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My elderly mother lives alone in her home, doesn't drive, is on oxygen 24/7, has limited mobility and multiple health problems. She also lives in a rural area with very limited services. Out of all my siblings, I live the closest to my Mom and am the first person she calls whenever she needs anything, which is almost every day. She recently ended up in the hospital for yet another health problem. This time, it prompted a discussion about her moving to assisted living. With her multiple problems and declining health, I would like to see her go to an assisted living facility. However, she does not want to leave her home and my siblings support her decision. My siblings live a few hours away. My mom will not call them for help because she doesn't want to bother them.


I don't think my Mom or my siblings realize how much is being asked of me. I don't want to be responsible for my Mom's well being and I worry that something will eventually happen to her living alone.


I don't know what to do. I am trying to think through the consequences of abandoning the situation and telling my Mom and siblings they can no longer rely on me. Does anyone have any advice?

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You aren't abandoning your mom by setting boundaries. She is using you to create an illusion of independence and your siblings are falling for it. First contact all your siblings and spell out the number of phone calls and time spent running to mom. Tell them you can't keep this up and if mom refuses to consider AL she will have to live with the consequences of you pulling back...or your sibling can step up and help out a bit.

For doctor visits she is going to have to find her own mode of transportation. I had to enforce this boundary when for the third time my father expected me to leave my job twice in one day to take him to the same doctor.

I took my father to the store once every other week. I did not stop over in between for things he wanted. He would have to wait until the next shopping trip. See if the pharmacy will deliver. We live in a rural area that did not have alot of public transportation options. My father didn't want to take a cab to the doctor, it was easier (for him) if I took him. Of course it was...and it didn't cost him anything. Plus he wanted someone to 'escourt' him into the doctor's office and sit with him. For one of his monthly visits I offered a compromise ...he makes an appointment near the end of my work day and takes a cab there and I pick him up on my way home and drop him at his home. He countered with saying he could make the appointment for after I got off of work so I could take him too. He did not realize that I did not have the time to sit and wait while he was in seeing the doctor. At his point they have no concept of wasting your time.

As another poster said. Don't jump for every phone call. Don't run out just because she is out of something, it will have to wait until your next scheduled visit.

Can you siblings each take a turn and visit once a month to run her on errands or whatever to help take some of the burden off of you.

Bottom line...decided what you can and are willing to do and do only that. She will have to figure out something else for all other things. I was in your position but I am an only child. My father ran me ragged for two years before I had to put a stop to most everything but my every other week visit. He figured something else out.
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You need a family meeting. A place midway maybe. You need to tell your siblings, who aren't around and don't deal with the drs., hospitals and Moms failing health, that you cannot do it all. That Moms health is getting such that she needs more than you can physically give. For one, you have a family to care for and a job. You cannot be at Moms beck and call. The area you are in has limited services. An AL would be the best option for Mom unless one of them want to take her in. She cannot safely live on her own per her Doctor.

When it comes to Mom, you need to set boundries. For my sanity I like organization. Everything in its place. When my Mom stopped driving, I now was her driver. We picked one day a week for grocery shopping and errands. Dr, visits were made when I could drive her. (I was retired so didn't need to take time away from work) I took her to Church on Sunday. If she needed something in between and it wasn't important, I picked it up when I was out. She sort of lived around the block. 5 min away. So her pharmacy was on the way as was a small grocery. I was lucky that my disabled nephew lived with her so not a lot of calls.

Boundries with Mom and your family. Its sort of like that stay at home Mom whose working friends think she can run errands for them.
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Thanks everyone for replying. I have a demanding job, a house to care for, and a family. However, my Mom and siblings see all this as my responsibility because I live close by. You have given some great advice and most importantly, validation that I don't have to do it all! Thank YOU!!!!
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If your mother wants to be independent and live alone, she needs to play ball with the person who is enabling that independence, doesn't she?

I think it would be reasonable to ask her to keep a list of things she needs shopped for and done. You can call a day or two ahead of a visit and get the shopping list from her (or she can email it to you) and find out if any of the home care tasks require special supplies.

This involves one phone call and one visit a week.

If mom needs more help than that, she needs to hire someone.

Try this plan out on her and see what her reaction is.
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While you pick up all the call-outs, no-one except you has any problem. ‘Abandoning’ your mother is a bit drastic! You can probably guess which of the call-outs are important, and which aren’t. Postponing the non-urgent might be a good start – too busy at the moment, will try to find time tomorrow – or the day after. You can give the same story to your siblings if you want - mother will probably complain to them. You can suggest that your siblings arrange in-home care options if they don’t think AL is a good idea. Of course you can if you wish tell your siblings that you are dropping down your responses because they and mother are not being reasonable in expecting so much from you, and you are putting on a bit of pressure to change things. However it might be worth just being less co-operative first, and keeping the hard word to use if things don’t improve. But you have to stop solving everyone’s problems. Good luck!
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lm1984 Mar 24, 2019
Thank you! This is good advice. I appreciate it.
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Your siblings actually don’t support “her decision “- they support whatever necessary that doesn’t require their effort and involvement.

Assisted Living is not abandonment. If you have access to a pleasant one, it may well be a FAR more positive life experience than she has now. Very rare is the elderly, physically challenged adult who has free 24 hour care that will say they would be happy to enter an AL, andbout abandoning her and being “unreliable” actually make the “choice” for Mom to stay at home even more credible.

Meantime, what do you do when the weather makes it unsafe for you to get to her? What happens when you’re sick yourself?

Do do you have a job? Hobbies that are important to you? Friends? Pets? A life schedule beyond caregiving.

Gather the siblings and start the conversation with, “Since we all.ove and care for mom, we need to make some decisions about the plan for getting the best POSSIBLE CARE for her.......”
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