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I have recently come back to this forum for advice and emotional support (just reading others' stories is so helpful!) and I would like to get some general advice on how to balance helping my mother who is 82 with her physical needs (cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, etc.), taking her to appointments AND being a source of entertainment. I cannot do it all.


Have others developed a schedule? Written out some sort of plan of care? What you will and won't do?


After helping her meet her basic needs, I have no energy left to entertain her. I work full-time, and married, and travel for work. I don't have the time or the emotional energy to be her everything.


I am seeking support from a home health aid, but I don't have the financial means to have someone else do everything else and just see my mom for social visits. I have to help with a lot of the basics. And I get extremely frustrated with her because she is needy and manipulative. I lose my patience and she resents that I don't "do it all" willingly and with a smile.


Any and all advice is appreciated!

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Eight to twelve years before my mother reached EOL stage, we had tried to make plans of action. My late mother widowed at 46, never cared to remarry and lived alone in another state 7 states from mine and all the way 'cross county from my brother. We had toured ALs in my state of Maryland since my son in law's paternal grandmother lived in one and she was similar in nature to my mother. My mother said "I'm so happy I stayed in my own home." I said "Well, we're not because you're bordering on passing out daily due to low bp, not to mention legally blind, had CHF and A-fib, arthritis." So you have left us no choice that I will now have to move in with you. It's good that you're developing a plan of action, BUT be aware it could all go south in a minute.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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In the beginning, I only hired housekeepers for my mom, but as her memory got worse, I hired home care for her and had a list of what they were to do for her each day, which involved giving her the lunch from the frig that I had pre-made, light housekeeping, groceries, and helping her with her bath. I suggested to them that every 20 minutes or so they should stop and just sit with her and talk, eat a snack, and try to get her to talk about something. My mom liked to talk about the past or the neighbors - in a good way mostly - as she watched them from the front window or the porch. She made up stories that were pretty interesting. Some of the care givers were really good with her and some were not. Some she liked and some she did not. I still had the majority of the work to do every morning and evening and the days no home care came. I was working full time at the beginning of caring for her. It was a lot and eventually was too much for me to handle. She is in assisted living now and doing fine.
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Reply to ArtistDaughter
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Excellent advice from Girlsaylor. The important thing is that you require her do the things you know she is able to do and set your boundaries -- and stick with them! Just like raising a child, if you don't adhere to your rules consistently, you'll be taken advantage of and your boundary will be permanently broken. My Alzheimer's sister is staying with me at the moment. I do the cooking and prepare her plate, but everybody cleans up after themselves and washes their own dishes. If she rinses them and tries to leave them in the sink, I gently tell her that the sponge is all soaped up for her or some other gentle reminder. Yesterday I was busy collecting the trash, cleaning up after dinner, folding towels. She had finished eating and when I walked by she asked if I wanted to take her plate. I flatly said no and carried on with what I was doing. That may seem a small thing, but she needs to be responsible for as much as she's capable of doing for as long as she can.

When I was raising a family and working, I made myself a calendar with one manageable chore per night. Larger things got scheduled once a month on the weekends. That way I didn't have to spend my whole weekend cleaning and I knew that everything was being addressed on a rotating schedule. At your mother's, if something gets done every two weeks or even monthly instead every week, so be it. Decide what is critical to be done and do the rest as you can.

