I'll have to resign from caregiving; I'm sad and frightened about my future.

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A little over a year ago I retired (at 72) and moved in with my 95-year-old mother in her home, so that she could come home from a dismal assisted living facility.

It has worked out well for both of us. She has thrived at home---she's in wonderful health and cheerful again---and she's so easy to help. She appreciates what I do and she expresses it. I really don't have much to do other than housekeep and cook, coordinate her medical care, make sure she has some pleasure in life. This has also allowed her to live within her income; assisted living was chipping away at her assets.. And living with her has made my retirement financially easier.

But I've been just a little unwell almost from the beginning. I've just come out of an extended hyperthyroid crisis, ending with the radioactive treatment of my thyroid gland, and I'm still exhausted. I know I'm recovering from that, but now an old sciatic nerve pain has come back. I trust that it's temporary, but it will always be there waiting to return.

I function, but just enough to do what's absolutely necessary. Then I'm overwhelmed either by thyroid-related fatigue or by the sciatic pain---or both.

We have agreed it's time to make different plans: prepare the property for sale, dispose of the stuff accumulated during 90 years of family residence in the same home, find an attractive assisted living facility where she can later transition to more extensive care if it's necessary.

It will take at least a year to do this, and of course during that time I need to choose where I will go after the property sells and my mother moved, and what I will do. I'm frightened, because I have a very modest income and retirement fund. I had thought I would be able to supplement my income for several more years, as I did while I was still working, with translations, editorial work, tutoring, etc., but I simply don't have the stamina, physical or mental. I've already had to turn down a few jobs and I know my clients have replaced me. I actually had to withdraw from one job before finishing.

I could use some moral support, so I'm turning to this wise and experienced community. Please help me find the right way to look toward the future.

Love to you all ... Realtime


Big hugs.

How sensible of you, and how unselfish of your mother, to realise that it is time to move forward and do it without haste.

You do have to do that, do you? It wouldn't be possible to bring in the support you need for your mother's physical needs? I wonder if you have allowed yourself enough time to recover from your treatment, too. Anyway! - I think you and your mother have come to a very practical decision; but after all it's not set in stone.

I share with you considerable apprehension about the future. Post caregiving I am now rebuilding - also self-employed, also needing to woo back a client base. In some ways it is going well and I feel positive; but when I think of the sums involved in later life, and think of my assets and potential income, I wind up pacing the corridor wringing my hands and wailing "what's to become of me...?" like Eliza Doolittle.

I will give it until next spring to see where I've got to. At that point I will add up and see what I can afford and hope it isn't a cardboard box under the railway bridge. Hope it's *more* than that, that is.

But it sounds as if you have planned considerably better and more practically than I have. Have you consulted a personal finance professional for retirement ideas, or looked online?

Hm - I just did, and am about to download a free budget planner designed by a chap called Martin Lewis. He is a bit of a "TV personality" (groan) but his ideas are practical and down to earth. His website also has ideas for boosting your income, but I haven't looked at that yet.

The only other thing I can recommend is a slim paperback called 'The Consolations of Philosophy' by Alain de Bouton. Slightly cheeky title pinch, there, but it's an anthology of ideas that is actually quite consoling. Sort of gather ye rosebuds while ye may, only on a more cosmic scale.

Big hugs.
Churchmouse, I'm so happy to get your thoughts. I always enjoy your insights on this forum. You reassure me that I'm in familiar territory. If you're giving it until next spring, you and I will be similar schedules. A lot can happen in that time, and if we're smart, we'll be better able to see our ways clearly. I think I'll try to concentrate on getting my ducks in a row and not worry so much about all the stuff I can't foresee. I'd be interested in hearing what practical steps you take to move forward. I gather you're in England, so things aren't exactly the same for us (viva la Brexit?), but for that matter, they'd be radically different for me if we lived in New York (for instance) instead of Florida. More urgent because of the higher cost of living/cost of inaction in NY.

Yesterday I started by visiting a local ALF that my mother might like; it was on the pricey side, but very pleasant --- 16 residents in what looks like a big private home with 16 bedrooms. If she were to go there, I'd need to find a place of my own, but at least it would be in a familiar area.

I also talked to my out-of-state daughter about the availability of ALFs near her, where both my mother and I could enjoy her company and my grandkids'. Considering my mother's good health, my daughter suggested that we also look at finding an apartment for the two of us near her, at least until my mother needs more help than we can find for her while at home. (Thank God my daughter and her husband are darlings!) Yes, it might be possible to keep my mother at home longer with outside help, as long as she doesn't need skilled nursing. (We already have a monthly cleaning lady and a yard service. But more help would put her in income-deficit territory, and we'd still need to sell the house and move.)

