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Our mother is 91; she still lives in her 5 bedroom suburban house, though her life has become restricted to three rooms on the first floor. She has had arthritis and spinal stenosis for decades, and her mobility continues to deteriorate. She now walks from room to room with a walker. Getting her out of the house is difficult and requires a wheelchair. Mother often has trouble getting out of bed or out of a chair. She has incontinence and is prone to UTIs. She occasionally hallucinates, and she does experience sun-downing.


But she is lucid enough to make everyone miserable with her mind games. For a couple years, my Elder Sister, Brother and I took turns staying with her or visiting her, but that was wearing us out - especially Elder Sister, who is now 63 and semi-retired. (I am 60 and about to begin semi-retirement. Elder Sister lives about 40 minutes away from Mother; I live 200 miles away.) Over the past year, we have been bringing in home care workers, all whom are independently hired and paid by us. After Mother suffered an incident of extreme confusion and incontinence two months ago, we went to 24 hour care. Mother hates having people in the house, but gets very upset when she is alone. She is sometimes nasty to Caregivers, and insists her family should be coming more often.


Half of her house is owned by a trust created by her late second husband (Not our father; our father died 40 years ago). We have sought legal advice and been told we'd be best off selling the house and liquidating the trust. The remaining step-sisters agree. So we began working towards that, with the deadline of selling the house and moving mom set as this summer. We found an Assisted Living facility nearby that permits her cat.


Well, although we have talked about this repeatedly, Mother is refusing to move. We have taken her for lunch at this facility, which we all agree is very nice. She says it's a dump, and she'll keep her house and when the money's gone, she'll go into a welfare facility. When confronted with the irrationality of that, she gets violent and verbally abusive and isolates herself.


The person who is most profoundly effected is Elder Sister. She visits mom up to four times a week, schedules the help, pays them, shops. . . . . She has also been doing all the legwork on finding a facility, and seeking out legal advice. Elder sister is so stressed and overworked, she doesn't even have time to write a note like this. I fear for Elder Sister's health now. I live 200 miles away. I go to Mom's once a month for five to seven days; during that time I am primary care giver. Our other three siblings, two of whom live within ten minutes of Mom, are fairly unreliable. (The Brother mentioned above is a pilot and often out of town, if not out of the country.)


I know there are a lot of issues here, but Elder Sister and I are beside ourselves. Any advice on any aspect of this wasp's nest, or stories about negotiating similar situations would be welcome. Thank you!

My dad was just as stubborn as your mother. At 95 - blind, deaf, and mild memory issues - was still refusing to make the move to a nearby, lovely, 1 bedroom apartment in an assisted living complex because "I'm fine in my house." He was only barely fine because I lived nearby and spent all my time making it fine. I provided all meals, arranged all help, made home repairs, provided companionship, etc. During a brief trip out of town (where I even arranged all his meals by way of ordering from Uber Eats and Grub Hub for delivery to his house) he had "an itchy back". He complained and cried and finally I booked an emergency airline flight and returned home. He did have a bad rash of unknown origin (I think it was stress related) and a couple of applications of cream and it was fine. BUT, I explained to him that I was no longer at his beck and call, he had used up all my good will. He would have to move to the assisted living complex and if he refused I was no longer going to assist in maintaining a situation that was dangerous and unsustainable. I was willing to contact our local meals-on-wheels organization (which he had refused to use) to assure he had food but that I would not be back except for a holiday visit. He knew I was serious and although he hated it and complained and whined, he did sign the lease on the assisted living apartment. To keep him from backing out I got him moved in within two weeks and sold his house immediately. He still complains, just not as vigorously.

I needed to put into place the old "logical consequences" behavior plans we used to use for our children. And a strong dose of "tough love". The hard part is you can't vacillate and must be willing to follow through on all plans. We can't always make our parents happy but we can always love them, and sometimes love hurts.
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Reply to jkm999
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SecondEldest May 10, 2019
What a kind thoughtful response. If nothing else, it’s so helpful to get input from others like you. We’re not alone eh? The best to you.
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U and sis need to show her brochures on 2 ALF's and tell her she has 3 days to choose one.
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Reply to Stephanie4181
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SecondEldest May 9, 2019
Yeah. You are absolutely correct.
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Both the previous answers seem right to me, but you may need to manufacture the ‘emergency’. Do you really need to wait until mother falls and breaks her hip? Perhaps providing unattractive food would be safer, or you can think of other ideas. How about no family visits for a fortnight? Either mother needs to go to hospital and you refuse to take her back or provide care if she goes to her own house, or else you need to make staying at home very unattractive with AL a nicer option.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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SecondEldest May 7, 2019
Thank you for your sympathy & good thoughts. I like your idea of making home less attractive than AL
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Unfortunately, these elderly parents do not see how selfish their actions are, and how hurtful they're being to their children by their stubborn refusal to do the right thing. This makes OUR lives unbearably difficult, doesn't it? Sadly, I think you'll need to wait for a medical emergency which forces mother out of her house & into a facility before she 'willingly' leaves. I was lucky in that my dad broke his hip and the hospital sent him off to rehab, where they REFUSED to send him back to independent living, in spite of my mother being there to 'help' him (ha!). I wound up placing both of them in Assisted Living where my mother lives to this day, thank God, considering she's 92, 100% incontinent, has progressive dementia, chronic vertigo, afib, neuropathy in her legs to the point where she needs (but refuses to use) a wheelchair, and the list goes on. Had it not been for my father's accident in 2014, I'd still be trying to pry her out of independent living with a crowbar!

Best of luck, and I'm so sorry you & your sister are having to face such a dreadful situation. It's the stuff chronic stomach aches are made of :(
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Reply to lealonnie1
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SecondEldest May 7, 2019
So sorry about your parents, too. It’s just good to hear others have been through this. It is so isolating.
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SecondEldest, the way I look at this is that grown children who are senior citizens should NOT be caring for their much elderly parents. But try convincing the elderly parents :P

Of course Mom is going to stay in her house, because everyone is helping her make that possible. You and your siblings are paying from your own retirement funds for caregivers. I assume that Mom wouldn't pay for the caregivers herself, correct?

Time for a family meeting to start setting boundaries. Oh how I wished I would have done that with my parents. I remember showing my Mom a wonderful brochure about a really nice 55+ place. She said it looked nice, maybe in a few years. A FEW YEARS? HELLO, you and Dad are in your 90's.

If you let go of the caregivers, and if Mom refuses to pay for caregivers, then she would need to plan something else. Otherwise, you may have to do what so many of us here on the forum had to do, wait for a medical emergency. With my Mom, it was a serious medical emergency that forced her to spend her remaining months in long-term-care. If only.....

Time to jump in to either help elder sister or to convince her to stop going over to Mom's house so often. She is becoming exhausted, and sadly up to 40% of grown children who are caring for a parent die leaving behind the parent they were caring. Those are not good odds.
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Reply to freqflyer
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SecondEldest May 7, 2019
Thank you for your thoughtful answer. Actually the money is Mom’s. She’s not wealthy though, and at the rate we’re going it won’t last long. And none of us can afford to pay for her care.
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