My sisters think assisted living is a death sentence. We all live over 500 miles away. Cousins provide some care with driving and trips to the doctor. They are starting to think that we are irresponsible. She lives in rural northern Michigan. Mother will not wear a life alert device. She cannot hear if her cell phone rings. My friends tell me that I need to take control and move her (we have no idea of her financial status - her choice - but know she doesn't have a lot of money) My sisters think we need to let her decide how to live. I'm the oldest and a problem solver. Sisters think that is a negative thing. I'm so conflicted. In addition - mother has always been self-absorbed, so the bond is not real. She persists in thinking that we are the children and she is the mother. I know that is not unusual, but so difficult. I'm 75 - our only child died in a car accident right after he graduated from high school, so I tend to view things through the lens of someone who knows that I need to plan how to deal with my own aging and cannot spend money on my mother's inability to plan - then I feel selfish. ARRGGG

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I'm so sorry for the situation you're in---

BUT--it sounds like you should leave well enough alone. Mom is 97? She doesn't have 5 years and certainly not 10.

She's going to either have something catastrophic happen to her, living alone like that, or she's going to die in her sleep. Can you live with that? I could. Sounds like your sisters agree.

People have a right to live as they choose--and your mom is doing that. Honestly, do you WANT to insert yourself into this situation at this point in the game? Just b/c you're oldest doesn't mean anything. Your youngest sister is as responsible as you are...if you want to label it.

Go see your mom, just for the sake of a visit. You should NOT be spending your own money on mom's needs. If she's lived to 97 in what can be considered Independent Living--then I'd let her go on.

Maybe have neighbors check in on her a couple times a week and report to you, but really? If you don't have a relationship with her now, it's kind of too late.

You have absolutely NOTHING about which to feel selfish. Let the cousins know you appreciate their help and let them know you are simply letting your mom have her life her way.

And actually, you ARE the children and she IS the mother. There's a certain measure of respect inherent in that dynamic--whether you are close or not.
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withoutanswers May 2021
Thank you and while your answer is the one that is true, there is a point in life where parent and child are two adults. They are not, as in my mother's mind, grown up and child. Can't change that now, but it is frustrating when any help I suggest is met with ' I will know when it's time'. No, she isn't incompetent. But she does have memory issues, is basically immobile, and can't hear.
Unless your mom is deemed mentally incompetent or a danger to herself or others, no one can "make her" do anything.

If folks think you should take over, explain that to them and give them the number for mom's local Adult Protective Services office so that someone with official standing can explain it to them.

Do NOT spend your own money trying to solve this.
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Assisted Living is the opposite of a death sentence... it has extended my mother's life to the point where she says she wants to die daily due to pain and exhaustion at 94+.

I honestly don't see how your 97 year old mother is safe living alone in a home on 20 acres, being deaf and unable to walk, with her children being 500 miles away! How can she even function? Your cousins have been saddled with driving her to the doctor and some other care, so I can see why they think you're being irresponsible. If they weren't doing this for your mother, then what?

At 97, your mother needs help. If she won't move into Assisted Living and you children are 500 miles away, rather than leave the care up to your cousin's, hire in home caregivers to come in daily to cook, clean, drive, do errands and insure your mother is looked after properly, even if she balks about it. What happens when she falls and isn't found for days??? Daily in home caregivers prevents that scenario from happening. Just her being deaf is a huge danger!

She needs and deserves some level of daily care and attention at 97. You should not be paying for it, either, your mother should. If that's an issue, apply for Medicaid to help.

Good luck
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withoutanswers May 2021
I agree with everything you have said. My mother refuses to pay for daily home care. She does have the money. She claims that if she falls and isn't found that is her problem. Thank you for your answer. I think I was simply venting as it seems to be a no win situation. Explaining to cousins as someone suggested is the best solution and then letting go
The usual aging process is something like;
Independence, Semi-Dependant, Crises until the final Demise.

It seems to me that inbetween stage of Semi-Dependant is what wears out the helpers, whether they be caring neighbours, friends or nearby relatives - in this case, the local cousins. IMHO this is your Mother's current stage 'Semi-Dependant'.
A *Slippery Slope*.

The cousins stepped in to help it now find themselves sliding down this slippery slope doing more & more & turning their frustrations & resentment your way. Right?

This was a gift your cousin's gave. It was admirable of them & you can thank them. If they can no longer keep up their gift, wish to reduce or withdraw their help, they should directly tell your Mother. The responsibility is actually hers to find replacements. Before you laugh outright... they should at least try this.

What's Mother's reaction? Does she have insight?

Yes? She may call you to arrange alternative assistance, discuss her future living arrangements (even to discuss the hated AL option).

No? Do they get a wall of "I'll manage, I'll be fine, don't you worry about me.." A wall of denial, lack of insight, lack of reason, lack of problem solving all adding up to what looks like stubbornness but could be cognitive decline.

Going forward & keeping good relationships with the cousins would be my goal. You can't just march in, take over & move Mother to an AL setting. They just may not get this, even if explained. Be best if you can all work, if possible though.

