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This is a complicated issue, so I’ll start at the beginning of the issue. In late June, my father succumbed to complications from Ulcer Colitis. He was 72. Since his passing, the dynamics of the family took an extreme change. My father was the pillar of the family. He was the one that held everyone together, even when they were at their bleakest. He knew how to take charge in a crisis. After he passed away, there was no leader, and threw everything into flux. My father was a resident manager, and one of the benefits of his job was that the apartment would come with the position. My mother and myself were living with him, and benefitted from this.


So, clearly, the first major issue came to light, finding a new home for myself and my mother. This part has become its own nightmare. My mother doesn’t work (she’s 79 years old), she got injured a couple of weeks before my father’s passing (fractured her hip), has possible early onset dementia, and is dependent on me for almost every task, including finding a new home. Taking care of a person is one thing, but finding a new home for them after that makes it a lot more difficult. Even though she has plenty in savings, she doesn’t get enough money from SS and my father’s pension to rent an apartment. Keep in mind that we live in one of the most expensive cities in the US, with some of the strictest rental laws in the country, making it more difficult to find a place. She doesn’t know how to use the internet, and pretty much has asked me to organize almost everything for this search. My sister has been more of a hinderance than a help. Because, she works, she has used it as an excuse to do the bare minimum to help us in the matter. She sends me links to sites and apartments, but those apartments are too much for my mother to afford. In the meantime, I’ve had to go about a job search for myself, on top of finding a place for my mother and myself. With the possibility of eviction, financial constraints of finding an apartment, plus the job search, has made things incredibly overwhelming for me. I’ve expressed my feelings about the unbelievable pressure I’m facing, and neither of them are willing to take the weight off my shoulders. When I’ve expressed to my sister that I just wanted to walk away to save my sanity, she blabbed it to my mother. I’ve felt guilty enough for these feelings, my sister telling my mother only made it worse. So I can’t trust her to confide in, and I only tell my therapist about my issues. Even though I’ve had a couple of meltdowns, it would be more if weren’t for my therapist, a lot more. I feel defeated, lost, frustrated, worn down, exhausted, confused, and at times, guilty. I’m not getting the help that I need from my sister, my housing situation with my mother is an absolute mess, and whatever decision I make for the future, I’ll come out on the short end of it. I lose no matter what, and all blame will be placed on me if worse comes to worse. I don’t know what to do, and hopefully an understanding soul will help me come to the best possible solution. I thank you for providing the platform to express my thoughts on the matter.

Throughout history people have had to move to other locations when economic circumstances dictated it. If your mom does indeed not have enough to live in NYC (how many people really do) and you want to be with her, relocating to a more affordable place is part of the answer. I realize there are more issues and complications, but that sounds like it is one of the bigger ones.
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Reply to Karsten
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Here's an idea...since you’re looking for a job, & your Father was the Residential Mgr, why don’t you talk to owner/landlord of building if you can carry on the responsibilities of that job? If not that one, maybe Office Mgr or any other office job in Management Office? Explain to the person what you’re facing & see what can be worked out as you are overwhelmed with everything. It’s worth a try. Also, can’t depend on Sis...forget about her lifting a finger. Let us know how it goes. Hugs 🤗
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Sweetstuff Jan 5, 2020
Great idea!! Worth a try with nothing to lose.
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Kumbaya (always reminds me of Joan Baez and her beautiful rendition of that song), you've gotten good advice, and you have a clear head on what's necessary and how to prioritize.  I think you have a better handle on the situation than you realize, and I mean that as a BIG compliment!

One aspect I would put in more perspective is  your sister's involvement, which seems to be to be counterproductive, if not a bit manipulative.    You might want to tell her what your mother's price range is and suggest that she only provide links to those apartments/abodes that are beneath that price point.  

I have a suspicion that she may have her own agenda; from your description it doesn't seem as though she's involved to be cooperative.    So reconcile yourself to the fact that she probably won't provide information of value, "put her in her place", and move forward.

It's not my suggestion that you 'tell her off", but indicate that your time is limited, you're prioritizing, and need to focus only on homes/apartments that meet your mother's income threshold.  Others are just not productive suggestions.   But save her e-mails, and document; I have a feeling this may be necessary down the line.

Siblings have a range of actions and responses, including resentment, and sometimes it's just not worth the time to try to figure out what their intentions are.   So I planned for this after a lot of thought on sibling interaction, and documented.  

