My Mom has allergies and a cat, and I want the cat gone. My brother and I disagree. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My Mom has allergies and a cat, and I want the cat gone. My brother and I disagree. Any advice?

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Mother rescued cat as a kitten. She's been treated for scratches from the cat. She has compromised her safety climbing stairs to get cat. Cat attacks Mom when she's not looking, when walking or jumps on her when she's unaware. Mom lives alone,and sleeps with bedroom door open. She won't put cat in basement at night. (Feels it's cruel). Mom has rigged up a paneling cardboard thing to keep cat out of hall leading to her bedroom. It's difficult to set up for me, much less her. She has age related memory and bad choices issues. We bought her a $500.00 air cleaner with remote, she either forgets to use it.or feels it puts out cold air,and won't use in winter. Mom thought she had head cold. Flu turned into Pneumonia. She either fainted or fell going to restroom at night,and was to weak to get up. She was rescued by alert system and taken to hospital. No physical damage, but so weak, she's been in therapy for 3 weeks. I'm flying home, and am going to try to be her caregiver for 6 months. Because of my HMO, that's the limit I can stay. I have a Brother that is helping me. In that time we have decisions to make. She can't live alone anymore. House to be cleared of 60 years of accumulation that turned into hoarding the last 10 years.
Mom wants my husband and I to move to her house. We have children and Grand,and Great Grand Children in Calif. The climate where she lives is why we moved 50 years ago. We're 70 years old and have some health issues.
I believe I will have so much to deal with, I don't want the cat there when Mom comes home. My Brother and good friend and neighbor thinks the cat is good for her. What should we do?

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Leave the cat alone and deal with the hoarding and other issues. You didn't say she was allergic to the cat. Even so, my husband is allergic to our two dogs. He just washes his hands after touching them so he doesn't get hives. If you resent going there, don't go. Make other arrangements.
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I bet the cat doesn't like all the hoarding going on in the house just as much as everyone else. Your mom is probably getting sick from all the insect droppings and mice that hoarding draws.... in fact, the cat is probably keeping the mice population down.

If your mom doesn't want the cat in the bedroom at night but wants to still keep her bedroom door open, install a wooden screen door, of course the cat will probably hang on the screen so that will need to be replaced on a regular basis. I agree, don't put the cat in the basement, that is cruel unless it's the cat's own idea of going down there. My male cat has is own *man cave* in the basement to get away from the girl cats when he feels they are too annoying :P

By the way, who is caring for the cat while your mom has been away? I hope a neighbor is feeding the cat and cleaning out the cat litter, unless the cat goes outdoors.

I agree with your brother, the good friend, and the neighbor about the cat. That cat is your mom's *baby* since she rescued the cat as a kitten... there's a special bond there. As for the cat "attacking" mom, the cat is playing. I know I have my fair share of scratches, mostly my own fault by reaching toward the cat to pet him instead of petting from behind him... some cats feel a sense of threat when approached that way.
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Clean all you want, but do NOT move in there, because you are already in a negative mood. Do NOT touch any pet she has, except to clip the nails and take it to the vet to be fixed. Her house, her rules.
Check her house for mold. Dampish basement storage is often the culprit.
Air out her house completely. Change the furnace filter. Gosh, this is a lot to take on at your age, are you sure you want to do this?
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Suegirl, as someone mentioned, there will be some hard decisions in your journey. One of them is that to properly care for a spouse, who is also a senior and has his own health issues, you have to accept that you cannot personally do everything for your parent that you would like to, or think you should or that others think you should. I learned this one the hard way when my husband was struggling with debilitating PD symptoms, and both of our mothers were in the hospital. I couldn't help my inlaws as much as I wanted, but I could make phone calls, interface with the hospice nurse and staff, I only cooked for my MILs needs but found Dad some options for him. I couldn't take my mom out for the long outings but I could run over on my lunch break. I can't care for her at home, my husband and still maintain my own health so she's is cared for in a NH. My focus has had to be getting a handle on the PD and caring for my husband. He's vastly improved, is active and working, but my time goes to keeping him rolling and having an enjoyable quality of life.
My suggestion to you would be to see if you can't shorten your time away from your husband. And to remember that it's prudent, not selfish, to factor impact to you and your husband, into decisions about your mom.
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SueGirl,

I have a recommendation. May or may not be practical for you. But, given what you said, is sounds like Mom will not be able to *ever* live independently again. Unless maybe it is a medication side effect or something else that really can be changed...try to get a geriatrician or geriatric neurologist to assess that and also assess mom's cognitive function. Get the POAs and such in order, find out what the income is and the care options might be in the future.

