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Unfortunately I have a demanding career that makes it difficult to drop everything each time my elderly, ill, living at home, 90 yr old mother calls needing milk or bread or a ride to the dr or an Rx picked up and although she has friends and neighbors to help she relies on me 100% (only child here) and to complicate things I live an hour away - I worry constantly and it is interferring with sleep and life. She won't accept home health care and she says assisted living is out of the question - she says she "cannot depend" on me (making me feel guilty). How does one balance all this, not lose my job and keep sane?

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Thank you to everyone for the wonderful words of wisdom. Very helpful in this trying time!
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When it comes to my Mom getting groceries, she orders like she and Dad will be living only one week.... if they are still alive next week, she will order another week's worth :P
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It's true about the number of things she may be ordering. Really go inside the closets and see what's there. When I did that with my cousin, I found dozens of duplicate items, like 30 air freshners, 40 cans of cat food, VERY OLD eggs in the fridge. Check it out personally so you know what you're dealing with.
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Tabby, I realized when I cleaned out my mom's house two years ago that there was a lot more cognitive decline going on than I thought there was. Duplicates of many items. Having to take mom shopping each week for an item she'd bought the week before, like toothpaste. So you might want to get that checked out.

there are many services that deliver groceries these days like peapod. And yes, finding a pharmacy that delivers, or switching mom to mail order is a lifesaver.

with regard to Assisted Living (or more likely) Independent Living, my mother said no repeatedly. It turned out that she harbored many myths, misperceptions and a healthy dose of my late dad's paranoia about leaving her home. In the suburbs . With no sidewalks. And no neighbors at home during the day. And three levels to take care of. And nothing within walking distance, and no way to get there when it snowed. And on and on.

I'm not as nice as Frequent Flyer. I sat my mom down and told her that she was going to be the death of my brother, having to come to her rescue, shovel her out, fix her toilet. She loved Independent Living. She ate better, had an on site doc and meds delivered. At some point, dear, you have to stand up for you.
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tabbeykat2001, I know exactly what you mean, lot of sleepless nights here, too [also an only child]. I never could understand why my parents didn't plan ahead to the time when they could no longer drive. Guess they assumed I would get their groceries, their meds, their mail, etc.

I spoiled my parents when Dad first stopped driving years ago, but that was the wrong thing to do. Recently I had to cut back my driving by 90% due to my own medical issues, and my folks are now like deer in headlights not knowing what to do. "Who's going to drive us" guilt thrown at me.

I have been using an on-line grocery service, with curb-side pickup or home delivery, which has been great. Shop in front of my computer once a week. If Mom had her way, I would be inside a grocery store every other day, and depending on what is on sale, a different grocery store each time. Not happening, Mom, I can't do that anymore, too exhausting for me.

As mentioned by others above, buy more items. When my Mom orders 2 cans of soup, if it is on sale I buy 6 cans. No more waiting until she is down to one roll of toilet paper, if I see a good sale I buy the large package for her. She's doing better on her ordering :)

Sometimes it can take tough love before we can get our parent(s) to accept home help care. My parents refuse any outside help. What I have been doing lately is saying I had totally forgotten about this request or that request, saying my memory isn't as good as it use to be. I drag my feet for as long as I can hoping that my parents might make the first gesture to hire some help. I am still waiting.
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The most important thing is to keep her safe and secure. Sometimes loving tough decisions have to be made no matter your loved one thinks is best or wants. Call your local senior services or have her doc recommend a home health care group that will come out and evaluate what services your Mom is eligible for at this time.

Putting yourself first isn't easy but necessary for your own physical and emotional wellbeing. Good luck!
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Good ideas above. I might also see about meals on wheels. That additional food could reduce the amount of shopping she has to do. Does she still cook? You might also check on local grocery stores that allow you to order on-line and then have them delivered. The small fee would be worth you not having to commute 2 hours.

Your mom may be creating these needs in order to see you more often. I think I would arrange for the home drug delivery and other delivery options and let mom know you are only able to come to her house a certain number of times per week. Maybe once is sufficient. Buy in bulk and make sure she has enough to last for weeks. Then you have no reason to feel distracted every day at your job.

As long as she has neighbors who are available in an emergency and she knows how to dial 911, you should devote your time to where you need to devote it. If she's not managing well, you may have to insist on changes. Sometimes the elderly are not willing to listen to reason.

When my cousin went into dementia, she would call me many times per day and ask me to bring her food, milk, cat food, etc. When I would arrive, there was plenty of food, milk and cat food. Her dementia caused her to not be able to figure this out. I might check the cabinets and make sure your mom is correct about the things she needs.

People warned me about the stress of care giving. I learned first hand. I suffered some health consequences. Don't let it eat you up. You have to protect your own health. Good luck.
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Thanks JessieBelle - very helpful. And you got me to smile with the "with to dust" comment! :)
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There are a few things that can help. First find a pharmacy that delivers. Many do. That has saved me many trips a month to pick up medicines and supplies. Next, schedule trips to the grocery store only on certain days, making sure there are plenty of her staples to carry her through. Bread will freeze well for a short time, so you can keep a backup loaf in the freezer. If she needs an "emergency" food item, just let her know you'll pick that up on the next trip to the grocery store. Try to schedule her around your time, instead of the opposite. With elders there is often the request that they need it right now, and if they don't get it they are going to wither to dust. And that you don't care if they wither to dust.

Something my parents did before I came home was hired a person to take my mother to the grocery store and doctor appointments. They paid the person $50-100 a trip, depending on what needed to be done. I wonder if your mother would be open to this. It was a huge help to them.
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