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Wife and I are thinking of moving my mother out of her assisted living apartment (there was a COVID scare and there are ongoing visitation and socialization restrictions) and moving her permanently into our home. The thought of leaving her there alone and isolated does not sit well but we are also worried about negative impacts to mother and ourselves. Wife and I live alone, big house, no issues financially.


Are we crazy?

Crazy? Possibly. You need to understand what you will be taking on.

As mentioned below, she will be way more isolated in your home. As much as it seems like right now, Covid is not going to be forever.

Moving her home will be a huge change for her, and routine is so important to anyone with cognitive issues. If you do take her home and she worsens or something happens to either of you, she'd need placement again... putting her through yet another hard transition.

Right now she has her own space. If she lives with you, she doesn't have that anymore. Having a bedroom to yourself is not the same as having one's own apartment... and that can be so demoralizing. And she will fight for any bit of independence where she can, which is understandable. Doesn't want to be told to take her meds, eat lunch, or take a shower. How will you handle this?

Any schedule you currently have will be out the window. When do you plan to run errands, grocery shopping, etc? There will be no more dinners out, no more vacations. Family and friends will say to call if you need them... but most on here quickly discovered that no one wants to come help.

She may not be incontinent now, but it is not uncommon for elders to become so. How will you handle diaper changes, wetting the bed, pooping herself, wiping her?

Are you able to be up at night with her if need be? Or if she wakes you up several times at night?

If she needs aides at some point, are you okay with them (strangers) in your home?

Will her bed have safety rails? Is your bathroom equipped with handlebars for her to use the toilet? Is your tub/shower safely equipped for her? How often will you bathe her, and how will you handle it if she doesn't want a bath/shower?

Are meds (all of them, not just hers) kept in a safe place?

If you two, God forbid, get sick (not just Covid... cancer, injury, mobility problems etc), what plan do you have in place for her and yourselves?

Will you be able to keep her truly safe? Could she wander off at night? It sounds farfetched, but it isn't!

Caregiving is a job. A full time, 24/7 job. Of course you love Mom. Problem here is, caregiving isn't something you can love your way through. Think how it was to care for a baby... and you love your baby so much, but you're glad when they get a bit older, can communicate better, and don't need to have you tethered to them (and changing a diaper on a 10-lb baby is nowhere near like changing them on an adult!). In this case, she will regress from where she is now. Once you get some kind of routine nailed down, something changes and you have to start again.

I don't mean to be a downer at all. It's just sad to see SO many people here who didn't realize all the big and little things involving caregiving. No matter how much you love them, it can break you down fast.
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CopewithMother Nov 21, 2020
Thanks Loopy Loo. The reality smack is good. I appreciate all the effort you put into your response. I am going to go through your information with my wife.
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You are being naive. If you move her in with you she will dominate every thought word and action you do. Try going out on a date with your wife; “Where are you going? How long will you be gone? Who are you going to be with? Why can’t I come?” When my wife and I would sit on the porch together we would see her peeking through the blinds watching us. Not just for a second but actually watching us.

And consider that your mom is as good as she will ever be.
This won’t last and you have to consider being on call 24 x 7 for a sick old lady who is failing mentally and physically.

You have it good right now, so does she. It’s a bad move, don’t do it.
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 24, 2020
Very true! We give up all of our privacy when parents move in with us.

I felt the weight of the world off of my shoulders when I was no longer her caregiver.
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There is no perfect solution in these crazy times.

You can go crazy with worry with Mother in AL, locked up & lonely. Or you can go crazy taking care of Mother fulltime.

I suppose just choose the crazy you want? 🙃
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CopewithMother Nov 19, 2020
Yup. That about sums it up Beatty :)
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You need to think about why you didn't move her in with you to begin with because those reasons have not gone anywhere.  I know that this entire year has been hard on everyone, but you need to think about being with her and taking care of her 24/7.  Just think about that for a minute.  No privacy.  Her needs are going to have to come first because she can't take care of herself.  You can't go anywhere without planning for someone to come in and care for her.  That in itself is a challenge during covid.  Have you tried working with her facility to have scheduled face time visits on a regular basis?  There are multiple vaccines right around the corner.  My advice is to hold out for the vaccine and schedule more phone calls and face time visits.
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Yeah, probably. But only you and your wife can make such a huge decision. You say she's 'alone and isolated' in Assisted Living..........where lots of other elders live, even though they're somewhat limited right now with covid restrictions. How 'alone' and 'isolated' is she going to be in YOUR home with just you and your wife, when you're around, and will you be expected to entertain her during her waking hours? Most likely..........not to mention, being expected to provide 3 hot meals and 3 snacks a day for her as they do in her AL home. What about when she needs help showering? Who will do that, you or your wife? Laundry? What about when she wets the bed? Who will take over the incontinence care, ordering of Depends, disposable chucks to line the mattress with, taking her back & forth to the bathroom to establish toilet hygiene?

