My parents are/were both 89 years old. My dad died in November after a six-week bout of cancer. He was the healthy parent and my mom's caregiver, so this has rocked all of us. I have been involved with my mom's care for the past five years -- she has CHF, kidney failure, vascular dementia, and macular degeneration, and severe hearing loss -- but I live 90 minutes away (on a good day) and was only up there weekly while Dad was there 24/7.

He was on the board of a local nursing home for many years and was very close to the director. In fact, she spoke at Dad's funeral. He and I went straight to her after his terminal diagnosis, and he wanted my mom to go to that facility because he knew she'd be cared for and I wouldn't have to sacrifice my life caring for Mom at home.

Now Mom is in the skilled nursing facility, and she's not doing well. We were warned she might not do well after the move due to losing her spouse of 66 years and her home of 50 years all at once. I completely understand that, having been through several corporate relocations with my husband job over the years. You move against your will, and it's like all of your friends die on the same day. It's very hard, and none of it is your choice.

Her dementia has gotten worse with the arrival of an imaginary boyfriend, and her legs are terribly swollen. She refuses to sleep in her bed ("It's too narrow!"), so she sleeps in a chair all day and wanders the halls at night. This happened at home, too. I was with them for nine weeks during my dad's illness, so I experienced all of it. I cared for both of them full-time, and it "as exhausting. I don't know how my dad did it.

Now my dilemma -- I have POA and I'm also the trustee for my parents' estate. I'm up at my folks' house trying to clear it out, deal with their finances, and visit my mother a minimum of twice a week. I got home last night after staying up there for three days straight doing all of the above, and I'll likely have to do it again next week, too. My brother is moving into the house temporarily next week.

My husband and brother are the only others I have to deal with with all of this, and they have both unintentionally made this much more difficult. My husband announced last night that he talked extensively with a co-worker who just went through this with his mom, and he announced that we should have kept Mom at home with a full-time caregiver. What's more, his co-worker's opinion is that the nursing home isn't caring for her properly. My brother also assumed my husband and I would have moved into my parents' house to care for Mom after Dad died. (WHAT??)

Now, I'm feeling tremendous guilt about nearly everything. Did I make the wrong choice by following my dad's wishes and putting Mom in the nursing home? Am I doing the wrong thing by cleaning out the house and selling it while Mom is still alive? Should I have uprooted my life, moved from my own newish house and into a crumbling 90-year-old house with a leaky roof and a 50-year-old kitchen to care for my mother full-time? Am I killing her by having her in a nursing home?

I'm just so exhausted from worrying about her without the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) criticisms of my husband and brother adding to the guilt.

What to do? Have I done something wrong?

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If you give in and take her out of the MC facility, there's always a chance there wouldn't be room if she needs it later. As some of the others here have said, it sounds to me, too, as if she needs anxiety meds, and something for the leg swelling.... less salt? diuretic? She's already placed, which is a huge thing in itself, please don't second guess yourself; those that had a right to speak up waited too long...
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I am sorry to hear about the death of your father.
He knew how hard it would be to care for your mom.
I don’t mean any disrespect but I notice that he didn’t move himself to the SNF when be needed care.

Since your mom has returned to a happier time in her mind, does she mention going home? Does she know who you are? Your brother? Does brother visit her?

I don’t think there is a right or wrong decision.
You have to manage her care either way.
It’s probably easier for you for her to be in a SNF.
Since she has plenty of money, you could hire caretakers for her to live at home. She could live there with brother until June and then see where you are with it all. You are grieving and had your dad’s instructions as a guide and who could blame you for following his wishes? Well besides DH and brother...
As you said, her estate is hers until she no longer needs it.
Your mom doesn’t sound like she is getting proper attention for her CHF. Is she getting the proper diet? It sounds like there is too much sodium. With the list of issues you mentioned, I don’t think you need to consider her living an additional 10 years. You might be able to hire a ‘friend’ for her to help her adjust in the SNF.
Your brother is going through a bit of a hard patch himself with losing his father, his mom and his marriage. So we can understand his wanting to keep mom home a little longer.
Not an easy spot you are in.
I would listen to those who love her and are willing to help and then make your own decision. Your life matters too.
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Your father, as your mother's full time care giver, had the best insight into her true condition and needs; far far more than your brother, your husband, or your husband's co-worker could ever comprehend. Following through on his wishes for your mother's care is not in any way a mistake. No guilt about honoring your father's wishes for his wife's care!

You probably don't want to hear this, but the spouses of many long married couples (even those without dementia and who remain in their homes) often fail to outlive their spouses by even one year. I also saw this with a couple of sisters who had lived together all their lives. The older sister had talked about living to 100 and being wished happy birthday on the local TV station for several years. After the younger sister died at 93, the older sister never mentioned living to 100 again and died 5 months later at 99 years and 9 months. Your mother would probably have been in the same or worse shape with in home care.

