For the past five years, I have been the primary go-to person when it comes to caring for my elderly mother. My mother's health has been poor for years, can no longer drive, uses a walker, and is on oxygen 24/7. Mom insists on staying in her home alone and there are very few caregiver options where she lives. Of her grown children, I end up being the one she calls on the most.

My Mom is of a generation that believes it is the oldest daughter's (me) responsibility to take care of elderly parents. My job is very demanding and requires that I travel a good bit. Mom usually wants to fill up any spare time I have by doing tasks for her. I have had multiple conversations with Mom about boundaries, and she has become better about respecting them. However, when she is in dire need of something she insists I drop whatever I'm doing and help her, even if I'm at work.

I have been putting off improving my job situation due to my obligations to my Mom. However, I have an opportunity to pursue an advanced degree, which would further my career and potentially increase my retirement pay (giving me a more secure financial future). Getting an advanced degree would require a major time commitment on my part and possibly a move that would take me farther away from Mom. It is a great opportunity for me and I want to take it.

I need to know how to transition away from being the emergency (or regular) go-to person for my Mom. My siblings live farther away and have not shown any interest in taking on this responsibility. Plus, Mom insists she wants me to be the one she can call on.

Can anyone give me advice on how to handle this?

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The question is, do you trade your dreams, your job, and your financial future for your mother's insistence upon staying alone in her own home, in spite of the fact that she needs too much help in order to do so? The infamous "I want to be independent by relying on others 100%" which means they're NOT independent at all, but reliant on others to stay in their own homes!!

She can move into Independent Living, which has a continuum of care so that she can move into Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing as the need arises. Or your siblings can take over for you. Those are 2 viable options for the future.

Even though mother prefers to call upon you for all of her needs, preferences don't always prevail, right? I prefer to win the lottery, but I never seem to............

Wishing you the best of luck pursuing YOUR dreams & goals moving forward.
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to lealonnie1

Im1984, you have a tough decision to make here.

I think the only way to do this is to be honest with your mother and tell her that you can no longer be her "go to", default emergency person. She needs more care than you will be able to give, going forward, and that you will be happy to help her arrange for caregivers or a good facility.

The world changed between generations. When your mother was young, women stayed at home and kept house for their husbands did all the childcare and eldercare. For free.

In our world, women have jobs, mortgages and responsibilities outside the home. The care of elders (and children) is now a professional, paid endeavor and adjustments need to be made by elders who grew up with one set of expectations and are now faced with another.

Don't let your mother use fear, obligation and guilt to make you give up your dreams. Decide sensibly what you want to pursue and then talk to her local Area Agency on Aging to get a "needs assessment".

Good luck and (((((((hugs)))))))!
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

I think that you need to tell both your Mother and your siblings that you cannot be the go-to person anymore. Do tell Mom you may be moving now, and will be in full time school with your job, and that you are sorry but you cannot do what you have in the past any longer. Offer to take her to care facilities in your area. That is about all you can do. Give a time in which this is going to occur. Apologize to all that you have failed the test for entry into Sainthood, so they might as well put their arrows back in the quiver.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to AlvaDeer
OUHyperop Feb 3, 2020
and AlvaDeer continues to rock...xoxo

I feel the only way you would grasp a realistic view of what others face is for you to step inside of their homes and care for their loved ones. You would also have to work at their job and take their course load at school. All of these situations could be vastly different from your situation.

I am sure you mean well and you are following your convictions. That is your business. Whatever worked for you in the past or now is wonderful. I am thrilled for you but you can’t generalize and say that what worked for you will work for them.

The only thing that your insistence of doing what you did will accomplish is perhaps a feeling of guilt or not being good enough and this daughter has and is doing her best at caregiving. The OP is equally important to her mom. She is not selfish. She should not feel any guilt.

Please open your eyes and know that not everyone is a ‘joy’ to be around and caregiving becomes a heavy burden. In fact, even if the caregiver loves their parent, the parent can be a real pain in the butt. The caregiver becomes riddled with anxiety and depression.

