questionswhat are good gifts for someone who serves as the…

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Anyway, I try to get back to my hometown to help out when I can, but often feel stuck in the middle and ALWAYS feel guilty helping one person when I'm needed to help another. Over April and early May I made three trips there to help out for a total of 10 days, dashing back in between to help my MIL who was having both knees replaced.

I haven't helped with my mom for nearly a month, since we've been helping my MIL and hosting the family members who came to help. I REALLY want to do something nice for my sister who is her primary caretaker. She's widowed (another tragedy) and has no kids and is stressed incredibly. I want to do something extra nice for her birthday next month, but can't promise to take over for her any time soon. Her biggest hobby lately has been quilting, but I would like to give her something other than basic quilting supplies. I would love to say that money is no object, but it is, so a cruise is out of the question. Suggestions? Ideas? Related stories?

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I'm sad to hear that you don't want quilting supplies. I could send you more of that than you would ever want. I'm very fond of purchasing "Grandma's Sewing Basket"[1] items from estate auctions and sales, and they're often filled with uncompleted quilts or patches carefully cut for quilts. I don't quilt. I know how, it just doesn't interest me in the way other handwork things do.

You say cost is an issue, and I'm not sure how much this suggestion costs, but here it is. Engage a baby sitting service to give your sister a break once or twice a month. I'm sure there's one or more local to your sister (check on their references). Once a month for a few hours could still be a blessing.

[1] Sewing baskets, or boxes with the contents, or even large containers with contents, often end up as something a family isn't interested in keeping (or there may be no family). I love them. I love going through them, and often finish unfinished projects.

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IDK your cash situation, but if you could hire a nurses aide for the day, and treat her to a local spa day, or even just a nice restaurant and a movie, enlist the help and companionship of a friend, for the second one. Most family caretakers say that the first thing to suffer is their personal support network, so facilitating a friendship is a good start.

In the meantime, sounds like everyone involved needs to phone an eldercare support hotline. They are often a great source of information about daycare programs and other resources. Sorry, I am running out right now, don't have the number at my fingertips, I will post back tomorrow with some contact info. Be careful not to provide a gift that means well, but actually causes more stress, like a gift certificate to be used within a small window of time, or anything like that.

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@shrdlu: Woman after my own heart, I so enjoy pawing through someone's lifelong collection of buttons (a veritable museum of fashion history) and I especially love the beautiful artwork on the vintage needle packages. I don't finish the projects, but I always get a wistful feeling seeing a beautiful piece of unfinished tatting, or similar project.

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@shrdlu: Oh, I don't mind getting her some quilting supplies, I just really don't know anything about quilting and could only think of getting her bundles of fabric or books on quilting or something. If you have stuff or ideas, I would appreciate it!

My sister started quilting after she was widowed at around 40. She has done some lovely quilts for each of her nieces and nephews, and did a table runner for me that matches my kitchen. BIL had a collection of t-shirts from places they had visited together and she started a quilt from those many years ago, but I don't think she's ever had the heart to finish it.

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@pickypickypicky: Thanks for the suggestion of a sitter. That is a major point of contention in my family. Mom doesn't need 24/7 care yet, and refuses to move to an assisted living facility, so my sister goes to her place almost every evening to check on her and help her with dinner, etc. My sister handles her bills, doctor appointments (unless I'm able to come for those) and buys her groceries. She doesn't need a sitter (yet) , but even if she did that's one of our family arguments. We went through this with my dad. Every time I suggested any kind of sitter I was "the bad daughter." Family should take care of family, and all that. Even when Dad had home health folks come to the house my Mom hated having strangers there and always ended up complaining about them or just running them off. (sigh)

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@belyndag: Since your mom doesn't need 24-hour care, perhaps there's a different tactic available. Can you ask your sister to be very specific about what would make her care-taking easier? It could be something as "simple" as knowing that "every Thursday is my day to relax and not be on call." Then on Thursdays a home-care aide could visit in the afternoon, make sure dinner is either cooked or defrosted, served, and eaten, and be on her way.

Perhaps this could be eased into by having an aide who goes to your mom's place with your sister a couple of times before she has solo duty?

If your mom digs in her heels, what would be the emotional ramifications for everyone if you helped your sister stand firm on the idea that she's going to be "off duty" on Thursdays, and your mom's options are to accept four hours of home-care aide or to spend the entire evening alone? Is this a feasible tactic to try?