Obviously, you're on to your mother's manipulative behavior and you just have to stand your ground. And you don't have to smile. Give yourself a break. We want to care for our loved ones, but it's not always going to feel good. That's okay. That's normal. DON'T FEE GUILTY! You're right -- you can't do it all! Learning to let it go and accept the negative comments is difficult, but it's the reality of where you are. When you lay your head on the pillow at night, know you've done your best. It's all we can do. Best of luck to you.
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Reply to SisterSue1949
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As previously noted, we don’t have enough information to give the best, most specific responses.
Figure out her financial resources, so you can determine living arrangements.
Figure out how much time you can devote to mom, and how each of you will benefit. What gives each of you joy? If you hate doing laundry, someone else must do it, whether her or laundry service, home health aide.
If she hasn’t enough resources, and not yet medically qualified for Medicaid, your assistance is your choice.
Use your organizing skills and plan out a typical day, one day when you are with her an entire day. Chart the medications, meals Prep, and cleanup, bath. Fill in other daily activities she must have help with.
Look at those activities she needs help with and ask yourself, is there a tool that would enable her to perform the task herself? I, for instance, cannot get on my knees to scrub a bathtub, or dust baseboards, needing my knees replaced. I have assorted long handle tools to allow me to do tasks like those myself. Nobody is doing those for me.
Nutritious, appealing meals are important. If you like to cook, make and freeze individual meals when you cook, deliver them when you visit her. If not, that gets hired, if she can’t safely cook.
Is she taking medications? Lots of options if she can administer them herself, safely. You can measure meds into pill containers, scheduling alarms on smart phone, you can get info from pharmacy as to options. Or get meds set up in pill packs, if you don’t need/want to take that on.
If you are concerned about falls, and are assisting with things like bathing and dressing, consider getting shower chair or transfer chair, grab bars, lots of options, to preserve independence and dignity for her as long as possible. Maybe she can still do those things, but in a safer way.
If there is confusion, early dementia involved, but she is still able to function reasonably well, most banks offer automatic bill pay. Set her up, utilities too, to pay the highest amount of the past year’s bills, each month, automatically. Maybe every six months, log onto bank with the statements in front of you, to see how much you have overpaid the last six months, and adjust that month’s payment. This allows you to effectively only help pay her bills twice per year, for the routine monthly expenses. This way you won’t be scrambling with unexpected utility shut offs. In this day, there is no excuse for handwriting checks, addressing envelopes, for paying bills, going to post office for stamps. Analyze the errands to streamline them, eliminate those you can.
If her home is owned outright, and she pays taxes and homeowners insurance once or twice a year, you should be able to check the tax bill online, by searching the parcel by owner name or address, to be sure she is getting those taxes paid. Set yourself reminders to check, on your phone, if that is something you are concerned about. If she is needing that type of assistance. If concerned about homeowners insurance getting paid timely, you might consider creating online account for her, so you can view bills, even have notices sent to your email. You could incorporate these activities into your own schedule, when you are paying your own household bills. Everything can be done deliberately, use electronic means to set up anything that can be done electronically.
Sometimes providers, like life insurance companies, allow a second person designated to contact, should the premium not be paid timely. You can consider setting those services up to contact you should a Bill not get paid, but not allow it to hold you liable for actual debt. Scrutinize those carefully.
If she is in her own home for now, and it is determined to continue for a time, can she go to a local senior center for social interaction, and have lunch during the days there? If she doesn’t drive, can she use Uber or Lyft once in awhile?
Please give us more information, if you wish for more specific, targeted assistance.
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Reply to Girlsaylor
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If you have help in, be very clear with each other about what kinds of care this person (or people) provide. Seems others have commented very well about kinds of activities to expect them to complete.

Consider what are the activities that you must complete: appointments, entertaining, errands together? If there are too many of these "have-to's", consider making a list by priority. Complete the top priority "have-tos" and farm out the others to family, friends, church members...

Of course, mom wants you to be with her all the time - she loves and prefers you. However, you have clearly stated that you have a spouse and a job and a life outside of her. She resents that these appear to have higher value than her. Don't feel guilty. Remind her that you love her and are making sure her needs are cared for.
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Reply to Taarna
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early, you’re doing too much for sure, and I guess you mean hiring a CNA. Daily, for four hours? They’ll do errands, light food prep, light cleaning, all sorts. But the trick is - and I hope you’re more successful than I was - to make you mom understand that this ‘someone else’ must be leaned on and allowed to do these things instead of you, or her staying at home will not be sustainable. My mother let/made them sit there so I could do everything that was needed once I was there.

Use your expert management skills (you’ve clearly got them!) to see what her means will allow her to engage as far as assisted living (AL) facilities. With what you list, she’s pretty much at that level now. Wishing you the best.
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ArtistDaughter Nov 11, 2019
My mom did that too sometimes, not ask the home care people for what might come up that she needed other than the list of duties and wait until I was there to ask.
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I don’t work outside the home and I worry that I don’t spend quality time with my 93 yo mom.

It seems that when she asks for an activity, it’s an “of the moment” thought that she wants to do “later.”

But we never get it synchronized. Either her “show” is just coming on, or I need clean up after dinner, or one or the other of us just doesn’t feel like it.

My way of managing the isolation of being virtually housebound is to do crafts projects and I read extensively, which are solo activities.