Some people have extremely unpleasant personalities. It isn’t about forgiveness of their behavior as you suggest. Then what, continue the mayhem. It’s about keeping your sanity.

Please don’t respond if you are going to say that it can be done because you did it. You did it with your mom, your classes and your job. You don’t have a clue as to what their mom, their course load would be or their job is. Every situation is different.

The OP has done all she can. She deserves to live her own life and focus on school and her career so she can secure her future. She sounds very smart and is a sensible rational person.

Please don’t make her feel guilty. Tell her to do what she needs to do for herself. Would you want someone caring for you knowing that you are holding them back? I have two daughters that I have already told I don’t want them to put their lives on hold for me.

Oh, by the way I know what I am talking about. I was a caregiver to my mom for decades and 15 of those were in my home. I was also a caregiver to my dad and brother. Burnout is real!

My dad was a joy but it’s still exhausting. My mom and brother became a nightmare. I forgive but that doesn’t mean I ever want my mom back in my home. My brother is dead.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
anonymous1012686 Feb 3, 2020
Have we met? No, you don’t know me anymore than I know you. I am amazed on how much liberty you took to denigrate my character. Was it because I presented a different point of view?

Please don’t post unsupported suggestions that I don’t know what it is like to be around difficult people. For starters, I’ve lived with myself for a lifetime. :)

I am sorry you went through such hard times in taking care of your family. I truly hope things turn around for you moving forward.
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If you have resources and access to the equivalent of a ten mule team for emotional and physical support, to delegate tasks to help you, a stable steady second source of sustainable income, and even a little time of a heads up to prepare for what lies ahead, all right there within your reach and mutually committed like you are, by all means, carry on with caring for mom.
Otherwise, tread lightly continuing to care for mom. Your red flags are already in place and flying. Consider every angle with yours being the first to be considered.
statistics show that there is more outside human interaction in Siberia when compared to that of caregivers in the USA
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to OUHyperop

Just because your mother wants you to be the only go to person doesn't mean that it what is going to happen. It is up to you to say no.

There are other options, like Visiting Angels and other private paid in home services. Why not explore those options? Or possibly is it time that she be placed in AL? She cannot always have what she wants, you have a right to live your life too.

I would TT your other siblings and outline the options, if one of them will take her in, let them.

I agree, take the opportunity, continue to build for your retirement. Good Luck!
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to anonymous912123

"Mom insists on staying in her home alone and there are very few caregiver options where she lives."

If Mom needs help, then this isn't just Mom's decision anymore. I firmly believe a child has a duty to be an advocate for a parent. A child does not have a duty to sacrifice their life providing direct care. If your mother is competent, which I assume since you did not mention dementia, then she needs to make cooperative decisions and not insist on requiring others to provide help with daily living.

My mother moved into my home. She has MCI with major short term memory issues and mobility problems; however her pleasant and cooperative personality has remained intact, we have a good relationship, and I could work her into my household life without major issues. It works for us now even though Mom has declined to a point I don't leave her alone in the house for more than 30-60 minutes (adult day care and in home care hours paid for by Mom provide respite), but if the day comes where she cannot bear her own weight during transfers, my own health issues will mean placing her in AL. I'm the grandmother generation and my social life is mainly attending kid's events and gatherings with friends and family. Mom stays with her younger sister when I needed to occasionally travel for business and now (post retirement) when I vacation. If I were in my 30s with a traveling job, Mom needing daily help for more than a few days/weeks at a time would probably not have worked. Mom did have joint replacement surgeries when I was in my 30s and I worked from home a week or two, prepared meals on the weekends, and arranged family members to help with daily tasks while I was out of town.

Maybe your mother needs placement in an AL now so she has someone available to assist her whether you are at work or school, traveling, or enjoying a social life. Being dependent on in home care is difficult and nearly impossible when you are remote. Hired care givers do not show up or provide a good quality of care from time to time. I have a group of privately sourced care givers for respite that works, but if something comes up and someone cancels at the last minute, the impact to me is missing a ball game, dinner out, or a concert. No impact on a job anymore.