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@belyndag: (cont'd) Can you and your sister agree to help each other fight off any guilt that may (okay, that probably will) arise in this situation? Can you tell your mom that neither you nor your sister want her to have to go to an assisted-living facility yet, but that that's a real consideration if your sister simply collapses from exhaustion and/or stress and anxiety? I'm personally not above trying to guilt-trip someone into a semblance of rational behavior if that's about all that's left to try.

I haven't a clue what hourly pay for a home-care aide is and whether it's feasible or not, but with luck your sister's heart's desire and your budget may come close to matching.

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@magic cave: Great suggestions. I know my family puts the funk in dysfunctional. My sister has a lot on her shoulders. Sometimes she is more accepting of suggestions than at other times. It's tough to determine when I am crossing that fine line between being helpful and interfering.

I was hesitant to even start this conversation because I don't want to come across as being negative. I know that the heaviest burden falls on my sister, and there really isn't much I can do about that. My mother has always been more capable than she wants to admit, but is very demanding (in a passive-aggressive don't-you-feel-guilty kind of way). Unfortunately, she burned us out during the years that she COULD have done for herself, and now she probably IS incapable in many ways. I live 2.5 hours away, have my in-laws to care for, as well as DS with his challenges. Years ago I put my foot down a bit and stopped going there every single weekend. I missed so much of my kids' lives when they were little.

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@belyndag: Good question. Good topic. As you know, I am my mom's caregiver. 10 years ago she had triple bypass surgery that didn't come out the way we hoped it would. She is pretty much housebound, but still able to live alone at this time. I'm at her house most of the day or whenever I am needed (I only live a mile away).I know that sometime in the future, she will have to move in with me. I'm trying to hold off doing this as long as I can because I really want to hold on to what little sanity I have left. Does this make me a bad daughter?

Anyway, to answer your question with a question, "Does your sister have an e-book reader?" I have found my Kindle Keyboard reader to be a lifesaver (Thank you, once again, @gmwhit for cluing me in to it. BTW, where is she, anyway?) I always have it with me when Mom is hospitalized. Not only do I have it loaded with books, but also daily deal books from audible.com (Thank you, @f00l and thank you @wilfbrim for the Amazon daily book deals).

Cont.

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To try to shorten this (ha!), I have an extra, freebie Kindle Keyboard (refurb) that I've never used. I received 2 Kindles for my birthday one year and so I put this one away. I would be quite willing to send this to you. (It also has a charger and a cover.) One can never receive enough caregiver "thank you" gifts. Right? :) Or maybe you can use this? This would really be a great favor to me because I'm getting tired of dusting it.

Let me know.

Dang, I see the tag has been changed to "chat" -sigh-

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@barnabee: Double dang! I would cheerfully have avoided the entire "gift" topic if they weren't wanting us to post questions that would get people to search for deals! I thought I was doing what the mods wanted, but I guess not. Dang again!

No, sweetie, I do NOT think you are a bad daughter. Of course, I am the bad daughter in my family because I haven't given up my life and moved 200 miles away to care for my mother. You are, obviously, a much better daughter than I am. In fact, I am starting to suspect that you might be my sister in disguise. Hmmm?

Seriously, I'm the only reader in my family, strangely enough (in addition to being the bad daughter), and my sister has an iPad she takes everywhere with her, but I greatly appreciate the offer. I have a 2nd generation Kindle that I nearly wore out until I got a smart phone and put the Kindle app on it. Definitely a lifesaver!

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@barnabee: My sister who lives near my mom was widowed the year after my father died. At one point when my mom was struggling financially, my sister offered to move in with mom, and take over the household bills including the mortgage. In return, all she asked for was one of the bedrooms and bathrooms that are unused, and the living room that has turned into storage. Mom said sis was welcome to move in, but my mom wasn't getting rid of ANY of her (crappy old) furniture to make room for her. Sis would just have to get rid of all HER stuff. (sigh) Sister declined, of course. It has come up again from time to time but, as Sister says, "That ship has sailed."

On the one hand, I really wish that had worked out. I would feel better about Mom if I knew Sister was living with her. On the other hand, my sister REALLY needs to maintain as much of her own life as possible. DH and I keep proposing that they buy a new low-maintenance accessible place together, but that idea gets shot down, too.

