Penny1964 Asked April 2012

What should I consider before deciding if my aging parent should move in with me?

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My mother is 84 and in pretty good health but she is beginning to show signs of dementia. I have two older brothers but I'm not sure they can be counted on to care for her since they are men. I'm a single mom with a 12 year old son so having my mom move in would be a big step.

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Labs4me Feb 2013
Consider your son first. He is your first priority. Allow your son a voice in this decision making.
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jeannegibbs May 2012
Penny1964, have you made a decision yet? We'd love to hear what is going on in your world with you mother!

To all who are deciding about moving parents in, I'd like to point out a couple more things, in addition to advice given above:

1. Sometimes, as in hitower4095's post above, living together can actually harm the relationship. I'm sure you can think of friends you enjoy thoroughly but you wouldn't want to share a cabin with them for even a week! Sometimes a little distance can provide a safety valve for a relationship.

2. Reading posts here gives you an idea of the issues that COULD come up, but not necessarily that WILL come up in your situation. Naturally caregivers who are having a grand time with no problems with a parent living with them are not as apt to be drawn to a site like this. Don't kid yourself that "those things would never happen to me," but also don't think that all parents-living-with-child are fraught with drama and misery.

Good luck!
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hitower4095 May 2012
I wish I had taken more time to think through the entire process before moving my parents in with me. My sisters thought it was a great idea and so did my dad who is 83. My mom has alot of health issues and he is the type that knows just what she needs...or so he thinks. All he was doing was making her want to sleep all the time and when he tried to make her eat and drink he did it more in a demanding way that the more he pushed the more she refused. She would dehydrate and end up in the hospital or rehab. Upon discharge, she would have physical therapists come to her apt 3 times a week but my dad convinced her they were just sitting there wasting money and time so they told them not to come back. Backslide again...rehab again. Finally he wanted to enter assisted living but didn't like the fact that it would take most of his monthy soc security so he thought it best they move in with me. Well, it has been 5 months and the honeymoon lasted less than 2 weeks. He handles her meds and they are so screwed up and my sisters tell me what I should do. I've found that they are good at telling me what I should do....it's never what we as daughters should do. They tell me I should handle the meds which I agree but he won't hand over the reins and I understand that it is taking away his sense of feeling needed. He shouldn't be driving but he won't listen to me or my mom and my siblings keep telling me I should make him give up his license. He does all their appts now. I used to go to all the meetings with him for her rehab care because he requested it of me. I love both of my parents dearly and have always been extremely close with both of them. I've been there for every surgery for both, through cancer with my mom, at the hospital every single day of any hospital stays of both of them. My mom has been hospitalized for months at a time and I never missed a day. I did this out of love. Now my dad argues with me over everything from the way I set the table to the way I do my things my way. He sits there and tells me everything I do wrong and how he would do them. I remodeled my kitchen before they moved in and all he has done is find fault. He is very controlling and manipulative. He has problems keeping friends and getting along with people that live around him. He has recieved notification from the housing management companies where they have lived that they were receiving complaints from tenants about his rudeness and abusive language. I can't turn them out and as much as I love them both, I do regret my decision. I did give up working to care for them and I am divorced so they do pay "rent" but it is alot less than what I made and I've now cashed in my own retirements. I don't get help from my siblings, only advise on what I should do. So, please, if you are thinking of moving your parent(s) into your home, take more time to weigh everything from privacy issues, how to handle conflicts, and don't rely on verbal arrangements with siblings. The whole experience has not only hurt my relationship with my parents and family but also my sanity.
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peeweedeb May 2012
You should consider everything, and understand that your life will never be the same ever again! Think this through very carefully.
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3pinkroses May 2012
There are so many insightful, thoughtful and caring responses posted above with respect to your decision as to whether or not you should have your mother move in with you. You are so wise to consider all factors and how they will work together in the best interest of your family.

Personally, one of the many and primary concerns is how this will effect your 12 year old son who is on the borderline of becoming a teenager. Depending on your mother's personality and his relationship with her currently, it could possibly work out OK. My MIL lived with us and was a good hearted person, but a controlling and opinionated one as well. This type A personality does not mesh well with a teenager. My daughter was 17 at the time and life became very stressful for her due to her grandmother's controlling nature despite the dementia. I've known people with dementia that are sweet as pie because that is there natural demeanor. And dementia does effect them to be come cranky at times; but that is to be expected. I think this aspect of it is vital, especially when there is a child involved. These are wonderful years for both you and your son to experience together; you will never get them back. And raising teen-agers is a rewarding experience, but they do require a lot of your time and supervision.

Do take into consideration all of Jeanne's comments - they are all vital to a successful decision.

