How to get mom to sell her home and move?

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My 73 year old mother lives in another state. My father died 5 years ago and she is still in their 5000 sq ft two story home. I am an only child and she has no other family. We have been trying to convince her to live with us since my dad died. She does not walk very well and I am concerned about her being in a two story house by herself. Her church friends have expressed to me that they are concerned about her being in the house alone as well. Whenever we try to talk to her about moving she comes up with every excuse for why she can't sell the house. She is very well off financially so money is not an issue. She was just diagnosed with breast cancer and wants me to come stay with her during her surgery and chemotherapy. I would like to be there for her as well. The problem is that I homeschool our 16 year old son who is a professional ballet dancer and my husband (who is currently still able to work) has Parkinson's disease. Because of my responsibilities for them I am not able to leave the state to care for my mother for the extended amount of time cancer treatment will require. We think it makes more sense for her to come live with us and get her treatment here. I am an oncology nurse and we have a world renown cancer hospital in our city that her medical insurance would cover. I understand that it is difficult for her to think about selling the house and leaving the home she lived in with my father as well as leaving her friends from church, but I cannot care for her in another state and I was already worried about her before her cancer diagnosis. Does anyone have any advice for how to talk to an aging parent about the need to sell their home and move to another state to be with family?

Answers 1 to 9 of 9
Would you want to sell your house and move to be cared for by your child when so much is going on in their own life? I would never want that for my children! They have their own families for which they are responsible. Their highest responsibility it to their spouses and children, I would never interfere with that. Resentment is all that could result.

Mom, on the other hand, seems to want help. That is more than you can provide with your own responsibilities. I would tell mom you j u st can't with what is going on in your life. I would help her to find the level of care she will need while undergoing treatment and afterwards. Go to see her for a few days and help with finding an agency to be with her as long as necessary.

I am sorry for your mom's diagnosis.
Top Answer
Since money is not an issue, I so agree with Glad! You will go and be there for the surgery and get her settled back at home with full time help. Start researching agencies now.

Perhaps after this health crisis is over, you can have a more productive conversation about what the choices are for where she will live as she ages. Sometimes it takes a health crisis like this to open someone's eyes about their own frailties.
I'm sorry I don't think I explained the problem well. It would not be a problem at all for me to help her through her treatment if she comes to live with us. We would like to have her come live with us and have tried convincing her to move here for years, even before she started having issues with walking.

The problem is that she wants me to be with her during her treatment but because we live in another state It would require me to be away from my husband and son for quite awhile and that just isn't possible.

My husband was just diagnosed with Parkinson's but only has a slight tremor. He still works and does not require any care at all. He doesn't even require medication. I mentioned his diagnosis because we have to plan for the possibility that he will need me to help care for him in the future. Because we don't know what the future holds for him it is even more difficult for me to have a parent in another state that needs my help. It is likely that at some point, being able to hop on a plane and fly to another state if she needs my help won't be possible.

She comes to visit us a lot and always talk about how much she misses us. The issue is truly that she just just panics when we talk to her about selling her house or moving. We have talked to her about moving to a 55 and over community that is nearby if she isn't ready to give up living independently to move in with us. At least that way I am nearby not in another state. She has long term care insurance so I will not need to provide that level of care for her. At this point we only need to provide emotional support and she will need assistance after surgery and while she is tired from her cancer treatment. But I am concerned about her safety living alone and the fact that she is so far away if she has an emergency.

She has a few friends from church however those her age have started to die and the younger ones are not around as much because they are spending more time out of state visiting their grandchildren. While her friends do check in with her and are happy to help her out, it just isn't as frequent as it used to be. They have actually tried to at least get her to sell her house and move to a smaller one story home. She has gone with them to look at other houses but then always comes up with a dozen reasons she can't move.

I need some advice on how to talk to her about why it's time to sell her house and come live either with us or near us.
I want you to start out by reading On Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Maybe ask mom to read it as well. Use it to open a discussion about what her vision is for the next 30 or so years.

What does she's want? What is she most afraid of?  Is she able to see that flexibility is required on her part?  She might like you to depart your home life to help her, but you need to say simply , "that's not possible mom. What's a good alternative?"   Get HER to tell you what the next best choice is. 

The prospect of going through a lifetime of accumulated "stuff" may be just too daunting to her. There are services that can be paid to do stuff like that. Get her that information.
Your mother wants you around fulltime for emotional support (I'm sure physical help, too), because she is most probably very scared. Who wouldn't be?

But of course it is unrealistic of her to expect you to uproot yourself for that amount of time. It is very generous of you to offer to have her come to live with you during the surgery and treatments.

She just can't have it both ways -- uproot you and have your support.
@BarbBrooklyn I was actually wondering if there are people who help older people downsize possessions. I do think she is having difficulty thinking about getting rid of possessions - I can completely understand that.

Are those people professional organizers? I have actually tried looking online for someone in her area who does this but haven't had any success. Do they have a specific title? Maybe I'm not searching correctly.

I will get the book. Thank you for the suggestion!
My advice would be to get someone else to talk to her about it. The more frustrated you get - and who wouldn't - the more she will withdraw emotionally; and that's the problem. There isn't any logic to her taking against the idea of a lovely new apartment near you, a skilled specialist nurse and her daughter to boot; it's all about the emotions of facing change and letting go of habit and memories. Which are scary things to do, just at a time when she's been shaken up anew by her own diagnosis.

Did she see a counsellor after your father passed away? Or is she in regular touch with a pastor or minister? I think you're going to have to let your mother come to this decision by herself, but there's nothing wrong with enlisting responsible allies to guide her in the sensible direction.

Set out clearly that it is not possible for you to disrupt your family for the whole duration of her treatment. That won't be happening. Stick to it firmly so that she knows where she stands.

That leaves the options of 1. sourcing other kinds of home support and professional caregivers; or 2. organising her transfer to your state, with a new home, new oncology team, new primary care doctor...

Actually. Now I look at it. Is this really the right time for her to do all that? When will she begin her treatment? And how is she feeling in herself? Moving home is pretty daunting even for people in the best of health. She might genuinely not be up to it right now.

She's only 73. Assuming, fingers tightly crossed, that this was a nice prompt diagnosis of the right sort of cancer, her odds are good and you do have time in hand.

Meanwhile get her started on Facetime or Skype, collect lots of numbers and contact details for a strong support network, and let her be for the time being. Would you be able to be there at key moments, like immediately after the surgery? - but avoid becoming her primary caregiver.

In fact. If you're a practising oncology nurse would it even be entirely ethical???
They are called Senior Move Managers. Here is an Aarp article:

Another great book? "Can't we talk about something more pleasant?" by Roz Chast. You'll laugh and cry at the same time.
Willa, you have received good input here. Have you shopped 55 + communities there? Get some brochures, etc for mom to look at. As long as mom is competent she makes her own decision on where she will live and be cared for. She has her doctors there and is comfortable with them, and they know her.

She is only 73 and probably would not qualify to use her long term care insurance yet. Check the policy to see what mom's health status needs to be to start receiving benefits. Also, what is the term that the benefit will pay. They are not forever.

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