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@belyndag: @belyndag: Sounds like your mom is more than a bit, uh, cantankerous. Your sister is an angel, but you are too. You are doing as much as you can for everyone in your family. EVERYONE. Don't beat yourself up.

I am very lucky. My mom is a very sweet little old lady. Everyone loves her. When I've been around some of her old friends and co-workers they almost always tell me, "You aren't anything like your Mom." Hmm. Anyway, the biggest problem I have had with her was trying to convince her to give up driving. (She could barely walk, much less drive). I just didn't have it in me to take her keys away. That problem was solved when she backed out of the side gate and caved in the whole length of the passenger side of her van. (The gate post was set in concrete.)

I guess my biggest complaint is that it's all so tiring. And yes, there are times we have to "draw a line," which makes it very hard.

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@barnabee and @belyndag: This is a question borne total ignorance: does Social Security cover any sort of limited home-care aide?

Awful Terrible Horrible thought: I still miss my parents dreadfully (Mom died in 1976, Dad in 1985), but there are moments -- such as in this thread -- that I am genuinely, heartfully thankful that this is one set of problems I don't have to cope with.

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@magic cave: This is where it gets very confusing and remember I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on the internet. Hopefully, @belyndag or anyone else can correct me if I am wrong. Social Security does not pay for any kind of nursing care. Medicare will pay some for up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care (skilled, such as care needed after hospitalization). Now with supplemental health insurance, which most Medicare recipients have, all of the skilled care will be covered, but it has to be at a certified Medicare facility.

After Mom had her bypass surgery, she had to go to a re-hab nursing home because she was so weak. She was there for just about 95 days. Now, upon dismissal, I'm not sure if there is some home care available because she was doing pretty good and I was there to help her.

Last year, after her heart attack, she had to go to skilled nursing again for re-hab, Her stay was pretty close to 100 days.

Cont.

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When dismissal was imminent, some kind of home health assistance was offered to her, but she signed the "decline" papers before I knew anything about what was going on. Grrrr. I'm not sure what this involved, but I will not have this problem again. I NOW have her complete power of attorney.

She is going to have a heart cath in a couple of weeks. Depending on what takes place, she may end up in a nursing home re-hab, again. If this happens, I will be able to answer your question. -sigh-

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@magic cave: I should have said, Medicare along with secondary insurance will pay 100% for the 100 days. Any days over 100, the patient pays out of pocket or through a Long Term Care plan, if they are lucky enough to have one.

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@barnabee: "cantankerous" doesn't begin to cover it. She doesn't think so, of course. She really is pretty passive-aggressive. She rules through guilt. My sister is the one who is cantankerous, but also the most generous, giving person I know. She has to be cantankerous to deal with our mom.

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I am not in this situation yet but could be in the future. A friend of mine has taken jobs helping elderly people in their homes. She currently visits a lady two days a week for a few hours in the afternoon. The family hired her to make sure the Mom had someone just in case and to serve her dinner. My friend does light cleaning and plays cards with her client. Anyhow the long story shorter...maybe there is a person nearby who could use a few extra dollars for a standing weekly visit? Maybe if you try words like visit or even a longtime friend could start showing up regularly instead of sitter or home health care services?

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Hey @belyndag: You hit POPULAR!! Some very kind mod re-tagged your question. Thanks, very kind mod. We were really wanting people to see this and discuss the issues with us (and maybe come up with some good gift ideas?)

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@barnabee: it is, indeed, very tiring. I have worked very hard to start carving out time for myself and my husband and kids. The trade-off is that I have to deal with guilt. I never seem to be able to straighten out my priorities and get everything done for everyone. I have been running a support group for families dealing with ADHD, Aspergers, etc. for 24 years now. I often have had to explain that I'm not there because I have all the answers. One of the things I always tell members is that they should "put the oxygen mask on your own face before helping someone else with their mask." Good advice, but it's much easier to give than it is to follow.

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@belyndag: Yep, you are very much like me--raised on guilt. Mom's favorite phrase when I was growing up was, "Go ahead and do that if you want, but I will be so disappointed." Boy, she sure knew how to manipulate me and she still does. Of course now days all she has to say is "That's okay." I'm such a wimp.

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@barnabee: I just noticed and came back to say THANKS to the mods! I really appreciate it!

