Need advice to deal with mother who may be homeless soon.


Hi All - My mother is 61 years old, and due to a series of poor choices she is on the verge of being homeless. She lost her home about 5 years ago due to bankruptcy from poor money management (some gambling was involved). Then she moved into an apartment, lost a couple jobs and her car, and ended up moving in with a friend who has rented her a room for the past year and a half. She now works part time at a nearby Walmart she can bike to and receives government assistance. Now, her friend is fed up with her - apparently she's not helping around the house like they'd agreed, and she did a couple things she wasn't supposed to - and she's been told she needs to leave at the end of the month. Instead of finding a new place, my mother is convinced that she needs to quit her job, sell her belongings and take a trip to see relatives across the country since she's not tied to a place paying rent. She doesn't have much stuff of value, so I can't imagine she'll get very far, and then she'll end up having no job when she gets back on top of everything else. I've asked her to consider figuring out her plan here first before she runs away from her problems and gets into a worse situation, but she doesn't want to listen. Even if she doesn't take this trip, she does not seem motivated to find a new place. She has anxiety/depression issues and gets overwhelmed easily. She ignores my suggestions. I've tried to help manage her money/other things in the past, and I've been turned down. She has made the comment that if she ends up homeless, so be it. I'm worried that she will inevitably end up homeless without anything, and I'm the only one able/willing to help her. If it comes to that, I'm not sure where to begin. I am married and own a small home with a spare room, but I don't think I would be able to live with her - I get frustrated easily with her choices/behavior and I know she is prone to mood swings and binge drinking from time to time. I love her and want to help how I can, but I do not want to be in a position where I am supporting her because she refuses to help herself. But at the same time, I know I would feel extreme guilt if she was out on the streets and I did nothing. This whole situation is very frustrating and emotionally draining, and I'm not sure where to start. Any advice would be immensely appreciated. Thank you in advance.



You sound like a wonderful, caring daughter. There's only so much you can do to help someone who doesn't want to be helped. Unless she's declared incompetent, she gets to make her own choices. It sounds like she needs rehab if she would consider that. I'd contact Adult Protective Services and ask their advice. But if she doesn't want to take your help, then let her figure out her situation on her own, whatever that looks like. But whatever you do, DON'T move her in with you! That' a huge no-no!!
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to blannie

Adult children of Alcoholics meetings and the book Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud for yourself. Your mom is not going to change because of anything you do for her. She has to reach the bottom for herself to create a desire for change. Anything you do to enable her, in other words, to protect her from hitting bottom, actually hurts her more than it helps. If she wants to make more bad decisions, that's fine. She's obviously been helped before to no avail.

You are the one who needs support to keep making good decisions. When people ask you how she's doing, you don't have to go into the whole story. My go to answer? "It's so hard to deal with undiagnosed mental illness." They don't ask again because they don't want to know, or they have experience, and say, I know that's really hard for you. Don't invite her to live with you, and give her your blessing to have her adventure.
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Reply to surprise

She is ruining her life. If she moves in with you, she will probably ruin yours. Twice the ruination. Don't do it. Keep your boundaries, decide what you can handle (a phone call a day, helping her find a job or a place to live, connecting her with community services...) and stick to that.
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Reply to chdottir

It sounds like there are mental health issues going on. Is she seeing a therapist? If not, can you guide her to get into counseling?
You do want to be cautious and not allow her issues to color your life. I have worked with financially 'unstable' individuals to help them get onto a level field --- but I found that most have underlying issues that I wasn't trained to assist with. I worked with one person who was 2 months behind in rent but eating 3 meals a day out! AND when I got them approved for the food pantry, they couldn't get themselves there (10 weeks after approval, and yes transportation was available).
Set your boundaries and perhaps put it in writing and have Mom sign it. Perhaps that will show her how serious and concerned you are.
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Reply to geewiz

Your mother is an adult and is capable of making her own choices. She’s obviously made some bad ones, but hasn’t learned from them and continues to act impulsively. You’ve told her you want to help and she says she doesn’t want your help. She has accepted that she may be homeless soon. If it doesn’t bother her, it shouldn’t bother you. There’s only so much you can do for a person who doesn’t think they need help.
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Reply to Ahmijoy