I would be concerned about her swollen legs as that can lead to painful complications. She may need CHF medication adjusted, less salt in her diet or her legs elevated more.
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You've done nothing wrong. Quite the contrary! You respected your father's wishes. You did a great job. Your mom would have had a tough adjustment no matter the circumstances.

Everyone's got an opinion. Not everyone gets to decide. You stepped up and made the hard decisions with huge contributions of time. I am also POA of Mom's estate and put in 7 intensive weeks of what you're doing now, dealing with Dad's death, situating Mom in an appropriate living arrangement, followed by a year from hell selling the house, dispersing or liquidating furnishings, managing finances and a myriad of details, all beneath a barrage of criticism. My life? What life?

Mom and other people assumed I'd arrange to keep Mom in her house with round-the clock care, maintain the property, utilities, taxes, etc. Turns out this wasn't financially feasible. Sis and I chose a really nice memory care unit. We took a whole lot of heat over this and still do.

Mom didn't understand, but then again, Mom has dementia. What's amazing to me is the number of supposedly cognizant people who thought I had an infinite amount of time and money to create the "perfect situation" for mom and to h_ _ _ with my own life. I was criticized a lot. I got tired of explaining personal stuff to meddling people who refused to understand. It was important to me to get the best care possible for mom with sustainability at the forefront of my mind. Mom is 93. Realistically, she could die tomorrow OR she could live another 10 years. I needed to make her resources last. She wanted to stay in her home but it just wasn't practical. Sister and I offered to care for Mom in our own homes, but Mom didn't want that. So we did the next best thing: a really nice memory care unit. So yes, Mom lost her husband and home in a short period of time. Sorry Mom. We did the best we could.

You can't please everybody. You did what was best for your mom under circumstances you didn't choose. No guilt. Repeat: No guilt!

Keep an eye on your brother.
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These family situations are tricky enough without bringing in unsolicited opinions from a co-worker (your husband's co-worker!). Co-workers don't get an opinion.
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You did the right thing. Your mum needs the care she s getting. She has been through a lot.

Your hub, his co worker (what nerve) and your bro are not bearing the brunt of the work. Apparently they have no idea what it means to care for a frail senior 24/7.

I see a red flag with your bro moving into the house "temporarily." Is he trying to preserve it for inheritance?

You have nothing to be guilty for. One person cannot do the work of 3 shifts of professionals without seriously compromising their own health - mental and physical.

Does your mum need the $$$s from the sale to help pay for the NH? I gather she is not on medicaid at present.

Tell hub and bro to knock it off in no uncertain terms. Enough already. They are trying to steer the boat, but are not willing to man the oars.

Keep doing what you re doing. Be careful of bro - you may need to evict him. My feeling is that he is looking for personal gain out of this.

If hub keeps it up I suggest the two of you go for counselling.

Good luck, my dear, Your head is screwed on right. Drop the guilt, and stand up to those guys! Your mum is fortunate to have you in her corner.

BTW my mother was never happy -just the way she was. But she was well cared for.
Helpful Answer (6)
Bro is wrapping up a divorce and is moving back into his old home in June when ex-SIL vacates. I'm good with him being in Mom's house at the moment. It keeps it from being empty, and he can help with purging the stuff that needs to go. He also gets to pay the bills to keep the lights on.

Fortunately, Mom has plenty of $$ to be in the nursing home for 20 years if needed. Dad left her very well off. I think bro and hubby want to preserve the inheritance to some extent, but the way I look at it, it isn't an inheritance until Mom is done with it. Our inheritance is not the amount of the estate today, but rather on the day she dies. Until then, it's hers to be spent for her care regardless of the expense.
Big ((((((hugs)))))).

Take a breath.

Mom may not be happy, but she's safe, yes? Hang on to that thought for a second.

Llikely your dad was covering up a great deal of mom's decline. So her mental state may not have actually changed as much as you think. Perhaps there was a lack of full disclosure?

Has mom been evaluated for a UTI ( which can cause psychiatric issues in the elderly)? If that's not the issue, get her seen asap by a geriatric psychiatrist. She may need meds for agitation/depression/anxiety. She may need a specialized dementia setting (sometimes called Memory Care).

Others will be along with good suggestions. ((((Hugs))))))!!!!
Helpful Answer (4)
mally1 Feb 2019
Amen to all Barb said! Please don't accept guilt from anyone; it's not earned, and believe me, they don't intend to do the work; it'll all fall on you!
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