How do I stop being a caregiver?


Mom moved two blocks away from me one year ago and was independent, if demanding and clingy. Three months later she started getting sick and this summer had a PEG tube inserted and takes all nourishment and meds through that. The doctors refuse to do any further tests as they are satisfied with "degenerative neurological disease." She can't talk, she can't swallow, she drags her feet, falls down a lot, is intermittently incontinent, but has no dementia (never tested either). I have no POA or access to her money, she still tries to pay all her bills and I have to ask for reimbursement if I go buy her something,like her depends underwear.

I hate caring for her. If I had liked medicine, I would have gone to med school. She is not a nice person and her personality has changed, too. Her care has cost me a side job which I loved, and quite a bit of money in other ways. I resent her.

My sister helps a bit, my five brothers disn't even call her on Thanksgiving. I don't want to care for her in her house anymore, but if I dont go, no one will feed her. I don't even want to be responsible for private nurses because when things go wrong, I will be left holding the bag. I absolutely do not want to give up more of my middle age. I never had children (not by choice) so there's no paying it forward, or karma or anything to make me feel better, either.

How do I get out of this responsibility legally?

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I think that you need to contact the department on aging or social services and have a social worker go over and evaluate the situation. Since you don't have POA and it does not sound like you will be able to get it, the state needs to become her guardian and see that she is safe and taken care of. Maybe others with have some more ideas.
Helpful Answer (10)

Chinchilla -- you have stated many good reasons for not caregiving. Your mother's condition has deteriorated rapidly. You need to have the docs provide a "report" ASAP, talk round-table with your sibs and an attorney, and determine who might be a POA (long-distance is ok). If not one sib will do this then you coordinate through the courts to have a guardian appointed. You mom needs care because she cannot do 2 ADL (activities of daily living) without assistance. You and sibs will likely have to relinquish all rights to inheriting anything because it will be assigned to the state care agency, but some of your comments lead me to believe you would not mind that. Decide before you get trapped. Believe me. It will be better for both of you. I cannot fathom how the docs can just diagnose and then leave it in your lap -- is this what happened?
Helpful Answer (9)

Get her doctor to order some health care for her in the home, and the agency that is chosen will have a care manager to schedule everything. Make your wishes known and if they need to contact family, have your sister contacted. Healthcare and caregiving are not for everyone and given your feelings about your mother just tell her you can no longer care for her the way she needs.
Your mental well-being is just as important, so don't beat yourself up over this and wish her the best. Merry Christmas!
Helpful Answer (7)

I think there's plenty of useful advice to act on above, I just wanted to make an observation. Your mother moved near to you (I assume it wasn't your idea - did she even consult you?). She became ill. She did not give you POA or make any other moves to appoint you as her caregiver. And yet you conclude by asking how you get out the responsibility legally.

I'm not at all sure that you ever had that responsibility. If you accepted it, it was tacitly, by doing things that needed doing. I'm not sure what kind of legally recognised onus that places on you. But isn't it interesting that *you* feel responsible for her, whether or not the law agrees? I think that makes you a pretty good daughter, whatever kind of mother your mother was.

Never mind getting out of it legally, just get out of it by the shortest route that allows you to know that your mother will be ok without your involvement. Best of luck, and hugs.
Helpful Answer (6)

Simple Answer: Just stop.
If your conscience won't let you the you need to have a knock-down-drag-out family conference and lay down the facts. Spell out the responsibilities and demand support.
You don't say whether your sibs are local or distant and that will of course make a lot of difference. But Honey, someone has decided to let you be the goat and you have accepted it. It's up to you whether you continue.
Helpful Answer (5)

Wow - so the woman had 7 kids and not one cares enough, loves her enough or has enough compassion to want to help care for her. I am not blaming any of you, she must be a real piece of work to have created 7 people, none of which care for sad for you all.

