Money situation desperate, but can't work outside home because can't leave Mom alone.

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Never in my life have I have thought I would do this, but I'm considering writing a cardboard sign and begging on the corner. I'm essentially a full-time caregiver for my 83-year-old mother. The only things she can still do for herself are walk to the bathroom and dress herself. I can't leave her alone for longer than it takes me to go shopping or get her medicine. She can't carry anything for herself, not even a small glass of water, and is prone to falls (she broke her arm a few months ago).

Other than her $863 social security every month, we have very little money. Last month I made less than $300 from part-time work I was able to find online. I used to support us fairly well as an eBay dealer, but eBay isn't what it used to be and my business slowly died (it’s happened to a lot of us who have been on there since the beginning of eBay). I tried selling used books on Amazon, and put 800+ items on, but made less than $100 a month from those. I tried signing up for Amazon Turk, but though I’m a 58-year-old, who was born and raised in the US who has lived in the same rental for a decade, Amazon wasn’t able to “verify” my identity and refused to let me work for them. I’ve now moved onto Etsy, where I have two stores, but between the two make almost nothing.

Tonight is the last night we’ll have internet service. It gets turned off tomorrow. My cell phone was turned off a couple of days ago. I’ve applied for a free low income phone, but from what I hear, it takes weeks to be approved and for you to receive the phone. I’ve got the utilities covered for this month with LIHEAP for low income families, but what happens after that…no clue.

I’m really scared. I’d say, okay, well I guess we go live in the car (not that my mother could handle that), but it’s essentially dead in the driveway. It can only make it a mile or two before it overheats, the registration is expired and I have no money to insure it.

Believe me, I’ve checked out every low-income service available in my state, which is one of the poorest, while conversely having a minimum of services available to the poor. The waiting list for low-income housing is about 3+ years long. There's currently nothing open in our area as far as low-income assisted living for the elderly. I checked into the program that provides a small stipend to family members who are full-time caregivers. The wait for that is an astounding 10 years. This is the same program that's supposed to provide care for the elderly who want to stay in their homes, but can't afford a paid caregiver, so finding someone who can be there for her while I go to a job is also out.

Today, I scraped together 100 pennies and bought a loaf of bread to keep us going until SNAP day on Friday, embarrassingly having to feed the pennies into the self-check out one at a time. How did I get to be such a loser? Why can’t I be a better provider for us?

One top of all of this… I. Am. Just. So. Tired. I feel like I’m in prison, living the life of an eighty-year-old, instead of someone in her 50s. I have no one to turn to. No friends. No family. No support system of any kind.

Has anyone here ever begged? It’s humiliating, I know, but does it work? I’m thinking a freeway off-ramp would be best, because grocery stores will chase you away, but I’m worried about being arrested, or something going wrong. If it does and I don’t come home within an hour or two, my mother will be frantic, with no one to help her. I’m afraid she could hurt herself while trying to figure out what to do.


Should add. Have sold everything of value except my computer. I'm justifying keeping that because it's so old it's only worth about $40, and I can go to the bus stop where there's free wifi to connect.
OMG Misty, I am so sorry you're in this situation! Before you try the panhandling, please try the internet for all it's worth. Start a GoFundMe page for yourself and Mom, and just put an ad on Craigslist under "volunteers" or something similar asking for any donations to pay the bills. You would have to provide an address for people to send money, or maybe open a PayPal account? Hold on to that computer for all it's worth! I'm glad you can get WiFi a the bus stop.

In the longer term, there is a service ( that I think operates in most states where volunteers will come and spend some time with elderly people. (I'm thinking if you were able to get a part time job outside the home. )The problem with that is that you have to pay a subscription fee to the service, even though the volunteers are free. I think it's a few hundred to start out and a small monthly fee after that. So that's for down the road somewhere, when a little cash comes in.

I hope other folks here will have lots of useful suggestions for you too.
Begging is not an option b/c you'd have to be on a street corner for hours, leaving your mother alone. If she's going to be alone, better to have a real job. I'd put aside the self-employment Internet options and try to find something more long term - there are companies that pay people to work from home, but you'll have to do some research.

You seem to be quite articulate; use that to your advantage. Medical transcription used to be one home service; it doesn't pay much, but you could stay at home.

Libraries sometimes have job hunting guides as well as free Internet access. Fast food places frequently need help; it's better than panhandling. Some grocery stores have greeters - it's a lot of standing but work hours can be structured to minimize time away from home.

Is your mother a Veteran, or was your father a Vet? If so, there might be some help available for you, although it won't happen right away.

I think though that to think in this mode is to approach the situation piecemeal, when what you really need is a more comprehensive solution with the assistance of governmental/agencies.

Contact all the agencies you can think of - governmental social work sections, Area Agency on Aging, Catholic Charities (not sure that's the correct name), Jewish Welfare Federation (it's my understanding they help anyone; you don't need to be Jewish).

Your mother must have doctors; ask them, including contacts at the hospitals at which they're affiliated who might be able to just offer suggestions.

Also ask them about getting home care medical assistance for your mother.

Contact local public transportation agencies to get information on low cost transit to medical appointments, or perhaps even to a job. You wrote that your car only goes a few miles before breaking down, so you need to find reliable transportation not only for your shopping (I'm not sure how you can do this with an unreliable vehicle) and for getting medicine.

Call United Way helpline (211) and ask about all the various issues - you would probably get referrals to a number of agencies which you could contact.

If your state has an elder law agency, contact them as well to see what else is available. Your mother would I think qualify for some food assistance. Contact your elected representatives - you could even tell them you won't be able to vote b/c of lack of transportation - maybe one of them will actually get involved.

As a last resort, contact APS and ask for help, especially if you think you're likely to lose your residence. They might be able to get some emergency help for living expenses as well as suggest longer term solutions.
As a start to help yourself, it might be a good idea to make a list of things you, yourself can do. Then make a longer list of what you Mom can do, realistically.
For example:
Mother can ambulate to the bathroom.
Mother can dress herself.
Once dressed, she can......
Ask your mom's doctor for a letter saying that she needs electricity for heat, air, fridge, meds, etc for her health and that it could be detrimental if she does not have it. Many power companies will not cut off utilities if there is a letter on file from doctor, even if bill is past due.

Contact the Salvation Army. Their website says they have a Senior Services division.

Some people make pretty good money begging, but you have to know where to go and how to stay safe. I don't know much about it, but have read that some people make several hundred dollars per day.

Have you explored to see if there is a free senior center that will accommodate your mom's needs during the day and a transportation service who can transport her so you can get an actual job?

Before earning money, determine if your mom will be applying for Medicaid medical or long term care. I'd explore if they would use both your incomes to determine her eligibility.

I can only see one solution here and it will be blunt. See about getting Medicaid for your mother and find a good facility for her. Then get out and find a job. It's almost impossible now to make a living online. There are 1.6 million sellers on Etsy alone, each of them averaging a little more than 1.5K in sales per year. In other words, most are just hobby sellers who probably pay that much for inventory. Few people are making anything.

You sound quite capable of working outside the home and I bet you would enjoy it. You can't continue like you're going, so do what needs to be done before things get any worse.
Lieap has a section for when it is an emergency. Try that. I don't think begging is right for you.

There is money to be made online, one just has to search:}

Missinghome- Coupons is your friend,if your local library allows you to download their website to print coupons.
What state do you live in? If you live in a state serviced by ATT, you can get drastically reduced Internet, using you SNAP card.
One more thing, see if your local library has books on thrifty living, or do a Google search.

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