My mother lives with me and her and her sister used to talk about living with each other when they were old. Mind you, this was over 30 years ago when they would have these talks. A few years ago my aunt came to visit and made a joke about if her husband dies, she'd come live with us. We kind of laughed it off and didn't respond. My mom does not want her to live with us and I don't either.

My aunt's husband just died and she asked if she could have an extended visit at our home because she doesn't know where to go. She does have health problems and probably shouldn't live alone, however she also has four children. She has her own home and one of her children lives nearby. I called one of her kids and explained why she can't come for a long visit but that my mom could visit her for a short time so she isn't alone but I'm afraid she's going to try and come to my home at the end of my mother's visit. Her and my mother will probably get into a fight if they spend too much time together, as well. They were close when they were young but have had several fights through the years and gone long periods without speaking.

She can't live here, I work fulltime and am barely keeping my head above water managing my mom and her needs, doctor appointments, 'behavior'. My aunt has complex health needs and I imagine a lot of doctor appointments, etc. How do I nicely explain to my cousins that she is their responsibility ?

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I’d suggest that you write (email?? keep copies!) to each of the cousins saying that you are concerned that their mother has in the back of her mind that she wants to move in with you and your own mother. She’s mentioned this before. Your biggest concern right now is that she may have said this to the cousins, and suggested that it’s already agreed. It isn’t, and they should get together to make a plan for/with their mother. If they want you to join in, you will come and give suggestions, but there is no way that anyone should think that you will take on another person to care for. You won’t.

Unless there is a plan in place, you won’t have their mother for a visit, because that might make everyone think it can be permanent. (Or, bluntly, it may be hard to make her leave.) I wouldn’t go into the potential difficulties between the sisters – that’s not the point. I wouldn’t explain your own workload problems – that’s not the point either. Keep referring to her as YOUR mother. Give your sympathy for dealing with a difficult situation. It’s very very important not to leave this vague!
Helpful Answer (26)
Reply to MargaretMcKen

That is an easy one> "I am so sorry. We couldn't possibly do that".
No discussion. No argument. A simple and kind and polite "no".
Your cousins, if they wish to have no part in your Aunt's care can request that the court provide a Fiduciary and that Aunt become a ward of the State who will manage her finances and her care.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

I have an interesting update. I was driving past aunt's apartment several days ago and I saw through the open blinds that it was completely empty. Naturally this peaked my curiosity so I asked another aunt if she had moved. This aunt tried to deflect, distract, divert, etc. from the whole topic but eventually shared that aunt had moved two months ago. She didn't want anyone to know because she wanted people 'to worry a little bit'. Not only did she move but she moved several states to the town where one of her daughters live. Daughter has no idea that her mom has moved to her city. They still are not speaking and only communicate through the internet.

I am amazed aunt was able to organize entire move like this by herself and find another place to live several states away. I guess she's not as helpless as she would have everyone believe.
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Reply to EmotionallyNumb
polarbear Mar 2023
That is interesting. Perhaps she was playing helpless to get everyone to do things for her to "prove" that they cared about her, just like she wanted everyone "to worry a little bit."
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Your Aunt is freshly bereaved.

Of course she feels lost & unsure at this time. But she will need to talk to her adult children about her situation. Talking to the leader in her faith (if she has one) would also be normal to do at this time.

"my mom could visit her for a short time"

If your Mother is able-bodied, she can go visit her sister if she likes.

Visitors cannot just lob onto your doorstep - even family. Visitors must work in with what suits their host. Also must also be able bodied, no-one should feel entitled to turn up to be 'nursed'.

The two sisters may enjoy many phone chats instead. That would be my suggestion for now.
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Reply to Beatty

Make sure you don't take on any of your aunt's caregiving, because mission creep will happen.
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Reply to CTTN55

Just an idea, many assisted living homes have 2 bedroom apartments available. Maybe the 2 ladies could live together happily in one of those.
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Reply to Arlyle
Maryjann Apr 2022
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Through a series of interesting events, my father and maternal uncle shared an apartment an hour away from me. When my father was hospitalized, we (mom, bro, and I) contacted my uncle's children (3 adults all living in the same city) and told them that their father needed help because my father would no longer be able to provide care for him. My cousins blew off our concerns. Several weeks passed, my father passed away and my uncle's decline continued. I was the sole caregiver for my mom and her oldest sister and I worked full-time. My mom and I would check on him, but her sister kept us busy. A few months passed and my cousins called, wanting me to become their father's caregiver, too. I told them no. They said he didn't have to live with us, he could live in a Veteran's home in our town and I said no. I didn't hear from them again, and eventually, they moved their father to their hometown.

I shared this to say that no is an answer. No is to the point and is a sufficient response. You don't have to give a reason, but if you want to, that's your decision. Although I love my uncle, I have no regrets with that decision. I am very grateful that I was able to be there for my mom and my aunt.
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Reply to WillowBreeze
EmotionallyNumb Jun 2022
I'm getting a lot more comfortable with just 'no'.
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EmotionallyNumb, if I were the other side of the Atlantic I would physically drive to your house, knock at the door and shout in your face:


No lengthy explanations, no excuses, no need to give reasons.

A woman invites herself to live with your mother? On what planet is THAT okay?

I don't care if she is an emotional disaster area or one of the Borgias or Typhoid Mary, it doesn't matter to you and mother why her husband died, where she lives or how she will manage. These issues are hers to solve, and it is not for your mother to rescue her from any mess she may have made.

You and mother can help one another practise, actually - you have to say "completely impractical. No." without adding anything, looking away or letting your heart rate rise. Once you can do that, you say it to aunt.

When is your mother visiting her? I didn't like the sound of that. Can you or DH pick her up to make sure there aren't any stowaways?
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Reply to Countrymouse

A firm but politely delivered.."No, that just won't work for us" is the best course. Not long ago we lost my FIL. His wife (step mom) was very lonely. We offered help relocating to AL, but our house was out of bounds. She understood and now is in AL and adjusting quite well... Just be up front. If you let your aunt come to your house, you may never be able to get her out.
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Reply to Muskie

You don't tell the cousins, you tell the Aunt. Sorry, an extended visit is out of the question. I work and when I don't work I am seeing that Mom gets to her doctor appts. You have health problems of your own that Mom and I can't be expected to deal with. I think you need to turn to YOUR children for any help you need. You and ur children need to plan your future because Mom and I can't be it. I know you always thought that u and Mom would live together but life changes. Mom needs someone to care for her and thats me. She cannot take care of you just as you can't care for her. Your children need to care for you.

If you have one cousin you can talk to, I may do it after u tell the Aunt. I may even record the conversation so Aunt can't twist it around. You can't be wishy washy. You need to be firm and direct. At this point I wouldn't even allow a visit. Your Aunt has children!

Its good that Mom doesn't want her sister to visit. I wouldn't bring this up in the initial talk but remember the house is yours. Even though Mom lives there and considers it her home too, its still your home. What if u did bring Aunt in for an "extended" visit and Mom passes. Are you now stuck with the Aunt? Because her loving children don't want her. What is going to happen to Aunts home while she is on this extended visit? Is she going to sell it because in her mind extended means forever. Then she has nowhere to go back to. Even if Mom wanted her to come, your house, your decision.

Stand firm. Come back and tell us how things work out.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to JoAnn29
MargaretMcKen Apr 2022
I still think that it’s worth telling the cousins direct. Their mother may well have been leading them to think that she is going to be able to move into your house. ‘Wishful thinking’ (on her part or their part) can be highly contagious!
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