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Desperately needing a break!


Question: My Dad passed away 13 years ago. My mother has been living with my husband and me ever since Daddy passed away. I am an only child so there are no siblings to help me. My husband's family lives about five and a half hours away in South Georgia. We do not get to visit them often because we have my Mom to take care of. Mama turned 90 on this past December. She has short term memory loss, and it appears more symptoms of dementia are starting to show. Mama has been sick since December and has lost almost all of her strength. She either sits in her recliner or lies down all during the day. My husband and I desperately need respite care because Mama does not want to be left alone and rightly so. We need to be able to go to visit my husband's family. What should we do?

Dr. Amy: Thirteen years is a long time to care for a loved one without a break. I hope in addition to visiting your husband's family, you can also build in more regular little breaks so you have time off to recharge your batteries.

It sounds like your mother's health has taken a turn for the worse. If you have not already done so, it's a good idea for her to see the doctor. Such a pronounced change in her energy may be a sign of a serious health condition. If her health is generally stable and you're ready to plan a family trip, you are perfectly right: you need respite care! As you may already know, respite care is largely paid for by individuals and families. If you can afford it, you can hire a respite care provider t come to your home while you are away, or you can have your mother stay in a caregiving facility. Here is a link to some excellent information about respite care and your choices.

If cost is a barrier, you will have to be creative about your options. You may end up making a plan that draws on several sources of support.

  • Are there other members of your extended family who could come stay with your mother for part of the time you will be away?
  • Can you put together a care team of friends, family, and some paid help?
  • Are there volunteers you can draw on? Perhaps a faith group or community organization like the Lions Club can offer suggestions or small financial grants.
  • Can you husband visit his family for a longer period of time and you jon him for a shorter time during which you pay for help? Or could he go by himself for a long weekend?

Your mother could live another several years, so you need to find ways to visit family and have time to yourself. Don't give up. Keep asking for help until you find a solution.

Your mother is so lucky to have such a loving daughter. Good luck!

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