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We live in a rural area in the High Desert California. She is lonely, and called to ask me over. She is in her mid 80's I guess. Her daughter who recently succumbed to Cancer also had Hospice care. The hospice care, I guess is now not available. Her other daughter that lives about an hour away, recently asked me to keep an eye on mom. I agreed, gladly. Today is day 1, and she called me crying, because she is lonely. My concern is her becoming dependent on me. I live alone, and am not much at holding a very balanced conversation. I am unable to even be involved in my own mothers care. I'm simply not equipped to spend time with little old ladies. I like her now, and she likes me. I have heard her abusive outburst with other caregivers over the last 6-7 years, and just don't want to fall prey to that cycle. I know that there are outreach programs (ARC) in think is one of them, and they are trained, and equipped to help the elderly. Today, when she called, I simply suggested that she watch some TV, reassuring her that I am here if there is an emergency. I feel like a complete heel. Am I approaching this correctly/tactfully? Am I being a selfish jerk? I look forward to others opinions, and advice.

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jeff - this site has been a life saver, literally in a few cases, for many of us. There is a wealth of experience, ideas, concerns shared by, on the whole, very caring people. I am not sure how I would have gotten through the past few years without it. Not as well, for sure. You may want to point the daughter in our direction.
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Agreed golden 23. My Grandmother was cared for the last year of her life by Hospice, and I knew hospice is for terminal patients. I apologize for confusing the issue. Hospice is not really a factor in my original question. It was more meant as a, "What the heck have I gotten myself into, and How to get out of it tactfully" without hurting the lady in questions feelings.
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I am so thankful to have this medium available.
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Some older people are very stubborn and resist change of residence and even resist having home care. Like babalou, I am assuming that what the daughter is trying to arrange is home care as opposed to hospice which would indicate that the mum has a life threatening/shortening health condition. It sounds like daughter is very involved.

If mum actually does need hospice, I think most of us would agree that she should not be living alone.
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Babalou, I am in no way qualified to say this 91 year old is 6 months terminal, but I can say she rolls out those big 50 gallon garbage barrels by herself. She is very active, and gets around. Her daughter is absolutely making efforts at getting her mom properly cared for.
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Please, please understand that the daughter is doing an above, and beyond job at caring for her mother. She is doing everything a daughter could be expected to do, and is very involved.
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Jeff, I guess many of us are confused because Hospice is a caregiving program for those who are certified by their doctors as have less than 6 months to live. Someone who is ready for hospice should certainly not be living alone, I think!

I hope that what the daughter is doing is arranging someone to provide some caregiving and housekeeping for her mother several times a week.
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Holy smokes, if the old gal is ready for hospice there is no way she can continue to live there on her own. I realize the family has just been through a crisis, but what is this daughter thinking?!!
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UPDATE: I just got off the phone with the daughter, and we discussed everything mentioned here. By the way, I just found out she is 91, not mid 80's as earlier reported. golden23, the hospice care was for the daughter, and now that the daughter died the hospice care ended. The other daughter is working on getting mom cared for, hopefully by the same hospice caregiver, but they are unsure if she is available, meaning a new hospice caregiver will have to be introduced.
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jeff - very cautiously, setting good boundaries as the others have said. What the daughter wants and what the mother wants may be two different things.

I think it is important to let the daughter know what you are and are not prepared to do and have her convey that to the mother - or sit down with the two of them and make it clear. Mum wants to stay put in her home despite a good alternative. I agree you should do nothing to facilitate that or you will find yourself the caregiver. Your concern about her becoming dependent of you is a very realistic one. Losing a child is a huge life stress. She needs her own family to help her through this and the limitations of aging. I suspect she should not be living on her own so her daughter is going through what any here are - waiting for a crisis which forces the issue.

You mentioned that the daughter who died also had hospice care which is now not available in your area. How is that relevant?
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Oops daughter involved in elderly Mom's life..
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I understand the daughter is involved in the daughters life.

I just have a feeling this isn't going to turn out good for you.

It's day 1 and Mom is already calling YOU, not her daughter..

You need to nip this in the bud before it gets worse..
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You are VERY wise to set boundaries with her early. And I'd define what "keeping an eye out" means to you to the daughter, not ask the daughter what she meant. It doesn't matter what she meant, you are the one who sets the guidelines about what you're comfortable doing.

You don't want to make it easier for her to stay there by herself, although her daughter (if mom is abusive) may be heaving a small sigh of relief that mom won't move in with her yet. I'd say like others have said, you be a lookout for lights left on or not going on at all, papers left outside for two days, that kind of thing. And that's it. You are a very caring man that you're even writing about this.
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It's so reaffirming to read your comments. I was also involved years ago, in the elderly care for my ex girlfriends parents, and they were outright mean to me.
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I wanted to add that my parents neighbor was more than happy to be a lookout for me. Her husband had had a stroke many years ago and she took care of him in their home. My father shoveled her walk and driveway when it snowed and often picked up things for her when she couldn't leave the house. When daddy would notice her poarch light on for a few days, no opening of the curtains etc he was there knocking on her door. So my neighbor lady lookout was happy to return the favor - no guilt or shame if you are not. Better to untangle early on.
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Thank you all so much for your input.
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I apologize, for not mentioning more in original post. The daughter is very actively involved, and has been there since the other daughters death a few weeks ago. In fact the original plan was for "mom" to move in with daughter, but mom refused. Originally, I was going to water their plants weekly.
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Call the daughter.. Tell her you're not comfortable with this arrangement...

Imagine if she says you did something abusive to her or even worse!!

It is nice of you to look out for her BUT her daughter needs to be taking care of her mother..
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Jeff, you are doing the right thing, you don't want to fall into the web of being her "caregiver" every day, week after week. Be there only for emergencies, something that requires 911.

I would call her other daughter, who lives an hour away, and tell her that her Mom needs more care then you can supply. That she needs to come and take care of her as soon as possible, like yesterday. Make some excuse, that you are going away on a business trip or anything to get the ball rolling where the daughter now takes charge. I realize saying "no" can be tough at times.

It could also be that your neighbor doesn't want to move from her home, and feels since you are nearby she can still remain in her house. If she knows you won't be there all the time, she might decide it is time to move in with her daughter or into a senior apartment complex.
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You might contact the local senior center and ask if they have arrangements with the local public transit agency to provide pickup and dropoff transit for seniors. If so, she could go to the senior center and socialize.

The local county might have an outreach program; I've been told ours has a respite program.

However, if she's verbally abusive, that might be the reason she's alone and lonely.

I don't think you're being selfish but in act are wise to sense being drawn in could become problematic. I too would be very cautious.
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Antidepressants would help this woman. So would a visiting nurse, who can communicate with the MD. You did right by offering suggestions instead of running over there. Often the "woe is me" is more attention seeking behavior than it is an actual crisis. On the other hand, if she calls you reporting hallucinations of some kind, you call 911 and they will respond quickly.
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I think you are right to be cautious - it would be easy for this poor lonely woman to become dependent on you. When my parents were still in their house I asked the lady across the street to "keep an eye out" - I'd know her in a neighbor way most of my life. By keeping an eye out I meant for her to give me a call if she noticed things like the garbage cans not making it to the curb, no lights at night, no movement of the cars - things that could indicate a fall or the like. You probably need to talk to the daughter and define what keeping an eye out means to you. Let her know you are unable to become more involved beyond the kind of things I mentioned and a real emergency. Ask her to talk to her mother. I'm not convinced this will stop the neighbor from looking to you for more but it's a place to start.
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