That's a big deal because the house is deteriorating so fast. My father kept it in reasonable repair while he was alive, overseeing urgent repairs into his 90s, but it's 90 years old, wood construction, on the waterfront so dampness and wind are issues--- it may not be salable except as a teardown much longer. We already need to spend about $30,000 to replace the old seawall, and I'm terrified about what may be going on with the wiring and plumbing. (We've had two water pipes rupture in the last couple of years.)

Whatever we do that's different from what we're doing, it probably hinges on selling my mother's property, so I suppose I need to put most of my effort into getting the place ready for sale. Some time ago I started visiting estate sales, both to get an idea of what my mother's (and my) stuff is worth, and to see how efficient the different estate sellers are. If I'm working on a year's calendar, I might also explore how to sell things on EBay, where I might do better for my mother than through an estate sale.

I started seriously yesterday digging into my own financial papers, trying both to organize and dispose, and to see how I can improve my budgeting and planning. Some time ago I created spreadsheets for budgeting and cost control, but I've let them slide, and left money on the table that I won't be able to recover now. I feel so dumb.

Still I find that doing something --- anything --- helps lift the fog a little bit.

If it just weren't for this damned sciatica...Here I am feeling mildly motivated, and I can't even shift a cardboard box from floor to table top! I had hoped to find a strong teenager for odd jobs like that, but haven't had much luck. This is a sparsely populated area, somewhat iffy neighbors, and I'd prefer not to have unknown kids seeing how alone we are, and what pretty things Mama has in the house.

Once upon a time I worked in strategic planning. At that time, the fashion was to identify "critical success factors" in the business --- half a dozen operational pressure points, which, if you pressed them consistently, would get you where you wanted to be. I sort of ID'd a few CSFs to work with: organization and disposal, monetization, alternate living options, property sale...it's a little overwhelming but maybe it's a useful approach. If I'm consistent.

BTW, my brother is sympathetic and willing to help, but he lives six hours away and has a demanding job. He does a lot by taking my mother on her annual month's vacation (where they are now), giving me a break. He's planning to take charge of disposing of one of our collapsing out-buildings and its contents, which is one of the prerequisites to selling the property. (My parents saved everything; the building is full of boxes of the grandkids' clothes --- up to 50 years old! Broken furniture. Boxes of dishes that "someone might want." My grandfather's "library" --- ruined by moisture and insects. Saved Christmas wrap. Etc.) I hear about people who clear out their parents' homes loading 4 or 5 dumpsters with stuff. We'll have at least 10.

I'm free associating. Stop! Get ready for church. Thanks, Churchmouse.
Realtime, reading your posts reminds me of what I have been doing. With parent(s) living longer here we are in our 70's trying to care for someone much older. I know my parents where in denial about my own age.

I started this journey seven years ago once my parents stopped driving.... thus it was me driving Ms. Daisy and her husband [my Dad], and the stress from that became so overwhelming after all these years that I am scared silly to drive anywhere. Plus I had a bout with breast cancer a year after my parents started depending on me [no markers, surgeon said stress caused it]..... last year broke my shoulder and needed 6 months of physical therapy so I could write, eat, get dressed [my parents didn't like being home bound for 6 months, refused to use a taxi], and today I am a nervous wreck. Hopefully calming meds and talk therapy will help me.

Also dealing with an empty house which thankfully is under contract not that far off from the appraisal price that I had done prior to listing it. Sold "as is" but when I found water in the basement I had to become Columbo and try to search the sources. Plus I need to call Salvation Army or some donation site to pick up the rest of the furniture. Will donate to a hospital rummage sale decades of expensive glass ware that my Mom had collected [and so did I, same pattern].

Oh, about selling the house. I was lucky that my Dad wanted to sell immediately after my Mom had passed. This has to do with capital gains taxes. If Dad waited more than two years, the IRS would only allow him to use the $250k deduction for capital gains on home sales. Right now he can still use $500k.

Now, what do I do for myself? Once I get my parent's house to closing, I need to start tossing things from my house. I want to downsize but my sig other doesn't [so common]. My Dad wanted to move but my Mom didn't.
Perhaps an income-graded "over 55" apartment can be your next stop? Contact your county to find out where these buildings are. Do some independent drive-bys.....talk to residents. (In nice weather, folks are always out front on a bench!) If you like what you see, ask management how long the waiting list is. Better to get on the list too early, rather than too late. Good luck! Big stuff ahead. But you & your mom have the right attitude. Keep plugging away.
Realtime, you are in familiar territory; others here have written about job hunting and life post-caregiving. And the time to plan is now, but the deadlines don’t need to be as soon or as critical to be flexible and avoid creating stress in the whole process.

