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My 90 year old parents live at home. They rely on their kids for help. Dad is basically being kept alive with drugs, and now has some dementia. Mom is in denial (a very old habit) and has dug her heels in about them staying at home so they can die there. She believes she is above asking for help, but their finances and contingency plans (or lack of them) show otherwise. We are burnt out and need help dealing with this ... anyone else been there? There's of course a lot more to this.

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This is something I was thinking of this morning -- elders wanting to remain in their home. If I could advise people in the 60s and 70s about the best course of life, it would be to sell their homes and move into a retirement community or an apartment. Houses become like a symbol of life to people. They hold all these memories and the surroundings are familiar. The problems are that the community around them has changed and the people themselves have changed, too. The kids are grown and moved away. The neighbors have died or moved away. All the neighbors now are unfamiliar young people with kids. Cleaning those 10+ rooms used to be so easy, but now requires too much energy. The house is aging, costing a lot more than it used to for maintenance. Income has gone down, but taxes, insurance, and utility bills have gone up. It makes no sense, really, to remain in the house.

To me, staying in the same house is holding onto the past and not seeing a future. If it were the old days when communities were slow to change and kids stayed close to home, it would make sense. This is not the case anymore. A big problem happens when the parents will not leave the house, so it becomes a burden on their children's shoulders. It is beyond me why so many parents would rather one of their children give up his/her life to come stay with them. Wouldn't it be better if they got rid of the albatross that is weighing them down? That house they won't leave.

I speak from first-hand experience. I was living in sunny TX in a retirement community. I told my parents I could get them an apartment in the same place. No, they didn't want to leave their house. You couldn't get them out of it with a shoe horn. Being born in a more mobile time, I don't understand attachment to a structure that is in a community of young people they don't know. It is just a building and not worth the sacrificing of life and offspring to maintain.

So I would tell people to get rid of that albatross of a house that is holding them down. And I would tell children to look for other options rather than giving up their own lives so the parents can keep their albatross. I have made my own decision already about my house. It is going on the market after my mother's death. Keeping it would be like nailing one of my feet to the floor.

Forgive the rambling, but it seems so relevant to what you're going through, Esme. I have a feeling it is long past time for your parents to leave that albatross on the beach and get on with the rest of their lives. It is keeping them chained to a past that isn't there anymore and creating a burden for them and you. Imagine how nice an apartment in a senior community would be for them.
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I'm in a somewhat similar situation. My mother wants to stay in her home, but it requires a lot of help from other people (mainly me) to keep her there. The main problem is that she lives in Florida, and I hate it here. I've been here 4+ years helping her, and I desperately want to move back up North where I came from. I'm at the point where I want to start putting down roots, but not in a place where I know I don't want to remain long-term.

I don't feel comfortable telling anyone else what to do, even if it's for their own welfare. I'm just trying to get comfortable with the idea of telling her what I'm willing and not willing to do. I'm making plans to move up North, and she can either find other help to stay in her home, or move to assisted living. Elderly parents have a way of blanking out all considerations other than what they want (or feel most comfortable with) and it's our natural tendency to try to accommodate them, especially when they're old and needy and pathetic. It's very hard to draw boundaries with them, but if you don't, you can end up giving up everything you want in life to take care of them, and resenting them bitterly for it. That's where I am now, but it's not where I want to stay.
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Linda22, yet our elderly parents are blind to the fact that their grown children are dealing with age decline problems of their own.... guess we will always be 20 years old in their eyes. Gosh, I have heart disease, cataracts forming, and mobility issues [such as trying to stand up when getting groceries from the bottom shelves without landing on my butt].

I can't convince my parents that I am also a senior citizen, even flashing my Medicare card and AARP membership doesn't phase them :P
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Er, your mother doesn't think she's above asking for help, or not above accepting it anyway. It's just she thinks you should be providing it. I hate to say it, but the children need to down tools and refuse to comply, limiting the help they provide to sourcing more formal, professional support for your parents. It won't go down well, but a united front can be very persuasive. Are your siblings in agreement that things can't go on as they are?
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My mom feels the same way but here's what I explained to her - looking at the age of 3 of my grandparents, the oldest was 82. She lived on her own, took care of herself right down to touching up the concrete in her driveway. Then she had a massive stroke and she was gone. At 82, my mom too could've lived on her own in a senior apartment so she didn't have to worry about the gutters and yardwork etc. But when we live into our 90's, there's more time for things to brew, like dementia, heart disease, mobility problems.
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Here here, Jessiebelle!
In 200, my parents moved a few hours drive away from our neighborhood, to a retirement community. It's very nice--for healthy, active, retired people. For the very elderly and infirm though, it's not enough--it just wasn't designed to provide medical oversight, welfare oversight, and so on. But my mother refuses to leave. She has no social life, no nothing, aside from her caregiver who comes by for a few hours, 4 days a week. But she will not leave.
I feel like I'm learning from my parents' - well, I can't say it was a 'mistake' -- they just didn't know what they didn't know. They didn't consider that moving from a very large, crowded, overpopulated city to a smaller one would mean that, in 15 years, traffic woud increase to the point that it's extremely difficult, draining, and time consuming to make the drive. What was a relatively smooth 2.5 hour drive max in 2000 is now at LEAST 3 hours in stop-and-go traffic, usually more (and if it's raining, and on a weekend, it's absolutely horrendous). Gas has also gone up quite a bit, and they didn't think about that either. They didn't consider that keeping in touch with friends and family would fall on the shoulders of everyone else, since my father, and now my mother, no longer drive. And, I don't think they gave any thought to the possibility that I might move even farther away. Without realizing it, they put so much responsibility for their welfare on my shoulders. They did plan wisely in the financial department though, and I'm very grateful for that. But the day to day stuff, which keeps increasing, is too much.
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My parents will only leave their house either in a pine box or in handcuffs.... it is just something that generation did, their parents lived in their own homes until they had to be hospitalized or die in their sleep... my parents are doing same thing... so, of course, my parents are stuck to the house like Velcro.

One cousin gave up trying to maintain 3 single family homes: his own, his mother's and his mother-in-law's.... thus, he and his wife sold their dream home and moved into a retirement community. He's glad he had moved, his Mom lived to be 100 before passing on, and his mother-in-law is now 100.

For me, my therapist told me that since my parents refuse to move they need to take responsibility for their choice, which means to stop relying on their only child to help out. So, I started cutting back on things I use to do.... but I can't erase the guilt I feel whenever I say *no*.
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Everyone needs to leave for a week and let the chips fall where they may. Your folks do not have a good plan and they need to be forced to realize it.

My mom is 96 and in a NH. We never would have believed that she would like it there. We had to back off and not be at her beckon call. Then, she fell and went to the hospital, where we stated that she was no longer able to live at home. It saved her life.
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I'll be facing this very soon with mom and dad. I think I can get mom to move (with major guilt trip I have to give up my life you don't want that do you?......) dad with dementia will take trickery and even a little treachery to move. But the first chance I get ( next fall, diabetic coma, er trip whatever) away they go. I am not going to end my few remaining years going through eldercare h*ll.
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Well, I have to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who replied. I did talk with my Mother about having an aging & disabilities specialist meet with my parents and whatever "kids" (we are all middle aged) want to be there... and my Mom actually AGREED to it. Without all of you, I doubt that my confidence would have been there. I needed as much courage as possible, and I thank all of you for it!!!
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