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I have recently sold my home and I am moving back to my home state. My elderly parents are 87 and 90 and live at home with a caregiver that comes for 3 hours, three times a week. I arranged the caregiver during a health crisis earlier this year. She does light housekeeping and meal prep and laundry and can run errands if needed. She has been fantastic and has reduced my worry and stress. I have arranged lawn care so that is taken care of. My parents have funds to pay for these things and they are paying for them. My mother still drives and picks up food and groceries. Both of them are independent with their self care and manage their own finances. I am an only child. However, I know this can't last forever and I find myself worrying more about what is to come. I have asked and pushed a conversation but neither gives any real answers. I think they think I will just handle it, when the time comes, like always. My parents have a difficult marriage and mother has complained since my childhood of how miserable she is. I was parentified and my emotional needs were not met or attuned to. My mother has no friends and has cut off from most relatives save a couple who she manipulates. She cajoles some neighbors but I would not call them friends. She was not interested in mothering and had a full time job 25 miles from home since I was 1 year old. I had a series of babysitters, family, neighbors, tenders, and paid caregivers. People who meet her say she is Great and so charming but that is the public face. My mother has been emotionally abusive to me and physically when I was a child. She interfered with my love relationships and gave silent treatments that could last for months and was very critical. She raged when I was a child and it was scary. My father is just emotionally shut down and probably has always been. He enables her and has made hurtful comments and has very limited empathy. They both had difficult childhoods. I have done therapy and self healing work and have learned a lot about covert narcissism and borderline behavior and the enabling relationships like my parents. I understand they will not change. My Grief work is ongoing. I call or text them once a week and have reduced my visits to 3-4 times per year unless an emergency. I no longer want the stress of waiting for the next phone call or wondering what will happen when she can't drive anymore or when I will get the next call from the ER and have to rush to the airport and get on a plane and put my life on hold. I want to be close enough so I am within driving distance from them but I certainly dont want to live with them. For my own convenience, it would be nice to be in their same town but it is smaller and about 25 miles from a large city. I would prefer a larger city but that is 3 hours from them and I dont want to go through all the hassle of moving only to find I am still caught up every Sunday, talking on the phone, and wishing I could just stop by for an hour, say Hello and then leave. I am considering buying a place in their town because it would be the most convenient for me (and them) and give me the most control over decisions that will come down the road but its not really where I want to live. I am 55 years. Has anyone faced a similar decision and what did you discover? Better to live really close for your own convenience with them even if its not really where you want to be and make the best of it? Or live where you would like, a 3 hour drive away, try to enjoy it and worry about the future when it happens? Did living close undo all the self healing work and create new trauma? I have been looking at homes and rentals in 3 different cities for months but I can't seem to make a decision and I think this dilemma is at the root of my indecision.

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My mother has lived about 15 minutes from me for the past 10 years. The minute I retiree she will expect me to move in with her. I visit when I can ( not enough for her) stay as long as I can ( not long enough for her) and take care of things for when I can ( Never enough and never good enough). There are days when this works and days it doesn't. When I was about to get out of college I had a serious offer to move to the Pacific northwest. To be honest I wish would have maybe my mother wouldn't have moved to be nearer to me if I lived there. If I lived with my mother that still wouldn't please her because I would occasionally have to go the the bathroom or God forbid spend more than five minutes away from her. If your parents have been miserable together all their lives they will continue to make you miserable even if you are less then 5 feet from then 24/7.
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Yeah, a catch-22 this is, definitely. I too am an only child. The situation was reversed, though: my elderly parents lived in FL and I lived in CO when my dad had 3 fender benders back to back & decided himself to stop driving. My mother-the-queen would not take on the driving, even though she had a license, so there was no other choice but for me to move them close to me here in CO. They sold their house and moved 5 miles away from me to an Independent Living senior apartment in 2011. I was 54 at the time. Mind you, I cried before they made the move; my new DH was stupefied. Why was I crying? Ha; he would learn a lot about why I was crying b/c I have/had parents just like yours. Mom is the bully, dad was shut down after years of tolerating her abuse. I was in heaven b/c for the first time EVER, they were thousands of miles away from me and I had my own life, now they were coming baaaaaaaack.

I helped them move, unpacked them, all of it, and got them set up with doctors and everything so they could live in the new place. I visited once a week, picked up their RXs at the store, did pretty much everything for them with mom complaining (as usual) the entire time. Then dad fell one night & broke his hip in July of 2014; all hell broke loose; he had to go to Assisted Living now and mom was making a federal case b/c she didn't want to go. Long story short, I had to find an AL that would take him, move dad in after rehab, then liquidate their apartment, and move my screeching mother in with dad to a small AL unit. Horrible. He died 10 months later in June of 2015 and by then, I knew mom was on the dementia highway.