I think this kind of planning is something that would be helpful for anyone entering the caregiving field, as a guidebook & inspiration for long term goals to implement along the various paths of caregiving.

Your post really motivated me and mirrors my own situation in many ways. I used to be able to conceptualize mentally but now I find it more helpful (and soothing) to separate the work, caregiving, house, relaxation, self preservation and other main projects - otherwise they tend to negate each other because they all seem to compete for priority.

I'm breaking apart my response so it isn't too long to read (hah!).

1. Job Hunting and Re-Introduction into the Work Force.

If you're not already familiar with this (and I suspect you might be), do some research on a project management technique called Critical Path Management. It’s a tool used by companies to break down a project into time critical and not as time critical tasks, the relationship between the two as well as supportive activities, scheduling, resources, and what’s known as a work breakdown structure.

It helps not only in the thinking and analytical process, but also in keeping things in perspective. If it does become overwhelming, take a break, and think about how challenging it must be for something like a NASA project. That's when I realize my own planning is a lot easier - Piece of cake compared to planning and executing a successful launch!

An example:

It’s clear to me from your post that you’ve done work like this; the difference now is that your stressors are different, and it would probably be easier to conceptualize it on paper than in your head. Plus it can be relaxing.

You stated interest in translations, editorial work, and tutoring. As one example, let’s just start with that. Under each would be a category for researching the market, online and locally, the sources which you would contact, issues with having been out of the workforce, methods of how to segue back into the workforce, etc.

I don’t know what your translation skills are, but the UN comes to mind. I don’t know if it contracts out translation work, but it’s worth an effort to find out. Scientific publications sometimes are translated into other languages. I don't know if local embassies have this need or have their own staff of translators; that's another possibility.

There’s also the opportunity to combine translation skills & tutoring.

Manuals, especially technical manuals or manuals for work equipment also come to mind.

I can easily tell when a manual wasn't written by a native English speaker. The technical terms are wrong, the instructions don't make sense, and sometimes the manuals are worthless. I've seen this with electronics for consumer use. And either translating or spiffing up to create legibility, perhaps interfacing with technical staff, could easily be done from home.

On that subject, contact universities and community colleges regarding tutoring opportunities. I tutored French while taking some community college courses. The salary was low but the experience was far more valuable than the salary. From there I considered moving into private tutoring.

You might consider contacting colleges or even high schools that are focusing on STEM curricula; there might be a need for tutoring in languages, given that the focus there would be on the STEM courses.

Some communities have ESL courses. If you know those languages and could teach ESL, they’re generally in adult ed or continuing ed curricula; your schedule could be flexible.

And all of this could be enhancing your resume.

If there are foreign language groups which meet at book stores (as Borders used to sponsor), consider joining them to refresh your speaking skills in languages.

These all fit into categories of goals and supporting research/tasks. And it wouldn't be that time consuming to memorialize them in writing, knowing that you can "color" in the task nodes as you complete them and view your progress.

Freqflyer, Thanks for your reply. I'm a little calmer today, after a July 4 cookout at the neighbors' house, where I was able to chat with another guest who had back surgery last year after many months of sciatic pain --- a minister, who described how hard it had been to incline his body to give communion while in pain. His surgery was successful and he was full of praise for his surgeon --- a couple of other guests chimed in to add their own compliments to the same surgeon, and to point out that in other cases, he gave them non-surgical alternatives that worked for them. So...I'm going to try to set up an appointment today! I'm sorry you're still recovering from the broken shoulder (and consequent stress). That's a long time to feel bad. I hope the meds and talk work for you. I'm looking for a psychiatrist who accepts Medicare ---- BIG problem to find. I'm about ready to throw myself on the floor in the reception area of the county health service and drum my heels on the floor. I've done talk therapy again and again all my life, and have concluded I need a psychiatrist who will work with me on meds to blast through this intransigent depression/anxiety. I wonder if anyone else has some insight into getting treatment in a day and time when mental health services seem to be strained to the limit, and no one wants to take Medicare.

Congratulations on selling the house! Boy, do I sympathize. I sold my own house last year before moving in with my mother. I had a buyer within two weeks --- very lucky indeed --- but the inspections turned up many little and big problems that I hadn't anticipated. In the end, I had to spend money to make money --- fortunately, I had made a very good buy ten years earlier, and came out ahead.

