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I'm 35 years old and living in VA, married with 2 children. I am having issues with caring for my mentally unstable mother, who has struggled with this most of her life. She is recently divorced from her 2nd husband after having survived H1N1. She was in a coma for about a month, and being on a ventilator has damaged her trachea to the point that she will need a resection done, a very risky surgery.


She lives with my family, receives SSDI and medical coverage. Up until recently, she has been pretty independent, albeit she cannot live on her own due to mental instability. She began speaking to random men online, who of course were scammers. I just found out that she gave the current guy a picture of her debit card, front and back, her bank name, login and security information, and PIN number, as well as our home address. I've looked through their messages and he sent pictures of our apartment building from Google maps to confirm that that was where she lives, which she confirmed.


I can't do this anymore. This is the 3rd guy I've told her that is scamming her. She has already sent him money, as well as the other 2 guys. The reason I can't do this anymore is I just don't think I can give her the care she needs.


I am a caregiver to my husband, who has an LVAD and is listed for heart transplant. I am the only one able to work and will be starting work soon. Our youngest child was diagnosed with level 3 Autism, needing speech, occupational, development, and feeding therapy. He is nonverbal, doesn't eat solid foods, and can be very aggressive at times. I am spread so thin already that now I don't think I can take the added on responsibilities of my mom.


Up until now, things were ok. My stepdad was her payee, even after the divorce, but she had her own bank account. I don't feel like she is responsible enough to continue that independence. She is forgetful and shows many signs of early onset dementia, which she was supposed to be evaluated for but she cancelled that appointment, which she does a lot without telling me.


I guess my question is, should I feel like a bad daughter for telling her that I think she should ask her sister for help instead of me taking over completely with her care? I know I would have to become her payee, power of attorney, find a mental hospital for her to get the help she needs, and I just can't do it and still care for my kids. I'm still shocked that she gave our address out, and I can't help but feel like I need to protect my kids over taking care of her. I just need advice, please.

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Endangering your family is a deal breaker. Through and through. I am angry on your behalf, wth?

You have nothing to feel bad about. Get her out as soon as possible and let the state deal with her. She ruined the opportunity you gave her by putting your children at risk.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I really applaud your Aunt. No one wants someone in their home who has mental problems. It takes a special person to deal with people like this and I am not one of them.

And you, I think you have enough on your plate. Maybe Social Services can help you find a place for her.
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BurntCaregiver Oct 14, 2021
JoAnn29,

You're right. Taking on the responsibility of a mentally ill person and moving them into your house is not something I'd do either. No way.
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She expressed suicidal thoughts, and I have taken her to a hospital closer to my stepdad. I told her that she needs to get help and to seek some type of group home setting with the hospital social worker and her mental health team to help her get thru this. She seemed to understand that I wasn't allowing her back into my home for the foreseeable future. She made comments about finding her own place and...just little guilt trip comments that I'm not entirely sure she knew how they were coming off. I'm home now, almost 2 hours away from the hospital that she is in and I'm relieved and guilty.
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Isthisrealyreal Oct 12, 2021
No doubt you feel bad that she needs a professional environment to help her with her issues but, you did nothing wrong, in fact you did the best thing possible for her well-being.

Guilt is a liar and I beg you to not entertain that emotion. It is not helpful in these situations.

Yes, it is very sad to realize exactly where our parents are, mentally, physically and emotionally when they are not stable, functional, responsible adults, it breaks hearts and takes time to process.