And the doctor(s) and hairdresser and all the rest of the services the AL provided her with and put on her monthly bill. Who will be in charge of that? You or your wife? At my mother's AL, the doctor comes in THERE to see HER, every Tuesday. And the podiatrist on the 3rd Thursday of every month. And the physical therapist/occupational therapist as the doctor orders it.

Who will pick your mother up when she falls? My mother has fallen over 50x in AL, and the night nurse who's a marine and 6'4" tall and 275 lbs is called in to pick her up. If she lived with me, my DH and I would have to break our backs to lift 190 lbs of dead weight off the floor. Or call 911 each time for the EMTs to come do it.

What about your mother's medications? Who will order them? Who will dispense them? How will they be delivered or will they be picked up? How will the medication changes be coordinated once the doctor(s) write the new Rx's? Who will be in charge of that aspect of her care?

Having your mother living in your den for brief periods of time is a lot different than moving her in. Things change on a DIME in advanced old age. My favorite saying is this: Everything is fine until it's not fine anymore. One day, everything is great. The next day, it's all gone to hell in a handbasket. And you and your wife will have to be there to pick up ALL the pieces, including the care and maintenance of your OWN health issues in your senior years.

My DH just had open heart surgery on Oct 30th, at 62 years old, out of the blue, on an emergency basis after angina cropped up and he started eating nitroglycerin tablets like Tic Tacs. At the same time, my doctor sent me for a CT scan for bladder cancer. My mother is 94 and lives 4 miles away in an AL, thank God, otherwise I have NO IDEA what I would have done with her while I ran myself ragged back and forth from the hospital to the doctor and back again. Then again, I'm 'lucky' enough to be an only child & have no siblings to help me out. Zip.

These stories and situations are not meant to scare you. Just to make you think about reality. It seems like a 'waste of money' for a parent to be in an ALF. Until you stop to think exactly what they're GETTING for their money in an ALF. And what YOU are giving up yourself to give TO them in exchange. When you do THAT math, their ALF rent is cheap at the price.

Think long and hard about making a decision that will likely make a HUGE change in both of your lives and in your marriage. Are you ready for it? Most aren't.
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CopewithMother Nov 21, 2020
I like your non sugar coated response Lea. All good points that I will consider. I will go through your comments with my wife. Thanks!
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No matter how well your wife and your mother have gotten along in the past, no matter how much they love each other, there will be problems and you will be in the middle. You will be most of the problems actually. Take away the component of having to physically care for your mom and just consider the emotional aspects of it. Two women who love the same man, each thinks it's her place to sit beside him at dinner, each thinks it is her place to answer him when he asks a question, each one feels they know him better, love him more etc, etc. Maybe that was just the problems I had, but it caused a great deal of stress on everyone. You will have absolutely no privacy with your wife anymore. Not even a conversation much less going out together, traveling, intimacy. Our situation was so bad that even holding hands, washing dishes, kissing him goodbye would set my mother-in-law off and she would be so angry with me. Why didn't he come tell her goodbye, why doesn't he want to sit with her at night snuggling watching tv. It just changes everything. Everything. Please have your wife think through this and the ramifications that could come with it. No situation is perfect, but it just seems that the scenarios in which mother of the husband comes to live there is most of the time conflict about the husband, which you just never think will happen UNTIL it is there everyday. There will be resentment on all sides. Wishing you the best of luck in making your decision. It's usually a heartbreaker any way you chose.
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Burnoutgirl Nov 24, 2020
Totally agree! My mother just moved in with me a few months ago and it feels like WE are an old married couple! She follows me around the house all day long. I don't have a minute to myself. We eat all our meals together, watch TV together... Don't give up her place in the AL facility!
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One word, Yes! I know Covid is making it tough on visits but trust me, you will wished you waited the Covid issue out. Once you live with a elder, especially a parent, there will be demands of your time and energy constantly. I am assuming you have a good marriage. If you want to keep it in good standing, keep mom safely where she is. Honestly, bringing her out of AL during this virus time sounds more risky to her health. I sound blunt but I'm currently dealing with burnout. Ten years and counting. I've been in this situation. All I'm saying if she is already there then she is use to her surroundings. No need to rock the boat! Then your entire life will change. Little by little and after awhile the damage is done. Can't really describe in words what this has done to me as a person, mother, woman, mate. All bad, bad things and if I ever get out of this situation and I'm not sure I'll make it out, alive anyway, no telling how much time and therapy to get my mind right. You decide but remember my warnings!!
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Oo.