My mother has been approached by a possible buyer who is willing to give my mother a life interest. Can you imagine anything better??!! Obviously that would be reflected in the price --- we'll have to see by how much $$$. (It's a "restorable" 1920s beach house --- nothing special, but the young folks like this kind of thing.)

BlackHole, thanks for your suggestion. I asked my daughter to keep an eye on economically priced rental apartments near her. She lives in a state with a lower cost of living, so it might be an option. I am almost sure that we will be moving out of this area if my mother sells --- it's expensive, and although my mother has lived here most of her life, she has only a couple of friends left, doesn't attend church, doesn't have any important social activities. Our ties to the community are dwindling. I like the idea of starting over someplace new --- too much history here, and there would be the sadness of seeing someone else in the old family home. I kind of like the idea of being forced to downsize. I've been carting stuff with me through several long-distance moves and ...it's getting heavy.
Re: the nice ALF I visited with my mother in mind. Reflecting on the visit, I realize that the facility had drawbacks, despite being very pretty and clean. It's assisted living, not memory care, but...I suppose it's inevitable that such places will accept folks with declining cognition. Everyone was clean, nicely put together and reasonably cheerful, but more than one of the residents had some degree of dementia. Consequently, it's a locked facility. It has a nice front porch with rocking chairs, and a lovely enclosed garden --- but residents have to ask to be let in and out. My mother would absolutely hate that! I remember now that no one was on the porch or in the garden; they were sitting in a line --- in attractive easy chairs, yes, but... --- just watching television. And the television set dominates the common area. My mother doesn't watch television. There were few places to escape the television other than the rooms and the locked off porch and garden. Also, the administrator was pretty crisp with the residents, while the activities director was a sweet, pretty 12-year-old. At least that's how old she looked. The activities schedule was heavy on bingo, simple crafts and church services. Not my mother's cup of tea. (Glass of wine?) The promotional video had shown people playing blackjack with a volunteer professional dealer and strolling beside a lake --- obviously, other facilities in the chain. Gotta keep looking.

Gardenartist, you have given me a lot to think about. More later.
Realtime, oh my gosh a 1920's beach house :) I just love those type of older homes. Even if the inside is a time warp. Let's see, a Buyer willing to buy the house and give your Mom "life estate use'. That can be complicated. With life use that means even if your Mom moves to a continuing care facility, she stills has life use, thus the house would remain empty, unless your Mom rents the property to someone else, until she passed. The Buyer [new owner] owns the property but does not pay the taxes, insurance, nor does any maintenance/repairs. Usually "life estates" are done within a family. Best to check with a real estate attorney before agreeing to this.

How I wished my parents would have planned better for their very golden years... they did plan financially... BUT I wished they would have done the "what ifs"... such as what if they can no longer drive... what if they can no longer deal with all the stairs in their house.... what if Mom isn't able to do the housework... what if Dad isn't able to work on the honey-do list. They never thought what if their only child [me] couldn't help them.

Oh how I wished I could have confided in my primary doctor years ago saying I need help dealing with all of this... but in my mind I thought I could handle everything as I was great with logistical stuff. The emotional stuff never entered my mind until right now. I know exactly what you mean when you wrote "ready to throw myself on the floor in the reception area of the county health service and drum my heels on the floor". Don't you feel like a caged Lion?

Freqflyer, The wonderful thing about the possible buyers is that they're flexible. Another possibility that was brought up is that they would buy the house, go ahead with essential repairs and such, but rent it back to us during the clearing-out and transition. That might be a "cleaner" option than a life estate. Of course this is all just in the what-if stage --- it might come to nothing --- but at least, it shows that there are possibilities other than an abrupt sale and move. And it would make my mother happy to know that they cherish the house. We plan to go ahead with a professional appraisal to try to set a baseline on price.

Thinking "out loud" --- that is, writing about the situation --- is helpful because it clarifies things. I've been spinning my wheels on repairs and maintenance. Now that Mama is clearer that she wants to sell, it simplifies things. For instance, now I don't have to replace the two screen doors (which are battered and patched) but just replace the broken springs and hinges --- do enough that they open, close and lock properly. Such a relief, since they were non-standard sizes, no longer available, and the repairman would have had to improvise insets to the door frames. Other repairs can likewise be stepped down or back to the minimum necessary for health and safety --- just enough to get us through a year or so.

Gardenartist, I'm taking your suggestions to heart. More later.
I happen to be a translator, and interpreter. English to Spanish.
Pros and Cons

● self employed
● own schedule, work from home -Internet savvy
● able to watch mom

Lemme go to my pc, gotta type this one not on tablet, ok?

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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