I have a sudden dilemma. We had a family meeting this past weekend regarding my mom's finances. She is 90 and in assisted living. We put her there after she was in the hospital on and off for a month last summer. The outcome of the meeting is that we would have to sell her house so she can remain there. This isn't bad but as you will see below she could outlive her funds.
Mom's history is: She has had two heart attacks and now has congestive heart failure; she broke a hip; had a couple of little strokes; and a stomach bleed requiring transfusions. She has been diagnosed with moderate dementia and can't bathe or dress herself without help. She also wears hearing aids and has macular degeneration so she is trying to function with a great deal of sensory deprivation (even with her hearing aids she doesn't hear well.)
My dilemmas are many but the major one is should she stay there or come to live with me? Here is a snapshot of the family dynamic:
1. When I go to visit her twice a week I always feel so guilty leaving her there. She looks so sad when I leave and always says at some point during our visit that, "This is a nice place but it's not family." I'm beginning to dread these visits because I leave feeling like I'm abandoning her.
2. There are four of us "children" but three of us work. None of them can take mom to live with them and since I am a retired widow it follows that it would make sense for her to come live with me.
3. After our family meeting I got the impression that my siblings were mildly disappointed that I didn't volunteer on the spot to move her here. I have actually tried this three times and couldn't handle it alone. The physical care was doable but I know if I moved her here I would need agency help to do this long term. I also didn't sleep well because I felt the need to keep checking on her all night to make sure she hadn't fallen. She sometimes has difficulty standing until she gets her balance. If I moved her here her money would go further but the bulk of her 24/7 care would be mine alone. Her mother lived to be 94 so even with mom's physical problems she could live many more years.
4. One concern about moving her is that when she comes here she doesn't want to do much. I purchased a transport chair so that I could take her out but she either says she doesn't want to go or she goes and wants to get right back. I understand this because she tires easily even sitting in the chair. On short visits this isn't an issue but if she were here permanently it would become an issue.
5. A BIG concern, and probably the most wearing thing about her, is her personality. She always sees the glass as half empty and what she likes to do most is to sit at the kitchen table and talk about negative things. She repeats stories of old hurts, family tragedies, daddy's death and "how he left her," current frustrations, issues with my siblings, etc. When I try to change the subject it only works for a little while and then it's right back to the negative. I accept that this is who she is now but it doesn't make it any easier to be around her for very long.
I must confess that I feel like a prisoner when she comes. The longest I've had her was for a week and a half and by the end of that time I found myself on edge, depressed and drained. I say with much shame that I couldn't wait to take her back.
6. Lastly, I've been told by professionals and those who have tried to care for a parent in this condition to leave her where she is because CHF and dementia are progressive diseases. On one hand I know this is good advice but on the other hand I just can't shake the feeling that I might be making a mistake that I will later regret.
My question to the group is this. Am I being selfish or doing the right thing for both of us by having mom remain in assisted living?
As always, thanks for being my sounding board.