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Getting a Handle on Your Own Stress

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Posted: December 19, 2003

Practical Caregiving

A Question of Mom's Smoking

From time to time, we will highlight your questions on caregiving and try to lend a guiding light with answers or solutions that we fe e l will work for you in a practical sense. We don't pretend to be doctors, psychologists or legal experts in this weekly Practical Caregiving column, but we probably can help with our own practical experience as a basis.

Write me your practical caregiving questions at this address:

Try to keep your questions to no more than 150 words and be sure to include your full name, full postal address and phone number (as well as email address) in case I need to contact you. If we use your question here, I will not identify you in this column with your full name - only your first name and location. Your privacy is important to us!

Here's a question I received from Shirley that I think is not uncommon. Maybe you can identify with her situation:

Dear Jean:

My Mom is going on 82 in January. She is still maintaining her independence and lives alone in her home. I am the only child out of four who live in the same town. I have and continue to feel much more responsible for Mom since she became a widow four years ago. She did well for two years after the loss of my step - father, continued to go to Florida for the winter and played golf etc. But I have seen a big change in Mom the past few years . , H h er health is not the best, she deals with heath issues on a daily basis and takes medication to help control things.

The most difficult thing for me to deal with is her chronic smoking . , I i t bothers me so very much when I to go and visit. She is also drinking beer again which she hadn't done for many , many years. It's not to say that she is a heavy drinker, but I worry about this too. I know there is nothing I can do to change things . , Mom would never stop smoking at her age. I become anxious before my visits and then have to come home and shower and change my clothes right after . .... I just can't stand the lingering smell on my person. Smoking is killing her just as drinking killed my's so very hard for me to see this happen to Mom just as it was extremely difficult to see what happened to my Dad and not be able to do anything about it. I do a lot of praying, this is my greatest comfort.

I want to be there for Mom . , I know she is lonesome even though she doesn't admit it. Our children and grandchildren love her so much , too , and find going to her house very difficult also because of the heavy smoking -- , they hate it too. My visits are short, and she knows why they are. I wish I didn't feel so guilty about this, but I do. I know there will be a time when she will need me more and more , and that I have to somehow put my own feelings's so hard. Any comforting words would be greatly appreciated and prayers for Mom as well. In His Love, Shirley .

Hi Shirley,

I understand how you feel about smoking. I used to smoke and now I can't stand the smell either. I wonder how I ever smoked. I have learned to be around people who that smoke , but it took a long time. I believe you will also be able to tolerate your mother ' s smoking. Try not to think too much about her smoking before you visit your mother . Concentrate on your mother instead of the smoking. Think about the love she has always shown you. Think of your love for her. Think of the good things that happened between you and her when you were a child.

Try not to think too much about her smoking. You are seeing her smoking instead of seeing her. And continue to pray. Pray for help in looking past the smoking to see your mother. You will probably still take a shower when you get home, but that is okay. Some people smoke all their lives and never develop any type of cancer (or any other disease) related to smoking. Your mother may be one of those people , but she may not be one of those people . Either way, y Y ou can't do anything about it. Smoking is very addictive , and I believe a person can't quit smoking until they decide down deep that they want to quit. They can say they want to quit but it takes something down deep inside to be able to quit.

I'm glad you find praying a great comfort. You will find the strength to help your mother when you need it. Try not to worry about th is strength at because it is something that does happen. You will have the strength you need when you need it. You don't need it now , so you don't have it now.

Your mother's drinking may be a sign of depression or loneliness . Why don't you go to the Ask an Expert section on our site Homepage to see if the y CaregiversHome experts have any ideas about what you can do. I have never dealt with anyone who that drank and I am at a loss. However, I do know drinking It is not uncommon in the elderly people, though .

Please write again. I have been there and know it helps to "talk" to someone who that understands your the frustrations , even though they may be caused by something different than my experience . As I said, you will find have the strength to do what you need to do when you need to do it. Don't worry about what may happen. It may not happen. For now, just take one day at a time and tackle each one problem as it comes up.


© 2003 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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