My mother lived with me for 17 years. She is 95 and in the last year her memory and cognitive skills has failed rapidly. She needs help with most everything. She is not incontinent, however. I am her only child and made the decision to move her to assisted living near me. I am 71 and her care was draining me physically and emotionally. She is miserable and begs to come home. The guilt of this move is killing me.

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Guilt is the wrong G-word. You are not a felon who takes joy in the pain of others. You are a struggling daughter who after 17 years (I could NEVER do that in a million years) has understood her own humanity and her own limitations. The G word you are looking for is GRIEF. Grief that your mother is so miserable; grief that you are not super-human or a saint, but are a human being who has given all you have to give.
Is your mother to be HAPPY to be in care? Are YOU to be happy? No, of course not. This is worth grieving, is it not. We live too long, things are taken from us one at a time until we have nothing left, not even control of our bodies and our minds, not even the recognition of who we were, of who our relatives are.
This just isn't about happiness. It's about grief and mourning. Please allow yourself to do this and allow you mother to do this. Let her know you recognize her pain and are sorry for it. Let her know that YOU have pain also, and that you are sorry for that as well. Let her know that not everything can be fixed. After a long life she will understand that all of life isn't about what we WANT, isn't about "happiness", but is a mix of the beautiful and the unutterably sad. I am so sorry for your GRIEF but please know words have power. Use the correct word. Mourn what you must. Cry. Allow the pain in so it doesn't keep coming at you, and then move on with your life. I just saw a movie on Netflix called Cristina, about a 38 year old who died of cancer after a brave and excruciating fight. Her message? You only have RIGHT NOW. This moment. You don't have yesterday. You don't have tomorrow. You only have RIGHT NOW. Please allow yourself some rest, some joy, because indeed, you only have right now.
Helpful Answer (15)

You’ve done both the brave and wise choice in making sure your mom has appropriate care. You know her needs are past what you can provide and will only increase. I hope you won’t participate in these discussions of her coming home, it becomes an endless loop that goes nowhere but drains you. When she brings it up, change the subject. If she persists, end the visit or phone call. Try to focus on what’s good and positive. Don’t mistake feeling sad over this as needing to attempt to fix or change it. I wish you both peace
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Hi Chalar
There is no win win with getting old it seems. I used to tell my mom, and now my DH aunt, that when one lives as long as they have, even their children are old.
I encourage you to get a full physical, assess your exercise and diet and more or less, get yourself in the best shape possible for this chapter in your life. If you are like me, when I recently visited a few specialist to check OFF some concerns, I found they were well founded and instead have some follow up to do. I need a few minor procedures. I need to use some potions and tonics to boost my numbers and energy level. I need to go to pelvic therapy, get an eye lift so I can see better, etc. Small, but life enhancing things. When you are busy with these things you will have a brighter outlook which will be helpful to your mom as well. I'm sure she can sense your feelings of despair over her placement. I would tell her that you miss her too but its time for you to take better care of you.

Here are a few numbers for you. They don't change anything but might make you realize that you have made the right decision for yourself and mom.

Your mom was just a few years older than you are now when you started taking care of her.
I'll bet you were doing for her before she made the decision to move in with you back in 2004.
What you could do at 54 is quite different than at 71. Old age doesn't just happen to our parents as you well know.
Depending on when you left home, you have probably taken care of her for as long as she took care of you as a child. Not many 17 year olds need help with their ADLs.
If you use your mom as a guide, you have 24 years left before you need an ALF and the average age of a woman born in the USA today is 81.1. If you make it to 75 now you would have about 13 years left according to the CDC for white women in 2016 so you get some extra years for making it to 75.

This has been a transition for you as well. Mom may need a little more time than you do. I just upped my DH aunts antidepressant and can already see an improvement in just a week. Give yourself a little grace and realize that you are doing a good job of caring for your mom and taking appropriate action today just as in the last 17 years. Hugs
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MJ1929 May 2021
This reminds me of my aunt and uncle who would travel from California to Kentucky every couple of months to help out my uncle's mother who was still living at home. She'd have a list of chores she needed done around the house, and one year she wanted my uncle to clean her gutters. He refused to get up on a ladder, and when his 101-year-old mother asked why, my uncle said, "Because I'm EIGHTY!!" :-)
At 95 with memory loss there is a high likelihood that the misery she is feeling now would also be misery in your home.

If she is safe and well cared for in her present environment, a trial of a small dose of a tranquilizer or antidepressant might make her more comfortable.

You know that the arrangement you had before she entered her AL was not working for you. It can often take some time for a resident to feel secure in a new residence.

Bringing her home would not be a kindness to either of you. Once you become aware of the safety and social advantages of her new situation, you will find your guilt being replaced by the confidence that when made with love and compassion, the safest and most pleasant living situations prove to be the best.

No guilt.
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Longscream May 2021
This is so true. My mum, 97, has been in a care home for 2 months. Every time I see her she says 'I don't understand why I can't live with you.' It breaks my heart - but when she was living with us (for 19 years!) she was just as miserable and grumpy, and often didn't even know where she was! I miss her, but the thought of her coming home fills me with dread. I learned the hard way I can't cope any more. Every day was one drama or another, but she doesn't remember ANY of it. To think of going through it all again - and I have to consider my beloved and long-suffering hubby in all this - no, it's too awful to contemplate.

