Is it safe to leave Mother (90) with son and fiance? - AgingCare.com

Is it safe to leave Mother (90) with son and fiance?

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I have been dealing with caregiver burnout doing this for 7 years now. I have POA for my mother and when I mention to her and my son that she needs to go to an ALF for additional help for her Dementia, COPD, DIABETES and walking prolems, she adamantly refuses to leave her home and tells me that I am trying to get rid of her. Her doc says that she could live to be 100 years old and I am already 65. After she passes I will have no place to live as her house is in reverse mortgage. I found an apartment and a part time job and have agreed to start working this month. I also move on my own November 7th, next month. My son and his wife and baby live here in her house with us and argue constantly at each other and at me blaming me for possible breakup of their marriage. They make me feel so guilty and my son swears that if I do anything like remove my mother from the home, he will never speak to me again nor let me see my grandaughter. I can no longer live under these stressful conditions. Do you think I did the right thing? I worry they won't take good care of my mother but I feel it will be a good wake up call, for them to walk in my shoes. Thank you for your help and God Bless you all.

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Glo, thanks for the insightful explanation and analysis of the situation. I agree with FF; this has been a burn out situation for you, facing resistance from not only your mother but from your Type A son as you describe him as well as his wife.

You state that your son "will not allow" you to move your mother to the facility you selected. He seems to assume that he has more authority than he should, but I do understand how aggressive and domineering Type As can be. I've worked for more than a few who upset others by their domineering and uncooperative attitude; they definitely were not and never would be team players.

I think you can anticipate that your son won't be either.

Having read your earlier messages, I see now your plea for support to salvage your life and get out of this unhealthy situation. And although I can't say I can realistically understand your position (b/c I haven't been in it), I can intellectually understand it. And I see you're torn between your care for your mother vs. your own self survival.

Since your mother is also not in agreement with you, since you've been doing this for years, with challenges and w/o support, I do agree that you need to just leave and make your own life. I think it's the only way you'll maintain your sanity, regain some balance, and be away from the toxic situation created by your son and DIL.

Your concern for your grandson is legitimate, but I'm not sure that there's anything that can be done because of your son's personality and hostility. Unfortunately, children are so often in the line of fire when parents are feuding. I wonder, though, if his personality is also influencing his wife's behavior. Perhaps she too needs to consider separate living; however, that's her concern.

I do think respite care might help your mother, at least after you first move out. Given the situation, though, it wouldn't surprise me if she becomes hostile toward a respite caregiver, angry at you, and won't cooperate or treat the respite provider with respect.

You can arrange for care, but if your mother doesn't want that care, she's made that decision and you can move on.

If there's any way to simplify the issues, I would think a few basic principles might help:

1. You've cared for your mother, to the best of your ability, despite extreme difficulties.

2. When you leave, will she have the benefit of shelter, food, .... the basic necessities of life? Yes. Will she be living on the street, hand to mouth? No.

3. What else is there that you could possibly do that could effect change? I don't know if such remedies exist.

Therefore, consider that you've done what you can; sometimes it's necessary to admit that we aren't able to effect changes to bad situations and need to save ourselves.

The situation is not something you can control, nor is it something that should keep you chained to an unhealthy environment.

Unfortunately, there are situations and times when you need to focus primarily on your own welfare and survival, and this is one. None of the 3 adults in the household support your position, respect you, or cooperate with you. You've given it your best. Now it's time to regain your own life.

I'm glad you have the blessings and counsel of your pastor; it seems well advised. Move out, look forward to living again, and I hope you find the peace and solace that's eluded you for so long.

And be sure to post back on how relieved you are once you've left the house of dissent!
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Glo, you are really burnt out, I can see from your writings... how much longer can you keep doing this?

Note that 40% of caregivers die leaving behind the person they were caring. Would your son step up to the plate to care for his Grandmother 24 hours a day or would he finally realize there is more work then he had expected? He is definitely in denial.
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You say this:

I am POA and it is my wish that mom would agree with me concerning the decisions I make for her.