Fast forward to now: she lives in Memory Care Assisted Living 4 miles down the road from me, is just under 95, and the only thing worse than a covert narcissistic mother is one with advanced dementia who's fallen 80x, been in and out of the hospital and ERs for the past 10 years, rehabs, specialists offices, doctors, neurologists, you name it, she's been there with me taking her b/c I am all she's got. And I'm the POA for both medical and financial. They signed their $$$ over to me in 2014 when dad broke his hip and I've been managing their lives ever since. As an only child, what's the alternative? When the $$$ runs out soon, I will apply for Medicaid on her behalf and off she goes to a Skilled Nursing Facility with a roommate, God help me.

I pretty much speak to her daily on the phone, or more if she's super confused and blowing it up. I visit once a week and it's normally not a fun visit. Again, this has been going on since 2011 and even though I don't do 'hands on care' I'm burned out to a crisp. If I had it to do all over again, what would I change? Nothing I guess. I set pretty strong boundaries about what I'll do/not do, when I'll visit, etc. It's still awful b/c my mother has the personality of a snake and I have a lot of resentment. But again, I'm all she's got. I have to be her advocate or there will be nobody else to do it. And while I may not 'deserve' it, it's my cross to bear, that's how I look at it.

My DH now knows why I cried in 2011, and why I still cry, except now, I think he silently cries WITH me, to be honest. Walking this path is the hardest thing I've ever done in my 64 years of life. Bar none.

In your case, move close enough so you won't have to drive for hours to be there when the crises hit, and hit they will. Their house will have to be sold (probably) at some point to finance their care in AL or whatever; these are things to think about. And what boundaries YOU will set down and enforce for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Otherwise, you'd have to make them a ward of the state and IDK how you'd feel about doing such a thing.

My stomach hurts for you, as it always does for myself. Wishing you the best of luck and Godspeed as you enter this phase of your life. I pray that you will take care of YOURSELF while embroiled in their lives. You matter too.
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Daughterof1930 Oct 19, 2021
Lea, whether your mom can ever tell you or not, she’s blessed to have you. You’ve done a commendable job in a tough place
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You said in a comment, "I want to be involved in their medical decisions when they need to make them but I would like them to have some consideration for how their lack of a plan affects me. But it appears to me at least, they don't in any real way."

Harsh and difficult as it is, take it from the child of a similar narcissist and (now deceased) enabler couple: They have not and will not have consideration for how their lack of planning affects you. Ever. They have already proven that in all the decades already past in which they failed to make any plans, and that will not change. It's a painful reality, and one I have spent the last seven months getting slapped in the face with after decades of begging for, and failing to receive, just such consideration. But you need to face that now, with eyes wide open and with full radical acceptance, or else you are setting yourself up for an even greater, more painful fall.

As for your OP: You are only 55 years old. You have decades of adventure and opportunity ahead of you. This life is the only thing you have that is truly yours. Do not give up your life trying to make up for your parents' deficits. Do not sacrifice yourself to their failures. Choose yourself. And do so in all the ways they never have. You are worthwhile. You are worth it.
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MountainMoose Oct 22, 2021
Preach, tidablue!
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You should never physically care for your parents nor move in with them, and not live in the same town. There are lots of posts on this forum where children abused in some way are taking care of parents and now can't get out of it.

Your next talk with Mom and Dad should not be what do u have planned but that they should be planning for their future because they should not plan on you physically caring for them. They should get a POA and you can be that but POA does not mean ur at their beck and call or you are legally bound to care for them physically or financially. Its a tool, a tool you can use when they are no longer competent to pay bills and make decisions where they should be placed. You have to make it clear, you will not be caring for them or living with them.

If you want to live in the city, live in the city. You go where you will be happy. Mom made sure she did what she wanted raising you, you have a right to do what you want.
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lealonnie1 Oct 19, 2021
I agree that the OP should never physically care for her parents and NEVER move in with them, but living in the same town (or close by) tends to be a necessity when very old parents are involved. Driving for long distances just adds more stress to an already overloaded plate. #Truth
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First, you are only 55. You should be living in a place and doing things that makes you happy. I am also an only child. I tried the moving back years ago to “help” and that was a total disaster. It reopened trauma and set me back emotionally, financially and personally. I left with a job transfer and pursued my own happiness and cut off communication. When there finally was a crisis and I chose to step back in, I moved my mother to a facility close to me for MY convenience. Why would you move and upend your life for parents that didn’t really nurture you? To a town you don’t like? You are helping from afar. You can continue to do that and increase services as needed. If you said, “I always wanted to move back to my hometown because it has so much to offer me” that would be a different story.

