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First, I am so thankful to have found this forum. It has been so helpful just over the last few days. Even still, I have been struggling with caregiving in my mid-thirties. Mom is 78, has fallen a few times and has had some form of disability since the late 1980s. Issues range from post car accident back injury to nerve damage from a fall about three years ago.


Because mom has experienced challenges all thirty plus years of my life, I have been helping out (as an only child/no other in home support) for a while. Not an issue, but taking care of mom has always been the reality.


Before this last fall, she would work through physical therapy and emerge 90 percent or so well. She might have back pain or leg pain here and there, but was able to get around.


Because of this, I took more of a backseat trusting that she would get better. Three years later, she has gotten somewhat better physically, drives, gets around, but is more combative and uncooperative. Using a walker and/or cane to aid with walking, she will complain about physical therapy, tell the therapist what she will and will not do (even if the exercises are to increase mobility), has singled out and essentially ran a therapist off the job (out of that location anyway) and at times has become verbally abusive - demeaning even to people helping her at the grocery store.


Just the other day she refused to allow me to go in the grocery store and get what she wanted, ordered an electric cart and told the young man bringing the cart to her that he was weak.


Mom can also be very charming in public, but flip to nasty in a second. She is helpful to people. People love her, but she also has a history of "helpers" who assist with the yard or taking her places, but things turn sour after a few weeks/months.


I love and want the best for my mother, live about 7 hours away by drive (1hr or so by plane) and have been going back and forth for three years. Mainly due to employment opportunities being better in a metro city versus the smaller town she lives in. Even though I factored these things in, I blow through PTO, personal days, sick days, leaves of absence etc like water. I would say 90 percent of time taken off goes to her. Each visit consists of a medical appointment, maintenance of the house, car, cleaning, vet visits for the dog etc, but they are limited because of work. Gladly being done, but crammed into the amount of time that can be taken off.


Because I took more of a seat over the last three years, not taking complete control over everything, I feel guilty. Guilty for living my life, taking that job, traveling etc... even though I travel to her monthly or at an interval of every 4-6 weeks. When not with her, I worry and sometimes pace thinking about what she is doing or what I need to do next? At the same time, maintaining some space gives her room to be independent (which she wants) and gives me room to recharge and go back.


I have brought up her moving closer to me, downsizing to a smaller home/townhouse (refused, I'm not moving!) and taken her to look at houses, but she is insistent on not budging.


Today I am struggling with whether I should move in with mom, move nearby (within 30 minutes drive) or keep communiting between cities until that no longer "works"? Should I move? Is now the right time to move or should I wait? If I move will she improve enough to where she doesn't use the walker or cane? Will a constant presence make her push to get better and accept additional treatment? Am I being selfish? Will she maybe consider making adjustments for the future or is this wishful thinking? Something has to be done, but is moving in the right thing to do?


Thank you in advance.

I would not move; in with your mom or to her town. It's not selfish, either, it's called You Live YOUR Life & She Lives Her Life. If you think she's difficult now, she's only going to get MORE difficult as time goes on. Just read the boards here and you will see what I mean. Bad behavior never improves, neither does nasty talk to others, demeaning them or running people off; it only worsens. Trust me on that.

You need a plan. Your mother is a person who is GOING to need a lot more care as she ages. She has proven that to you over time, and you have rushed to her side for your entire life. What happens when she needs more help than you can give her? You quit your job to be her full time care giver, moving in with her to take the abuse yourself, and give up your life entirely in the process? You have to think about this NOW!

A better alternative is to plan to get your mother into either Independent Living or Assisted Living down the road apiece. Preferably, you can find her a place that has a continuum of care; she can start out in Independent Living (maybe) and move into Assisted Living when the need arises. You can arrange for the sale of her house to finance her new living arrangements. The key to this whole thing will be that you tell her you are NOT going to move in with her to be her full time care giver. Unless you truly want to do that. If not, this plan is your best bet.

I am an only child who grew up with my grandmother living in our house. It wasn't a good scene, to say the least. I vowed to never take in an elder, or to move into their home, and I made that fact known to my parents long ago. When my mother 'jokingly' (not) said for the cost of Assisted Living, they'd move in with ME and pay ME rent, I gave that idea two thumbs down immediately and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that I love you mom & dad, but we won't be living together again. No shame or harm in that, either. It's just called me recognizing my limitations and drawing my boundaries.

