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My mom (83, undiagnosed dementia because she refuses to see a geriatrician) still lives in the same house she raised us in. It's way too big for her and she refuses to downsize. Anyway, that's not the issue I am fighting today.


She has a large yard that needs maintenance in addition to just mowing. Limb trimming, garden weeding, planting, etc. My mom is not poor, and can well afford to pay for these things. She just doesn't want to part with her money, and thinks I can do it all myself. I can do a lot, but I am 56 and have MS. I don't have the stamina to haul stuff to the curb, and I am too short to do much limb trimming. I can get her handyman to help me for probably $100. She is adamant that she will not pay him for that, he has already done her raking and will continue to mow for her, and she doesn't want to pay "a fortune". She also says "your brother will do this, your brother will do that". My brother lives seven hours away, works full time, and has a family. He isn't her chore monkey.


I have POA and I can just pay him with her money, but she will know he is there and will want to know how he is being paid. If I tell her I am paying, presumably with my own money, she will get angry and then end up paying him herself and resent me for it.

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Your brother is too far away and you are not physically able. Tell your mom, this. Keep it simple...I am not physically able. Then hire the work done and let her pay it, even if she is resentful. She needs to get used to paying for help.
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Reply to littlelou
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You say the house is way too big but, “that’s not the issue I am fighting today.” What are the other issues you are fighting? If mother expects you to do the yard work, what else is she expecting you to do? If you have MS and she has plenty of money, you shouldn’t be taking responsibility for cleaning, cooking, laundry – actually for much caregiving at all.

This sounds like a classic case of you ‘enabling’ mother to believe that she is independent, when she isn’t. The right answer might be to put it all together, and then tell mother that you have also stopped being the ‘chore monkey’. Some time when she tries to prove how independent she is, and fails, might be the quickest way to solve a lot of current and future problems. It’s better than waiting until it would be genuinely unsafe.

Check it out with your brother – it helps a lot to present a united front. At least it’s something to think about that doesn’t involve lawyers or a fight with bureaucracy!
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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Please don’t sacrifice your own health trying to keep up her yard, or on any other household or caregiving job you’re not up for. Tell her it’s not happening by you or your sibling and then let her figure it out. She’ll either become willing to pay or it’ll become clear that she can’t handle a house and yard any longer
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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Unfortunately at this point there really is not much you can do, but let her yard go. If she has not been officially diagnosed with any kind of mental decline, depending on how your POA paperwork is worded, you may not be able to act on her behalf until she is diagnosed. That's how the majority of POA's work. So if she wants her yard to look a hot mess, well that's on her. With your health concerns, I wouldn't be doing any more than you absolutely feel you can physically handle, as it's certainly not worth risking your health over.
Perhaps in time, she will see how bad her yard looks and decide to take action. But until then, it's her house and her yard, so she can do or not do whatever she darn well pleases. Just make sure you're taking care of yourself in the meantime. Best wishes.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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Well, one option is to let it be neglected, go to hell, and let her city cite her so she is motivated. Because around here if the city intervenes, you WILL be billed. You might want to check and see if her city offers any services for seniors such as this. Sometimes you have to apply for once or twice a year yard clean ups. Your mom would push my buttons! I'd be telling her the elves don't work for nothing! I'd tell it HAS to be done and SHE is going to pay for it one way or another. HEck, you could probably report it at some point yourself and the city will send a notice....We also sometimes have some juvenile offenders who are supervised to do diversionary work (as opposed to jail/harsher sentence....maybe that exists. Good luck....
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Reply to gdaughter
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Apart from your ability or willingness to do chores for your mother, it is selfish and unreasonable of your mother to expect you or anyone to do take care of her mome maintenance for free. her choice: her responsibility.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie
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Maryjann May 21, 2021
Yes, even with dementia, they can make these choices. And she is apparently insisting she stay in a home that is too big for her.
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I did all the work here and got nothing for my time and energy. That is because mother gave money to the other family members who did nothing and there was nothing left for me.
After six years I had enough.
I just explain to her that from now on, you have the money either you pay me, pay someone else get one of your useless family members to finally contribute to the upkeep or it does not get done.
Be firm but polite and do not back down. She is your mother, she is expected to be respectful towards you.
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Reply to Christservant
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Using the POA might work fine. We never got a Dx and there's really nothing in ours that says we need medical documentation to activate it. It all depends on how it was written up.

