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I find myself in a complicated situation with my mom, and I am just not sure what to tackle first. My mom, who has always been incredibly independent, has shown signs of dementia for the past couple of years, although she continues to live independently in a town in Indiana, where she moved when I was already an adult. She has been managing on her own, but on my recent visit, I began to worry more intensively about her. While her house is very clean, and she manages most ADLs (with a bit less bathing than may be ideal), her short term memory has gotten a lot worse. She truly believes that there is nothing wrong with her, and refuses all assistance I attempt to provide. I live in New York with my husband, and am not very familiar with the town she is in. I also don't drive (I know), which means that I feel a lot like a 12 year old when I visit her, and have yet to make any meaningful moves to help her. She occasionally agrees to sign a POA, but will disagree the moment it comes to go to a notary. She does not have a Primary Care physician and my various schemes to get her to a doctor have failed royally and painfully.


This, alone, would be difficult enough, but there is more. My mom has been renting her 1 bedroom house from friends who own it, and have rented it out at a reduced rate. They are now selling the house, and are willing to sell it to me, but it appears that any of the mortgage options that I could actually afford would require my mom to be the primary borrower, and me to sign on as a co-borrower. Obviously, I have a lot of qualms about this.


We are working toward getting my mom to move in with us, although that will require a move on our part as we live in a very small one bedroom apartment at the moment. We figure that we will have to move to somewhere in the suburbs to make a comfortable environment for my mom, but unfortunately, all of the rich people in NYC moved out there during the pandemic, and rent prices are incredibly high. My husband is an immigrant, who has recently gotten his dream job, and it is really important for him to remain in the position, so we would need to be within a 90 minute commute range to continue to work (and since our rent will at least double, we will both need to keep our jobs). Also, my mom adamantly refuses to move in with us, as she feels that she is of perfectly sound mind and health.


I am an only child, and was raised only by my mom (who is also an only child), so I don't really have anyone to help me (besides my husband and his family). Does anyone have any ideas? Should I work to be a co-buyer on her house, so that she doesn't have to undergo a transition and push harder for in home care? Should I somehow kidnap her and drag her to an apartment I can barely afford on the East Coast? I'm feeling very lost right now!

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Thanks for your reply, Meg. It might be good if you describe just how much affected your mother is now. Already AL may not be enough. As you probably realise, if she needs more care, she may be able to go on Medicaid immediately, or at least get that process started. If she just needs someone living in the same house to check that she hasn’t fallen, sharing her house might be worth investigating (and help if the rent goes up after the house is sold). Some of the personal alarms are linked to a phone number, which could be yours in NYC as easily as someone local. Then you could at least get Emergency involved quickly.

Talking about plans for the future is still a good idea, and less threatening than ‘now’. In the short term, she ought to have thought about what she is going to do when her house is sold. Either the purchasers will want it for themselves, or the rent will probably go up. If she has a plan for 'now', you don't really need the POA immediately. Linking the POA to 'now' is probably a lot for her to swallow.

I’m sure you’ve read posts where there is a resistant parent, and no option except to wait for a hospital admission and then shout ‘unsafe discharge’. If her mind is still reasonably sharp, talking facts about the future, and options for it, might stop her putting it in the ‘too hard’ basket. Best wishes, Margaret
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Both of you are happy in the community where you are currently living. The lifestyles are so different that it would be a shock (with little benefit) for either of you to change.

Look for a senior living apartment near the community where your mom is happy. Many of these communities are reasonable for seniors. Not assisted, but independent living. Residents look out for each other, share activities and friendships. If your mom likes the environment and moves in, make contact with several of her new neighbors and they can help if you ever are in a situation where you can’t get ahold of your mom.