Take the advice above and get her set up in a care facility.
Helpful Answer (5)

Irishboy: when I was young my parents taught me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. You need to take that advice. You are being a jerk. This person is in a very difficult situation trying their best to care for someone who is rapidly deteriorating and needing a great deal of care. The situation is severe in as much as the parent has a PEG tube in, which requires a trained nurse to care for, can not talk, falls a lot and is going to get worse. You do not know how difficult a situation like this is until you have walked a mile in the other person's shoes. IMHO, this is close to an emergency situation. The mother needs to be moved into a nursing facility ASAP. Social workers and doctors need to get involved to determine the best possible place for her and that is not in here home with someone with no medical training. It isn't just that some of the medical stuff is gross, though it can be, but that if you don't kno what you are doing, you can do a great deal of harm. That is why nursing facilities with trained nurses and doctors exist because some situations require people with that training to care for the person correctly and to notice signs of problems, such as infections, that untrained people would miss.

I'm glad you are able to deal with your situation. This situation, as described, is not one that should be dealt with by non-medical professionals. At a minimum, in-home nurses should be brought in, but it really sounds like this woman needs help 24/7 and that is usually best dealt with in a nursing facility.

Please have some compassion on others in difficult circumstances and restrict your comments to those that are helpful, and leave out the bashing.
Helpful Answer (5)

You can get a pre-printed POA at Office Depot if she is able to sign her name. There are traveling notaries that can witness the signature. Be sure to get both medical and financial POA's. She needs to choose one of her children to execute the POA's.

She should be in a nursing home with a PEG tube in. The hospital where my mother-in-law was told us that they would refuse to release her to any place but a skilled nursing unit if she had a PEG tube placed after she failed a swallow test. In the end we had her on hospice, which is something you should consider looking into as well.

Also, she can not talk or walk by herself without falling sometimes and therefore is a danger to herself. She needs more care than you can give her. Do not under any circumstances allow her condition to swallow up your life. It will take over and you will find you have no life left. You have already given up a job you loved and are resentful. Time to change the situation before she takes you down with her. I know this may sound heartless, but I see no reason to destroy the caregiver's life for no really good reason, especially since she really needs medical care that you can not give. Her condition is degenerative, meaning it is going to keep getting worse. She actually will be better off in a nursing home where her medical needs will be met better.

Whatever money she has should go toward her care and medical expenses. You should not be having to pay for her stuff. If she is or becomes destitute, you can apply for Medicaid. Many skilled nursing homes will take Medicare and she will be cared for just as if she is a self-pay. Start looking around and asking which is the best nursing home in your area. Then start taking steps to getting her in there so that trained nurses and doctors can be caring for her.

One warning, though, is that they will often try to drug and elderly person, especially if they are not easy to deal with. They gave my MIL Ambien with out the family's knowledge or consent because she did not go to sleep at 8:00 p.m. like they wanted her to do, and they put my father on Haldol because he stayed up late. He was always a night owl, but they labeled him as having "Sundowner's" and started drugging him for their convenience.

So always be sure you know what drugs are being given and why. You can google the drug and find out more about it if they don't give you satisfactory answers.

Contact your local agency on aging, and your local Alzheimer's association. I found that the Alzheimer's association was a huge help to us, even though my MIL did not have Alzheimer's, but another form of dementia. If you suspect there is a dementia like involved, she should have a neurological exam. If she goes to the emergency room for any reason, talk to the ER doctor about having her be transferred to a nursing home upon discharge, as her own home is not a safe discharge. The hospital can not discharge her to someplace unsafe for her and here home is unsafe, unless she is willing to hire 24 hour a day nurses to care for her, which is insanely expensive.

Go, now and contact your local Alzheimer's association (look it up at and your local agency on aging. Get info. And get her to a nursing home. They can help you figure out how she's can pay for it.
Helpful Answer (4)

It sure ain't helpful to be making judgements about people (I'm talking to you, Irishboy). And in any case, that's not the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is that the mother here is past living alone. It's pretty cut-and-dried, actually. Onlyoneholly has it right.
Helpful Answer (4)

Thank you for caring enough about your mother to be completely honest. You need to summon a few more weeks or months of involvement, to be sure the state has taken over for you, and perhaps to make sure none of your sibs wants that duty (the state might contact the sibs & save you the trouble). As far as getting things rolling sooner, if she does fall anytime soon, bring her to ER to be checked and (sounds cruel) just leave her there, tell the front desk you simply cannot be responsible for her, and leave. That is just being honest and its the quicker way for your mom to receive the care she really needs.
Helpful Answer (4)

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