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My mom is 73 and she’s found every way to stay our childhood home when she needs to leave and go somewhere affordable. She recently broke her knee doing lawn work and is now rehabbing in the living room. She has very little resources, she has no income other than social security, the bank owns the house, and she is still thinking she can sell it for over the bank price owed. She won’t listen to reason in regards to making a plan for her future. It’s costing me and my brother lots of money to enable her lifestyle (it’s a big house). What are the logical next steps and should we include her in the decision making?

Costing you and your brother lots of money, how?

If you literally mean that you and your brother are paying your mother's bills... Am I walking into some kind of idiot-trap here..? The logical next step, surely, is...

Stop giving her money.

You don't mention dementia, or any other kind of incapacitating mental illness, so I assume your mother is of sound mind. And if that is so, then it is not she whom you should EXclude from the decision-making process but yourselves. The decisions are hers to make. You two step away.

When she falls flat on her face and the bank evicts her, that's when you come up with plans and include her in the choosing. And do NOT - DO NOT - make living with either of you two an option.
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DILKimba Mar 23, 2021
AMEN! Excellent advice.
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If she's competent to make her own decisions, then there isn't much you can do until a crisis forces her hand. She probably can't be evicted at this time, but that'll come to an end soon.

You and your brother can put your wallets away and tell her the Bank of You is closed. If she insists on being "self-sufficient," then she needs to be aware of what that actually means. The way things are now, you're keeping her from actually knowing how her situation is unsustainable.
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disgustedtoo Mar 21, 2021
Agreed that unless she decides, being competent, there isn't much you can do other than perhaps encourage it. If that's met with anger, drop it.

Helping should be the barest minimum. She needs to understand that staying in her own place means she has to be capable of maintaining it and herself. As she "heals" from the latest injury, you need to back off with assistance. If she can't afford the MTG and taxes, YOU shouldn't be paying it. Funny MJ1929 calling it the Bank of You! My former DIL gave me a little card with a picture of a pig on it and it says Why yes, you DO look like the bank! I was stupid in trying to help them out - mainly my son losing his job, he was doing fine until that happened. But she was useless. If she worked at all, it was part time. There's a lot more to it, but she's been out of the picture now over 10 years, TG!!!

It's okay to lend a helping hand, but when that becomes more like a full time job and YOU get to pay for that job, it's time to rethink and back out! Never had to do that for my parents, they did well. Moved her liquid assets from CDs when they matured to an irrevocable trust we set up, to protect it from her. The proceeds from the sale of her condo went there too, so there'd be money to help pay for her MC facility.

Anyway, if she's considered competent, not much you can do. Even if/when they get dementia, they can refuse to move. POAs do not give us the "power" to make them move. EC atty told me that and suggested guardianship. Facility chosen wouldn't accept a "committal." So, we had to find a ruse that would work to make the move happen. Staff even told me that dementia residents have "rights" and can't be forced to do anything they don't want to do.

In your case, it's just overwhelming what mom needs to do to maintain her status quo and she's relying on you to do it. Maybe when she's more able to get out and about you can take her to a few AL places - you check them out beforehand and choose the ones you like best that you think might appeal to her. Talking points: smaller space to clean, no repairs or lawn care. No MTG or RE taxes. Frees up her time to enjoy life instead of backbreaking work to clean, do laundry, etc. Generally with AL you have the option to cook or take meals in a dining room. You and your brother can spend more time together with her doing enjoyable things instead of propping her up by doing all her "chores." (that last one is beneficial to both of you AND her.)

Both you and your brother should be setting aside those funds for your own future needs. If you keep throwing it down this rat hole, you all lose. I finally did tell my son that I could no longer continue pouring money into his situation, or we'd all end up homeless! Sure, I had a decent job and no more kids at home to support, but I certainly wasn't about to continue paying for two family homes vs one. He's much better off now that she's out of the picture and I didn't lose my home in the process!
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The home belongs to your Mom?
And your Mom is competent, and without any diagnosis of dementia?
Then the decision of what to do is completely her own.
Don't enable her by caregiving beyond the time she needs for healing of her knee.
Do not give your own money for her care. Who will provide the money to you and your brother when you each need care of your own? You should now be saving for that time. To give her money and care to stay in this home enables her to stay there. The only thing you can do to give your Mom a wake up call about the steps she must do for her own safety is to withdraw your care. As Beatty says "There will be no solutions as long as you are all the solutions."
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Cmrooney, now is the time to start using what are called "therapeutic fibs".

Since your Mom had to stop doing lawn work due to her injury, who will need to do it for her? Will she be calling your you or your brother? If she calls, just tell her that you had hurt your back, no way could you mow. She would need to hire a lawn service. If she grumbles that she can't afford it, then ask her what will she do? Let her think this over. And stop the discussion at that point.

My folks were in their 90's and still living in their single family house. I use to run errands for them until it got to a point I just couldn't do as much, as I was a senior myself. Mulch was the big go around for me. Ok, Home Depot would put the mulch into my Jeep, but since I couldn't bring the cute employee back to my parents house to unload the mulch, and I could no longer lift the bags, my parents had to re-think this idea.

What happens is that our parents still think we are in our 20's or 30's, still filled with a lot of energy, and can leap off tall buildings in a single bound. I remember some of the "therapeutic fibs" I used, I showed up at their house using a cane because of a back injury. When I actually broke my arm, my therapist didn't want me to use the sling anymore, except when visiting my parents :)
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disgustedtoo Mar 21, 2021
No propping mom up, but YES to using props to make the point! :-D
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Change is hard. Her home is familiar to her. But hey, no-one takes the walls or doors when they move! They pack up their favorites photos, trinkets, cups & throw rugs. Focus on the positives, what her favorites things are. What will she choose - from the REAL options available to her?

