What can I do if my mother's house is no longer safe for her?

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I live in my mothers 3 story house (3rd floor apartment) and pay her full rent. My mother is 79 yo and high functioning as far as physical ability. She does take meds for High Bood Pressure. My mother has always been a difficult person and now it is amplified. You say white, she says black. I work full time (sometimes 12 hour days), I take care of all the heavy lifting (laundry, grocery shopping, errands, house maintenance, washing floors, cleaning her house). I can't take care of everything due to finances. Her finances are better than mine. My mother complains about her health - a headache is a brain tumor, a sore muscle is a broken bone, anxiety is a heart attack - I've taken her at her demand to the hospital 12 times over the last 4 years. The drs run everything necessary in an emergency room and can't find anything wrong. She gives her dr a hard time, every visit is my mother trying to tell her dr she doesn't have to take her pills. My sisters (I'm the middle daughter) would get a call from her and yell at me to take her to the hosptial each time. The last visit to the hospital I forced my older sister to take her, cause each time it's a false alarm. My sister sat in the emergency room for 14 hours while drs tried to find something wrong with my mother. They can't. Since then, my mother doesn't demand to go to the hospital anymore. However, it appears she has turned her focus on her old dog, demanding I take her and him to the vet at least once a month. He is 17 and has health issues, each time we take him, the vet says...he's old that's all. She will make up things to make me take him but tells a different story when we are at the vet. She did the same thing with taking her to the hospital; says she can't breathe, won't let me call 911, I'd drive to the emergency room, and she'd tell the triage nurse something else (i.e. I hurt my finger) etc. Just telling you this as background. If I confront her about it, she screams and holds her chest (she has no heart problems) and storms away. She says (I know that sounds resentful) she can't manage the stairs anymore and I've seen her shuffle her feet on the last step and then turn to me as if to say "see?" Yet, what I just witnessed wasn't a slip or fall, just a deliberate shuffling of her feet. Then she will call my sisters and say she fell down the steps. However, I am realistic...she can't go up and down the stairs easily. The house is getting run down because I don't have enough time or finances to maintain it. I have to wash the floors and clean late at night, because she will walk on the floor while I'm trying to wash it, etc. I do the laundry, grocery shopping and maintenance on the house. I have to argue with her if a plumber is needed or the cesspool needs pumping, or fix things myself if she won't call someone. I depend on her to pay for these things in her house, unless I do things myself. Because I just don't have the money to pay for maintenance on a house. Now that my older sister has witnessed a trip to the hospital for no reason, she is more open to the issues i'm facing and is trying to help. My 2 sisters and I are trying to convince her to sell the house as neither she nor I can take care of it anymore. She won't budge and yells and uses guilt about her rough her life has been and ours shouldn't be easy. She has gone so far as to suggest, I quit my job and end my relationship with my boyfriend (of 15 years) to just care for her. We have told her we don't want the house, it's too old and expensive to take care of and our life styles aren't conducive of owning a home. None of us are married or have children (which is another story - marriage and children is horrible according to my mother, we've been told that all our lives). We have suggested, that me and my younger sister and she get apartments in the same complex. She doesn't need full time care, although she says she does in one breath and then won't let anyone else come into the home to clean or do anything for her. We explained that her bank account, sale of the home and social security would more than pay for rent and needs, and we would help with anything else. She refuses. We have offered to rearrange the house (her 2 floors) to make it easier and do a full cleaning. She refuses. She will also only let me clean what she wants me to clean and the house is getting more full of clutter. Now she is sleeping on the couch on the bottom floor which can't be good for someone her age. Now I can't even wash the kitchen floor, cause she hears me come down (no matter what time) and will walk on it while I wash it and it's wet and scream and cry if I tell her not to until it's dry. Just an example. I'm tired, stressed, my boss is complaining about all the time I'm away from work. When I try to explain it to her, she screams, cries and that she's mother and she comes first. Help...what can we do to convince things have to change?

Answers 1 to 10 of 11
First of all let me say, I understand, the "house" problem, and I'm sorry. We have the same problem with my mother in law's house. We are moving her into low income senior citizen apartments, with no "say so" from her. Our parents get to a point when decisions should not be left up to them. You need to stand firm on your decisions.Thankfully my MIL is cooperating with us. Good luck jmarziot, and God bless.
Top Answer
Sounds like hell with mother. Cannot be healthy for anyone. I suggest an intervention with a social worker or elder professional who can meet with mom, sisters and you to make a decision. #1 decision is mom competent? #2 what are her resources? #3 what are her needs? #4 list possible actions/solutions. Good luck
Thank you so much, just knowing I'm not alone is sooooo helpful. We did, after last nights sleeping on the floor idea came up, talk together and this weekend, my sisters are going to stay with mom, to give me a weekend break. Next weekend, we plan to try one more time to talk to her, if it's all negative. We want to bring in an elder professional to, well I guess, mediate. We are also looking at companions or aides (My feeling is a companion is probably best right now - cause mom can bathe herself and cook and is very mobile) and take it from there. We are discussing between ourselves the advantage and disadvantage of her staying in her house. We know she prefers that, so we are trying to figure out how to make it safer, healthier for both of us.