I had my parents placed in Assisted Living in 2014 after they lived in an Independent Living apartment for 3 years (they moved to CO to be closer to me after dad stopped driving.) I had no other choice, really, b/c the Rehab would not release dad back to living independently. It was a crisis situation we found ourselves in, so the choice was made FOR us. Dad passed in 2015 and my nearly 94 y/o mother is still in the same AL, but in the Memory Care bldg now. She has her life, I have mine. I still do a ton for her, it's just from my own home.

If you move in with your mother, you give up YOUR life in the process. If that's okay with you, then go for it. But I've been around this forum for about 6 years now, and I can tell you that it rarely works out. It does sometimes.......in rare cases where the elder is sweet and loving and not a burden. And even THEN it's tricky. The best thing is to keep your mom living independently as long as possible, and then segue into managed care when the time is right. The key is that she has GOT to know beforehand that it's not going to be an option to live with you.

Wishing you the best of luck making a difficult decision.
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nextcare2 Dec 11, 2020
Lealonnie1 thank you so much for sharing. I greatly appreciate everything you said and the experience/advice shared. This a lot, but I have sat down with her and have gone through some difficult conversation. That really helped and I am clearer now on where her mindset is. Stunned to say the least, but a plan is in progress. Difficult, but working through it. Thank you again.
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nextcare, it sounds like your Mom isn't a happy camper when it comes to aging, so she is taking it out on people.

And she has a right to be grumpy. No longer can she just hop into her car to visit friends.... usually those friends might have moved or passed on. As you mentioned she has her fair share of aches and pains. As we age, food doesn't taste as good as it use to..... our hearing is starting to fade.... we can't read the small print on anything. Taking a bath/shower is like going to the gym, exhausting afterwards.

My sig-other and I are in our mid-70's but we try to find humor in things we can't do. But not everyone has that funny gene.

When my Dad got tired of his house and the cost of caregivers helping him, he was delighted to find how nice it was living in an Independent Living facility. He enjoyed his 2 bedroom apartment. He felt so good being around people of his own generation. He said he felt like a King being he had weekly housekeeping and weekly linen service, plus menu meals in the restaurant style dining room. It was well worth the cost :) Then later he moved within the facility to assisted living/memory care. It worked out beautifully.

Back when both my parents [in their 90's] needed more help, my Dad wanted me to resign from my career to give me more time. I asked Dad if he resigned from his job to move out to be with his parents or my Mom's parents. I knew he would say "no", and he understood, never to ask me again. I was their only child.

I just couldn't leave a career that I had worked so hard to create, breaking that glass ceiling. I would not only give up a salary, but matching 401(k), company paid health insurance, company paid life insurance, paid sick and vacation leave, and with some companies stock bonuses, etc.

There's a lot to think about.
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Reply to freqflyer
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If you move in with her, she isn't going to improve. You might see it as helping her learn to walk without a walker. She might see as being told what to do, and won't try to get better, even though getting better will help her be more independent.
The elderly feel frustrated with their limitations, and so they act out and rebel. Plus, if you are with her, she might make you do more than needed. "Can you get me that thing over there", instead of doing it herself.
She will become more dependent on you.
If you want to live close by, that might work. But I don't think moving in will improve things much, and will probably aggravate things.