And then shortly after you say this:

Neither she nor my son will allow me to carry out this plan of action and have given me quite a bit of a piece of their mind about mother being removed from her home.

Compare and contrast those statements, and this becomes clear: you are in a mental muddle about what your responsibilities to your mother are, and what your authority is.

Bear with me, and let's see if we can't untangle things a bit.

You hold power of attorney FOR your mother, not over her. You have accepted a legal duty to act on her behalf, in her best interests, and to meet her known wishes as far as possible. So the phrasing "it is my wish that mom would agree with me" is, if you'll forgive the vulgar expression, arse about face. You've got it back to front. Your duty is to implement her wishes as far as you reasonably can, and acting in her best interests is the limit of your authority.

Hang on, though; don't despair. That does NOT mean that you are obliged to stay stuck as you are, slowly melting into a little burned-out puddle and unable to change your circumstances. Not at all. And don't let anyone, including your angry son, tell you different.

Okay, so your mother wishes to remain living at home. What is required to make that possible?

Given her dementia, her health conditions and so on, she will need considerable hands-on care and support; but nothing that can't be perfectly well provided at home given willing participants and adequate resources. Do those exist? Apparently so. She has a close family member on the premises who is not merely willing to assist her, but adamant that she must not be forced to move: her grandson.

It then becomes a question of how her grandson expects to go about delivering on his promise, in effect, to her that she won't have to move. And that is where not your, but his thinking breaks down. Because his solution to this is in fact not that HE should care for his grandmother, but that YOU should. Well, sorry love, but he doesn't get to make those decisions on his mother's behalf: which is what he seems to be trying to do.

At the moment, you are getting caught in the crossfire: your son on the one hand dictating that you must stay put and do the caregiving; your mother on the other refusing to consider ALF.

Just to add to the fun, there is the pressure that this situation is putting on your son's young family unit. Given the stress that everybody, all concerned, must be under it is not surprising that there is friction. Set that anxiety to one side for the time being, and hope it's a side-effect that will settle down once the main issues are resolved; and as long as it doesn't go on too long or get too vicious there needn't be lasting damage to the relationship.

But here are the options, and which to pick depends on the answer to the question: who is going to take on operational, day to day responsibility for providing your mother's care?

If it's you (it doesn't have to be, but let's say), then you are free to make arrangements that meet your mother's AND YOUR OWN needs as tidily as possible. So, yes, you should move to your new place, you should take up your new employment, and you then need to make the best provision that you can for your mother; which might be day centres, hired caregivers or, if those options are impractical or unaffordable, then ALF.

OR your son, rather than see that happen, may announce that he will step up and take over. Before he gets carried away with that idea, he then needs to satisfy you, the POA - because you still have responsibility for protecting your mother's welfare - that he has a coherent plan for it. So, HOW exactly is he going to do that?

If he is still stuck in first gear thinking that he can emotionally blackmail you into giving up your new opportunities, he needs to move on. He needs to shift to practical thinking about how it might be possible to keep your mother in her home. It's not IMpossible. It's just very hard work. How's he going to manage it?

Perhaps the shift in thinking, actually, needs to be towards the 'eyes on the prize' type. Okay: what's your and your family's prize, the perfect scenario? It might be something like…

1. You proceed with your plans, which are valid and reasonable and important and must not be surrendered without a fight. You retain POA, keeping a supervisory responsibility for caregiving and continuing to manage your mother's finances on her behalf.
2. Mother stays in her own home with a complete package of support for personal care, activities of daily living, the whole suite.
3. Son and wife and child remain living in the grandmother's family home to provide informal, complementary support and carry on their own family life - meanwhile continuing to save up towards their own household in the fullness of time.

Adapt this, of course, to fit your own picture. And bear in mind that your daughter in law is also entitled to a voice. I'm sorry that she's not a nicer person to live with, but given that she's working and has a small child and is living with her in-laws when she'd rather not… I can't blame her for being a bit vinegary. Not that she wouldn't get further if she weren't, but there it is. You can see why she might feel like sulking.

