Mom (85) tried out an independent living community close by. She was staying with my family in the southern US from September-April. She went up north to get her house ready to sell and had a fall spraining her leg. She is now at my sisters for 6-8 weeks and sister has convinced mother that she needs constant care. Assisted living or living with each of us for 6 mos. for the last week sister refuses all my phone calls and the one time she let me talk with mom she had lost all confidence and thought she could never be left alone again. She gets anxious around sister but it is going to be hard to rescue her from several states away. Please comment
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AL sounds ideal. Mom can fly solo to the degree that she wants, but has support at the ready. And she can reach out for that support without the "help me but don't tell me what to do" stalemate that most elderly parents foist on their adult children.
You are at a crossroads here. Mom is probably not just "acting out." Babalou's advice is a perfect start.
Also, not to sound harsh, but you need to deal with what IS. Not what mom was or wasn't 1 year ago or 10 years ago. And not what you wish mom was. These are hard years. Keep your eyes wide open.
What are mom's impairments, from a doctor's point of view? Is she safe being alone? Was she attempting to pack up her house alone? At 85? Doesn't seem like good judgement, if she was.
Talk to your sister and try to get an agreement from all involved to get mom a thorough evaluation of her physical, cognitive and mental health so that you can make a reasonable and safe plan, going forward.
Wherever she does live now, it would be good to be close by to one of her children. Visiting for her going out, gets harder with age, and it's very nice for mom if she lives near one of her children, so that regular visits are simpler and easier, so family stays in touch and are there to see when she needs help.
You say she has been staying with your family for the last 7 months - is that not what your sister is suggesting? Maybe you have different ideas mostly in the specific labels and ideas about independence, but in reality, you are both concerned and want to see that she has both help and family nearby.
It's really hard to have conversations among adult siblings about care - lifestyle differences, perceptions of status in the world and in the family, ages, different memories and ideas about care, different outside support systems for each sibling. If you can contact your sibling and actually demand a conversation, find some way, even email, that you both list your ideas of what your mom needs, and talk for maybe 2 scheduled times without your mom present, to compare and share, it can show your understanding of the need to work with your sister now, Come up with some ideas and start to explore real options Those may help to come up with some kind of plan, and you will both value each others efforts and your mom will value those as well..
Getting along with your sister would help your mom, it is disconcerting for parents to see their children unable to work together. That's how it goes when moms age, and I've seen it good in the end, as the process makes adult siblings have to deal with each other, even if it's really difficult in so many families.
It took me years to deal with my brothers. But it mattered. Most moms really feel better when they see that their children will be good to each other and find ways to work well together. You are lucky to have 2 sisters in the family, who both want to be involved in her care - if you have other sibs, it could be good to try to talk with them too, about a difficult situation which will have losses and changes, just not easy to plan, when we are not sure when they'll come. All best wishes!
In my own experience, and I don't have dementia (I hope!) this gets harder and harder to do with age, but it happened to me at 35 when we had a ski place. Every winter I had to learn/remember what I had there and where I'd put it! And then I could be positive that I had just bought 2 cans of tomatoes, but they were not in my home pantry when I looked.
For this reason, I don't think moving Mom from one sister's home to the other every six months is a good idea AT ALL. Whether she lives permanently with one of her children or in an Assisted Living facility near one of them, I think you are all going to have to face up to the fact that it will be YOU that does the "moving", back and forth to visit her as your own lives and circumstances permit. Just as you did when she was living independently in her own home.
The prospect of packing up (!) and physically moving out of her own home after she has had weeks of living with family and being looked after/waited on/assisted would, in my view, be overwhelming -- especially at 85 and having already suffered a fall. Your Mom is frightened and -- trust me -- it's GOOD that she is feeling she shouldn't be alone! This forum gets so many posts from children who are beside themselves because parents who CANNOT take proper care of themselves are refusing/resisting moving to some other situation. One can empathize with those parents too. However, I think there is no question that the greatest gift parents can give to their children is to make the decision to move to a safer, more assisted environment -- preferably BEFORE they must, but certainly at such time as there begin to be falls, difficulty managing medications, paying bills, etc.
Being 85 or 90 or even older does not equal dementia, but dementia IS age related so all the advice about Mom having a thorough neurological and physical work up is excellent. If there's any way for you to be present during those examinations, I would recommend it -- at least get whoever is present to have Mom sign the necessary consent forms (HIPA privacy laws) that will permit the doctor to share information about your Mom/his or her patient with whomever she has authorized -- hopefully ALL her children.
My last word is to all the children of parents who you worry about: make sure that you make all the preparations (Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Desire for a Natural Death, financial, etc.) AND that you promise yourselves and your children NOW that you will be brave enough and loving enough to not put your own children in the place you are in right now. Rather, decide now -- before you have to -- that you WILL leave your "own" home but a new home, that will also make YOURS, in a place that provides for your own safety and needs better than any of us can provide for them at some point in our lives. Or at least, for heaven's sake, DON'T make them promise they will "never put me in a home"! That is SO unfair; please don't burden your children with promises that no one should ever make! And those of you who are caring for a spouse -- and have learned the very hard way what is necessary to care for someone who is ill...have you made arrangements and decisions for YOURSELF so that your children will not have to? The time to control our own future is NOW...in our own present. Angels watch over you, Snowbird711, and all of us as we "age" with "care"! Lolli
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