My 103 yr. old mother has lived, alone in her home, a few houses from us, for 24 years. My husband (79) & I (75) have been responsible for her & her home for those years. Due to macular degeneration, she stopped driving 13 yrs. ago & from that point on, her needs have slowly increased.

We are now at the point, where she sees very little, is severly hard of hearing & doesn't like to wear her hearing aid, is unsteady on her feet, severely stooped, due to back problems & is having increasing memory lapses. She has experienced difficulties with remembering how to operate the oven & range, how to work the irrigation & alarm systems & TV remotes. She also opens the door to strangers. However, she is still very alert, mentally.

She makes the statement that she will stay in her home, as long as she can maintain it. She dusts & cooks & my husband & I maintain it. I have heart problems, my husband can no longer do the physical chores & the bottom line is, we're tired.

I have a sister, who is 10 yrs. younger, but she works & lives in another part of town. It has been much easier for us to manage Mother's needs.

We talked with Mother & presented the option of someone coming to her home to assist her, but she doesn't need someone on a full time basis & they would not be able to assist her with the physical needs of her home, so my husband & I would still be responsible.

We took her to a lovely Independent living facility for lunch, a tour & to observe activities. It's located less than 5 miles from our home, she would take her own furniture & her cat. You could see her shut down, as we discussed it.

We fully understand her reluctance to move from her home. We've told her we would not do anything with her home, until she was established in her apartment & had everything she needed.

We also understand that with her vision & hearing limitations, adjusting to new surroundings would be very difficult, but the facility makes provisions for that. We know she's afraid, but we certainly wouldn't dump her & not be there to help her.

We've accomadated Mother for many, many years, but we now have to take a stand & essentially tell her that she will move to independent living. How do we do this, without completely destroying her?

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Are you sure that the facility will accept her at her age in IL?. 103 is up there.

Have you had a detailed talk with the IL to see how they evaluate and if they do the admission as probationary? I would be concerned that they accept her into private pay IL and then presto & no surprise you get a letter 30 days later stating that her level of needs had changed after their 30 day observation and she needs AL or NH. Huge difference in care and in costs. Going through another move would be really hard on her too.

What might be an option is to have her go for a 1 week respite stay at the facility or better yet do this at 2 facilities. This gives everybody a week to evaluate the situation. For the facility, a 1 week respite stay is good as they can evaluate her in detail and without rush. She truly may not be OK for IL - you want to find this out now and not in 5 weeks. My gut feeling is that you all have been doing so much for her that although she has been living on her own amazingly at 103, she in fact has been on assisted living and you and your DH provided the assistance.

If both of the IL will take her...she can decide which one.

I moved my mom from her home of 50+ yrs to IL when she was 91. Apt was about 700 sq feet, 1 bedroom, galley kitchen, full bath & nice balcony. For my mom's IL, she was expected to be able to get from her 3rd floor apt to the daily lunch on her own - this was in a whole other building and she had to manage the hallway and elevator and exiting the building, going across the lawn and into a another building, she had a Hugo walker to do this; do her own grocery shopping & laundry; sign up on her own for all outings and shopping trips; schedule her transportation to the MD's on her own and participate in activities from exercise to arts & crafts and put out garbage outside her door at a set time. She had to be able to consistently put her room tag on her outside door hook by 8:30 AM every morning and have it inside her room by 9:00 PM every night. Door locked by 10 PM. The IL had someone who walked around to check on this - if they forgot more than 4 times they could be evaluated for IL suitability. IL did twice weekly maid service and changed the sheets but she had to have them washed and in the linen closet for them. Her IL expected the resident to do these things if not they would be asked to move into AL within 30 days. My mom had a more than 10% weight loss and critical H & H so she went from IL to NH. It seems this is rare to do as most facilities really push the AL as it is private pay and can deal with most needs.
Good luck, it won't be easy.
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This is so delicate a decision for your mother to comprehend. How blessed she is to have such wonderful children to help her keep her independence all these years. And you are truly looking out for her best interests and safety with respect to independent living. It would be heartbreaking if she took a fall at this age. Maybe if you can help her understand that she would be safer and more secure in this new environment with help 24/7 on the premises.

It must be especially difficult at the age of 103 - don't think any of us would want to move if we made it that far at home; but you are doing the right thing as "it is time" before the inevitable happens, falls, etc.And a fall at this age could make her bedridden. We used this approach with a relative and it did work as they finally realized that they really are prone at this age to falls and accidents due to balance etc. and they didn't want to lose their independence entirely by what hopefully could be prevented by not living alone. Will keep you in my prayers - blessings to you and pray your mother will come to the realization that it is best.
Take care.
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