I'm going to steal someone else's reply and answer: SAFE trumps HAPPY. My Mom too is unhappy in AL and begs to come home. I could no longer let her stay by herself, she has vascular dementia and could not even work the telephone. Couldn't bring in outside help because she refused to let them in door. My Mom is 82, I am 56, an only child also. I can relate to your guilt feelings, but the above commenter has it right, it is grief. Grief for a horrible situation that there are NO good answers for. I wish you the best. I hope that your Mom and my Mom will learn eventually to be happy in AL. I know its the best place for my Mom at this time in her life. Hugs to you.
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A different thought here but...
Would you consider a move to Assisted Living as well?
You could get an apartment large enough for both of you. You would have the help you need to care for her. And as a bonus you will have help for yourself if you need it. If she needs to transition to Memory Care you would be in the same building and be able to be with her as much as you would like. You would also have the option of being able to take advantage of the activities that AL has to offer.
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She may not be asking to come to your home, but to a home that she remembers from an earlier time. Shift conversation from "want to go home" to what she remembers of "this home" and what she loves about "being at home." Incorporate as much of "home" into her life where she currently lives. She may also benefit from some mild anti-anxiety medication.

Bringing her back into your home will not help her or you. You already have realized that you can not care for her anymore one on one. No shame is coming to this realization. Lots of kudos for getting her into a place that can meet her needs.
Helpful Answer (5)

17 years is a long time! Thankful that my mother was capable of taking care of herself (and dad before he passed.) I had pondered and half-heartedly offered to take them in, if they could build a space onto/next to my kitchen, so we could share that and they would have access to a full bath on the same floor. Quite honestly I am glad they never took me up on the offer!

Needing help with "most everything" begs the question whether she is in AL or MC? Because MC is often called AL/MC, it isn't clear. If her capabilities are that diminished, she probably should be in MC. Continence isn't the deciding factor. My mother was mobile, continent and able to dress, feed herself, etc. BUT she wasn't safe to be living alone, whether in her condo or in regular AL. She was early 90s when I realized there was an issue, probably about 93 when we were able to move her to MC (tried the aides, but she refused to let them in.)

When you visit, try to get into her mind, asking various questions, to determine what "home" means. For the first 9 months my mother was in MC, she hounded my YB to take her back to her condo. It was a surprise to me when visiting one day around that 9 month mark, when she first asked me to drop her off at her mother's (gone 40+ years already!) and when I deflected that, she asked if I had a key to the previous home we lived in. She gave the address, so I know which place her mind was at then. They'd sold that place 25+ years before! So her memory had gone through a "step back" about 40 years prior. Other discussions and topics allowed me to peg those also at about 40 years ago.

So, home may be your place, but it could also be a place in her past.

As to how to handle it, one of the methods a lot of us use are therapeutic fibs. Try telling her the doctors ordered her to move her to build up strength or to get over some medical condition. You have to wait for their "okay" before she can come home. Always lay the blame elsewhere and defer the return to some future day/date, without giving an actual date. It may require repetition each time you visit if/when the topic comes up. When my mother asked me to drop her off, I had to think quick as I wasn't expecting that! I looked at my watch, said it was a little late in the day, not exactly on my way home, so maybe tomorrow. She accepted that by saying okay, before asking about the key to the other place. Of course with short term memory loss, she'd quickly forget that. Later she would ask about her mother, what she might be doing for the holiday, if I'd seen or talked to her, but she never asked me to drop her off again. She would save flowers and little gifts they made for her mother. It was kind of cute, but sad too.

Try some deflection (doc, later, etc) and then try to redirect her focus onto something else. Snacks, a drink, a walk, etc, even pointing out something outside, say a bird or a squirrel, just to get her off that topic. It does work often - not always, but often enough that it's worth trying!

No guilt. There often comes a time when it is beyond our capability to provide that 24/7 care. When we're younger and raising kids, it is different. Your abilities at 70+ are not what they were! If you were to hurt yourself trying to help her, who would then care for the two of you? I was younger that you when it was time to assist my mother, but I knew that doing it myself wouldn't work on many levels. We ARE still caring for them, but in a different way. We can resume being a loving child, visit, oversee everything, but pass all the hard work onto those who are more capable, both in body AND training.
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Your made the best decision you could under the circumstances. Her needs are going to be greater than they were when you moved her to AL. I am so sorry she is miserable. If she is in a facility that cares for her and is safe then she is in the appropriate place.

At 89 my father was upset about still being alive - afraid he'd never die and that God had forgotten him. My parents were already living in a CC facility and moved from IL to AL and my father when he got to weak went to SNC. At 91 he died peacefully in his sleep. I can't say they were overjoyed at being in AL but they were together. The only time dad asked about going home was about a month after he was moved to SNC. We told him that he was too weak to return to his previous home.

Just be honest with you mother, tell her you are no longer able to care for her appropriately which is why she is living where she is. Assure her of your love for her.

Blessings to you and your mother.
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I do feel for the multitude of folk out there feeling guilty, I do. Is it because they have been trained to always please their parent? I see it in my DH's family? MIL is really lovely, & generous but some some reason her kids think their job is to make her every want, wish & whim come true. It's just not.

People get old. Their needs often exceed what family (or one person) can do. It's ok to be sad about that.
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