Question: My mom came to live with me, my husband and two older children five years ago after she had a minor stroke. Her memory is affected and she has other health issues, including dementia. Lack of support from my siblings has always added stress to my life. Now I have stage four breast cancer and my husband and kids are my caregivers. I don't know how to continue taking care of my mom and focus on my own health too. I feel a lot of guilt pulling away from mom while dealing with my depression and problems.
Dr. Amy: The goal here is to make sure both you and your mother get the support and care you need. You do not have to do everything yourself - nor can you.
You need support to help you through this challenging time. I encourage you seek counseling and consider joining a support group. Your local hospital can make connections for you, and so can the Cancer Society. It's important for your health that you find a way to let go of the guilt you are carrying. A counselor can help and so can a leader of a faith community if you are a member of one. You are doing your best. You've cared for your mother for five years. You can only do so much, and it's important that you take care of yourself first.
Your mother needs care, too, of course. If your husband and children are not able to care for you both, they need to find outside help. Options include adult day care for your mother, in-home care, having friends and family help out with meals, errands, and other chores. It's important to ask for help. I wish you strength.
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