It would be advisable for her to make future planning with a lawyer before she loses capacity (not just legal POA, but alsomedical POA and a will—-even though you are her only heir). If she is hospitalized treatment decisions could become stalled. Also, taxes could destroy the value of her estate if she passes without a will.
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
Thank you! I am working on POA, my mom just isn't terribly interested in complying:).
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Dear Meg, my short term memory has got a lot worse recently (where are those missing keys?), and I only wash my long hair once a fortnight. I’m 74 – similar to your mother? Your comments could be me, and I certainly don’t need the drastic changes you are talking about. And I wouldn’t want my daughters to be worrying about me.

The first thing to do SHOULD be to talk to your mother about her longer term plans. She is probably hoping to die suddenly and painlessly in her sleep (aren’t we all?), but that isn’t so likely these days – hypertension medication has usually fixed it. So tell her that the norm is to live for a very very long time, with increasing physical problems. Ask her for her plans. Tell her that many many people refuse to provide a POA, then leave it too late to make or implement the decisions themselves. See if she will make a plan ready for when it's needed, that doesn’t involve messing up all your lives right now. That may help her to be comfortable about making the decisions now, without feeling that it all has to be done immediately.

An assessment would be good. AL in Indiana might be good – you could find the websites, and visit with her on your next visit. Seeing it makes it easier to think about. And remember, if your mother’s issues are currently minor, she is legally and practically able to make her own decisions. You can’t force her to do anything. All you can do is stop worrying yourself, your husband and her. Good luck, Margaret

PS It's not a bad idea to learn to drive. My son-in-law didn't because he lived in London and didn't need a car. Now my daughter has to do all the driving. It's a skill that you may need at short notice.
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
Thanks for your reply, Margaret.
My mom's issues are definitely more severe than just misplacing her car keys, or just having issues with her short term memory, for that matter. I guess I minimized her symptoms in my initial post to get to the crux of her housing dilemma. She is also very low income (she relies solely on her social security check), so something like AL is most likely out of reach for us, but I will try to get her an assessment, and work on overcoming my fear of driving:).
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Have you considered hiring a geriatric care manager? This is someone local who is paid to handle financial, medical, caregiving etc. They are responsible for overseeing a person's care, coordinating transportation to medical appointments, fulfilling daily needs and other tasks when you are not able to. This person may be able to help find a new living situation and organize downsizing and moving.

Start here for info:

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-geriatric-care-manager
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
Yes, I have, thank you. There are not any in the area where she lives (as far as I can find, but I will continue the hunt!
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It seems that your mom actually might do better moving to an assisted living "apartment" with a company that can "move her" to memory care when she needs it. Check all the places near you and make sure to know which will also take Medicaid and Medicare since so often "private pay" clients tend to end up going through all their finances. When you have found a place that works, get her an "apartment," When all is arranged, tell her that they are selling her place and she needs to move. Let her know that you have found a nice place for her "temporarily" until she can find something that suits her better. Most likely, she will never do all the research, phone calls, or interviews to move anywhere else.
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
Thanks, Taarna. Assisted Living would be ideal, but I don't believe it is financially possible for us or my mom, unless we find one of those rare facilities that would take Medicaid immediately.
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I also believe you should start with the Area Council on Aging in your mom's area to evaluate her - she of course can refuse to let them in her home then you are back where you started. If you can arrange to be there for the assessment - you may have a chance.

Don't be a signatory on the loan - very bad idea.

I wouldn't recommend your mother move in with you, if she is diagnosed with dementia of one kind or another you are looking at long unrelenting days and nights as the disease progresses - just read the postings on this site of burned out care givers. You can still be a care-giver if mom is placed in the appropriate facility. You'd be her advocate making sure her needs are met.

I have inlaws and outlaws in the NYC and northeast/east coast and know how pricy things are. Once mom is evaluated and you know what her abilities are maybe you can look in your community or within a reasonable commute distance for her to live - in Independent Living or Assisted Living/AL Memory Care.

You could also look in her area for facility to meet her needs but there again you would be a far distance from her - probably a more affordable option for her. You wouldn't be able to just drop in and check that the facility is meeting her needs - but you could be in contact with them over phone or virtual meetings.

