I've been living with my mother (and my two children) in my mother's home for 15 years.

My mother is 74, has quite severe COPD/emphysema, and has no friends apart from me.
My son is 22 and leads a very independent life, not really being involved with the family very much.
My daughter is about to turn 19, passionate about her ballroom dancing, in a long term relationship, and looking for work.
And I am 43. I have a fulfilling job that goes from 4pm til 2am 4 days a week. I have a long term partner who I have been dating for 15 years (!).

My partner and I have managed with a "part time relationship" for so long it sometimes feels like we will just go on like this forever... But we really can't keep doing this. We need to feel like a normal couple... Or at least more normal than we can be with my spending only one night a week with him. Smses and phone calls and IMing help, but they can't take the place if just being together.

So we have made a decision that our goal is to at least live together, and hopefully to marry. We have not yet discussed this with my mum, because we want to have some sort of real plan, that addresses the potential problems, before we do talk about it.

For a number if reasons, my partner simply moving in with us won't work, so we need to work out some practicalities that will let me continue to take care of my mother, while letting me be a Grown Up in my own relationship and house, rather than just a daughter-carer in my mother's house and a visiting girlfriend in my partners house. My partners home is literally 5 minutes drive from my mother's house - he bought there to be close to me.

What I'm asking you kind people for is practical advice. How do I work out what is fair to mum? How much time should I spend helping with the practical things? How much time should I spend giving her companionship? How do I find out what services are available in our area to help us?

The emotional side of things will, of course, be difficult and painful for both of us, but we are good communicators, and I believe we can work our way through that minefield relatively unscathed.

I've been writing a list of the things Mum needs help with, and next weekend my partner and I are going to go through the list and come up with potential solutions to each one.

But it feels like a huge job, working it all out, so any advice you can offer would be very much appreciated.

I'd also LOVE to hear someone say that I'm not being a bad, unloving, selfish daughter by wanting to have my own life, apart from my mother.

Thank you for listening,


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You are not a bad person and there is absolutely no reason for guilt. You're still a young woman as things go these days, and your partner has been amazing to do so much to be near you.

Your children are no longer children and don't seem to have special needs, so they should do fine living on their own, or even living with Grandma for awhile.

You mentioned that there is good communication. That's a huge asset. I believe that underneath some understandable fear of change, you mother would want you to have a normal life. She won't be around forever and you deserve a full relationship with your partner.

Let her know that you aren't abandoning her but that you need to make changes for yourself as well as for her. If anything happened to you so that you couldn't care for her she'd be thrown into care without your help, so this is the time to begin making the changes.

Best wishes to you all. Please come back and let us know how you are progressing. Many people can gain insight from your words.
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What you are wanting is normal and you are not bad, selfish or unloving for wanting it. I wish you well.
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One thing that stands out to me is that your mom has no friends beyond you. I think that's unhealthy for both of you. She needs friends/interactions with others and you need to have some independence from being her sole source of interaction/amusement. I'm in that situation with my mom but she's 94. It's a big burden to bear, as I'm sure you know. Your mom is still young enough to make some changes.

As others have said, is there money for some home carers to come in to help with mom's care? Can she go to some day care facility or senior center regularly so she gets interactions with others?

You have every right to want to live with your partner and claim your own life apart from your mom. Give us some more info about how independent your mom can be with her daily care.
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My goodness, my BF is in the same situation. It is SO complicated that I don't think we will ever find a way to make it work out! I feel your pain. I hope you can make it work out because I don't think there is any way my BF and I can marry until his dad passes. And that could be another 10 years..... : (
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Adora, you deserve to have a partner and happiness in life. You are doing loads for your mom...but now it's time for there to be some outside help. Remember, if you say to an elder "would you like to...? If it's something new, they're going to say no. If you pitch it as now we're going to, or, would you like carer A or Carer B, you've got a chance. Our parents are not children, but sometimes they reason in the same rigid, ego centric way that kids do. It's not really selfishness, it's declining ability to reason from facts.
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Does your mom require around-the-clock care? If so, does she have the money to hire around-the-clock care in her home when you move out? And if she doesn't require around-the-clock care does she have the money to hire people to come in for shifts so that she's well cared for? I'm assuming that you'll be moving to the house that's only 5 minutes away so you'll still be an active participant in her care and can keep an eye on things.

Of course you're not horrible for wanting your own life, that's a very normal feeling in caregivers. That you have the means and the desire and the drive to make it a reality is something many caregivers don't have so you're ahead of the game.