Thank you so much for responding and just listening...I'm smiling, which i haven't done in a while
Sounds like you've got a handle on things, just keep at it and do what is best for her NOT what she wants. When it gets to this point, you become the parent and you need to TELL her what you're going to do, not ask her. My own mother walks with a walker, is very unsteady and refuses to move from her house which is getting to be way too much for her. I've tried and tried to talk to her about assisted living, but she won't even discuss it, she gets hysterical. Shy won't cook for herself and can't drive anymore, so getting her out is a problem and she's very vocal about the fact that no one takes her anywhere, but it is a hassle because it's winter now and icy and she's petrified of falling. I'm on only child and have no one to help me, I'm completely alone and my mother is driving me crazy. She's very difficult, cranky and demanding. I totally sympathize what you are going through. I come to this site often just to read about what other people are going through and it helps to know we are not alone. Hang in there because as much as I hate to say this, it's only going to get worse as your mother ages. Rely on your family and insist they help out. You have a great support system and you're lucky. Let us know how things are working out and try to stay positive and above all, learn to have patience. That's a tough one, but I keep telling myself someday I'll be my mother's age and maybe I won't be too pleasant either. Take care and God bless.
LindafromVT....I do hope you have people - friends, relatives that are part of YOUR support system. I've only been on this site for a couple of days and feel better just talking to others with similar situations. Amazing how positive the internet can be :)
I hope all the best for you and hope you, as I have already have, do continue to benefit from talking it out on here and getting ideas and I will try to help out to be an ear and have ideas. God Bless you :)
I feel for you. I know its very hard,especialy with all your school. Since you do help so much why doesn't she at least give you a break on some of the rent. Does your family help with any chores? If not they sure ought to!!! One thing you are luckier than me with is aleast she's your own mother. I am with my most of the time Mother In Law. It's hard for me to be firm with her than if she was my own mother. Not that I'd yell at my Mom but i could speak up more. You are gonna have to before this gets worse.My mother in law is ALWAYS right to in her eyes, and she at times can be down right rude with me when I'm the only one who puts up with her besides my husband. Her daughter and other son very rarely even call her because she's so critical. Plus my sister in law moved a LONG time ago because of her.Dos she have any other health problems besides her blood pressure? Is she maybe suffering of being a hypocondriac? You be strong and I will pray for strength for you
I'm sorry, I don't know why I said your school instead of your employment. I guess I wasn't thinking a moment ago!!
Move out of the apartment.
Let a caregiver and their family live in it.
Charge a very small rent, but enough to have an additional caregiver come in the 6th day to check on her and help her with some errands. You and your sisters each take one day a month to take her to lunch and it is almost covered.

You and your sister act on the plan to get apartments next to each other.

She will be begging to move to your block before you know it.

Keep the house for 6 or 8 months and sort it one day a week.
Let the caregiver family remain for security purposes. Have them help with the hauling of emptying a life time house.

Then selling it gets easier.

Good luck.... been there twice.
Zoey, I knew what you meant. :). My sisters do try to help. My older sister who is a bit like my mother lives about two hours away, but helps. Her experience with my mom in a " hospital run" opened her eyes a bit. She also has the ability to help with some finances. My younger sister is a bit closer and tries to visit as often as she can. They both try to help with housework etc, but my mother stops as she tries to do with me. Her only health issue is high bp...which is great and her dr believes the attention grabbing about her health is more a sign of depression. My mother has not had an easy life and I'm sure she's had depression for a long time.

I think I can understand the issue with your MIL. It is odd how it's easier to be tougher with our own. I do wonder if it's because we were raised to be polite to others that we often limit or censor ourselves with those that aren't blood relatives.

I hope and pray for your strength too. Thank you
lindaGS...I believe your idea is sound and it crosses my mind. To have the support of the rest of our family, it would be a future plan and I know that as I get older, it will be more difficult for me to live in a 3 story walk up. We've got ideas on long and short term...if we can get her to agree to outside help, your suggestion would work well. I don't feel as desperate as I was when I posted this,mostly due to the wonderful support and listening you all have afforded me. Thank you

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