Convincing Mom that it's time to give up her house.

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Mom needs to use her cane and walker, but resists because she says "once I rely on those things, I might as well be dead". She's very vain and is clinging to the hope that she will get her mobility back. She's already driven her car through the front door of the cleaners. The car is still in the garage, but she's now afraid to drive, which is fine with us. She loses her balance very easily and has fallen on a few occasions. She is just now recovering from a fractured sacrum from her last fall. We just have to convince her that it's time to move, but the emotions and guilt are driving us crazy.


My mother wouldn't dream of leaving her house as it was big and fancy (she's a narcissist), on the outside anyway, inside it was really shabby. She conned me into giving up my home and career to move in and care for her for four hellish years. She wouldn't use her walker either and fell frequently. The only way she would leave that house was feet first, which she did after a bad fall at 2 a.m., blood everywhere and an ambulance took her to hospital.

Realizing the interior was shabby, she'd never let anyone in the house and it was evident she needed nursing care 24/7 so she went from the hospital to a nursing home and the house was eventually sold.
If your mother has already driven her car through the front door of the cleaners; I would think it would be easy to have her doctor deem her unfit for driving and should have her license revoked. She is a danger to herself and others. We went through this with my MIL and she was so resistant, of course, but down right stubborn and even her doctor was getting annoyed by her not caring attitude. It is denial on their part, but the doctor did not want her to hurt herself or another person. Nobody wants to lose their independence, but it is our responsibility to keep them safe and others safe as well. It's good she is afraid to drive after that episode. My mother drove into barriers of local drug store and the RMV revoked her license. We didn't have to do a thing.

I do understand all the emotions and guilt involved here that you are feeling. But, after a time, that is replaced by a new perception of the situation. At the rate she is going, she could suffer a serious injury. That happened to my mother due to balance issues she knew she had and refusal to use a cane, walker, etc. It becomes not if it will happen, but when. I do empathize with you as this is so difficult to deal with when they are stubborn and vain.

Those two character traits alone do not make for a happy ending. Try telling her that if she does not use the cane/walker, she could end up with serious injury and become bedridden. And moving is the best idea to keep safe from future harm. I used examples from this site with my MIL regarding what can happen when elderly are not careful. Sometimes this sinks in, sometimes it doesn't. I wouldn't tell her it was someone from a website, but rather a friend had told me about a relative, etc. (white lies) - they are useful and necessary.

I also was in contact with local Elder Services who offer a wealth of knowledge and recommendations. I highly recommend contacting your local office. This is unchartered territory for so many of us. They will always try to make you feel guilty; but a therapist once told me - no one can make you feel guilty. Keeping her safe and looking out for her best interest is the right thing to do.

Hugs to you across the miles and take care.
I am facing the same thing, but for different reasons. For my dad, it is totally emotional. He lived here with my mom for so many years, and she was cared for at home by hospice until she passed about 5 years ago. He still cries about her every day. He says, she lived here until she died and I want to do the same thing. He also has dementia, so I hate to take him out of familiar surroundings. To complicate things, taking him out of his home would mean a move out of state - even more disorienting. I am the only one stepping up to care for him, though, and my husband has a great job and I have a large support network in the other state. Most people who have been through this and also his doctor tell me to not give him a choice and just tell him what is happening, but it seems so disrespectful. :( He has not been declared incapacitated at this point, and he can still make basic decisions if the information is presented to him slowly enough.
140 helpful answers
I'm not sure I can add anything helpful to the accurate and insightful responses that have been posted, but here goes:

We all want to feel like we have some control over important decisions in our lives, even when circumstances have already dictated the only sane decision. Is it possible to set aside the emotion and guilt by using the purely practical suggestion that your Mom has a better chance to recover more of her health if she gets the daily support of an assisted living facility? Or, that she can save money by moving to a new living environment?

The approach could work If there is someone who can demonstrate the health benefits of living in community, with the support that makes it more possible to recover health. At minimum, you could enjoy a free lunch with your mother at the the assisted living centers nearby. Maybe they would send their van over to the house to show how convenient it will be for Mom to get around on her own.

If living expenses in the single family house, combined with car and other costs are greater than rent at a nearby assisted living, you could appeal to your mother's desire to stay in control of finances.

The most compelling approach is when there Is a program that's only available if the elder accepts help at home or a new living situation. "You're missing out every month you don't take advantage of it." Was your father a veteran? If your mother is eligible for an Aid & Attendance pension, your description of her health indicates she could meet the medical requirements for the pension, to contribute to monthly rent.

Best regards, and best wishes for your continued patience.
Canes and walkers don't make people dead, they help them do stuff. No, you likely won't convince Mom...unless maybe she can see some kids who get around with flashy equipment. Truth be told she might be OK at home if she'd use equipment and or modify the home a little. Even my mom who put my dad in the hospital because she would not use a magnifier to read his new meds list, and gave up reading before she cognitively would not have been able to any more for the same reason, used glasses and used her walker because she understood a fall could be the end of independence. She would not do a lot of things, but she let them put a better hand rail on the stairs indoors and out and that made it possible to stay in place at least a few more years that would not likely have happened otherwise. Maybe mom would listen to PT and OT about making some changes at home as an alternative to moving out for good.
My mother was vain (narcissist) as well and wouldn't use her walker so she fell frequently. You can't force them so you just have to wait for the inevitable big (fall) one from which they'll be taken to hospital and deemed unfit to live alone. My mother's "big one" came at 2 a.m. even though I was her live in care giver. Had I not got up to freeze some chicken I'd cooked I wouldn't have heard the bang and she'd have laid on the floor, blood everywhere, all night. To hospital she went, then on to a nursing home. Nobody can care give 24/7 alone.
my accurate and insightful response got wacked. if being an irritant is my goal i must be doing something right.
My mother is a retired RN, and she will not use her walker. Some days she is pretty good, and other days she wobbles all over the place. She still gets up on a step ladder when we are not watching. She is very good at policing dad, but not herself. She has also been resistant to getting hearing aids.. but a visit with my Aunt and trying hers may have turned the tide on that one, I hope. I'm going deaf from the TV volume! Reason does not always work with her ( no, she is mentally fine, no ALZ,, that's dad) She tells us if she falls just let her lay there. UMM mom that is so not gonna work...

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