What they CAN do, since they take her to the Doctor already is report your Mother's situation to her Doctor asap - "we are concerned...".

Sometimes... when the Doctor says "It's time to move" they actually do.
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withoutanswers May 2021
You have the situation described perfectly. The doctor is of little help. Going forward and talking to the cousins is probably the only answer. Thank you. Mother always responds that she knows people her age (about 10 years younger) who live alone and are fine (they can walk and have sons or daughters very close) Thank you for your response.
If your mother is of sound mind then you have absolutely no power in this, so that should make it much easier to "let go of". She has had a good long life. She may be nearing the end of her life. If she would prefer that to be in her own home, and is of sound enough mind to make that choice then I would let this go and let her make her own decision for her own life.
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Your mother needs to put in the appropriate facility, where she can live out her days receiving the care she deserves. She cannot have any quality of life at this point, if she's in her home unable to walk, and her only children are over 500 miles away. Who is helping her bathe, get and cook her food, etc.? She is not your cousins responsibility, and she is not safe in her home. And your sister is ignorant if she believes an Assisted Living facility is a death sentence. The way your mom is living now is a death sentence.
If mom doesn't have the money, you can apply for Medicaid for her. You don't ever spend your own money for her care. Your money is for you and your husband.
You don't mention if you or your sister have any of the necessary POA's for your mom, but I'm guessing you don't. Without them your hands are probably tied, sadly, and you might have to wait for a crisis, before anything can be done. And don't worry, a crisis will come and that will be your opportunity to get her placed.
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MargaretMcKen May 2021
The way we are all living ends in a death sentence. Some of us want (and have always wanted) to make our own choices about it.
Ask her County Office of Aging if they can evaluate her situation. This will give you a better idea of how to handle things.

Maybe time to sell some of that land for her care. You are not being selfish. You have your own future to consider. Do not spend ur own money not even thinking u will recoup it in the end.
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A week or two ago I read a short story about two boys who got on well with a feisty old woman who lived near them, just outside a small country town. She told them that she had always loved starry frosty nights. Eventually she was found dead in the morning on the ground, after walking out on her own on a starry frosty night, to look at the stars. Perhaps it was her choice of how to go. It could be as ‘good’ as going in your sleep. It sounds as though your mother is well aware of what may happen to her, and accepts it in just this way.
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You've probably noticed by now that there isn't a right answer and it's hard.

They don't think about what happens if they get hurt and how they are going to be cared for. The biggest risk isn't dying, dying is kind of easy logistically, breaking a hip can ruin years and not just their years, yours too if you have to care for them. As someone I know put it, "he was climbing the ladder to fix something, didn't want to be a burden, well, he's a $%^@# burden now isn't he."

At the same time, do you really want to lock someone up in a home for years too? Isn't that kind of like breaking their hip for them?

Me, I just try to take pieces out of the equation. I have most of my father's finances, except for his investments, mail, and I work on little things where I can. I got a handyman to install some stuff, got him a new oven, etc.

The other day I noticed his electrical outlets were a mess, looked like a Jenga game with all the bricks on them. So I ordered him some surge protectors, threw a couple of things away. You'd have thought I was tearing down a wall with all the grumbling and griping he did but it was a mess, unsafe, and easy to fix, so I did it. It helped when he stepped on one of the power cables and pulled it from the wall before I got to it.

Look, it's messy, you don't want to 100% protect them, you don't want the consequences for them, or you, if they don't. All you can do is the best you can do. It'll be good enough.
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So sorry you are going through this. My Dad 88 yo lived alone in a 3-story house until health and falls landed him in hospitals and rehabs (multiple ones. My Dad still likes to be in control. We manage by the following:
1. Tell him anything I suggest is in his best interest and out of love

2. We give him choices with the pluses to each choice and negatives where needed(in your case…..maybe AL near her home or near the home of one of the children)

AL has been a good choice for Dad as they take the residents out to stores, doctors, etc. He has met people he knows and new friends that are residents. He has friends and family visit him and goes out to his church when he wants. His personal care (ie hygiene and clothes) is better too.

In home care was a concern for us if someone were to call out and if I am out of town (I travel a lot for work) then what? He got it and understood after multiple discussions.

She needs to understand that cousins love her but are unable to manage her care any longer.

I would suggest having a cousin take her to see a few places if possible. Maybe try a few nights of respite care at one of the finalist locations.

Sisters need to understand it depends on the AL the care given. Some we saw I would not let them care for a pet.

Best wishes.
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withoutanswers May 2021
Thank you for your thoughtful answer. My one sister and I did take her to a few places. She liked the one she could never afford. My sister said it was too depressing. It was lovely, but, of course not a single family house. Ha. We have suggested that everything is done out of love - mother simply says that SHE will know when it is time to move and we need to let her decide. When we say what if you fall and have to lie there for days - her response is 'that could happen to anyone'. I really feel that I just need to let go. I think I just posted this question in frustration. Sending care for you.
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