Mom seems to be more hateful and depressed after moving her to Hawaii with us. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Mom seems to be more hateful and depressed after moving her to Hawaii with us. Any advice?

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My Dad died in 2013, my sister’s only son died 2010 and her husband died 2012, her son's dog at 8 died of cancer 1 year after her son. All was so heartbreaking for all of us. Now that we have all retired, we moved from Illinois to Hawaii and love it except for my 86 year old Mom. She has 1 sister that lives in Austria and no other family except for us. At first she seemed OK back in October, but now she is constantly crying and complaining that she wants to move back home to Chicago and be near the cemetery to visit. She says she has nothing to drink here, but the truth is she doesn’t want to do anything! We invite her to come with us to meet new friends, she won’t. People from my sister’s church have invited her to go to senior activities, she won’t. Lately she is having more bad days than good. She has a lot of arthritis in her back and knee. We try to help but it gets really old when we go to her room and want her to come up for dinner etc when all she does is repeat I want to go home, I hate it here! Did I mention we bought a beautiful home with an ocean view, all of us have odor space. Mom always said that if we move to Hawaii can she have her own place. We found it! We have the entire upstairs and she has her own bedroom, living are, kitchen and bath, and laundry area. There are no stairs to climb, and when she goes out her sliding glass doors on her completely covered patio(huge by the way) it is so beautiful surrounded by hibiscus and all kinds of tropical foliage with a beautiful water feature! I can’t and don’t understand why she hates it so much and we are beginning to feel she hates us also. Any advice? RMK

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It sounds absolutely stunning. Sigh, I can dream (I'll fight you for it, Jeanne!).

And the weather, surely?, must be kind to old bones. So you'd have thought that would be a plus. Aren't the winters in Chicago something cruel?

But all the same, she could hate her surroundings. Did she live in Chicago itself? - crowds, traffic, buildings, a proper urban environment?

My mother bit my hand off when I asked if she wanted to come with my partner and me when we staged our more modest "Escape To The Country." We found a gem of a house with ample space, which we further adapted so that she had her own suite of rooms. It had lovely gardens. It was quiet. The nights were dark, so you could actually see the stars.

She wanted to see red London buses out of her window, hear police sirens, walk to her library and go to matinées. It took only months before she was complaining bitterly - always behind our backs - that she'd never wanted to move and she hated it. To the extent that when my brother, one of her two executors, asked about her funeral wishes and where she wanted to be laid to rest she said "anywhere as long as it's not bloody [here]!"

I will always regret that we didn't have a Plan B set up; because with hindsight, and having known her, I should have been prepared for this.

It is true that if you moved heaven and earth to send her "home" she might well spend her remaining days complaining to anyone who'll listen that you cast her off and left the continent.

I'm not sure you can win.

But from Illinois to Hawaii is a major, major transplant for a lady in her eighties. *Could* it be made possible for her to return? If only for your own peace of mind, it would be worth thinking through as a kind of feasibility study. If it proves a complete non-starter, at least you'll know all the reasons why and you'll have done her the courtesy of taking her seriously.

I think it also might be a good idea to arrange a complete medical overhaul and check that there isn't any organic reason for her worsening mood, unconnected with the move itself.

I really do feel for how painful this must be to you. Your dream, and she's raining all over it. It's very hard.
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Your mom does not hate you. And she couldn't possibly hate her surroundings, could she? But she hates being 86, she hates being a widow, she hates having lost a grandson, she hates that many of her friends are gone, she hates fate. Sigh. You really can't blame her, but even if she is justified I don't blame you for wanting to try to change things for her.

Frequent crying (beyond a period of mourning) can be a sign of depression -- the kind deep in the brain that cannot be jollied along by cheerful encouragement. I suggest an evaluation by a mental health care professional, ideally a geriatric psychiatrist.

Meanwhile, see if you can find an alternative to Dad's grave. A lovely memorial garden, a local cemetery, a monument, a hospital chapel ... someplace to go to contemplate a departed loved one. Invite Mom to go with you several times. Take pictures with you of the late family members.

And, if Mom does go back to Chicago, can I rent your lower level? :P
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You don't say if Mom has Dementia? If So, change is very hard for Dementia/ALZ patients.

If not, it still is very hard for a person your Moms age to make changes. They are used to where they were with friends and activities. What you have for her sounds wonderful but she wants her old life. If going back to Chicago Can't happen because no one to care for her then you have to have a sit down. Explain that you won't be able to care for her in Chicago and if she gets I'll and you can't move to Chicago. You understand that it's a big change and she is homesick but you have done everything to make her happy and comfortable. How the rest of her goes is up to her.
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