After getting "advice" that was worthless if not totally inappropriate, my sibling became aggressive about intervening after my father died (when money became available).     I raised the issue of refusal to help when my parent and I needed it and made it clear that I wouldn't tolerate any meddling after my father died.  

Sometimes it helps to be aggressive and play the guilt card to keep an errant sibling from meddling. 

I initially felt very uncomfortable, as this was the only sibling left, but I also knew what the goals were ($$$$), and was determined not to be manipulated.  

Listen to your own instincts, but do not accept that "all blame will be placed on me if worse comes to worse".    You're clearly more   conscientious than your sister, and she's exploiting that.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Kumbaya, you have gotten good help and advice already. Many of us have learned through the Senior Train Wreck -- a steep learning curve!

It can be overwhelming so just eat the elephant one bite at a time. Try to make small progress every day or week, just keep things moving forward.

If I were in your situation, I would work with your mom (gently and calmly) to have her understand how important it is for her to designate someone as her durable PoA. Without this, it will be increasingly difficult to help or advocate for her. She needs to understand this. She can make both you and your sister PoA, if that helps, but your sister doesn't seem to be on the same page, unfortunately. Or, sister may not want that responsibility.

Next, (and preferably after your mom gets her legal paperwork in order: PoA, Medical Directive, Living Will, Last Will, etc) I would take her for an annual physical and pass her doc a discreet note asking to perform a cognitive exam and test for a UTI. They do this all the time. They did it for me and my MIL. Knowing your mom's actual cognitive level will help you better understand how to interact with her and what expectations are realistic. A UTI can cause dementia-like symptoms in someone who doesn't have dementia, often with no other physical symptoms. Very, very common in elderly, especially women. If your mom does have cognitive issues AND a UTI, it would make her cognitive functions more compromised. Antibiotics will clear up the UTI.

Again, you don't want her to do her legal due diligence after a cognitive test. If she has decline and it is in her medical record, any legal paperwork she signs after that could be questioned and contested. I realize your sister is a "leaker" but if you'r not transparent with her she will interpret everything with suspicion. Inform her of the consequences of your mom not having her legal ducks in a row. In the end, your sister (or any family member) is not obligated to participate in your mom's care or financial support. Maybe your mom would be more comfortable being taken to the doc by her. Hopefully your sister will play nice. But any help she is willing to give should be welcomed.

The third important thing to have perspective on is the Medicaid laws in NY. I don't know what the "lookback" period is, but this is something you really ought to know. IMO I think a 1 to 2-hr consult with an experienced elder law/estate planning attorney will be money well spent, especially if you have co-mingled any funds, are co-signed on any credit cards, loans, if you have not been paying rent but have been living with her, etc. Do not make any assumptions! You must know what the law dictates. Your mom is young enough living in an overpriced city with only $160K. The possibility that she will need Medicaid is very possible. So, get the facts from an attorney and do some smart planning. The fee should be paid by your mother. I realize your housing situation is also urgent and I'm not trying to add to your stress, but I think when several things are on fire at once you need to know the priority of what gets put out first. I wish you progress with your mom and cooperation and understanding from your family!
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Reply to Geaton777
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You’ve gotten some good advice here already, with valuable
resources. When our parents don’t plan for their later years, this is what happens to their children. Seemingly blind sighted when the lack of foresight was there all
along. I’m so sorry for your overwhelm. I know that feeling! However, it’s a perfect opportunity to get it right as far as your mom is concerned and get a plan in place for her eventual needs.
Take care of yourself first and you will be better able to help her. Keep going to your therapist and seek your inner peace. It is the best place from which to make decisions. Maybe there is a friend or relative mom could stay with for a bit. It sounds like assisted living would also help even for a period of time. You and your sister need a come to Jesus moment so she has the opportunity to step up to the plate and help you. She may not, but it’s worth a try. Don’t rule out other relatives assisting you for a time. You are not solely responsible for your mom.
When my grandmother died I remember my mom’s family thrown into chaos. Never recovered. My mom swallowed her grief like a bitter pill.
This will pass.. resolution will come...just take it one day at a time, one issue at a time. Treat yourself with kindness and others with as much patience as you can muster.
best wishes to you
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Reply to gemmab123
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Why do you even need to live in NYC at all? You say you are looking for a job, so you don't currently have one tying you to the city. Get the heck out of there!
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JoAnn29 Jan 5, 2020
He is a writer. Better opportunities in NYC.
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Thanks, Riverdale. My mom was in an Atria facility in Westchester, but on the Independent side. Good to know the downsides.

I think the OP needs to see what these places look like so she's not thinking "nursing home".

