonderful course for caregivers, entitled, "Powerful Tools for Caregivers", which teaches (among many other things) how to communicate assertively with other family members in such a way that you persuade them to pitch in with the caregiving responsibilities. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging Family Caregiver Support Program for more details about this amazing course. Finally, in the event your siblings are unable (or unwilling) to help, the Family Caregiver Support Program may be able to assist you with the costs of hiring someone so you can take a break. Respite is one of the categories of service offered through the Family Caregiver Support Program, provided the care recipient is at least 60 years of age. Hang in there! You don't have to do this by yourself.

Name: M. Wilson
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Date: 06/18/2008
Time: 08:45 AM


Of course you do! The trick is to be very specific. Ask the working sister to visit with Mom for three hours once a month on a Saturday so you can run errands. Or give her a shopping list every week. I know she goes to the grocery store at least once a week with three kids! Ask the stay at home sister to visit with Mom maybe four hours, one day a week. She can bring her child to visit Grandmother, or perhaps visit during her child's play dates. Don't forget in home Respite care is available through your local Area Agency on Aging. My prayers are with you and your Mom and, best of luck.

Name: Judy Beauchemin
Location: Branchport, NY
Date: 06/18/2008
Time: 09:39 AM


Of course you should ask the rest of your family to take over so you can go on a vacation with your family. You really need the respite and they should be very willing to pitch in and take over so you can get away. In fact, they should be offering their help, but if they don't offer, be sure to ask. We all need a break from time to time. Good luck!

Date: 06/18/2008
Time: 10:33 AM


Hello, I am a RN, and owner of Visiting Angels Senior Homecare Agency in Ann Arbor, MI. You absolutely need to ask for help. Caregiver's must take care of themselves in order to take care of other's. You didn't provide details of your Mom's health status, but it sounds like she needs someone with her at all times? It's also important that family members can spend time with her. Everyone cannot be a caregiver, either physically or emotionally. If this is the case, ask for everyone to provide financially to hire a caregiver for respite. If your Mom is terminal, I would recommend Hospice. Not only do they pay for all equipment, and medications related to the terminal illness, but they provide support for you, your mom, and family. Hospice will provide respite care for up to 1 week. They cannot provide respite on a regular basis, but they can recommend a good private duty agency in your area for regular respite visits. Most people obtain hospice too late for all the benefits they can provide. Caregiving is difficult, especially when you have no break. If you don't ask for assistance from your family, you could be building resentment that will be difficult to resolve. The Red Cross offers a Family Caregiving program that is very good. Be good to yourself, and realize you can't do it all, and that is REALLY ok. No One can. God Bless you, your Mom, and family.

Name: Jim
Location: Maryland
Date: 06/18/2008
Time: 11:48 AM


Yes you have the right. I would not count on a positive response since they have not offered to do this in the past. If, they made reservations and needed to go that's ok. Did they offer to take care of your mother to let you get a break, yet? You have my permission to show them this e-mail and maybe they will wake up. But don't expect them to "get it". Bless you.

Name: Sharon
Location: Kentucky
Date: 06/18/2008
Time: 02:02 PM


Yes - in order to stay in good shape yourself you should be able to go on vacation for a week or two where you know Mom is being taken care of and not worry about her. They can choose to provide the care directly or they may choose to pool their cash and hire someone to provide the ALL the support you provide on a full time basis.




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