jennephik Asked January 2010

How can I choose the best type of care for my elderly mother without feeling guilty?

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how do I choose what is best (rather than what she wants) for my 84 year old mother without feeling guilty? she is partially disabled and has an extremely difficult time getting around her small apartment. she also has dementia and has become very delusional accusing family members if theft and believing others have snuck into her apartment. she eats very little and has become dehydrated several times.

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Jan 2010
Elders have rights when it comes to their care, but in your mother's case it sounds as though you need to step in and take over. It will be hard to go against what she wants, but if you are making sure she is cared for and safe, then you have no need to feel guilty. I know that is easier said than done. Many of us on this site have fought with unearned guilt.

Keep trying to do what is best for her and come back here for support. You also may want to contact the Family Caregiver Support Program. You can find your state's version on the state Web site under aging services.

Good luck,
Carol
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toadballet1 Jan 2010
I wonder why your Mom's situation is causing you financial distress. I would highly recommend looking into housing solutions in your area. In my state there are government subsidized apartments that charge less than half the rent of other similar apartments. There are also programs to help with utilities, etc. I have arranged for an agency caregiver to come in once and awhile just to give me some respite. Like you, I was becoming physically and emotionally drained. Most of my friends and family members (who are not caregivers) just do not want to talk about what it takes to care for an elderly person even if they are not living with you. Fortunately, that was precisely the moment I found this wonderful website and forum of caring people.

When my mother finally sold her home we helped her choose the things she could fit into her new apt. Then, we had a yard sale and the proceeds helped her say "goodbye" to all those years of accumulation. I would seriously consider having a "storage unit sale"...she will not be revisiting those items and maintaining all that "stuff" will just put an additional burden on you.

I am also in the midst of trying to find an adequate solution for Mom's housing when she is unable to live on her own. There seems to be a big gulf between living independently and assisted living centers and nursing homes. I am looking into "group home" arrangements that cater to the specific medical needs of its residents (such as alzheimers, Parkinson's, etc.) and has a more "homey" envirnonment. (Although making these decisions causes me the most stress because I worry about her safety and the quality of care when I am not there.)

Do you have a Power of Attorney - one each for financial and medical? If not, that would be my first step. (I created my own from an legal documents website. Create 3 "original" copies for each PoA. Her doctor will want an original copy. Most states have specific guidelines for notarizing, filing, etc.) If she is showing signs of dementia, you will have to take charge of both her care and decision making. An as MOE mentioned above: try to ignore the "unearned guilt."
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195Austin Jan 2010
Elders tend to hate any change but as you are doing to best you can you may have to overlook her being upset for a time as long as you are doing the best you can there is no reason to feel quilty that is just a waste of your time and energy-do not be hard on you we here understand and if others on the outside do not that is there problem and you should not own their problem. Gook luck and let us encourage you and support you-at least we know how we should act when we get there and our kids will benefit in the long run.
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toadballet1 Jan 2010
Jen:
You should not put yourself in financial straits any longer. You have gone way above the call of duty in being compassionate to one who abandoned you.

In LV does your mother have family who can help her with financial support or caregiving? Does her income level qualify her for Medicaid? Can she hire a caregiver who can come by once a month or so to help with shopping or cleaning?

I would start by contacting the aging services in Nevada - it will not give you all the answers but it is a good start. If her income level is low enough, she can qualify for many local services including rent reduction, etc.

I had to step out of the panic mode that I often get into, because I am my Mother's only caregiver in my family. I had to assess what I was both able and willing to do and then I stick to it. Do not let your Mother guilt you out...sounds like she made some unwise choices early on and you should not have to clean up after her.
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jennephik Jan 2010
so what's easiest for her isn't necessarily best for her. It seems like pacifying her is only delaying the inevitable. I suppose the sooner the decisions are made with her best interests in mind, the more time for her acclimation and for forgiveness.
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jennephik Jan 2010
so we just moved her from her large two bedroom apt that was $1850 to a smaller one that is only $580 but she insisted upon keeping all her furniture. it won't fit and now another truck must be rented so the furniture can be put into a new storage unit!!! taking care of her is placing much financial distress on me. how do i convince her that keeping all her furniture is ridiculous?
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jennephik Jan 2010
the financial stress is primarily because she had been unable to pay her rent and other bills for a few months. I have been providing her with groceries and such. She was living in Northern California and I in Southern California. I have moved her to Las Vegas where her rent is 1/3 her previous rent and so she'll be closer to other family members. I made several trips back and forth prior to the move. Then I financed the entire move as well which included flights for my son and I to Northern California and the moving truck to be driven to Las Vegas then return flights home again. I also have used all my vacation days and cannot miss any more days.
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jennephik Jan 2010
Also, my mother completely abandoned me as an infant and was never involved in my childhood nor did she provide any financial support. I reconnected with her when my own two children were young because I felt it important that they have a grandmother. As you all can imagine their relationships with her are quite challenging as well.

Thanks to all who have responded thus far. You are giving me much peace of mind.
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