For About and By Caregivers

Subscribe to our bi-monthly publication Today's Caregiver magazine

  + Larger Font | - Smaller Font

CARENOTES / <Past Carenotes / Discussion Forum


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 - 06/12/08
My mother has been living with us (myself & my husband) for 5-1/2 years, after major surgery. She is now 99 years old. She was hospitalized for a stomach ulcer in December; then the very end of January, she fell & fractured her back. A month almost to the day later, she fell again & ended up with a chest wall contusion. She also has had squamous cell cancer cells treated either with surgery in the past & most recently by radiation.

She gets a nice amount of hours worth of help each week, a total of 20 hours. But, the rest of the time, I'm the only who cares for her. I have found a way of shopping as fast as possible in the 1 or 2 hours I get per day, 5 days a week. Sometimes, I can't make it out, due to a nurse, etc. coming for a visit. I get so depressed. I just can't go out whenever I want or need to. Before her falls, we did everything together. This is what kept her young mentally. I haven't been "away" in so long, I can't remember. I would just love to get away for one over-night someplace, but would have to put her in respite care, which I know would be very unpleasant for her. Putting her into a nursing home is out of the question. I actually need to know how other people deal with the constant moaning, either from pain or just old age or what. It can go on for hours on end. I sleep with my door & hers open, so I can hear her if she needs help during the night. I haven't had a decent night's sleep in over 4 months. Again, the moaning is driving me to distraction. How do other people handle this. I have found, since reading some shares on this site, that it's important to care for yourself.

I have started to take care of me first in the morning before getting her up & ready. In the past, I would take care of her first & by the time I was ready to get myself ready, I was totally exhausted & just didn't care. Now, it helps my morale by getting myself ready, i.e., showered, makeup & hair done, dressed & ready for whatever the day brings. It helps so much deal with problems throughout the day. Except for the moaning. I'm at the point, I'm ready to moan myself about the moaning. Please, some feedback on this. Have a great day.
Reply to Letter  |  View Comments  |   Past Carenotes |   Discussion Forum

View Comments

Name: Connie
Location: Ontario, Canada
Date: 06/12/2008
Time: 10:37 AM


Congratulations on starting to take care of yourself first in the morning. If this is something that helps you face the day with strength then do it. The thing to remember is that when you are looking after someone if you let yourself fall apart you are robbing that person of their caregiver. So just like on airplanes when they say, put your own oxygen mask on before the child's, take care of your needs first to ensure that you stay in shape to take care of someone else's. I understand the whole respite care thing. It's easy for people to suggest putting someone in senior day care but it's not as easy as it sounds. For some, like my folks, their life has fallen apart and changed so much that all they have to hang onto is familiarity and routine. They find comfort in that. So sending them off to a different environment is disquieting for them. Is there a family member you can ask or a home care service you can call, to have someone come and stay one night? My brother was able to come for an overnight stay last September and my husband and I booked a luxury suite overlooking the falls. That one night felt like a whole was heaven. One night doesn't seem like a lot but a day and night away from the responsibility and grind of caregiving rejuvenated us. With regards to sleep...have you tried getting a baby monitor. It would be easier to hear her on a baby monitor than straining to hear through two open doors with so much space in between. Knowing you can hear her easily would then perhaps give you the comfort you need to be able to relax a little more so that you could sleep more soundly and fully. Sleep is vital to keeping up your strength and health. And lastly, to handle the moaning, the best defense is to tune it out and treat it like white noise. My mother is in considerable pain 24/7. Dressing her, toiletting her, bathing her...all are exercises in patience with the sighs, gasps, ouchs and the endless litany of stuff about wishing she could die and how this isn't living anymore. There are days when she cries and talks about wanting to die all day, and why doesn't God take her. And this is despite taking antidepressants. It used to get to me but out of self preservation I have learned to let it go in one ear and out the other. I pat her hand, give her a hug and let her moan. It's her way of coping with her lot. She needs to get it off her chest in some way because she is frustrated by her body's betrayal of her. On really bad days I show her funny jokes or cute videos to distract her momentarily and I regularly remind her of the blessings she still has, how much we all love and value her. But I recognize her need to express herself in the only way she is able. Best of luck to you! CZ

Date: 06/12/2008
Time: 11:35 AM


Yes, the moaning can get to a person. The hospice nurse suggested that I grind up some Advil and put it in applesauce. Your mother could have the aches and pains of old age and just can't tell you. There are times when I administer the Advil and it does seem to alleviate the moaning for a while. I guess you would need to check to see if this is o.k. Also, I stopped the baby monitoring and close the door to sleep. If the sides of the bed are up, and there really is no reasonable reason for the moaning, I figure that I need my sleep. Oh, and sometimes they just need to be shifted or a pillow placed in a different area. At any rate, yes, there are times when I am ready to jump out of my skin at this moaning business, so you are not alone. Hope you can use the info. Nan

Name: Judy Beauchemin
Location: Branchport, NY
Date: 06/12/2008
Time: 04:11 PM


You certainly have your hands full. I really do understand, although I care for my husband 24 hours a day. I never get to sleep through the night either. He has a friend who stays with him one afternoon a week when I get groceries and run errands. I do have an aide now and then and it is so helpful to get out to lunch with a friend sometimes. I also have an aide for him when I have appointments of my own. If you have a support group nearby, you will find that very helpful. You are so right to take care of yourself first in the morning. I consider that to be my time to shower, have some coffee, do my exercise routine and sometimes check my e-mail. Then the day begins. Even if you can't get away for a day or two, try to schedule time for yourself to just go shopping or meet a friend for dinner. You really need to relax as much as you can. Also, plan to do something for yourself when she is napping. Take care of yourself and God bless you!