How independent is she? Would a nice independent apartment suit or an assisted living one?

She may GAIN a new community, fun activities, less housework, certainly less yard work.
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Agree with those who have wisely pointed out that you and your brother must stop enabling her situation by paying for anything that keeps her in the house. Her credit score doesn't matter if she still has a mortgage to pay and not enough income. Has she ever had a medical diagnosis of memory or cognitive impairment? Does she have a PoA assigned? Please remember that she is a fully grown adult who had the entirety of her life to deal with the inevitable realities. Her unwillingness to do so is NEVER your problem, financially or otherwise. Easier said than done, I realize.

You can't force her out of her house if she is mentally competent. You do not have to "include her" in your decision to stop paying to keep her in her home, but you should inform her that as of XX date you can no longer pay for anything that pertains to her home, mortgage, its upkeep, taxes, services, etc. If she howls you just tell her the truth: that it is financially unsustainable for you and your brother. No further explanation is required from you. Just keep repeating it.

If things get really worrisome and neither you nor your brother is her PoA, do not rescue her -- instead please call APS and report her as a vulnerable elder. May you receive great inner strength to resist propping up the delusion of her "independence", and peace in your heart no matter the outcome.
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I'm only a few years behind your mom and also still have a MTG (long story, bought this place, still had the other as the plan was to fix up what needing doing here and was laid off 5 months later, stuck between two houses!)

BUT, my plans include paying this off as soon as possible after the work gets done. A lot went onto back burner due to the job loss and having to manage two, no make that THREE properties (both my houses AND mom's condo) along with all my mother's finances and needs. Finding people to do the work, the way I want it done, has also been a gate. Mom passed in December, but I'm still dealing with her financials, taxes, etc.

Thankfully despite having a few acres there is very little "yard" to deal with. It's a long driveway, but I have my 18+ yo jeep with plow for now. If/when I can no longer "maintain" the place, it will either be hire people to help me or move. I won't ask my two kids to do anything or pay. I actually paid my son several years ago to paint what I couldn't reach with a small ladder - I did the rest. I paid to have some big trees cut down (nice maple and oak) and am giving the wood to my daughter who uses a wood stove to heat. No charge to her, but she has to get her butt over here to load it into the trailer I have. I can't do it.

This place, once inside, is all on one level, including the washer and dryer. The other house, where we all lived together, was 2 story with W&D in the basement, plus about 1 acre to keep mowed. No carpeting, that all went after I bought it, so no real vacuuming, just sweep!

If your mother doesn't have the means to pay for the place and its upkeep, she needs to be made aware that you two can't afford to pay for it and she needs to move, either apartment or AL. I would imagine you are both still working and need those jobs to pay your own expenses. Don't jeopardize your own future to protect her present. SHE has options. You may not, if you continue with the status quo.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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Your mom obviously has sentimental attachments to her home.

Guess what? No matter how much she loves her home, she can’t afford it. She is living beyond her means.

Please stop paying her bills. You’re not helping her in the long run and worse, you are damaging your future.

Tell her before she tells you what she can’t afford in the future that there is no more money available to help her. That’s fair warning. Let her think about it long and hard. Otherwise, she will continue to feel as if she can depend on you for help.

Wishing you and your family all the best.
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I’m sorry to say this, but you may be in for a long ride. My mother is now in LTC after insisting she was going to die in her home. Looking back she was in both physical and cognitive decline for at least three and probably more like five years. The house deteriorated because she couldn’t maintain it, yet she refused to pay someone to come and do work, insisting that she could do it. Bills somehow got paid, but she always seemed to be in a state of crisis. Yet she was still adamant about not leaving. We (her children) tried endless solutions-paying for cleaning always meant that it was done right, meals on wheels delivery guy was rude, or the meals were awful. She refused to let us help her or take her to doctors visits or even talk to her doctors. We all live more than an hour away and have full time jobs, but she somehow seemed to think that we “owed” it to her to take care of her. In short, she didn’t plan well and refused to acknowledge the situation and her own decline. This is likely to be a long slow decline and may well have some dementia aspect. All I can say is set your own boundaries and support her without enabling her. I hope it doesn’t reach the point where there is a crisis that forces her out, but that may be what it takes.
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raysgirl Mar 23, 2021
your experience sounds familiar. Ifor 10 years I let my mom live in my little townhome while I lived in a rental with my boyfriend an hour away. she depended on us for all exterior maintenance while she spent thousands on QVC and the indoors was ruined by cats...18 of them. i tried to talk her into moving many times but where was she gonna go with all that stuff? and those cats? it got worse with covid and we all quarantined apart. she was sick and didn't say anything. this didn't end well as you can imagine. now I have a mother in ltc facility. all but 3 cats went to the shelter. the other 3 still live in the house which was condemned bc of the smell, and I have 20 years of memories...i raised a child in that house...to sort thru, to clean it out so i can sell it and the horrible memory that is THIS.

it is so important to plan. nobody wants to do it nobody wants to be the bad guy but be firm. I wish I had, but I thought I owed it to my mother to let her live out her days the way SHE wanted. but I was wrong and this past 10 months is what nobody would want:(
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73 is not that old any more - and many 73-year-olds STILL work full-time jobs.

Whether your mother is competent or incompetent - if a person cannot AFFORD to stay in their current residence, then difficult choices must be made.

If she "won't listen to reason," then she may be in denial - about her declining health and her financial ability to remain in that albatross of a house.

As others have said, your FIRST order of business is to stop bankrolling her lifestyle. Why have your not put your foot down sooner?
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