What to do with a Mother who won't sell her home and expects us to take care of her?


We live two hours away and I cannot give up my job. Where to begin...my mother has been divorced since 1989 but she is obsessed with that. I love both my parents very much, but their divorce is between them and I am constantly reminded by her "what my dad did" and that I should not have anything to do with him. She lives alone in the home that my father built for them over 55 years ago. My husband and I live two hours away and I have a very good job. My husband was laid off several years ago and has not been able to find a FT job since - some contract work in the engineering field here and there.

So, she has a large ranch home with 1.5 acres and thinks at 85 she can maintain it "with some help." She is very particular and enlists the help of some of her friends - who are saints, by the way - to do this. She has alienated my brother, my husband and me with her constant lamenting of how my father left her. My brother lives on the east coast and doesn't visit much (wonder why?). So, we have tried to help my mom over the last 12 years. She does not have a mortgage but very little in savings. She went to a seminar given by a local elder attorney last night, then proceeded to tell me how scared she is because basically she would just have to sell her own home so that she could go to a "dirty old nursing home", unless "her kids would take care of her like she did her parents". (My grandparents lived a mile from my mom's house and my mom did not work - Dad did.)

What should a child do when she knows that moving her parent into her home would be the worst mistake ever? And, what options does my mother have? How can I convince her to sell her home and look for an assisted living facility? I see it all going downhill from here. She is not eating much lately and is losing some weight (she is a little heavy) and says it's from worry. I don't know what solutions to offer her but I think we are just frustrated that she did not sell the home twenty years ago and get a more manageable place to live.

We offered to help her move but she said it's just too overwhelming for her. So, she stays in her home and worries about every little thing. Visiting Angels? Forget it - she won't let Comcast in her house let alone a caregiver!

Bottom line: she CANNOT live with my husband and I. She is very difficult to get along with and thinks she never does anything wrong. She would be miserable and so would we. I do love my mom and appreciate how she raised me, but I am tired of feeling responsible for her mental health and tired of the guilt trips. She really is quite intelligent but manipulative.

So, without knowing me some of you may think I'm horrible but, believe me, I know there are others going through this! I don't want anything to happen to my mom but she is responsible for her own happiness, but I believe she thinks I am.

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We were in a similar situation back in 2013, at 79 our Mom clearly was not making good choices living in her home and we could only be there so much. I do empathize with them that losing their independence is a terrible thing and while I respect maintaining it for as long as possible sometimes you have to say enough is enough. After four hospitalizations in a one year period we finally were able to enlist the doctors help and we told her that the doctors said she can no longer live alone and if she didn't agree with having us select a place the state would get involved. This scared our Mom a little and she let us move her on the condition (her condition which we obliged) that it would be a trial only. It was a total lie on our behalf saying the state would get involved but it worked and we had her doctor's blessing to say whatever we had to and he would back us. Our Mom had a fabulous last year at an outstanding assisted living facility and to be honest, the move should have happened a few years earlier. What peace of mind we would have had as her last year living in her home was total torment for us kids who worried non stop and kept running there just to check on her. Don't get me wrong, I still would go the assisted living facility all the time to check on her but it was a different kind of check. It was quality time with my best friend as opposed to running over frantically at all hours of the night to make sure the stove wasn't left on or she didn't fall. Having those extra eyes on my mom at the assisted living was an absolute blessing and I thank God every day for that last year with her. I'm positive we wouldn't have had that extra year had she remained in her home living alone. Keep the pressure on and lie if you have to. Sometimes when our parents dont think rationally they need us to be the voice of reason.
Helpful Answer (14)

I stopped enabling and started practicing tough love with my inlaws when the falling started happening multiple times a week. My inlaws were living in a dark, depressing, cluttered home. We called a meeting for us "kids" to get on the same page. After much research we settled on a clean, bright, cheerful, and safe independent living facility and took my inlaws to see it. They liked it but came up with every excuse in the book not to move. We pressed the issue every weekend for months while the falls got more frequent and landed MIL in the ER with her head split open. One day my inlaws announced they would move in a year or so. I'm sure they thought that would shut us up and give them a year to find some more excuses to do nothing. Us "kids" told them we could not support that plan, that our schedules permitted us to help them move over the summer, and we would not enable them to just stay put and do nothing. Us "kids" told them their choices had started negatively impacting our jobs, our physical and mental health, our marriages, etc. Us "kids" agreed upon healthy boundaries and communicated them to my inlaws. They were angry. Tough because so were we. When faced with the choice between alienating their family and moving into IL, they chose to move and we spent every single weekend that summer sorting, packing, donating, etc. Since then things have gotten better in some respects - they have made friends in the building and participate in lots of activities - and other things have gotten worse - their health issues. But in IL they don't have to worry about meals, transportation, housekeeping, laundry, and the open living space and handicapped accessible bathroom has reduced the number of falls. They also have become much more pleasant people to be around. In their old place they were depressed and anyone who went over would come out depressed because it was slit-my-wrists depressing. I know it's my personality as a problem solver to see things coming down the road. I know I'm good at looking at things objectively and being very logical and not letting emotions cloud my vision. Others are more emotional. If you can't be objective with your mom then find someone who can be. I wish you lots of luck!
Helpful Answer (13)

At 85 a large home and 1.5 acres is more than she needs or can care for. Can you do some research on your own and then have a nice long visit with her and present some options for her to consider. She may be a candidate for a continuing care community and it sounds like her resources would be sufficient for that. Since it is a relatively new concept, she likely isn't familiar with it. Since they are mostly newer, they aren't at all 'dirty old nursing homes'. You can select places near where she lives or anywhere between where she is and where you live -- trust me, you will want to reduce that 2 hour trip as she ages.