Location: OHIO
Date: 06/12/2008
Time: 04:43 PM


Try putting a cd player in her room with Classical Music- start with 15 min, then each day increase the time....Try waltz, or other types of music- slow classical instrumental music, heck even try country music for a while.. or books on tapes from the library.... or some of those nature sounds cds anything.... play some of these at night time....she might just like them enough that she will cease the moaning for a while....

Name: hounddog
Location: wisconsin
Date: 06/13/2008
Time: 07:44 AM


I have been taking care of my mother for ten years now, since my father passed away from cancer. Mom is 86 and has started to hum and moan or repeat small phrases to the point that it has been driving me and my family crazy. I am the youngest of 6 and I am 44 yrs old and married with 3 children who have adapted to living with grandma. My youngest does not remember ever not having grandma there for him after school. I have tried to tell mom to stop making noise because we cannot hear the TV or that she needs to eat and not hum so much. She does not even know she is doing it. She wears hearing aids but I think the silence in her mind is too scary for her. My siblings do not see mom on a regular basis so the do not believe me about the constant moaning. I always say, "mom, are you in any pain? when she answers no, I tell her to please stop the humming, it is too distracting for me to prepare supper" or whatever I have to do at the time. At night when we watch tv together, which she really enjoys, I try to rent movies that I want to see and get excited and tell her to watch it and try not to fall asleep. That way she will be able to fall asleep at night without too much trouble. At bedtime when I cover her up. I have the same routine and tell her I love her and I put my finger across my mouth and say sh-sh-sh go to sleep now, everyone is sleeping even your dogs. Don't wake up your dogs! I think having animals in the house has really helped her to feel like she wants to live because i tell her it is her job to take care of their petting and loves for the day. That sometimes the kids are too busy to show the dogs love everyday and that the dogs need the grandma's love daily. She seems to calm down then and go to sleep pretty much within 10 minutes and then I can have some private time with my husband. Maybe you could talk to your mother's doctor about the moaning and maybe she could have something to help with the pain or confusion at bedtime to help her relax and go to sleep. I know my mother can have anxiety issues when she has a U.T.I. or if her thyroid medicine needs adjusting. Let her doctor be aware of what is going on. God Bless.

Name: Jim
Location: Maryland
Date: 06/13/2008
Time: 12:17 PM


Why is a nursing home "out of the question"? If you don't stop this 24/7 physical and mental drain on yourself you will die before she does and then who will visit her and take care of her affairs? My children saved my life so I could enjoy and enhance my wife's stay in the nursing home. I survived a heart attack after 5 years of 24/7 caring for her but she is my spouse. Your mother is 99 years old. At the rate you describe her moaning etc. and what it is doing to you, you are telling me she may out-live you. It's time. Respectfully, Jim in Maryland

Name: Laura
Location: Pennsylvania
Date: 06/13/2008
Time: 12:46 PM


Taking care of yourself is critical. I brought my parents back to live with us, (my husband and son), two years ago after my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. We brought in a hospital bed and through the guidance of Hospice, he had a relatively peaceful death, surrounded by the ones who loved him. My health deteriorated, however, as I was working full time and being kept awake at night with helping him. I ended up with shingles. The caregiving hasn't ended, as my 80-year old mother is in poor health. I've recently had to place her in a nursing home close to my house after an operation which ended in a colostomy, something I thought I would never do. Before this, I would care for her before I went to work, go home lunchtime, then again dinnertime and bed. She loved the attention, but I was fading away. I had no time for myself and became severely depressed. I went to my family doctor, who put me on an anti-depressant and I am also going to a therapist, which has helped immensely. Remember, you are the only one who can take care of YOU. You love your mother, but you won't be able to care for her if you become ill, either mentally or physically. I hope this was of some help to you!

Name: Sharon
Location: Kentucky
Date: 06/13/2008
Time: 12:59 PM


While this may not give you more time through the day it may help you get some needed sleep. I have used a wireless doorbell for this situation. I used commonly available velcro strips and attached the small buzzer part to a mouse pad (for computers)so that it does not slip away during the night and lay it next to Mom. The part that rings loudly I take with me to the other bedroom, then close both doors and you can even run a fan for white noise. The doorbell will sound loudly and awaken you if you are needed and you can sleep without listening to every sound coming from her room. Hope it works. I have even used the same concept to attach button so she can remotely turn light on without having to move much in bed. It has been a Godsend. Hope it works.


Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Youtube Follow us on Pinterest Google Plus