It's been 6 months since the dad's passing. Ah, NYC real estate!!
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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About Assisted Living. They are NOT nursing homes. https://www.atriaseniorliving.com/clusters/new-york-city/

You and mom might want to check one of these out.


You could also contact a service like senioradvisor.com or A Place for Mom and use their services. It's free to the customer.
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Riverdale Jan 5, 2020
Barb,my mother was in a Atria facility in NY and I found them somewhat ruthless. They had annual increases of 7% and their base starting point was already high. Their other charges were high and so many items were extras. They were also rigid in other ways. I would hope there might be a better solution. I don't quite understand how the original apartment can lost so easily even though there was the passing of the employee. I would think there would be survivor benefits to some degree.
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So, on the rental issue, I found this on StreetEasy: https://streeteasy.com/blog/renting-with-more-assets-than-income-nyc-retiring/

You need to get a handle on what your mom's assets are and figure out what a "safe withdrawal rate" is. www.Bogleheads.org is a great resource for learning about finances and investing.

When you've got the big picture on her finances you can prepare a financial statement for potential landlords.

Does mom know yet what her SS benefit will be monthly?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Kumbaya, I'm a big believer in the idea that everyone in life needs to stand on their own two feet. This includes your mother.

I don't know to what extent your finances are entangled (I hope not at all); don't make the mistake of entangling them. It will complicate her eligibility for programs.

If you are going to help your mom, you need to have a clear understanding of her financial status. You need to have durable POA for both finances and health. You need a good diagnostic workup of her mental and physical status.

If she's not willing to be straight with you, I WOULD walk away and let your sister or the city help her figure out her next steps.

If she's got 160k in assets, why hasn't she hired a lawyer to represent her?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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That’s what I’ve been trying to do. Get her situation resolved before mine gets dealt with. Mine is easier than hers, so I could more so afford to put my situation behind hers.

We are trying to avoid putting her in Assisted Living, but the topic has been brought up with my sister and my therapist, but not in depth. I don’t want to do that since I used to volunteer at a Nursing Home, and have seen what happens to people at that stage in life. She may not be the easiest person to deal with, but she deserves better than that. She functions well for the most part, but it’s how she’s handled my father’s passing that has us concerned.

We are facing housing court in about a week, and hopefully with the issues at hand, we could get a couple of more months until a solution is found. I’m new to the process, and I’m learning as I go along, so hopefully it won’t get to the worst case scenario. I’m looking to Legal Aid to see what are our best options.

Her assets are in good shape, but not enough to buy a condo or co-op in New York. Her upper limit is $160K, but that’s according to her. She is willing to move, only if all the options have been explored and exhausted. I’ve discussed with her about what she could be able to purchase with the amount she has saved up, but accessibility and location are very important to her.

I don’t mean lose in the competition sense, but in terms of what will be left for me when it’s all said and done. I’m doing what I can to maintain my sanity and help her and myself at the same time. Even then, that’s hanging by a thread. I’m not looking for sympathy, just answers to make things easier for our family.

I’ll look into the Office of the Aging and see what they have to say. In all honesty, it never crossed my mind, and it is something worth exploring.

I’ll look into Lease Break and see if there’s anything there.

You have to understand how green I am to the process, and all of this has caught our family by surprise, so I’m always appreciative of someone who knows more about these matters than I do. Feedback such as this is always welcomed. Thank you for answering.
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Geaton777 Jan 5, 2020
Coming up against sudden senior issues is The Great Equalizer: no one has experience in it until they have to go through it themselves. We were all green and have learned some very poignant lessons along the way. This is the whole purpose of this website and thankfully you found it when you did! So, welcome!
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If your mother has dementia, wouldn't getting her into Assisted Living now be the best thing?

Have you always lived with your parents? I would consider getting mom settled and then finding yourself a shared living situation while you seek full time employment.

How do you "lose"? This isn't a competition, this is just what life is throwing at you right now. I'm sorry you feel so stressed.

Have you contacted the NYC Office on Aging? You can call 311 and find out what agency covers your locale. Get in touch with a social worker and request case management services for your mom.

Do you know how long you have before you need to move? Has the management company been in touch? As you know, evicting someone in NYC is really hard, so you may benefit from those rules.

In terms of short term, there is a site called Lease Break that specializes in short term rentals that you might want to check out.

If mom has more cash assets than income, would buying be an option?
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GardenArtist Jan 5, 2020
Barb. excellent advice: I never knew about options such as those you mentioned.
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