If you mom is deemed competent and she refuses to cooperate there will be nothing you can do. If she is deemed incompetent and has not signed the POA and refuses to cooperate then more hoops to jump through.

Get educated of what you have ahead and stay in touch with this group. There are subjects on this site and other sites. I wish you and your family the best of luck.
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
This is all very good advice, and I promise that I have been obsessively reading this board over the past 2 years. I truly know that moving her in with us is not ideal, and will result in pain for all of us, but I'm not so sure that there are other alternatives given her low income. We have a decent enough income to get by in the NYC Area, but we certainly can't handle an additional (or even a preliminary) $4000 a month.

Our hope is to be able to get her assessed and apply for Medicaid, so that she can get in home help/possibly adult day care while she lives with us. I also know the hurdles ahead if she is declared incompetent--I am just all alone trying to get my mom with dementia to comply, which, as I'm sure you know... is pretty tough.

In any case, the consensus seems to be to attempt an assessment. I predict that she will refuse it, but it's definitely worth a shot!
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I agree with BarbBrooklyn.

Honestly, I would never ever want to move to NYC. I don't see why your mom would either. Your mom is familiar with the town she lives in. You don't mention friends (other than the homeowners) or activities but I'm sure there must be something she does. Even if it is just going to the grocery store, she sees familiar faces.

Have you looked at senior living options in her area? She might like an apartment in a senior community.

Barb mentioned the Area Agency on Aging. That sounds like a good place to start to me.
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
Thank you. I will start with the Area Agency on Aging. We will see what could work out from there. My mom does not have many friends in the area, but she is friendly with some neighbors, and certainly likes her local grocery store. I will look into senior living communities, although my mom tends to avoid large groups of "old people."
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My first recommendation is for you to get the POAs. This is the most important action you can do to ensure that you will be able to take care of your mother later when she becomes more incapacitated. If you wait and Alzheimer’s and dementia takes over it will be too late and you will need to seek court guardianship instead. Once you get the POAs then you can pursue the other living options more freely and more casually as needed.

Since buying the house where mom lives now might not be financially practical for you, ask the current owners for extended lease for your mother. This will give you more time to determine best living arrangement for you and your spouse, and your mother.

In this way you will a less urgent and better situation than you have now.
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Well, there’s no doubt about it. You are in a pickle.

Now, I don’t know financials and what can or can’t be afforded, but if she is happy living alone, and your husband just got his spanking new job, I’d be hesitant to change anything too drastically too fast.

If you both can afford the house, I would buy it, That’s what we did for my MIL (well, it was a condo). We paid the mortgage, but she paid the condo fees, so it worked.

If you are worried about her, see if you can hire a PSW. Every organization is different, so you might find one where someone comes in for just an hour a day. That would probably be affordable, and give you a lot of peace of mind.

Assuming you go ahead with the house, I would then try to convince her to do a POA. She would be less of a target for scams.

Now, another alternative would be that you and her buy a house (or a condo) closer to you. A condo would mean no stairs, no slippery driveway in winters, and if it’s a condo for elderly people, she’d probably be getting a lot more activity with peers.

The sale of the house is difficult because it’s ultimately pushing you to make a change and a decision. However, I’ve always found that these sudden changes were more or less for the best.
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
Thank you, Lizbitty. I am hoping that this sudden change will turn out to be a push in the right direction--regardless of what direction that turns out to be!
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I am sorry you are facing this difficulty.
A couple things to consider:
1. You were concerned about your mom’s ability to live independently before the moving issue arose. So her being able to stay in that house will not fix the real problem.
2. Your mom does not want to move in with you. Yet you are planning a huge and financially onerous disruption in your lives to make room for her. And in your (new) home, she will still not be able to function and you and husband will be working.
I point this out only to suggest these options — which will be burdensome to you but you are willing to do for your mom — will not work.

So what to do? I agree the Area Agency on Aging (which I have no experience with) is a good first step. They can help direct you to options.