You also need to add up what it costs and whether it's affordable long-term; and you need to factor in what happens as your mother's health deteriorates, or another baby comes along, or any other predictable complication.

Two red lines:

1. Your decisions are yours to make. You cannot be 'volunteered' to be your mother's hands-on caregiver.
2. It is your duty not to move your mother against her will unless there is no safe, feasible alternative.

And one observation: I've met rather a lot of people who are very keen on sacrifices being made… by other people. I doubt if he sees it this way, but your son perhaps feels that 'everyone' should do everything they can to keep his grandmother home; but what he's not yet seeing is that his version of 'everyone' means you, and your DIL, and when it's his turn? Well, he's working every hour God sends, isn't he? So it's not fair to include *him*...

The trouble is that his belief then becomes 'everyone else' should do everything they can, etc. Except him!

Making everybody happy is hardly ever completely possible. But I really hope you'll be able to get a bit closer to it. Don't be bullied, but do be as flexible and imaginative as you can about the possibilities.
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First of all, as long as your mom has not been diagnosed by a doctor as incompetent, your authority as her POA cannot force her to move.

Secondly, why are you submitting to your son's threats?

Thirdly, have you considered that his wife may not be happy at all living with her MIL? Nothing against you, but a wife often finds the son's mother to be competition for her attention when under the same roof or when it appears that mommy is number one more than wifey.

Fourthly, why does your son and DIL need to buy a town house? Are they wanting to pay cash for it? Is their credit score so low that they can't get a loan for a house? Why can't they just buy what they can afford? They are really stacking up some money having lived there rent and mortgage payments free. It would seem that if they have been saving say $1,000 a month, that after 4 years they would have good down payment for a house? My own mortgage is only a little over that amount and we move out of a much smaller house 10 years ago because the rent was about to reach that level. It was not as nice as what we have now.

Fifth, at the opening of your post you say that they both work. Later you say that his wife works and you wonder about him as a stay at home dad for the 4 year old and as a caregiver for your mom. Which is it? They both work? They use to both work or he is going to have to quit his job to take care of the child and your mother? If he is having to stop work, how did he get chosen? Who has the higher salary?

Sixth, who's been looking after the child while they worked? You?

Seventh, are you gong to be able to afford this apartment with or without a part time job? What about when your health does not allow you to work? What happens to you then?

Sounds to me like you have been getting used all around and are going to end up with the short end of the stick while you've been far too patient with your son and his wife and child living there with you and your mother.

Take care of yourself for no one else will.
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Thank you all for your helpful replies. My son and I have been living with my mother for 10 years. For the last six years, I have had to become her constant caregiver as she is 90 now and requires help with most basic activities. My son met and married his wife and they had a baby who is now four. They both work work and are trying to save money to buy a townhome. My complaint is that I don't them being here but they need to comply with my wishes regarding my mother. I am POA and it is my wish that mom would agree with me concerning the decisions I make for her. I found a lovely assisted living facility in Virginia highly recommended by my church as they help support the home. Neither she nor my son will allow me to carry out this plan of action and have given me quite a bit of a piece of their mind about mother being removed from her home. She requires more help than I can give her, so I have made arrangements to move out of her house next month and I also will start a new job this week. I am also trying to regain working status and independent living while I am still halfway physically and mentally able to do so. My son is a "type A personality on steroids" and I am worried that he won't be able to cook, clean, and care for the baby and mother as his wife works and when she comes home sits on the couch and plays with her phone all evening and weekends. I have mentioned to her that it would be helpful if she could put more of an effort into helping my son, but she takes the defense and blows up at me and curses me out before it is all over. GardenArt, I know you have been following my posts and challenges with this situation escalating over the years. Thank you for your responses. I had a talk with a pastoral counselor at church and he advised me since no one is complying with my authority as POA that I should move out and let them take over caring for mom and all of the other responsibilities involved here at home. I can only pray that the wife will straighten up and start doing more to help. They also "go at it" with each other and I worry about my grandchild around all of this chaos So, I have again asked my mother would not she be happier around people her own age, socializing, going on day trips, and dining in a cafeteria as opposed to just sitting in a chair in front of the tv all day? Still she adamantly says "no" and asks me repeatedly if I am trying to get rid of her. Her doctor states she is in good health and could live another 10 years. I just need to get out of this house away from all of this as I am totally burned out. I plan to still help her as much as I can during the day, but just not everyday as I will be working at night. The house is in reverse mortgage so everyone will have to move within 3 months after my mother passes anyway. Do you think I should look into respite care for her in the mornings? Thank you.
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I'm wondering if he's paying rent. If not, why not evict him?
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Glo, when did your son, his fiancee and their toddler move back in? A few months ago they had found their own place. I still can't understand what it is that your son is holding over your head regarding you mother.

