I'm an only child, so there's no one to help out but my long-suffering hubby. We've just moved into our new home, and we built her a beautiful, sunny bedroom with direct bathroom access. We painted it her favorite color, decorated it with her aunt's antique bed, new mattress, and her mother's quilt.

I had all these visions of us fixing wonderful dinners, watching movies, sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch watching deer frolicking in the pasture, and sharing memories.

When we started planning this house, mom said her husband didn't get along with anyone, and he would never live with anyone. She said he didn't like his own kids and their spouses, and he didn't like my spouse, so we shouldn't plan on them living with us. When he died last year, I was sure she'd come live with us. But she's still rejecting us!

She's insisting on staying in her home, paying for a cleaning lady, yard man, and calling us to come over to fix her internet/tv, bring groceries, take her to the doctor or dentist, diagnose her aches, pains, and boo-boos over the telephone. I work from home, but recently she called me to ask what she should do about her chronically swollen ankle that was really hurting.

Instead of getting up from my desk and walking across the hall to assess the ankle, I had to alert my boss and my team I would be away for an unknown period of time to make a home visit and possible ER visit. My boss was understanding but tight-lipped, and I could imagine the eye-rolling of my team who had to cover for me.

The ankle was red, hot and angry looking, so I had to take Mom to the ER for them to officially diagnose cellulitis. Mom protested and argued with me all the way to the ER about why she didn't need to go to the hospital. I finally said, "Mom, this isn't working for me. If you lived with us, your ankle wouldn't have gotten to this state. I know you want to stay in your house, but that's placing an undue burden on us. During the work week, you're going to have to stay at our house, and then you can go home on the weekends." Mom agreed.

She stayed with us for four days after she got out of the hospital, but she refused to return when we went back to pick her up on Sunday! She listed all the reasons why she couldn't possibly live any where but her own home. The biggest reason? She has so many bills to pay, and 3 checking accounts to keep track of! She said, "When Lennie came by every morning to eat breakfast with me, it was easy to keep track of everything, because he'd double check my check-writting to make sure I didn't get my hundreds and thousands mixed up."

My husband complained bitterly about those daily visits because she always had a laundry list of things for him to do: replace a bulb, fix a screen, hang blinds, tote things to Goodwill, bring things up from the basement, chase down a phantom noise, fix the stove, chase off a gopher she hears under her porch, assure her there is no squirrel loose in her basement, put up a new mailbox, fix the storm door the cleaning lady bent..... you get the picture. My hubby complained, "It's always something! I can never do a quick check-in. She eats up half my day, everyday! She insists we eat breakfast. Even if I take her breakfast, she insists on forcing me to eat the eggs she scrambles. I'm not fond of scrambled eggs, but I force them down. By the time I leave, the day is shot. I can't get anything done!"

I totally empathize, but I'm still working. My hubby says this was not how he envisioned his retirement. He thought he would have time for his pursuits; he didn't plan on being mom's fix-it handyman/taxi/errand boy/accountant/exterminator/security force. He, very rightly, complains he can't keep up two houses.

I care for mom on the weekends, and I get stuck in the same situation. We do all her things, none of our own, and on Monday, I feel like I missed the weekend. We're tired! If she just lived with us, it would simplify our lives. Any ideas?

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Oh boy!

And why do you think her living with you is going to be easier?

You will be on call CONSTANTLY. You will have no privacy. She will want your attention all the time.

It sounds like your mom's cognitive skills have declined. Are you aware of that? Are all the legal niceties like POAs and advanced directives in order?

I would be much more inclined to have her go to a nice Assisted of Independent Living Facility if you want your life back. (That may need to wait until COVID is under control in your neck of the woods). Right now, you and your husband are her only source of entertainment.

Tell your husband he has your blessing to cut his visits back to twice a week. Mom keeps a list of things she needs done. He tells her what he CAN do. The rest gets hired out.

Mom gets 1/2 of one weekend day from you. It's called having boundaries.

"No mom, we can't do that. You'll have to hire someone".
Helpful Answer (22)

If your mom doesn’t have dementia, leave her be. Don’t have her move in. Don’t go over to her house every time she calls. Tell her no!! Start telling her no!! If she can’t do it herself then hire someone to do it for her, with HER own money!!! Don’t move her in with you. You will regret it!!
Helpful Answer (16)