Present her with options and repeat (CLEARLY) that you will make the move happen and she won't have to worry about that aspect. Then offer to take her to visit the places. If you have done your research properly, only give her a choice of 3 places.

Make sure she is told you love her but cannot take care of two homes and you want her to have fun with all of the activities and events in a senior community. I agree, don't take her into your home, especially not at this point. You would never be able to entertain her day and night and the senior communities can do exactly that. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (12)

My mom was in another state, alone since dad died in 1986, and I'm an only child. I feel your anxiety and frustration very much!!

I ended up having to just take control of things. I started by having her mail forwarded to me via the US Post Office website.

Mom's dementia was a lot farther along than anybody realized. She got a **lot** of help from my dad's brother & his wife next door. She had run off everybody else. She was alone, bored, confused, and in complete denial about the state of everything. She was also hallucinating & sundowning, frequently scared of men with red eyes outside her window 15 feet off the ground.

She will listen to my husband because he is a man, so I had him talk to her - with talking points I wrote for him. Something along the line of:

==it's time you had it easy
==wouldn't you like to have more fun
==we know you are often scared and we can change that.
==it's time you let us take care of you (Mom ate this up! A dream come true!)

Us "taking care of her" involved acquiring a senior apartment in a continuum care facility (using her money not ours). We moved her up with us, and installed her in that apartment. Her choice was apartment A or B. Not if it was going to happen. Not "do you want to do this or that". What she wanted - to stay put - would have been far too dangerous.

6 months after that, she was wait-listed for the assisted living unit. She fell, and had a 5 day hospital stay. She went into the nursing care wing after that. Fast forward 6 months, she had a psychotic episode and was hospitalized again for 5 days. When she came out of that, she went into the secure dementia unit, and that is where she is now, but in hospice care there.

There comes a time where mom & dad aren't safe (mentally or physically) on their own and somebody has to take charge and intervene. What you do & how you go about it will be unique to your situation, but this site will be a never ending source of information and support for you, no matter what you choose.
Helpful Answer (10)

You are not horrible. You are also not responsible for your mom - she is. She sounds competent enough to make decisions - and she is making them. You don't agree with the decisions but they are hers to make. You do not need to take her in your home. Make that clear to her. As far as helping - I'm sure you are willing to do some things - just not the entire list she would give you. Decide what you will do, will not do, and communicate that to her. Remember - you can be loving and be there for her and guide her to assisted living, or services that you cannot or are not willing to provide but you can't make her do them. Likewise, she cannot make you do anything you are not willing to do. It is hard establishing boundaries and it sounds like you need to - she will steamroll over you if you let her. My parents divorced in 1991 and my mom constantly re hases it and blows a gasket whenever I see my dad. I refuse to engage in the conversation - if by phone "I love you mom, but we are not talking about this. Good bye" or if in person, same thing and I leave. Over time she has learned to hold her tongue around me if she wants to see me. You don't have to put up with it, you can lovingly make clear you won't. When you are calm, sit down and do some thinking. what does your mom want? what are you willing/ not willing to do? What services are there for her? Good luck and let us know how you are doing.
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When your mom mentions how she cared for her parents, think about what that actually entailed. In my family, it meant some transportation to appointments and the grocery store, nightly phone calls to check on them. The elders in my family were ambulatory, able to do things with friends and passed away suddenly before age 82. My grandparents all passed by the time my folks were 60. So when my mom tells me how our family always cared for the parents themselves, at home, I remind myself we're not talking about senior aged children caring for wheelchair bound parents who need 24/7 care.
Helpful Answer (9)

This reminds me of my cousin [single child] and how he was helping out not only his mother [in her 90's] but also his mother-in-law [also in their 90's] and neither lady would budge from their own single family homes, nor allow outside help to come in.

So what did my cousin do, he decide it was time for him and his wife to sell their own single family home and move into a 55+ retirement complex... there just was no way being in his 70's that he could continue mowing THREE large yards and maintaining three large houses. The Moms just wouldn't listen.

How fair was that? His Mom and Mom-in-law got to enjoy their own homes for decades and decades, yet he had to sell his own dream house that he and his wife had worked and saved for for 40 years.
Helpful Answer (9)

It seems like parents who have the view that they 'don't want to put their children through hard times unnecessarily' are ones who make plans, accept moving gracefully when it has to happen, and are generally nice people who do not want to exploit their own children's lives and do not expect that to happen or want it to happen. Its seems like the ones who demand service on end and refuse to make a move or any other change, are generally not very nice people. They are often not moved by how things affect their children, and believe it is due to them. It also seems that they don't change from these positions as they get older, so self-oriented people don't become nice considerate people through talking or counseling. This fact that the elderly don't change their way of treating their children is in the 'accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference' category. So you have to practice choosing how to interact with them, and do the best you can on finding boundaries and goals for yourself while in the relationship, and steer away from letting the elderly person define all those boundaries and goals. Some old folks would be quite content to consume their children in order to meet their own needs as they define them.
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You may wind up like many others on here and just have to accept the status quo with your mom until there's an emergency situation that forces the issue. Usually that's a fall or a serious illness like a stroke that hospitalizes the parent and then they're not able to go back home alone and placement into some sort of assisted environment is required.

Then you'll be scrambling to sell her place to pay for her placement. That's how it winds up with a lot of folks on these boards. With your mom's personality, that may be the best you can hope for, since she's not willing to consider anything else at this point. Just stay strong on her not moving in with you!! Hugs...this isn't easy!
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Repeat daily, and sometimes much more than daily. All else can follow after that. This is very common that the parent who needs caregiving loses the ability to have perspective at the same time. Get that durable POA (for the 'in case something happens' ) and wait.
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