And on the subject of gifts again, my sister refuses to take trips unless someone goes to stay with mom, which just isn't feasible right now. She does enjoy a monthly deep tissue massage, and I have given her gift certificates for her favorite spa. Maybe I'll just get another of those for her. I would really like to do something else, though. Her birthday isn't until July so I have a little time.

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@barnabee: LOL! Yup. Sisters, indeed!

My SIL is sitting next to me. She flew in this week to help with MIL and is taking a break to watch college baseball at our house. We have spent most of the evening venting about our mothers. Now I'm wondering where MY daughter is and what she's saying about ME!

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@barnabee: First, sorry for the brain-slip of calling Medicare "social security." I receive both, but since I get most of my health care through a military base, I don't usually need to think in terms of Medicare.

Second, many thanks for the explanation.

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I've recently taken over for my sister as the caregiver for my mom who has Alzheimers. We have a much better aging support network here than where my mom and sister live. so my mom moved here, briefly with me and then into assisted living. I cannot say I have taken to the role gracefully. I didn't marry or have kids because I am absurdly independent and never wanted any (non-furry) dependents. Even though I haven't been doing it for long, it's been a very hard adjustment for me. The way in which my sister helped me most was in dealing with bureaucratic obstacles. She's been on government assistance all her life (long story) and is a master of beating the bureaucracy. Although I am a bureaucrat by trade, dealing with them drives me nuts, perhaps because having spent my whole life behind the curtain I am pretty good at recognizing true regulatory requirements vs obstructive red tape. TBC

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I am very disturbed by the number of services that refuse to accept my POA, based on a medical declaration of incompetency, and require my mom to act. Her capacity is rapidly diminishing and I am concerned how much more difficult it will soon become to push through all this. But oddly, there is a silver lining. My sister has always been impossible to get along with. She and my brother literally hated one another their whole lives, until the two of them had to work together to help mom as she started the descent into Alzheimer's. They both lived near my mom while I was 600 miles away, so they took the responsibility at first. Somewhere along the way they learned to respect and care for one another. This was a remarkable gift, as my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident last Easter. Now it's me having to work with my sister, and while I wouldn't say we are close, we are closer than we have ever been. Life is capricious.

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@barnabee: I got my mom into PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly).
http://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/help-paying-costs/pace/pace.html

"PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program that helps people meet their health care needs in the community instead of going to a nursing home or other care facility. With PACE, the focus is on you — you have a team of health care professionals working with you and your family to make sure you get the coordinated care you need. Your team is experienced in caring for people like you. Usually they care for a small number of people, so they really get to know you."

They pay for her housing, medical care, etc, and take her social security check, leaving $60 per month for incidental expenses. This program is a godsend as my mom has no resources and I'd have had to blow my own retirement resources to cover her if it hadn't been available. Neither of my parents made any provision for their elder years.

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I want to jump in, I haven't forgotten you guys -- @belyndag @barnabee -- from what was started in the other thread. Just been a couple of busy days, and this isn't a yes or no type subject. So waving hello and adding some support.
More soon.

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@belyndag: I know you said next month (which I'm expecting is July). Towards the first of the month, or the last?

I'm waiting for an estate sale to finish, and was then planning to make up a care package that you could send to your sister, if you like. This also implies that you should send me a PM with your information. Here's the link (to make it easy):

http://www.woot.com/forums/AddPost.aspx?ForumID=0&UserID=362224

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@shrdlu: Wow! Thanks! Her birthday is actually the 12th, so right in the middle of the month. PM'ing you now!

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@moondrake: One of our local hospitals oversees a PACE program here. It's really a great program. Your mom is lucky to be in it. Fortunately for now, Mom is doing pretty good at home. She loves her home. However, how long she can continue to stay there is the question. She does have a LTC plan which she purchased through her former employer. Unfortunately, what used to be coverage for 5 years, now only covers 3 even though her policy has inflation coverage. Nursing care has greatly outpaced inflation.

Her policy does cover home health aid, but of course this deducts from her total coverage amount which is a fixed amount. We don't want to use up her coverage until it's really necessary. When we should or should not is just a guessing game. So we just kind of go day-to-day and take things as they come.

cont.

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@moondrake: By the way, both my maternal grandmother and great grandmother had alzheimer's. Mom and I were caregivers for both of them, so I know a little about what you are going through if you ever need to talk (or as @belyndag says, "vent").

@ceagee: (waving back) Take your time, we're here whenever you have the time.