Your mom will not be happy. Who would? But we cannot turn back the clock. Her reality has changed. And you cannot fix that.

(And do not under any circumstances co-sign that loan. The bank wants 2 of you on the hook. Your mom sounds like she’s not capable of managing to pay the bill. You’ll wind up with the same problems you have now plus a mortgage payment, in my opinion.)
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
Thank you WendyElaine. To the Area Agency on Aging I go!
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Would they really give a Mortgage to a 77 yr old woman who has Dementia. She is not able to sign a contract if she is not competent. Plus, who is going to do the upkeep if she needs Medicaid down the line. Her SS and any pension will go toward her care in a facility. I would not even get involved buying a house at this point. Mom is going to get worse not better.

Bringing her to live with you after only being married for 2 years, kind of iffy. Not too bad if you plan on placing her if things get rough. And they will. Just had lunch with a woman who is caring for a friend who lives with her. The woman won't bath, won't take her pills, won't go to the doctors, is nasty and mad all the time. The woman can no longer care for her but feels guilty because she needs to place her in an AL. The woman is so burnt out and stressed she can't sleep and is losing weight. She is 75 her friend 85.
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Meg1017 Aug 12, 2021
Thanks, JoAnn29. We would plan on placing her if /when things get rough. She will be entirely dependent on Medicaid, so we would most likely need to wait until she is eligible for nursing home assistance, but we would get help in our home ahead of time. Nothing ideal in this arrangement, I agree, but we'll see if there are any other options once I attempt to get her assessed.
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Thank you. This sounds like it may be the right place to start:).
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First find a nice quiet place where you can be alone and laugh

After that, if your husband and you plan to live in NYC for a long time, try to get her to see if she would want to live close by. Her Indiana town can't compete with NYC in any way.

Don't fret about not driving. Living in NYC you really don't. There are areas near NYC that is a subway and/or train ride away.

If you have not already looked into it, see what there is to offer in Long Island, it's close to NYC but not in NYC.

Finally, if your mom can watch videos on the computer, pull up some Youtube videos from streamers who live in and around NYC, like Action Kid, Walk Ride Fly, James and Karla, to name a few. She may change her mind after watching a few of them/
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lealonnie1 Aug 10, 2021
???????????????
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A notary will come to her house. She pays.

She does not want this right now.

You say she is not diagnosed with dementia.

You might have to wait on any helpful plans, and allow her to make her own plans separate from you and your husband.
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If you decide to move your mom in with you (not saying it's the greatest idea, but an option) do not necessarily move to the suburbs. Look for places in the boroughs on NYC (since you're already living there). Your rent may not necessarily double, though it may go up. It all depends on where you're living now.

I would not co-mingle your funds with your mom's to buy the house in Indiana unless you have some burning desire to eventually move there.

Don't force her to move in with you. If she is doing well enough now, start researching services in her area so that when you do need something you'll have a good lay of the land.

If you're going to keep visiting her in Indiana, it would probably be a good idea to learn to drive. This way, if you need to fly out there and run errands for her you won't be stranded.
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Meg1017 Aug 10, 2021
Thank you for this advice, and you're right--I should definitely learn to drive! The issue that makes this more complex is that my mom will most likely have to move, if we don't buy her home, and I worry that the change will make her condition progress. She also depends on Social Security for her entire income, which means that I will most likely be providing rent support if she moves. I'm hoping to limit the amount of changes she has to go through as her condition gets worse, but just feeling a bit stuck at the moment.
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Do NOT move your mom in with you.

Do NOT comingle your finances.

Do NOT move your mom to NYC right now.

Call the local Area Agency om Aging in her County in Indiana and explain the situation to them. The need to do a "needs assessment" (it would be best if you could fax them a list of your recent observations abouy twhat she can and can't do independently) and they need to set up "case management" services.

Start there.
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Meg1017 Aug 10, 2021
Thank you--this may be the *only* place to start:).
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