Perhaps your mother would actually want to be in assisted living if it were near to you and you could visit as often as you wanted. It is a viable alternative. And sometimes, as with my father, he did not want to live with me as he was a very private man. I asked him when he was in the hospital the last time before he passed away and he said "no, when I go, I go". His only request was to go to rehab and make sure my mother did not end up there with him. I honored that request and assured him rest and peace to the end. Those were his wishes, but I would love to have taken care of him in my home -it would have been an honor; but it wasn't who he was. Maybe your Mother will have strong feelings one way or another and that will help with your decision. Blessings and take care.
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Ringo1 May 2012
However hard you think it might be - it's going to be even harder. And my father is a relatively laid back kind of guy. But moving in with us - took away his independence; it diminished and saddened him. So, living with a sad and depressed 91 y/o takes it's toll. His relationship with my son (I'm a single Mom) deteriorated greatly; I don't think that can ever be repaired. Two men - at a point in their lives when they are totally self-centered.
Having said that - Home Instead has been our saving grace. We would a wonderful woman who comes over 3 days a week (I work) and basicall chauffers my Dad everywhere he wants to go! He loves to eat out; get a pedicure from time to time; she also manages all his doctor appointments. We could not do it without her. A single working mother is torn in too many different directions anyway - factor in a 91 year old dependent (child but youcan't tell him what to do) - and the stress level becomes quite high. I have to be so careful not to get totally swallowed up in the needs of my son and my father ~ it's easy to get lost in there!
And, I must still keep my eye on the ball when it comes to my son. He's a junior this year and I have no intention of dropping that ball now.
Just go into all this with your eyes wide open.
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jeannegibbs May 2012
mame4mom, thank you for taking the time to share your experience. Personal experience is the best way to learn -- and learning through other people's experiences is less painful! Thank you.
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mame4mom May 2012
Sorry, just re-read your question and see you are a single mom. Well, you don't have to ask a spouse if he is ok with having her move in then! However, when I am going crazy sometimes at dinnertime or something-it is nice to know that my husband will be home to maybe give me some time "off". Or who I can vent to. I don't know how I would keep my sanity without him some days... SO, think about who you have in your life that can be there for you! HUGS!!!!
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mame4mom May 2012
Hi Penny! I just saw your question. Good for you! I have often thought that there should be a book or pamphlet with the answers to this question for people thinking about this! Maybe there is-but I haven't seen it! Jeannegibbs should write it starting with what she wrote here!
I have had mom mom with me for 8 years. She is 86 next week! If I had it to do over again, I would do it again. BUT, I would have done the things jeanne suggests-especially about family and respite care because those were the things I didn't realize would be needed. And HOW MUCH I would need time away. Mom was good at first and I could leave her for hours. I can barely leave the room now! Everyone in the family got used to it the way it was, and now that she is more needy, it is really hard to get them to help. It has been a real awakening for me to see how this all has fallen completely on me and has caused much resentment. I now pay people (with mom's $) to come stay with mom so I can get out and it was very hard leaving her with someone who was not a good friend or relative!
I choose not to work and altho my hubby can take care of us with his job, it is hard to think about how much I/we have lost out on $$ for our future-social security and 401k/investments etc. Kind of scary at times to think about it.

Our kids were 11 and 16 when she moved in. Didn't miss anything of the older ones highschool stuff-but had to beg to get family to come over so as not to miss the younger ones football games and concerts once mom didn't want to go to them with us anymore. I think it was good for our boys to see us care for her...altho sometimes a little resentment...but a good lesson in love.
Now that the boys are in college, it is a day trip to see anything they do...so that means getting someone for a whole day to be with mom.

My hubby is great Thank God-about helping and about not being able to get out or go on vacations...we are almost empty nesters and it feels like we have a 2 year old at home with no hope for growth & independence coming...quite the opposite-we know that mom is only going to need more care.

Sorry, I am babbling.
Taking care of bathroom issues was very hard for me to deal with and something I had never dreamed I would have to do. Now it is an hourly issue...

Sleep is something there is never enough of-or maybe it is because there is a monitor I have with me 24/7 listening for mom to need me in one way or another.
The first time she didn't know me was like-WOW! That comes and goes now-and I understand that it could go for good at any time. But all these things are hard. And I was not prepared for much of this.

One really sad thing for me is that all of the friends I had work..have families etc and I really don't see or hear from them too much. I am sure they are bored hearing about all my mom stuff. So, be sure to keep doing things that are interesting and keep your friends! Somehow do this -cause caregiving is a very lonly job if you don't and there have been times I think I will lose my sanity. That is the reason I found this site! I need people! Facebook is great but this site-well, we all understand what eachother is going through .
So be sure to follow the list Jenne gives...read this site to see what other crazy things may take place. Talk with child, spouse, siblings, lawyers, mom..and I will say a prayer for you. Don't do this out of guilt! Do whatever you decide with love and your mom's best interest as well as your family's best interest and your best interest. There is no wrong answer. Whatever you decide, you can always change your mind too. I do think it is harder once they are in your house tho-to change your mind-but it is possible.
Please keep us posted on how your are doing! Mame
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Bhenson Apr 2012
Penny, I just want to tell you how proud of you I am for looking into this first before diving in. It may be easy in the beginning with mom living there but the problems arise quickly and out of the blue sometimes with dependency on you, forgetfullness, bathroom issues and showering as well as day to day things. I am very glad you are getting all the info first. As for respite care, I live in NJ right now and they have a respite program here that you can use for free for 2 weeks or more each year to "get away'. check with the dept of aging too.
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