I'd be curious to know what options you are considering. A more detailed description of your situation might help people understand the situation a little better such as can your mom live on her own? How do you predict she'll react when you tell her about your plans? You've been her whole world for 15 years, will she wish you well on your new journey or will she panic and lash out? Somewhere in between?
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You and your future husband are good communicators. You are thinking everything through together. He has met your mother half-way by buying a future marital home very near her. You are giving full consideration to her feelings. You'll be there for her whenever she needs you. As Blannie points out, it's pretty important for her to get to know other people, see other faces besides your own.

Surely, the only thing you still have to worry about is how your mother is going to take the change of plan from a) you literally live with her for the rest of her days to b) you take complete and loving care of her for the rest of her days, supported by your excellent husband.

Well. She'll probably take it hard - at first. Nobody likes change, especially when they've come to assume over years that everything is hunky-dory as it is. But with patient explanation and careful, consistent handling, you'll manage the upset. Then she'll be fine. Her quality of life will in the end actually improve. This honestly does sound like a case of her not so much losing a daughter as gaining a son.

And, besides, what's your alternative? Deny yourself and your loyal partner the proper benefits of a lasting, loving, adult relationship - for no good purpose? That's bonkers.

Go to it. I offer my best wishes for your future happiness.
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Just a little bump, because I'm wondering if anyone has any more advice or comments for me.
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Hi, I know it seems like a monumental task, but you will surely be happy that you did it.

I suggest you start backing out of your mums life, a few things at a time. It's good that she has taken on help with the garden. (insist that she continue that). Talk about ways the two of you could lessen the amount of chores that need to be done . You could have her bills sent to your "marital home" and she wouldn't even have to see them. I do that for my mom who is in assisted living.

Let her do her laundry if she isn't ruining the clothes. You could take out delicates that need extra care. Most older people want to do what they can as long as they can.

It looks like she is doing well mentally. My mum got to the place she didn't care whether her bed was clean or much else. She is doing better with some nurses and a physical therapist working with her for a couple weeks. She needs to get to where she can walk, hopefully without her walker.

Your mum is very blessed to have you but your future is important too, and you should be allowed to get help to replace a lot of your help. You deserve to be doing those things in your own home if you desire to.

(I have found that when I think I'm doing really well, I am still hearing " I have no one except my doggie. No one loves or everyone I love is gone". Excuse me Mom, I have always been around and eager to help you!

Hoping the best for you. D.
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Thank you for your lovely replies. To answer the question some of you asked, my mum can do many day-to-day things herself, but needs assistance with many others.
-She showers and dresses herself, but I give her back a scrub once a week or so
-I cut and maintain her toenails for her
-I prepare her one meal a day. Her illness leaves her with no appetite, but one of her medications requires her to eat before taking it, so I can be sure she will have at least something to eat each day, even if it's just a boiled egg and a slice of toast. Sometimes she'll eat more heartily, but it's an uphill battle.
-I take her to all her doctor's appoinents, hairdresser appointments and anywhere else she wants or needs to go. She's never had a driving license, so the dreadful worry some of you have about your elderly parents still driving or needing to be persuaded to stop is something I have never has to deal with.
-I keep the house clean.
-I do all the bills and paperwork. Mum organized that I have access to her bank account some time ago so I can do this. Paperwork and bills frighten her. I take cash out of her bank for her to have in her purse.
-I often/usually water the garden, depending on how mum is feeling on a particular day. This sounds like a small task, but it's a big garden. When she was well, mum would spend almost all day out in the garden, which she designed to be wild and... exciting I guess. No lawns, lots of winding stone paths, a large veggie garden, 5 fruit trees, raspberry and loganberry canes... A quick water takes about an hour and a half, and with the drought we're having here in Australia, often a quick water isn't enough. This is also made more difficult by the fact that, while plants should be watered in the early morning or late afternoon, I leave for work in the late afternoon and am sleeping in the morning. I get around it by working out the times that the sun is not directly on a particular bed and watering this bed then. It's not ideal, but better than letting everything die. We have started choosing drought resistant, attractive plants to replace some of the more thirsty ones she already has, and have decided that some areas we will just not water, and let natural selection decide which plants are hardy enough to survive in.
-I do some heavy gardening work. If a tree needs trimming or something heavy needs moving, I generally do it, although she's recently started having a nice young man come to help her in the garden.
-I clean the roof and the gutters once a month, more often in autumn
-I do any lifting that she needs.
-I try to do her clothes washing for her, but sometimes she beats me to it.
-She makes her bed in the morning, but I wash the sheets and covers and change the bed.
-I spend time with her. We talk about my night at work, and the different parrots that have been eating from her bird feeder, and interesting radio articles she's listened to. We do crossword puzzles and sometimes watch TV together. We complain to one another about the heat, or the government, or whatever. We just hang out together a lot.

That's all I can thinking right now...

I really appreciate your replies.

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