"Having said that, family members may chip in and take Mom if we are on a holiday where she can not accompany us."

Don't count on it.

As *long* as you don't count on it, then if that can be worked out it will be a nice-to-have. But if this plan is only workable with that support from other family members, and then the support simply doesn't materialise, you will be heading into choppy emotional and practical waters.

You need to get hold of (or do your own) a detailed assessment of your mother's Activities of Daily Living so that you can have a good, realistic look at what work is involved in helping her to function. Sketching out a week's timetable is one approach, just for example - this will let you see where the pressure points are. You then match this up to manpower/resources, and if it works and you still want to do it, then... good!

Your wife and your mother are both fully on board with the idea, are they? Are you sure they've both been able to think it through and air any concerns?
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CopewithMother Nov 19, 2020
I agree, and not counting too much on other people is one of my life's mottos. I set my expectations low, that way there is always the possibility of being surprised. Mother has stayed with us several times, sometimes months at a time so we have a pretty good sense of where she is at. We have nursed her back to good health (UTI, pneumonia, cataract surgery) several times. I don't think she would get the same kind of care (even medical care) at the facility she is living at, especially now with COVID. A weekly timetable is a good idea. In the past it has been loosey goosey when she has stayed at our home. We are both retired so our own schedules are pretty loose. Mother is the one that wants to live here with us and wife is okay with having her here with us but we both recognize her health could deteriorate quickly.
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From your profile: "...age-related decline, diabetes, hearing loss, urinary tract infection, and vision problems." Things could go south rather quickly. How much hands-on caregiving are you willing to do?

I'm also wondering about your wife. Does she really want this?

You will probably be giving up your frequent travel. Family aren't going to be willing to stay with her. Does she ever go and stay with any of them now?

So many people on this forum regret taking their elderly parents in.
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CopewithMother Nov 19, 2020
Yes, mother regularly stays at my brothers place and is there right now for two weeks. Brother has talked it over with his wife and she is okay to fill in when we are away except in the instances where we are all away at the same time. That will be tricky, but there are two additional siblings. And this is the situation right now. The situation can change in a moments notice and we recognize that.

Mom is using meds for diabetes and we monitor her diet when she is with us. Brother does the same. She has new Costco hearing aids but isn't good with cleaning them and changing batteries and cones so we help her with that. She had a UTI in the past but that has since cleared up and no additional problems. We just went through cataract surgery on her one good eye. Finished all the eye drops now and her vision in the one good eye has improved. Her other eye has macular degeneration so not much we can do about that. At this point we are not bothered with the help she needs but share your sentiments that things could go south and that is a worry. What if we just are not able to manage anymore? That is a concern for us. I guess a lot of peoples parents reach a point in their life where they become so old and frail or demented that they have to be hospitalized but I don't think we are near there yet. I will have to look more at this forum for posts where people have expressed regret. I just arrived here yesterday so am newbee. Appreciate your thoughts and feedback.
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Crazy? No. Romanticizing caretaking a little bit? Maybe.

About 2 weeks before my mom passed, my husband had a kidney stone attack. Because we couldn't leave mom alone, he had to drive himself to the ER to get taken care of. It was horrible - I had to make a decision- take spouse (who really is my second responsibility after my kids) or take care of mom who really wasn't able to be left alone for such a long period of time. If your wife gets sick to the point where you have to take care of her, you might find yourself in the very unenviable position I was in. And I was lucky, relatively speaking, because we knew what was wrong with my husband, and what the likely treatment would be. If it had been something we weren't sure of, then I really would have been in trouble.

I bring this up for a reason. I've seen many, many discussions on this forum, especially since the pandemic started, about the debate leaving LO in a facility vs. bringing them into someone's home. I've seen discussions on keeping your LO safe, should you bring them into your home, from exposure to the illness.

However, I haven't seen anyone say "oh, and I have a concrete back-up plan should I get the virus and am too ill to take care of said LO".

My husband and I have a friend our age (his 50's) who was on a ventilator for over 60 days. Yes, I said 60 days. He was one of the lucky few who survived being on a ventilator that long. He got off it in June; it's now November, and he is not even close to 100% healthy. He can barely take care of himself, much less anyone else.

So my question to you is this: do you have anyone onboard who, should your wife and you contract this disease and mom doesn't, who can put their life on hold to jump in and take care of mom until such a time that you are well enough to take care of her again? And I'm not talking about just the time you are contagious; I'm talking until you feel well enough to take on the huge responsibility of taking care of her? This is something you need to have lined up BEFORE you bring her home - and make sure the person you recruit for this is 100% tried and true to their word!

I hope you can reach a decision that brings you peace.
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LexiPexi Nov 24, 2020
Excellent point about a back up plan.
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