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@barnabee: Thanks, that's very kind. Mostly my problem is keeping the who's who in my mom's care straight, and dealing with bureaucrats who insist on talking to my mom and having her sign things even though she's legally incompetent. She's still present enough to get upset about stuff and worry over it and the POA was supposed to let me act for her. My sister has no problem being a bully or a b**ch to get this stuff done but while I can rise to that behavior it stresses me out a lot. Dealing with my mom hasn't been very hard. I think the hardest part is watching her decline and feeling like I am time traveling into my own future. My great grandmother, grandmother and mom all had relatively early dementia. Unless something changes in the medical community, I am almost certainly riding on that same train into the fog, just a few cars back. It's very scary.

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@moondrake: I always thought I'd die young because I take after my dad's side of the family. He died when he was 34. But it looks more and more like I'm following the genetics on my mom's side. I now have her heart problems even though I tried to take care of myself. (Fortunately my arteries are great. Mom's aren't.)

As for dementia, I watch her carefully for any signs. And I catch myself wondering about it when I have small memory lapses. "Where did I put those darn keys?" Yeah it's always in the back of my mind, too, moondrake.

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Although there was some Alzheimer's on my dad's side, we haven't seen any of it in subsequent generations. When my dad was only 55 he suffered a subdural aneurysm that left him brain damaged and blind in one eye. He lost his short term memory, which is not quite as entertaining as it is in the movies. He wandered unless we locked him in. For many years we deadbolted him into his room every night. In many ways it was similar to the effects of Alzheimer's without the gradual decline - all of the symptoms were just suddenly there. I guess the silver lining is that his condition did not degenerate. Although we were told that he would never get better, in some ways he did. Once they addressed his sleep apnea and he started getting more good sleep he improved a bit. At least, he quit dozing off mid-conversation, then waking up surprised to see me there. He had been an engineer, but was unable to return to work, but made perfect sense when discussing engineering.

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One of my problems now is dealing with the family dynamics of how much gets dumped on my sister who lives near Mom and how little I can do to alleviate that. I talked with my Mom a few minutes ago and she said that Sister is close to breaking and keeps saying that she just can't take it all much longer. I'm not surprised. Mom says she doesn't know what to do to make things easier for Sister, but when anyone suggests something (such as actually doing something for herself or not calling Sister at work several times each day) she either shoots it down or agrees then fails to follow through. She refuses to move in with me or Baby Sister (who also lives a few hours away and is her favorite) and refuses to consider assisted living. Caretaker sister shoots down efforts to arrange for outside assistance ("family should take care of family"), but is so stressed that something needs to give. Mom is somewhat estranged from the rest of her family so no help there.

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@belyndag: Honestly, it sounds like Sister is about ready for an "intervention". Mom is still getting everything she wants/needs, so she has no incentive to change. Painful as it may be, Sister is going to have to be the one to force a change. If she's nearing the breaking point then it may be an opportune time for a family meeting and a discussion of practical solutions and ways to force Mom to accept them. If she didn't have your sister at her beck and call then assisted living or in-home care would start to look very attractive. tbc

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When my sister wanted my mom to start going to a senior day program and my mom refused, she waited till the next time my mom asked to be taken to the store. Then she drove to the senior day program, parked in the shade, rolled down the windows and pulled out a book. She told my mom, "I am going to sit here and read for two hours. They are playing bingo in there, you can sit here in the car or go in there and have a good time, it's up to you." My mom spent 15 minutes throwing a temper tantrum while my sister ignored her, then got bored and went inside. The next day she asked my sister to take her back. She was soon going 4 days a week. When she came for a visit I took her to tour the assisted living center and it was beautiful and she was immediately sold. When she moved in with me I arranged for them to pick her up twice a week and take here there to participate in their day activities while I was at work. That way she already had one foot in the door when she moved in.

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In keeping with the gift question, this book looks like a good one. You said your sister wasn't a reader, but maybe something so on topic for her? It has glowing reviews by both critics and readers, nothing less than 4 stars, mostly 5 stars.
The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent
http://www.amazon.com/The-Emotional-Survival-Guide-Caregivers/dp/1572307293/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1401809754&sr=8-3&keywords=caregiver+burnout

Some potentially useful resources:
This one has some good suggestions:
http://www.helpguide.org/elder/caregiver_stress_burnout.htm
This one hit the nail on the head for me:
http://secondopinion-tv.org/episode/caregiver-burnout

http://www.caregiver.com/articles/caregiver/caregiver_burnout.htm
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/alzheimers_disease/hic_caregiving_recognizing_burnout.aspx

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@moondrake: I like the way you and your sister handle(d) your mom. Do you give lessons? Maybe @belyndag and I could attend.