Knowing what I know right now, I would never relocate for an emotional abusive parent. NEVER. You need to be planning your life first. It sounds like you have the funds to be able to make choices - so why are you thinking you have to just “make the best of it?” Have your parents even prepared legal documents giving you the power to make decisions? There is also no need for you to be schlepping back and forth every time there’s an incident. I manage my mother’s care (even though she’s physically close to me) from afar. I don’t really visit due to the history. I communicate with staff and doctors and she’s in a safe facility.

Listen - even with strong boundaries and doing the self care work, just having to manage my mother’s care and finances has caused me great anxiety and interferes with my life in many ways. It has brought back a flood of negative memories and emotions. I had to take antidepressants and anti anxiety medications when this first started. I still have bad dreams. I cannot imagine if I was in a town that I didn’t like all alone. If I had to do this again, I would have let a state guardian take over.

If you are having some doubts - then listen to yourself!!! Stop doubting your intuition!
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Reply to Mepowers
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Unless you plan on being at their beck and call, 3 hours is good.

The closer you are the more that will be expected from you.

If you go every Sunday and then miss one because of other plans, it will be treated as betrayal and near end of the world. Be mindful of setting precedent with your actions and be a bit unpredictable to ensure they don't start depending on your time.

Most toxic parents only get more toxic with age, so try to have a bit of a plan for the "in case" situations that can be handled by others with you as the advocate.

You will be a better advocate and daughter for them if you are leading a happy, fulfilled life that doesn't orbit around them and their needs. Sacrificing your life to prop them up so they don't have to make changes or sacrifices is never a good plan.

Best of luck finding the best solution to this season of life.
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Beatty Oct 22, 2021
"beck and call"
Yeah - you got it!

1 x Sunday visit - 2 x weekly, 1 x day - 2 x day - 3 overnights...

Depends on independence level, medical needs & VERY MUCH on temperament/personality how fast this slippery slope can be... May be a decade long mission creep or a greased lightening decent to h3ll.
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Don't move closer to your parents. You have no intention of becoming their caregiver and certainly don't want to either.
I certainly understand when people do not want to become caregivers to their parents especially abusive ones, so no judgments here on that score.
It's important to be honest about it to your parents though and make them understand that you will not be available. Move to the larger city that is further away if it's what you want.
If you do move closer and they lose independence, being available only for 'emergencies' will not be emergencies. Being out of ice cream will be an emergency. Boredom becomes an emergency. A fabricated health crisis when you have plans made in advance that you're excited about becomes an emergency.
They won't have a serious talk with you about any future plans or living arrangements because they probably think that you'll take care of them if the time comes when they can't anymore.
Make them have a talk with you. Don't back down. If you don't want to be their caregiver, you have to make them listen.
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I read through your post twice. Are you an only child? The 9 hours/week that there is a caregiver there won't be enough after a while. Did you arrange that for them? You arrange the lawn care. Why did you have to arrange these services, if your mother can them herself. Is she mentally competent? Do you have POA?

You don't have to be in the same town as your parents. While of course being across the continent isn't ideal, if they have adequate care, certainly a few hours away should be enough. It sounds like you are accepting that you are going to be their services manager because your mother expects it? And I'm betting she will also expect you to be on-site as they need more and more care, unless they have the finances to hire fulltime (24/7/365) care.

As long as they are competent to make their own decisions, do not let your mother bully you into doing everything for them as their needs increase. Considering the emotional and physical abuse in the past from your mother, please know that you do not owe them anything. This just sounds like a precarious situation for you in that you are already imagining you have no other choice than to become involved in their lives every single day. And you don't want that. You don't need that. You deserve better!
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Reply to CTTN55
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I think you should live in the bigger city if that is where you would rather be. Your relationship with your parents, esp with your mother, makes full-time, hands on care for them something you do not want to do. You can continue to help arrange outside, paid help just like you have done for their needs up until now.

Do not move so close that you and your parents just assume you are taking over their care.
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Have them hire a geriatric care manager; don't move close by if you don't want to . Naturally, you use THEIR funds to do this.

If anyone should be doing the moving, it's them.

Are their legal papers in order: POA for health care and finances? Are they aware of the fact that you have no intention of becoming their caregiver? Assumptions can be dangerous things.
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lealonnie1 Oct 19, 2021
I always forget about that; a geriatric care manager! Although I can't understand how such a person would make medical decisions and such for the elder? Or does the POA still get the final say?
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