I suggest you have a talk with your mother where you inform her you have a great opportunity and have chosen to take it. Your new opportunity requires a move and you want/need to help get her settled in a situation where her needs are met before you move because you will be hours to days away after the move. Research available options in her area and your new location: AL or maybe senior apartment with in home care provided by an agency options. Discuss the options with Mom; she has choices, but she needs to make a good one that considers your needs too. If she considers moving near you, make sure she realizes she may need to move again some day when your career requires another move. Explain if your mother chooses to remain in a home where support options are limited, she may find herself with far less control when being quickly placed by a hospital social worker following a fall or other health event. Independence comes with a risk; acknowledging daily help is needed and finding a solution now has far less.

It may very well be a difficult conversation; however, the difficult conversation is much easier than all the possible results of not having the conversation - both for you and your mother. Try to remain calm even if your mother becomes upset. Provide information and break off to allow your mother time to review and consider. Portray AL as the opportunity for you to ensure her needs are met and for her to have socialization and friends of her own instead of becoming isolated in her home. Emphasize your need to secure your own future too.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to TNtechie

Put her in a facility, or leave her to her own devices. You're beggaring you're own golden years for no good reason. No parent should EVER expect their child to do this.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to HelloImMinsu

Only you can make this decision. But speaking from my own experience, I would advise you to pursue your career. I missed many wonderful job opportunities in caring for my family members. One physician I worked for even formally offered to sponsor my education to become a nurse practitioner, keeping me on salary in the process. I felt like I won the lottery but opted out because my mother received her first cancer diagnosis and I believed I should be there for her. I’ve regretted it almost every day since and sadly there’s no going back. Good luck to you no matter what you decide.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to anonymous1010889

OP please take the opportunity to advance your career. It is likely your mom will still be around when you get your advanced degree. A higher salary will enable you to pay for better care for her if necessary.

I have missed out on many advancement opportunities because of my parents health. I did manage to do a degree in night school over 4 years while dealing with a full time job and family health issues. However my plans of getting a better job were scuppered when my mother decided to have elective surgery during my final exams. I had to come straight home after my last exam and look after her instead of looking for new jobs. Then my father got seriously ill after that. They both have had health issues all my life but I graduated in 2004. They are both still alive and all my spare time outside work is spent on them. I have had to pick myself up from illness and burnout because I was expected to keep going for their sake. I am single and have no siblings.

OP do not end up angry, bitter and burnt out like me. Please do your advanced degree and focus on your future no matter what some well-meaning posters say. I suspect that these people have never been at the real coalface of caring, if they had they would think differently.

Get your siblings to muck in with your mothers care. If they are married and have families of their own that's no excuse, indeed it's more of a reason for you to look out for yourself.

Good luck with your studies.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Elle1970
anonymous1012686 Feb 3, 2020
I respectfully disagree with your assumption that other “well-meaning posters” have never been at “the coalface of caring”.  I cannot speak for others, but I can speak for myself.

My husband and I have raised eight children together. When he was diagnosed with cancer, 3 kids were in college, 2 in high school, and 3 were in middle. I spent long weeks between caring for him in-and-out of the hospital, maintaining a household of kids, and managing a business.

Thank God, he survived. Shortly after that battle, my mother-in-law died, and my father-in-law moved in with us. Sure, he did things we wished he wouldn’t. It was still a joy to have him with us.

I never took care of my Dad. My mother did that quite well. She was the same age as Dad—only much healthier. Fast forward to today, and I am now taking care of my mother who is in stage 6 of her dementia. Obviously, we aren’t having daily picnics. Nonetheless, she is a blessing to have in our home.

By the way, in middle of all this—I advanced my education, self-studied in other disciplines, and have never given up on the things that were important to me.

OP does not have to give up on anything either. Not all life’s tough issues have to end in either/or choices—we can choose to do more than one thing at the same time.  

Life happens. Roll with it. You will be much happier.
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