Does your son believe that grandma's house will be his, free and clear? You think maybe your mother might have told him something like that?

Tell your son that with a reverse mortgage that the loan needs to be paid back, would he be able to afford to refinance the house? If not, the mortgage company would foreclose on the house.
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Your son's threats cause me pause. Why would he say things like that? I take it that he wants a free place to stay and that if grandma leaves the house, the reverse mortgage kicks in, right? So, I might be quite skeptical of the care he and his wife might provide your mother. I might point out that her great care would be to his benefit, if his goal is to stay in the house.

I'm not sure why their poor behavior would make you feel guilty. You are doing the right thing. No one can take that away from you. It's those who are not doing right that should feel guilty.

If you are worrying that they won't take good care of your mom, there is probably a reason for that. Listen to your instincts. If your mom does have dementia, she may not be in a position to actually make sound decisions.
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Bodega Bay, a/k/a GloNorth, isn't this a reprisal of issues that have been raised before?

Although I can't find the post, if I remember correctly your son and I believe then live-in GF were not contributing to care of your mother, upkeep of the house, and were harassing and being disrespectful to you.

For posters:

The issue of the family dynamics and Glo's concern about finding a place for her mother were also addressed extensively in this post:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/put-mom-away-when-god-says-honor-thy-mother-and-thy-father-187058.htm

Read FreqFlyer's post here:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/mom-not-asking-brother-for-his-help-too-174102.htm

Glo/Bodega, this and the family dynamics seems to be an especially problematic issue for you. From what I remember, the son and the then GF needed to just get out and find a place of their own, rather than you feeling forced out because of their hostility.

I still think they need to grow up and move out, then you can address how to care for your mother without their meddling and the friction they cause.

From what I remember of the situation, I wouldn't leave a bug in the care of your son and his wife.

What I really do NOT understand is why your son doesn't grow up and move his family out to their own place. Can't he support himself and his family?
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Why does your son threaten you about leaving the home? What is he getting out of the situation that he feels the need to threaten you with abandonment from his daughter? Does he just not want to be left alone caring for his grandmother or is your presence (and/or financial contribution) necessary for his continuing to live there?

Regardless, you can't stay in a situation in which you're unhappy because someone wants you to, or because someone is threatening you, or because someone is demanding that you stay. You'd be sacrificing your own life and emotional well being by giving in and not doing what you feel you need to do at this point in your life.

Many times caregivers are lost when their loved one passes away. They don't know what to do next or how to go on. You're striking out on your own, getting a job, your own place and I think that's wonderful!! I think you're doing a very positive and brave thing and you're taking care of yourself.

As for whether it's safe to leave your mom with your son, I don't know. Only you know that. Is your son likely to care for his grandmother? What are her day to day needs? Does she need hands on caregiving and if so, will your son be willing and able to provide that?

However, since your son is threatening you if you leave will he intentionally neglect your mom to get back at you? I can see that happening as well based on what you wrote about your son.

Keep ALF in the back of your mind and move on to your new life. See what happens.
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