How do I get my recently widowed 90 year old mother who is only marginally competent to let me do what I need to do for her?

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My father passed away almost a year ago. He was a wonderful man, a career naval officer and my mother the quintessential military wife. She has devoted her life to caring for and serving my father and her 2 children and 3 grandchildren. My parents functioned together in very traditional roles, Dad doing all the "man stuff" and Mom the "woman stuff" which worked great for them; but now he is gone. He was the outgoing social one, and she was his loyal companion. But now he is gone. He did his best to provide for her financial needs, and she should have plenty of money to sustain her for the rest of her life. However, they chose to stay in their dream home they built together until he died, and now she is left with trying to maintain and prepare for sale a 10 acre property and 40 year old house that is needing a lot of work, as 40 year old houses do, even though they did a magnificent job of keeping it up until he died. I left my home, husband, and our business, several states away, to help them as Dad died and to be here with her to help her find a way forward. I have been here a year now, and am having trouble moving forward with the things we need to do on the house etc. because it takes so much time just to get her through a day, emotionally and physically, that I can't hardly get anything done! She is physically incredibly healthy for a 90 year old woman! But she has some short term memory issues and some hearing loss that require much repetition of information.....which is very time consuming! She feels responsible for everything and wants to stay on top of everything, but she really isn't capable of it. She never was! Dad took care of all the finances and home and property maintenance and she was the domestic goddess. But now he's gone; and she thinks she is responsible for everything; and though she will let me "help" her, she will not let go and let me take care of things for her, as Dad always did. Which leaves me in a terrible predicament, because I simply do not have time to "help" her do things she is not capable of doing, and still get everything done I'm supposed to for her, and also do my part in our business, which I am trying to do from a distance as best as possible. I am terribly frustrated and feel like I'm stuck in quicksand and no matter how hard I try I cannot make any progress!! I feel like I will never get my life back. She is welcome to come and be a part of our life, but she doesn't seem to be able to let go and make that move. I love my mom and I want to take care of her; but she won't let me!!

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Thanks folks. Really appreciate your input!
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Some things I've found that have been helpful, to both of us:

1. Simplify the decision process - just one or two choices at a time, with one being less desirable than the other, to help her make an easy decision that's the better choice.

2. Don't even discuss the moving issues; it's just too traumatic right now. Instead focus on relaxation, doing things together and mother and daughter just enjoying each other's company. You need to segue away from anything that requires a decision, even if it's just meals or what to wear. Approach it not as "would you prefer x or y for dinner" but rather "is x okay for dinner tonight?" Then the answers are simplified to "yes" or "no".

3. Gradually, when she feels like doing something around the house, focus on something easy and simple, such as packing up things that are not used, just to get them out of the way now.

I had 3 rooms cleaned while my father was in the hospital; it was so traumatic for him that I would never do it that way again. The second cleaning round was done with 2 women (through an emergency cleanup service that normally addresses weather emergencies during a weather downtime, but it was the only service I could find and they were outstanding. I'd hire them again in a heartbeat).

It was a positive event; they asked Dad if he would like to save this or that, easy choices at first, and gradually many things were thrown out. Others were packed up to be reviewed later.

4. To me, that's part of the sorting, packing and moving process. Don't raise the issue of throwing things out; focus on which should be packed as priorities for moving, and label them accordingly, such as with a code that's not obvious.

The noncritical things could go into storage, and eventually be discarded or donated.

5. One thing I would never consider discarding though are your father's uniforms. Doesn't make a difference how long ago he wore them; they're part of his identity and important to his and your mother's memory of him.

If it's any consolation, I couldn't do anything for several years after my sister died. It wasn't until a few years ago that I could actually approach going through her possessions. It was easy, though, to give her things to family - that was the only easy choice.

Don't be so hard on yourself; what you're both experiencing is very, very normal.
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Mom like most elders, is now going to have to accept things she doesn’t like. The alternative is you staying on, meeting her every need and runnng you life into the ground.

It’s tough love time. My mom didn’t want help, no one but me in the house,  and wouldn’t discuss  assisted living. I told her she had to do it for me. I could not do this any longer. After a bad fall and 2 weeks of hell I got both parents in assisted living. The house and 5 acres is being sold as is.

I still deal with elder issues each day but I have most of my life back now.
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Thanks for the input. I totally get that she is still mourning, and am painfully aware of her loss and its effect on her. I have my own pain from losing my father too. Problem is, she doesn't seem to want to or be able to make a decision about where to go or what to do. I get that she may need more time to make a decision, but I don't have more time. A year may not be much in dealing with the grief of the loss of a 66 year marriage; but a year IS a long time for me to be absent from my marriage, home, and life. And I cannot leave her here alone. Not even for more than a couple hours, and then I feel so guilty. Bottom line is she knows she cannot stay here alone and needs to sell the place, but she really doesn't want to. She told me " when this place is gone, it's over." So very sad. I totally get that she feels that way. It is sad for me to think of this place not being here and her living anywhere else too. I realize that in reality, "it" is over already; life as it used to be with my dad was over the moment he passed. But I cannot and do not want to force her to do something. But I cannot just stay here indefinitely.
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I agree with Jeanne. I think you need to get mom settled where she is going to live--a lovely Independent Living facility that is part of a continuing care community comes to mind. Sell the house as is.
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My personal opinion is that you are expecting way too much from a 90-year-old woman who hasn't even been a widow a whole year. You are underestimating the mourning period, as many people who have not lost a spouse tend to do. The general rule of thumb is not to make any significant decisions in the first year. And here she is, selling a house and moving.

Where will she live when the house is sold? Is she enthusiastic about that?

Would it be possible for her to stay where she is for a while longer, with a personal care assistant or other professional help, so you can get back to your life?

Have you considered selling the house "as is"?

I can understand how "helping" her can be way more frustrating and time-consuming than taking charge yourself. But it doesn't seem that she is ready to have someone take charge. Do you suppose that if you were not there she would more quickly come to the conclusion that she needs more than "help"? Is being there perhaps encouraging her delusion that she can be independent?

Acknowledging that you need someone to take care of you can be extremely stressful. It is absolutely wonderful that you are willing and able to take care of your mom. She is extremely lucky, but she doesn't understand that yet. She is still too busy feeling unlucky and thinking she needs to do everything herself. Give her a little more time.
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Big hugs. I'm so sorry for your loss of your father. A year really isn't very long for you, let alone your mother.

It's a quarter to nine in the morning here in the UK and most posters will be - or should be! - fast asleep in bed; so I expect you'll get a lot of replies in a few hours. I just wanted to wave at you in the meanwhile and say we're listening.

Re-reading your post properly for now, back later.
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