DON’T DO IT!!!! I, too am an only child. My husband and I had a great relationship with my parents who lived 1 hour away. As my parents aged and needed assistance with doctor’s visits and meds, I was driving back and forth to help out. I thought it would be so much easier to have them live with us rather than make that drive; after all, we had a huge house where they would have their own master suite. BIG MISTAKE! Once they moved in, things started going downhill - my mother developed Alzheimer’s and constantly tried to “escape” our house to “go home”. She passed away after 6 months of living here. My father has now been with us for 4 years and now we have no life. He sits and sits and sits in front of the tv with the volume too loud watching the same news channel all day. We cannot socialize with friends in our home, else he interjects and becomes part of the “party”. He complains about our grandchildren coming over - they are “too noisy” the “bump into him”, etc. He is not happy and spends his day exuding his negativity to the point we don’t even want to be in the same room with him. He talks on the phone (more like “screams”) with the speaker on to his 99 year old sister every day about how the world is going to hell - neither of them can hear each other even though they both have hearing aids that are constantly monitored. My husband and I are retired, at an age where we thought we would be spending our time traveling the world - no can do. In order to travel, we have to find someone (acceptable to him) to stay in our home and make his meals. He is 97, on oxygen 24/7, needs a walker and has nothing nice to say about anything or anybody....yet I love him because he is my father - just not the man he used to be anymore. There is no way I can now send him to a nursing home (By the way, money is not an issue) b/c his mindset/experience has convinced him that they are all bad places where you go to die when nobody cares about you anymore.
So, “only child” - be careful about your decisions, else you will find yourself stuck in my situation. It would be easier for you to hire a part-time caretaker or prep your Mom to go into an assisted living, where she can have activities and other people to interact with and “have her own life” versus taking over yours. If you think your husband resents her now, just wait until she lives with you 24/7. Please heed the advice you are hearing here from others who made the “wrong” decision. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (15)

Boundaries. Your mom can stay in her own home. But you and hubby need to start saying NO. No, no, no.

She needs to hire someone to do her bidding. You guys do not need to be at her beck and call.

I would not put ANY pressure on her to move in with you! It is NOT easy having your parents live with you. Although she's currently being difficult, she would still be difficult if she lived with you. And you could not go home and get a break from her, etc.
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elaineSC Aug 2020
Yes! I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. I saw this after I responded by the way.
I think, perhaps, that your mother may understand the situation better than you do. Listen to her. Your daydreams of the perfect life with Mom, are dreams, not reality. From what you have described, I would say that living with Mom would be far worse than letting her be, at least for now.

Set some limits on time with Mom so that you and your husband have time for yourselves. It is entirely reasonable to tell her that you will stop by for an hour after work, once a week. There is no reason why your husband should become your mother's handyman. If she needs a handyman, she should find one through a referral service. If she needs financial help, she may want to see a professional financial manager.

You can't live her life for her and also have one of your own. Let her be for a while and let her figure out if she can really live on her own. As long as you give up your life to make hers work, she will not face up to the reality of her needs. After a few weeks while your husband has "lots of things to do" and you can only spare an hour or two after work, see if she is still adamant about staying in her home, unassisted. Then sit down and have a serious, factual talk about what she needs, how you might be able to help, and what other options are available.
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cherokeegrrl54 Aug 2020
Very honest and compassionate advice!!
OMGOSH! I am not the only child but the middle child of 3. I thought the same thing as you, about how much easier it would be to have my mom move in with us. I imagined just like you how it would be so nice spending really quality time doing everyday activities together. Cooking, gardening, sewing, walks, watching movies and how she would be a tremendous help in keeping the house in order. You see, I still work a fulltime job and do not work from home. I was dreaming bc it’s not like I imagined at all. I have no free time; no life. Weekends? What’s that? My mom is 98 and she doesn’t do much of anything. She can’t walk and is restricted to her wheelchair and lift chair. All she does for herself now is feed herself but that’s slipping away everyday. I thought taking care of her would be easy. It’s not. It gets harder everyday.

She has been with me for over a year now. I had put her in Respite Care for 6 weeks for a much needed break. In all honesty I could have used more. She had been back only 1 day and all the stress and strain returned in an instant. I now have someone come 6-8 hours a day M-F and an occasional Saturday. But it’s still a strain. We have no privacy.

My hubby is a gem too. But it’s unfair to him. He may have signed up to take care of me “in sickness and in health” but not my mother. Find another way. You and hubby get your life back. Sounds cold and callous but your mom has lived her life.

Take care of yourself 1st!
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Takincare Aug 2020
Very true, thank goodness you were able to get respite care. I had less than a total of 24 hours off in 2 years. There are those family members that will promise assistance but will never ever help. Lip service is all you will get and when you actually ask excuses why they can't help will come forth in abundance.
Do not move her in with you for all the reasons Barb stated. Find a nice facility and start planning the move. She is a burden now, she will become a 24 hour burden if you move her in.

Your marriage and your own family need to be your priority. Sometimes an emergency is the only way to get them out of their homes and into appropriate care.