If things are what they seem to be - permanent need for care - give some consideration to moving Mom and the cat, not you and your family. There are companies that would clean up and do an estate sale of Mom's house, or maybe you have the help, time, and energy to do - just don't let it make people ill, wear N-95 masks around any droppings or mold or mildew. The house, if she can never go back, could pretty much be an albatross around your necks, though if you find out she needs Medicaid, it is an exempt asset as long as she states any intention of returning in most states...but then in the end it is subject to estate recovery unless a full time caregiver has lived there and done care for a few years (not just months). That kind of decision might warrant seeking advice of an estate planner or eldercare attorney, again to see what's possible and what's likely.

Big sigh, and "welcome to our world." I was fifty something when this started to happen to my mom, and that journey was full of the hardest things I ever had to do....hugs.
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just a quick note of input regarding the donations, if you choose to take them, you might want to give to Salvation Army instead of Goodwill if they are equally convenient for you to do so. Goodwill's CEO takes a 2 million dollar salary…Salvation Army gives more of it's proceeds to the people who need them :)
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Regarding the cat jumping out and "attacking" her, this might just be "play aggression." If you watch how cats play with each other, it looks more like fighting than playing! The cat may be bored and need attention. Make sure the cat has lots of toys to bat around. If Mom is up to it, get her one of those fishing rod toys. It's a stick with a feather toy hanging from a line. Mom can sit in a chair and tease/play with the cat that way. Good for both of them!
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Please do not ever declaw a cat. That is literally animal cruelty and there is a lot of info on the internet about it if anyone would like to google it. I think the person who suggested it just didn't realize what a cruel thing it is as many people just don't about it. The poster meant well I am sure but just didn't know the facts about it.

I think it is better for your mom to keep her cat as it is her baby and probably part of her heart now. They have done studies that show that a cat will make you healthier and live longer due to the happiness and stress relief their love and purring gives. They just did a new one on this, it was on the news! But please don't rip her baby out of her life and her heart.
I think what you are attempting to do to help your mom is wonderful and you are a fantastic daughter! I REALLY agree with the others who have said please do take care of yourself first though. My best wishes to you and yours.
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If you are saying she can't live alone anymore...then are you considering moving her out? You didn't really say, so I was wondering. That would be the best solution as it's been shown she needs assistance. But you and your husband moving there is not the answer and I would firmly set my boundaries on that.

To address the cat issue. I agree that it may be a hazard for her, mainly because cats can get right under one's feet and can be a tripping hazard. I also know that the elderly are lonely and a pet can be a great source of companionship. Regardless, let's not make the cat the "evil one" here. It is simply an animal who really has no choice in her life. If you move your mother out, the pet may need to be re-homed. Notice, I didn't say euthanized. That is a cruel decision, not that you said that was in mind, but someone needs to take responsibility for finding it a home.

As far as cleaning out a "hoarding" situation, this can actually be hazardous to your health. You might consider hiring a company that does this sort of thing. If your mother doesn't have the means to do this, then please where a surgical mask at the least and gloves.

Yes, like the previous comment, get a POA and a durable health care POA if one is not in place so you can help with decisions. If her decision making skills and processing is an issue, then this must be done.

If you are in 70's then your mother must be in 90's. You are dealing with something that is not uncommon and is difficult but not insurmountable. We moved my 92 dad out over a year ago...he had 30 years of accumulations. We took what we wanted, threw out all unimportant papers and refuse, hired an estate sale company to sell the rest, donated what was left and sold the house. Step by step and it was accomplished. IT was a difficult year, I won't lie. But my sister and I divided up duties and got it accomplished. Best thing we ever did and now we don't worry about him being alone and falling down the stairs etc.

Best to you...and your brother in this situation.
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I've been here 5 days. Seeing Mother and Bro great.Jet Lag hard. We're doing pretty good I believe. The ( Biig Problem) Sara Lee,LOL. Turns out she's the least of my problems. She remembered me from a year ago Oct. She came running to me,and she's my bosom buddie. Her little tap with nose, then loving me, by rubbing, feels good. Another plus, Moms holding on to all her clothes. she went fro 20 to 12 petite. In studying nutrition for her. It occurred to me,if I'm going to take care of her I needed adjust my life style. I went from 24 to small 16. I've got a whole new wardrobe! It's like going shopping. I've cleared a lot. Not meaning I'm tossin things yet. Just Organizing and hopeful she will help with decision making help the delegation of items. Patience, Kind, most important LOVE. I made Soup beans, this morning shower, try to make her corn bread. She's craving. Bro went to store for me. And had 2 bowls of beans. Sara got into Moms room, heads for emergency alert system,and with her cute little white paw pushes it, creates havock. All's good.
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