Should I move to where my mother lives?


I go to see her every every year, and if she has a surgery I go then to until she can get around on her own. Her health was bad last year but she has pulled out of it, drives, grocery shopes, etc. The problem is she can't take care of her house and yard. My nephew lives in her basement. He helps some (he works full time) and even though her yard looks good, it is never good enough, her house is in bad shape in need of updating and repairs. She wants family to take her to doctors' appointments, but I have set services up for her and she didn't like them. Sometimes in the winter she takes the Senior bus. But pressure is constant for me to move there including manipulation saying she is dying (I stay in touch with her doctors - not dying.) My health is bad, I've had two bouts of anemia this year, a back surgery, cellluliltis, and a special needs grandson. My kids and grandkids are living in the area where I live. I've offered to sell her house, build on the back of ours so she can have privacy, I can drive her to doctors, she can keep her dogs, I can make her bed, etc., but she doesn't like my husband. Or hurricanes. We have had four of those in the 20 plus years we have lived here. She has to cope with 70mph winds, snow, ice, and winter for 9 months of the year. She also has been a very negative angry person, and not available as a parent much, and then often inappropriately, when we were children. I have been looking at independent living lately down here, but I mentioned it once and she went ballistic. However I feel if I am prepared, next time I go out I can present her with some more options. I mentioned it before and of course she became very angry and started changing will, etc. around. I don't care about what little resources she has, I just care that she is comfortable and reasonably taken care of with her health needs. I have a sister who is still working, but she is ill too. We both have autoimmune diseases in addition to the issues I mentioned I've been dealing with. We are stumped, I've been advised by a friend to get very proactive, get the DPOA recorded and just do what we feel is best for her. She is not always making the best choices and when I visit I notice she is falling asleep with pots of rice for her dogs boiling on the stove. She told me she started a fire in the microwave. She doesn't hear well, she claims to be dying but the doctors say, while her situation not dire, she is by no means imminently in danger of dying for her conditions if she is medically compliant. I am not sure she is. She often gets prescriptions, looks up side effects and will not take them. But my moving there to "take care of her" would not change that. Being almost 70 myself, I realize that aging in not easy for anyone, but I know I must care for myself too, or I could die before her! I could just cry when I see this in writing, as both my sister, who has also made offers of arrangements for her, who lives on the other side of the U.S., is as stumped as I am. So right now we are sitting around waiting for a crises which one or the other of us may or may not be able to respond to. The nephew is sort of an "eternal" child to her, I'm not sure how able he is to handle an emergency. They did ok with the one last year when I had pneumonia and could not get out there. He will not discuss any of this with my sister or me. She has always been emotionally up and down to extremes, which has not changed, except the downs seem more severe and more often than the ups. She thinks I should be healed up from back surgery and even though the cellulitis is still there, should be able to hop a plane now before winter. I'm not healing fast enough, I admit, but that is out of control as I'm doing what the doctors say to do, except my insurance does not want to cover my physical therapy.

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You can't physically take care of your mother. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty (especially yourself). I'd follow your friend's advice and do what is best for your mom, which does mean attention and care. You may want to try an assisted living facility, but she needs an evaluation to see if she should be in a memory center. Your nephew is obviously not going to do what needs to be done. Someone must watch after her health, but you can't do it physically. Can your sister and you do this together (the legal part)? As to who she should live near, I guess you'll have to see where there's a facility that works for her and go with that.
This is a tough situation, with you and your sister both ill. But you mom does need help - just not the kind she insists on. You may want to contact the National Family Caregivers Support Program in one of your states. They have a lot of advice and resources. Good luck,
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I can only underscore what Carol has written. My mother is 100 now and I am 75 with my own health issues, though not as bad as yours. I have a sister who is relatively healthy, but not helpful, so 15 yrs ago mother moved to be closer to me and my family. However, she is still 5 hrs drive away - her choice. As she aged, she expected me to leave my life here - sig other, children, grandchildren, and move to her city, and be her companion, and look after her. I made it clear that I would not do that. I suffer PTSD from childhood experiences with her. She was a difficult mother - emotionally abusive and has a personality disorder finally diagnosed a few years ago. It does sound like your mother has mental health problems. We hired a live in 24/7 senior nanny, and she quit after 8 months. She couldn't take the abuse. I refused to take mother into my home, and she moved into an ALF. There were problems there, and she moved to another ALF. As I looked after the moves, and had health repercussions from them, I told her I would not move her again, and that if she couldn't manage there, the next move was a nursing home. She complains a lot but she has managed.
The biggest problem that I see for you is that your mother is refusing treaments, and is not interested in any of the options you have presented to her. There are others on this site with the same problem. My understanding is, and Carol, please correct me if I am wrong, that even with POA you cannot force someone to do that which is in their best interests e.g. take medical treatment, or move into an ALF or an NH, unless they have been declared legally incompetent. If she is on her "right mind" - competent - she can make her own decisions. Often the result of this is that a crisis has to occur which forces the situation by convincing her she needs to move, and until then the family is left knowing that their loved one is not safe, nor being well looked after, yet helpless to make change. First of all look after your own health, and draw the limits you need to for that. It is a very difficult situation - my heart goes out to your and your sister. Perhaps someone from social services of the agency on aging in your mum's area could speak with her with more success. Let us know what happens. ((((((((hugs)))))) Joan
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Do not consider moving!

It would be good if either you or your sister had DPOA, but even with that unless your mother is incompetent you may not be able to make her move into an appropriate setting. If she is legally competent she is allowed to make her own decisions, even if they are very bad decisions.

Unfortunately it may take a crisis to force the issue. If one of you has DPOA at that point you may be able to take some actions.

You sound very caring and very smart. Continue to look after your own health.
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