It will not simplify your lives. Your lives will become centered around her even more than they are already.
Helpful Answer (11)

Part One:
I wonder if your husband is going to be any happier when he becomes your Mom’s caregiver while you go to work each day. Unless you hire someone from outside the home to take care of your Mom while you are at work, your dear husband (DH) will—by default—be the one who has to spend his day talking with your Mom, watching TV with your Mom, fixing meals for your Mom or eat food that your Mom fixes (which he already hates to eat), etc. And if Mom moves into your house, and she refuses to sell her house, your DH will still be your “mom's fix-it handyman/taxi/errand boy/accountant/exterminator/security force” because someone will need to keep up the empty house until it is sold.

Your last paragraph is quite “telling”. “I care for mom on the weekends, and I GET STUCK IN THE SAME SITUATION. WE DO ALL HER THINGS, NONE OF OUR OWN, and on Monday, I feel like I missed the weekend. WE’RE TIRED! If she just lived with us, it would simplify our lives.”

NO, your lives would NOT become simpler, they would become more complicated, because you have now added your Mom to your “immediate family” and you can NEVER get away from her unless you leave YOUR house. If you are already TIRED from taking care of your Mom now, how do you think you will feel when once your Mom moves in? website has some wonderful articles about caregiving. You can find several of them under “Care Topics” on the blue ribbon at the top of the forum webpage. I will list some articles that I think that you should read whether your Mom lives in her house or your house in my next posting.
Helpful Answer (11)

Tybee, I hope you'll come back and update us on your thinking.

I want to add that I see a huge red flag about your mother's cognitive skills with regard to her aches and pains.

15 years ago, would she have known to call her doctor if her ankle was hot and swollen? Probably. What is going on here is that she has off-loaded her reasoning onto you.

This happened with my mom, subtly at first. She could suddenly no longer make appointments. She couldn't determine if a symptom was important or not. She couldn't call a cab to get somewhere ("what if they get lost", she said?)

It was all a covert cover up for the fact that, to put it kindly, she could no longer reason her way out of a paper bag. Once we got her to a geriatrics doc, he referred her, after two visits, to a geriatric psychiatrist for her issues with anxiety. After ONE visit, the geripsych called me and insisted that we get my mother a thorough cognitive assessment. It showed that she'd had an undetected stroke and that she was functioning, in terms of reasoning skills, at the level of a 5 year old.

This was NOT apparent to her regular doctor, her children or her friends. She was faking at a very high level, and we propped her up for a year before I got called out of work 3 days running and I realized something was terribly wrong and told her I was no longer participating in what I now call "this charade of independence".
Helpful Answer (11)
Hummer Aug 2020
"Charade of independence". I love it! My 93 year old mother is so proud of being independent. My brother, her POA, picks up her groceries, my SIL showers her once a week, does her laundry, changes her sheets, cleans up around the apartment, takes her to her many doctor appointments, and on and on. They live a few blocks from her. I live only 30 minutes away, but I refuse to to become part of the charade. I think bro is in denial about the extent of her mental and physical incapacities. I am not going to become the problematic family member to him as her decision maker oh, so I keep my distance from the situation as much as possible. I'm sometimes eaten up with guilt. But it's their charade, not mine.
I could have written your post substituting "father" for "mother". My mother unexpectedly died while we were in the process of remodeling our home. My father thought he would like to move in with us and we changed our house plans to accommodate him. In the middle of this he told the builder, the neighbors, the barber, the mechanic, that he wasn't going to move in with us. HE NEVER TOLD US. But it was definitely for the best. He stayed in his own home until we reached the point you have reached. Little by little we started doing more and more things that would allow him to stay put. He refused to consider assisted living until we STOPPED our outrageous level of assistance. The he finally, unwillingly, made the move. He now admits he should have moved to AL much earlier so he would have had more opportunities to make friends and take part in the activities. Your only responsibility is for health and safety issues at a very basic level. You should stop by her house no more than two times per week and always have a definite time you must leave. NO ONE is actually forcing you to eat the eggs. Say "No mom, I'm leaving now" and then leave. Your husband should NEVER go over. You have no responsibility to make her happy or ease her loneliness or keep her television working, or keep her house repaired and trying to do so is creating a situation which is only going to get worse. The only thing I would make certain I took over is the banking and checking since apparently she is no longer able to do that. Get POA and you can sit at her kitchen table twice per month and pay bills as you chat. She'll feel like she is 'doing' it and you'll be assured that she's not making mistakes. It took some serious "tough love" with my father but was finally worth it. Do not move her into your home or you'll be back on this board telling us how you have no life and she refuses to go to assisted living. We've seen this movie before.
Helpful Answer (11)
LittleOrchid Aug 2020
I think many of us make the same mistake: doing too much in the beginning, with no limits, not understanding that it is just the beginning of the long,slippery slope. It is really hard to dial back from "call me any time you need me." It absolutely needs to be done, though. Aging children really can't do everything for their even older parents. I wish we all could hear from someone who has been through it before we entrap ourselves.
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