You did a tough job well!
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You come first so that you can be your best for your kids, who take priority over your mother. This doesn't mean you don't love/care about your mother. It's just the reality that needs to be. If your sister declines to participate in your mom's care, you must just accept it and then allow the state to help her. I wish you peace in your heart over this situation.
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NYDaughterInLaw Oct 15, 2021
It's not her sister but rather her mother's sister i.e. her aunt whom she wants to ask for help.
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Nursing Home/MC time for Mom. You are putting your entire family (and yourself) at risk by having her stay there. Take away her phone and any internet access she has in the meantime.
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Her sister has refused, stating she "didn't want anyone else living with her and her husband". Once we get her bank straight, I think we'll be taking her to the hospital to find the help she needs. After that, I'll see what my options are to get her into some type of mental health facility or assisted living. As I am an only child and she has no other relatives, I don't see what other choices I have. She seems content to try to force me into taking responsibility for her actions, such as calling her bank and social security for her. I'm refusing. This isn't the first time I've had to clean up her mess, but this is the worst.
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DrLokvig Oct 13, 2021
Your primary responsibility is to your own family, so let go of your guilt. It might help you to have a conversation with your local APS (Adult Protective Services) and Dept of Health Aging and Longterm Services.
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You have enough on your plate and cannot take on being the parent and conservator to your mentally-ill mother.
She is putting you and your family at risk by allowing scammers she finds on the internet to know the location of your home.
If she has to have a Payee for her SSI checks then there is a social worker somewhere who handles her case. Contact this person. Tell them that you cannot take on the responsibility for her and that she will have to become a ward of the state. This means that the probate court will appoint a conservator/guardian over her of their choosing. It will be a lawyer or a social worker from the state. This is your best bet. She needs to be a ward of the state and living in a group home. What will happen if she's living independently is she will get evicted time and time again. Let the court appoint a conservator over her who can get her the appropriate care and housing she needs. You cannot do it.
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Keepswimming86 Oct 15, 2021
Her payee is my stepdad, whom she is supposedly divorced from. I say "supposedly" because there was no appointments with the court. I have half a mind to tell him this is his problem, seeing as this is partially his fault. Long story short, he told her he was done in the marriage, had her move out (and in with me), and then had another woman move in with him. During this time, neither of them made the change to payee and both dragged their feet with divorce proceedings. He had done one online, but I'm assuming it was fake or he just didn't do it due to money.

I'm stuck in the middle, and I just want my life back. The hospital called and said she would be ready to go home Monday and that I needed to make arrangements. They said shelters were booked and they couldn't find a place for her, or that a place she could get into was in a shady part of town. So, I'm beginning to doubt that she is being upfront with them about what she has going on, even though she said she is.

When she broke down about the scammer, she was punching herself in the head. On top of everything else and her instability, I don't think a few days in, being put on meds, and then released is what is good for her. She did say that she wasn't ready.
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Your mother needs placement in an appropriate facility. Neither you nor her sister should be taking on responsibility for your mother's incapacity. Her sister is wisely setting boundaries. Pay serious attention to her example.

Your mother has demonstrated that she should not be managing her own finances. Will her doctor verify her incapacity in writing? Her sharing personal info and physical location with sketchy people online puts all of you in danger.

Your job has evolved into locating suitable placement for your mother..
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She needs placed in a group home and/or to become a ward of the state.  Her actions are not only making her vulnerable, but you and your family as well.  If you are the only one working, you don't have the time to take on your mentally ill mother.  She needs professional help.  Do not feel guilty.  You are still helping her by getting her connected to the care that she needs.  Call a social worker for the state...they can point you in the right direction.  Make it clear to the social worker that she has nowhere to live and requires immediate assistance.
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Hospital case managers/social workers are notorious for trying to get a patient discharged to home. It's the easiest thing for them. I too would not bring a mentally ill person into my home.

Call that hospital social worker today and put them on notice that you will not be there on Monday! Tell them that you will not accept your mother back into your home, that your aunt also has refused, and that she now needs placement in some sort of long-term care facility. Tell them you don't care how far away she is placed just that she lives where she will get the help she needs. Also, tell the social worker about your stepdad and provide his address and telephone number. Let the social worker figure out whether or not they're legally separated or divorced.

Your first priority is yourself so that you can be there for your son and husband. You've done more than enough for your mother given the heavy stuff you have on your plate. Please stop feeling guilty for making this hard but good decision about your mother. Your mother needs professional help and she cannot get that in your home or in your aunt's home.

Remember that the hospital social worker does not care about you, your son, or your husband!!! Stay strong and be firm that your mother needs placement. Peace.
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