@belyndag: I think until your sister comes to you or your other sister or someone else and says that she needs help and just can't take it any longer, there's not much you can do. I'm not sure an intervention will work. Right now I think your sister sees herself as a "martyr" and isn't quite ready to give up that role. (Pardon me, but this is the social worker in me coming to the surface, although this is not my area of expertise.)

But you can be prepared. Scout out assisted living places. Check out home health care for example--anything you think might help your sister. Keep this info current in case you need it. The books/resources @moondrake suggested are not only good gifts, but would be good for you to read too. Did @pickypickypicky post her caregiving info yet? Maybe that will help.

I'll keep thinking.

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@barnabee: Like I said, my sister is tough and not afraid to be the bad guy. She kind of relishes the role. Of course my mom also had to be willing to change her position once she saw that she could have fun.

Here's a completely off topic example of how tough my sister is. Decades ago when my parents divorced, they asked the kids still at home which one they wanted to live with. My sister, then 16, chose my cold and unloving dad. We all assumed it was because he had the money, she is the original Material Girl. The judge declared the divorce final and the child support arrangements set, they walked out of the courtroom and my sister turned to my dad and said, "I'm pregnant. You're paying for it. I'm going to live with my mother." She never spent another night in his house. I wish I could be as strong as she is, but she doesn't have friends and doesn't get along with family and is terribly unhappy so I guess I will keep with my squishy overemotional approach to life.

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To the gift question:
I'm in a different position altogether. My mother is a caregiver, hospice nurse. We tend to send her something really nice in May to cover a few holidays (mother's day, her birthday, etc.) The gift she keeps going on and on and on about? The one she's still calling and thanking us for a year later?

Kindle Fire. During down time, she can choose to read, surf the web, catch up on facebook, play games, etc. It also helps her to keep track of schedules for patients and herself. (Having handled the Kindle Fire and owning a Nook, I'd say they are comparable, and would recommend whichever is on sale that day.)

As to the difficulty of a guilt manipulative mother and the dutiful daughter... in my experience, anything short of head-on intervention and change isn't going to cut it. While you love your sister, she doesn't sound ready to really fix the problem. When she is, you'll know - because she'll finally be open to the solutions offered. Good luck!

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@barnabee: Not to make light of your fears (which are also my fears), but you might enjoy this. Last year I told my internist I was worried about early dementia, as some family members on my dad's side had had it. The conversation went like this:

Me: I just seem to forget a whole lot of stuff these days,
like where I left my keys.

Doc: Have you ever forgotten what keys are for?

Me: Oh geez, NO!

Doc: Then don't worry. You're fine.

Okay, I guess that is making light of it, sort of, but you probably know how I mean it. A number of People Who Study Such Things have said of late that the older we get the more info and memories we have to sift through to find what we're trying to say/do/remember, which makes a lot of sense to me. I've begun forgetting a lot of odd little things, mostly names for items I don't use often, and I call people by the wrong name occasionally. I know exactly who they are, but my brain provides out the wrong name. Oh well.

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I know what keys are for so I seem to be okay. As for names, I'm pretty good at remembering them, @marjorie lane. Thanks for the humor.

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@moondrake: Remind me never to cross your sister. (Maybe I can remember that.)

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@barnabee: thanks for the nudge, I got sidetracked, IRL. Here is what I have info-wise, but I also wanted to let you know that I found a lot of more local stuff, by following threads from these links. Please poke around a bit and don't forget to check out local organizations.

Caregiver support online, this site also has a forum for caregivers
http://www.agingcare.com/Caregiver-Support

Caregiving Resource Center
http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/

http://www.medicare.gov/campaigns/caregiver/caregiver.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/caringforyourparents/handbook/caringcaregiver/supportgroups.html
Useful apps
Apple https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/elder-411-senior-caregiving/id337794946?mt=8
Android http://www.elder911.net/elderApps/elder411_detail.aspx

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Wow, what a great question, so nice to see the old Woot again! This community rocks!