If that handyman assistance is $100/month, she'd be getting a good deal! You probably know that. So, perhaps as someone else suggested, get some quotes from landscaping companies who do this kind of work. Once you have 2 or 3 of these, show her how much it *REALLY* costs to get this done (don't show the handyman, he might up his cost!) Once she sees it is more of a bargain, maybe, but don't hold your breath yet!

Next is to say exactly what you did here:
You're not a spring chicken.
You're not in the best of health.
You're not the right size to tackle these chores.
Your brother is 7 hours away, has his own obligations AND is NOT her chore monkey (love that expression too!)

At that point, you give her 3 options:
*She hires someone else to do this work.
*She pays the handyman.
*She lives with it all not done.

IF you find the POA allows you to pay him (perhaps best to run it by the atty who wrote it up), you could try having the handyman do the work and pay him, at least once. Perhaps if she sees he does a good job she will relent.

As for this:
"If I tell her I am paying, presumably with my own money, she will get angry and then end up paying him herself and resent me for it."

If she pays up and resents you for it, so what? The work gets done. She pays for it. YOU don't have to do it! Sounds like a winning combination to me! So she gripes moans and complains - she's probably doing that already, so go for it!
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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It's time to get together with your brother and discuss all of your mother's care needs and get a plan together that neither you nor he will continue maintaining her home and yard because she has the money to pay for it.

Being that your brother lives 7 hours away, he has an easy excuse: "Sorry, mom, I can't make the drive and have things to do around my own house." You, on the other hand, need to get comfortable with therapeutic fibs: "Sorry, mom, I'm having an MS flareup and won't be able to help you around the house. It's time we hire a service so that you don't get a violation letter from the town." If she refuses, let her yard go.

You also could stand up to your mother and say "Mom, you made me POA. If you are unhappy with my decision to hire a landscaper for you then I can't continue trying to help you. You seem more concerned about money than about my health and wellbeing."

I'm sorry that you are dealing with this. Dementia is hard whether it's diagnosed or not. Your mother's needs are only going to increase. Now, it's the yard, but as her illness progresses, it will be other things - bigger problems - that you will need to solve for her.

It's best that you start getting her used to change and home help sooner rather than later. "Mom, I'm trying to help you to continue living here. I'm doing my best to help you live independently. And if you want me to continue helping you, we will have to work together to make sure it's safe and the house is the way you like it. Do you understand?"

It may not be a bad idea for you and your brother to sit down with your mother together and explain that the both of you are on the same page and in agreement about what you each will and will not do for her going forward.
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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Your mom can't be living alone anymore. Can you talk to her primary care doctor and bring her to an appointment? Maybe she'll be agreeable seeing her regular doctor and you can get a dementia diagnoses there.
Don't kill yourself trying to be a one-person landscaping team for her. If she refuses to pay a service then leave it as it is. Explain to her that you can't do it. If it's allowed to get bad enough the city or town she lives in will get a ruling and she doesn't get it done, they will do it. Then she'll see what a real bill looks like. Sometimes, many times our senior loved ones can only get over their stubbornness by learning the hard way.
I worked for an old lady years ago who would pay for nothing and thought her son and DIL should do the work for free. The outside got so bad that the town had to come and do the work. Then the little old lady who wanted everything for free got a $10,000 bill from the city for the work that she then got 30 days to pay otherwise they'll put a lien on the property. The town got their money.
You and your brother should talk to your mom together that she now has to accept homecare help coming in. There has to be money spent to make her house safe for her to stay in. There has to be money spent to keep the outside property up too.
Otherwise her money will be spent on the nursing home you and brother put her in. That she will not be allowed to stay in her home if the place isn't safe and she isn't cared for. The state will be the one making the decisions because it will be out of her hands, yours, and your brother's.
Have a social worker explain this to her too.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver
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Beatty May 21, 2021
I had to get a social worker to explain she would be left on the floor, & if EMS unable to get in, door probably broken down by fire brigade, her home left open & door replaced at own cost. Or just left on floor, unattended.
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