What can I do about my mother? She has been divorced over 40 years and now is very lonely. She’s 89, does not want to make friends, and I am an only child with medical problems of my own. She constantly wishes she lived near me and there is no way she can afford an apartment in my area. I cannot afford to pay her rent either. She is paranoid schizophrenic and has many physical conditions as well. Her mental illness is controlled with meds. I feel so guilty that I cannot give her a better life but I do all I can to help her. She will not go to assisted living or a nursing home. I’d like to keep her in her section 8 subsidized apartment. Please help.

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Oh boy that seems like a tough one Ro. Actually the tough part, for both of you, is dealing with your own decisions.

Look what you've written....
( Not verbatim)
She doesn't want to go into assisted living or nursing home.
I can't afford to pay her rent.
I'd like to keep her in her section 8 apartment.

So is Mother looking to live with you or have you subsidize an apt. for her, in your area? Or are you just trying to solve the issue of her loneliness?

Mother has made her decision clear. With no other options available to her, she must live with what she's chosen.

As for you, please don't take on the responsibility of Mother's happiness. I Know how hard that is, but you've also said what you want. And that's for Mother to stay put.

So again, you both are struggling with the decisions you guys have made, either through lack of funds and unwillingness.

Continue to do what you can for her, as I'm sure you will, and maybe visit her more frequently, if possible.

It's all about acceptance.
Best of luck to you both.💖🌹
Helpful Answer (7)

Roisin17... You cannot sacrifice your health, and it sounds like your mom needs a high level of caregiving that you just can't provide given that you are ill. Please don't feel guilty. It sounds like you have been a wonderful daughter, and I agree with Ahmijoy, that you cannot "fix" her life. I think you have to tell her that you are not able to care for her in the way she needs due to your own health problems. As you mention, she is self-absorbed, but her self-absorption is not your problem or priority. Take care of yourself first, help her where you can. I agree with other posters that there are services that you may not have even explored that will keep her busy and take care of her. They may even be free or at minimal cost. My MIL with dementia has been living with us for 3 years, and I have aged so much!!!! We owe our parents help, but we don't owe them our lives.
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There is an organization called NAMI. They offer very helpful courses called Family to Family. It's information and support for people who have mentally ill family members. (And they are free!)

Attend these courses and also learn as much as you can about your mom's illness. I don't believe you can fix any of her problems by moving her closer to you. But you may be able to get some ideas of how to help her without taking on too much of the problems yourself. Good luck!
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I thank you all for your replies and suggestions. Mom has been mentally ill since I’m 10 years old. We live 45-60 minutes from each other. Mom has always made ME her entertainment and now with my and my husband’s illnesses, mom is so self absorbed she cannot see that I’m not able to be her caretaker anymore. I’ve had the responsibility of my mom all my life. It’s killing me that she is so lonely but I’m doing all I can
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If you move Mom either closer to you or in with you, you will regret it. It would be difficult if she had her mental health, but with her issues, it would be impossible. I was an only child and my mother was a recluse. She had no friends and lived through me. She was dramatic, paranoid and judgmental. She also wanted to live with me and hubby. I told her flat out, “no”.

She is most likely resisting a facility because she is holding out hope you’ll take her in. Consider that her mental issues may escalate as time goes on. Do you have a partner and a family? How would it work to have mentally unstable grandma constantly in their lives? Tell her you’ll move her closer if she agrees to go into a facility and then apply for Medicaid.
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Roisin17, don’t let it “kill you”. It’s sad that Mom has had these issues all your life, but it’s not your fault or your responsibility to “fix” her life for her. You can’t force her to go into a facility even though that’s where she needs to be. You can’t force her to make friends any more than I could my own mother. Does she have someone to look in on her daily? Maybe suggest home health care or even, if she attends church, a church member.
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I agree that it sounds like your mom is hinting around that she'd like to live with you either in your place or in a place you get together. And like the others I would also not recommend this.

You didn't say how close you live to her. Are you in another state? In the same town? Try not to make it your responsibility to fulfill your mom's need for companionship. That's a black hole you will get sucked into.

There are a few things you can do though. How about setting up Meals on Wheels for your mom? The volunteers who bring the meals (around noon each day) are very nice and friendly and they will stand around and chat for a bit. It would give your mom something to look forward to everyday. Meals on Wheels accepts donations each week, usually $5.

Another suggestion is to call a local church in your mom's area. She doesn't have to be a member or a member of any particular faith. Call the church and ask that the priest/pastor/rabbi/deacon/minister call on your mom from time to time. The person would come to your mom's house and sit and talk with her for a little while and then probably say a prayer with your mom. It's nice. And free.

I know elderly people who don't leave the house used to be called "shut-in's" but that term isn't used anymore. But if you Googled "shut in elderly" and your mom's zip code you might come up with more free services that would break up her loneliness. You'll just have to do a little research.
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I want to thank you from my heart for telling me I’m a good daughter. I need that affirmation so much. Yes? I’m trying to repair her life. I can’t. I’m in therapy to discuss it as well. It’s an awful feeling to do this.
Helpful Answer (3)

Check out the book called “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. You will see it often recommended on this site. One of the many things covered is how when we get older we want to be with our loved ones. Being lonely now (divorced for 40 yrs) might have to do more with end of life and realizing that what really matters to her is you.
Here is an interview given by Atul. You can google his name and find others.
Look up his five questions as well.

Now I’m not suggesting this in anyway solves your problem but it might give you a shift in focus on how you think about her advancing age.
With all the problems you mention it sounds like she has managed very well.

Could you get her more help in her home? Home Health perhaps to check on her weekly and an aide to bath her? Perhaps ask her primary to order her PT or OT? Since you can’t ( or don’t want to) move her or yourself, perhaps finding a way to give her more caring interaction would help? Perhaps she would be a candidate for hospice or palliative care?
Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the source of our discomfort. Dehydration, a UTI are just two things that could be causing your mom to be more dissatisfied with her life at this point. Perhaps she’s been falling and is afraid. I’d try to rule out any simple to fix problems and see if more frequent visits are possible.
I hope you can find a way to help her live her last days happily. In our culture it’s very hard to switch the mindset from being medicated up in the pursuit of the longest life to actually living a happy life until the end, regardless of when it occurs.
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