Maybe she can get an alert device, so you have more peace of mind.
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Reply to Lvnsm1826
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You’ve been wonderful to your mother. But this isn’t sustainable, you’ll put your employment in jeopardy trying to keep this up, and eventually your health. Not all of your time off should be going to help your mom. There are valid reasons the others helping her eventually back away. It’s likely that “happy” is over for your mom, that’s sad, but it’s not on you to attempt to fix, and it won’t work anyway. Mom needs to see her need for help from sources other than you, and she won’t see it if you keep running for each need that arises. She definitely needs to adjust for the future and you most certainly aren’t selfish
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Another vote for "no: do not move there" and "no: do not move in with her". I'm also an only child to a single parent who basically followed me around where ever I moved. Your mother is a grown adult who had her entire life to ponder how she would plan and manage her senior years and exit. She should not have "assumed" you into being her plan. I hope at this point you are not codependent. I'm also hoping she made you her durable PoA. If not, and she won't do this, then you definitely will need to just let go of caring for her. You don't have to let go of caring about her. But you can only do what is do-able. She sounds like she's already in cognitive decline. I would have a gentle, but honest conversation with her about what she plans on doing as things become more difficult for her. Make sure she understands that you are not the plan. I wish you courage, wisdom and peace in your heart as you work through this.
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lealonnie1 Nov 28, 2020
Ah, the running joke in my extended family was.......'where are you going to move next, Sweden?' My folks followed me all around the country; wherever I moved, they moved. My mother is now just under 94 and still living 4 miles away from me, her only child. It's a lot; but at least I never had her living WITH me, thankfully.
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Stay where you are and do not have her live with you. You need your home and safe space for respite. No hasty decisions until you learn more, find out options and then go from there. She will blow up. Sounds like she’s blowing up on everyone. I’ve found the Alzheimer’s Association incredibly helpful—open 24/7. The masters level clinician helped me create an action plan—what to do first. Then later helping me process what’s going on and how I’m feeling/dealing with it. It doesn’t seem like she is of sound mind. Getting a diagnosis will help too. Don’t go alone on this journey. Power of attorney or guardianship may be necessary sooner than later. An elder care attorney can be of enormous help. When these crises occur it can be easy to default to think only of the person but not yourself. But if you don’t take care of yourself your ability to help her will be diminished.
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I have read 10 answers here that all say essentially, don't give up your job (career) for your mother; don't move in with her or near her. I couldn't agree more. You need to have your own life. That said, I agree that your mother's bad behaviors may be signs of dementia or may be signs of a personality disorder/mental illness that's been more manageable as long as she had more independence. You need to arrange for her to see her family physician and discuss with him/her referral to neurologist or psychiatrist, or both. Her behavior is not "normal" and not going to improve without help. Meanwhile, by all means, get your own support -- counseling, social worker from Alzheimer's association, etc., -- to help you become clear with your desire not to move to Mom's and to be appropriately assertive with her about her need for care or help. I'm also an only child and a geriatric social worker, so I know this scene where we feel we have to do more because we're the only one. It's best to work with a professional (or two) to get Mom the assessments and help she needs and not put up with her calling the shots. In the time while your mother continues to live on her own at her home, she needs to have some services set up - other than the medical evaluations I suggested, I would recommend working with a geriatric care manager to assess her home environment and help you decide which services would be most needed and helpful. Good luck!!
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Firstly, it is not selfish to want a life of your own. It is the natural progression to adulthood.

In my case, it was self-survival to step back. As advised by my Doctor (& many others). My relative had became increasingly dependant. Just shedding more & more of her responsibilities & abilities if I was in sight (could do when alone).

Secondary, the refusal to accept help, downsize - be realistic about the future. The step from *independent* to *semi-dependant* is hard for many to accept. (Watch that step - it's a doosie!)

Some will graciously accept & arrange in-home help, cleaning, deliveries & catch taxis. *Aging in place - with village helpers*

Or move into IL or AL *Aging in a village*.

Some will insist only family can help, be at their beck & call. *Aging in Place - like a tyrant*.

Some stay in denial & the family must wait for a crises to obtain actual change. *The Right to Rot* my Doctor called it.

The advice I was given was to ask "what are your future plans when you need more help". That it takes usually SIX times to keep asking before the topic is even on the table. Then you can discuss.

(Btw, I have one Graceful, one tyrrant & one rotting).
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NeedHelpWithMom Dec 3, 2020
Right to rot! How accurate! Great response.
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2 questions may help you decide on your next steps with your mom.

1 - Is she safe in her current living situation without your visits?
If mom truly needs you to visit more often to manage her care...
If mom's home is dangerous for her to navigate (risk of more falls)...
If mom takes risks that may harm herself or others....
If mom does not have friends or family members (other than you) that check up on her frequently (almost every day)...
If any of these are a resounding "YES!!!!", then mom cannot live in her home alone anymore.

2 - Is she healthy in her current living situation without your visits?
Would mom call 911 if she had a medical emergency...
Would your mom call her doctor about increased symptoms or ailments...
Would your mom set up her own medications and take them as prescribed...
Would your mom comply with treatments for her increased help without your prompting...
If any of these are a resounding "NO!!!", then mom cannot live in her home alone anymore.

If she can not live alone anymore, your options are:
1 - Move her in or near you.... will be a hassle to do but the cheapest option
2 - Hire home health aides through an agency to manage her care on a daily basis... more expensive than first option but she has reliable eyes on her and care.
3 - Move move into assisted living and eventually long term care facility... most expensive option but she won't burn out any one caregiver with her negative behavior.

I would suggest on your next visit you have her doctor check for dementia as well as mental health issues (either or both may be the reason for her negative behavior). You should not give up a rewarding career or move to "please" your mother. People who need help should move closer to the helper.
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NO. NO. NO. Think of your worst days now and multiply that by 365. This will be your life in no time. If your mother cannot manage on her own, hire someone to help out. If that doesn’t work, look for independent living, assisted living or whatever level of care she needs.
You are young and entitled to live your life.
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