Living alone at 83. Any advice?

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My mom has no health issues and is pretty sharp. She’s been living in a home owned by us for three years, and we recently all relocated to the same house. It’s a strain on the family as it’s too small for us. We were considering buying a larger home, but could buy my mother a nice mobile home in a 55 and up community cheaper than us a larger home. Has anyone else gone this route? We would set her up with security and life alert and would make sure she has transportation for her errands just like now. She currently spends most of her day holed up in her room because she likes being alone.

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In 1985 my grandfather passed pretty quickly. My grandmother was 81 and my parents assumed she "wouldn't live much longer". They moved her in. Grandma lived for another 16 years, spending part of the year at my parents' house and part of the year with one of her other children. Once she moved in, grandma became quickly dependent on my mom for all emotional support & friendship, and it put a major strain on my parents' marriage (for years). My mother says if she had to do it over again, they would have set grandma up with a little place of her own to encourage her to be independent and make her own friends.
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Reply to Upstream
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Yes, I did this. The mobile home was in a community where my two older sisters already lived (separately), with their spouses.

There are a number of considerations with this. The first set are based on your mother's present level of functioning. Does she drive (i.e., can she do her own food shopping and errands)? Can she make her own meals? Can she clean up after herself? Can she deal with contractors such as the lawn and appliance repair people? If she has issues with any/all of this, is there somebody close enough, available, and willing to step in when she needs help?

Next consideration: she'll only be 83 once. Then she'll be 84, 85, 86, etc. Her abilities and skills will likely decline. Is the arrangement flexible enough to work when that happens? Once of the main goals in my mother's situation was moving her from a one-bedroom condo to a two-bedroom, two bath mobile home. This is crucial now that my mother is almost 87 because at this point, someone needs to stay with her at all times. One of her neighbors, who is a close personal friend of mine, needed a place after her living arrangement fell through. She lives on very little SS and was pleased to have a private bed and bath in exchange for looking after my mother.

Of course, over time, the looking after has greatly increased. She now has to make and bring my mother all meals in her recliner, and take care of all household tasks including laundry. Plus, Mom can't be left alone overnight because she falls. The housemate can't be there 24/7, so once a week or so I come visit, make my Mom's meals and stay in my friend's room overnight. I also take my Mom to all her medical appointments and do her shopping at this point.

Long story short, it can work. But it takes a lot of work to make it work, long-term. I think this is the best we could have done for my mother. She loves her home and her privacy. She sits in her recliner by her big living room window, watches tv and reads mystery novels. The housemate has a BF a few doors down and spends most of her time there except when she's needed at home. It's not perfect by any means but we make it work. For now. If my mother because bedridden or incontinent we'll have to go back to the drawing board.
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Reply to CarlaCB
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My mom lived alone until she was over 90, age matters less than ability. I'm not too sure about a mobile home though, if you are making a move the smart thing is to plan for the needs of someone who may need much more assistance in the very near future, at the very least bathrooms and hallways/doors that are handicapped accessible and rollator/ wheelchair friendly, perhaps also a proximity to services like meal prep, medical assistance and the possibility of social interaction for the days she feels like going out.
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Cwillie has a good point about accessibility. My mother is now wheelchair-bound, but she used a walker when she moved into the MH. She had to have a ramp put up leading to her front door and a smaller ramp leading out to the back porch. The house has a big walk-in shower, which was critical since Mom was already unable to get her leg over the side of the tub. We put grab bars up. There's enough floor space for her walker or her wheelchair. The bathroom is narrow but she uses the wall and counter for balance and she's able to navigate it without her walker or wheelchair.

A 55-plus community will usually have lots of social activities. Mom's does. She used to ride her power scooter up to her bridge games twice a week. She stopped going because of her hearing loss now. Sadly, many of the people at her complex are shut-ins, or have become so, and can't participate in the many activities that are available.
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Reply to CarlaCB
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Tluther, it all depends on the person. My Dad was in his 90's but he became a fall risk so he hired Caregivers to be with him around the clock. But Dad didn't cook, clean, do laundry, paid attention to his pills, forget to use his walker, etc. so he needed that extra help. Eventually he moved to Independent Living, then onto Memory Care, it's good to have 24/7 nurse and Aides there to help if needed. He pretty much stayed in his room as he happy with his books and TV. He did go to his meals in the main dining room, just don't get in his way when he smells food :)

Yet my Dad's mother lived alone in her 90's in a farm house. She had no caregivers because she was still able to do all the housework, and didn't mind being by herself. She didn't drive, but since she lived in a Mayberry type of town, she could call the grocery store, give her order, and they would hand deliver. Same with the library.
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Reply to freqflyer
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Dear Tluther,

There is so much on your shoulders. I have lived with my parent and was their full time caregiver. It's hard. I felt so responsible that it led to a lot of resentment. I hope you can get some additional supports even if you move to larger home with your mom.
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Wow, I am 82 & in good health. I am caregiver for my 87 yr hubby who has alzheimers. We spend winter in So CA in a mobile park where lots of activity goes on & I love the activity while a I hire a caregiver. Keeps me young. It's a 55 & older place very friendly. You meet lots of people cause everybody seems walks their dog & close quarters in the park. I could eat 5 days a wk at senior ctr. & Trader Joes has good take home fold plus I can cook if I want. 83 if in good health can be fun years. Go to senior ctr & get her involved. Look into 55 & older active places.
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Reply to mlface
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Tluther-
Now 87, I am glad that a year after my husband died, I voluntary moved to an independent living facility after suffering two falls on concrete surfaces, one in the path of oncoming vehicles. I feel secure knowing that the staff here will check on me if I fail to show up for meals, or assist me if I need to call an ambulance.
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Reply to arianne777
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I did! but not into a 55+ community.

I moved my 83+ father from his home 3 miles away into a mobile home on my property. I was given permission by the county supervisors to house my dad in my front yard with the promise that after he passed, we would have the home removed after probate.

3 miles doesn't sound like a lot but the time and stress was taking it's toll on me. This was the ideal solution. He was able to continue living alone but I was there to assist him as needed. It worked fabulously until he decided to end his dialysis at age 88. By then his chronic pain was just too much and they refused to give him adequate pain control, prescribing 12 hour morphine - 1 daily. Even I can count to 2 and they refused to give him twice daily to cover a 24 hour day. How ignorant some doctors can be. It pushed poor Pop over the edge.

Anyway, the mobile home worked great and he truly loved it! I was able to place it in such a way that he could come out on his porch and not have to see our house. He had the illusion of total independence. He worried that we could see the mobile home all the time and I assured him, it was a comfort to know he was safe.

Good Luck to you! I pray it will work as well for you.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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It really depends on what your mother wants herself and her abilities now and what they most likely will be in the future..
Is your current accommodation likely to be big enough for your family if mother moves out or will you plan to move anyway.
A better option might be for the current home to be sold and something like a duplex purchased so Mom can have her own space but close enough if you have to care for her or move her back in with you and have the money to hire caregivers.
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Reply to Veronica91
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