She sometimes complains about being lonely but when I go in to talk to her she’s waving her hand at me to be quiet so she can hear the tv. Face it, neighbors down the block can hear her tv but she can’t hear me.

As far as meeting her extraordinary needs, they seem to be spontaneous, labor intensive, time consuming events, that have to be dealt with and gone through, then we heave a sigh of relief when it’s over.

I don’t think I would manage all her basic needs and the chores and maintain the house if I had a full time job. I certainly couldn’t do any of it graciously.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are an angel for doing what you do. Pat yourself on the back. Go ahead do it now! You’ve got it coming.

charlotte
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Reply to CharK60
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My Mom was not demanding. I wish she had been with my brothers. It was me she depended on when she did need something. TG she had Church and a circle of friends. When she stopped driving we set up one day for grocery shopping and running errands. I gave her a white board to keep track of what she needed.

If my Mom needed help with everything you have mentioned, she'd be in an AL. Especially if I had a job. I was never a source of entertainment. I don't like games or puzzles and either did Mom. Thats why an AL was good for Mom. People and activities.

Its not what you can afford, its what Mom can afford. If she has no money put aside, check out Medicaid and see if she can get an aide.

Mom should be capable to get herself breakfast and lunch. Dinners can be made ahead and frozen. She should be able to microwave them. Cleaning, how dirty can one person be. And laundry, the machine does the work.Wouldn't cost much to have someone come in once a month to dust and run the sweeper. Mom should be able to clean up after herself. When I worked f/t there is no way I could have taken care of two households.

Does Mom have an illness where she can't do for herself? Are you enabling her by doing what you are? Really, they need to do for themselves? The more you do the more likely they won't do? If ur 30 Mom can't be that old. Do you want to wait on her another 20/30 yrs. I read ur first posting. Mom is where she is because of choices she made. Don't feel u have to support her. If she needs money for bills, u pay them directly.

There are Swifter suppllies for cleaning. There's a floor mop that does a great job on hard floors. Dusting cloths with a handle for quickies. Light weight vacuums for quick pick ups. Paper plates. I used comforters for my girls beds with sheets to match. All they had to do was pull the covers, throw the comforter on and then the pillows, bed made. Bathrooms, Clorox wipes. Just wipe off everything every few days. Let the cleaning lady do a deeper clean when she is there. So there is dust.

You can't do it all.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Don't forget your mother managed without you up until recently. I think that supporting her physical needs is more than enough, the rest is not something you need to take on. (nor is it realistically possible)
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Reply to cwillie
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Realizing you can't do it all is a small victory for you. Scheduling and planning is smart, but it won't prevent where you are headed with you mom...to possible (and probable) caregiver burnout.

You don't have enough info on your profile, particularly if you have a family of your own, how old you are, if you have a part or full-time job/career, etc. Most importantly: are you willing to be a full-time caregiver (with a smile or not)? Was THIS in your plan for your life? Did your mom ever ask you if you would be willing to give up an unknown portion of your life to be her nursemaid? You are under no obligation to cater to your mom's unreasonable expectation of personalized family-provided free care for herself. She has NO IDEA what impact this will inevitably have on you, and all because she doesn't want to transition to a care facility. Don't do it. Stop before you run yourself ragged and burnout. Visit some facilities to suss out quality, cost and availability. You will need a back-up plan. Good luck!
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Reply to Geaton777
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You have not filled out your profile.

Why does Mum need help with so much?

Where does she live, in her home IL, AL etc?

What means, IE, money/assets does Mum have?

What community based services are available? It does not matter whether or not Mum wants you to "do it all with a smile", you are not a slave and you are entitled to a life. Is there local medical transportation that can take her to appointments?

Yes, you need to make a list of what you are willing to do and what you are unwilling to do for her. You need to decide how much time you have available for Mum too.

There are so many grocery delivery services, that you do not need to do her shopping, except by clicking a mouse if you so choose. Mum can look into meal delivery such as Meals on Wheels, then you do not have to cook.

My former MIL was a real Pill when it came to grocery shopping. She wanted me to give up a couple hours each weekend (I only had one day off a week) so she could wander up and down every aisle of Walmart. I was not prepared to do that more than 2x a year. But each time I went shopping for my own groceries, I would call her and ask if she needed anything and I would drop it off. Nope, she did not need anything. One day her neighbour called me to ream me out because she did not have milk or bread. That was my last straw moment. I told him, I had called her the day prior and she did not need anything. I told her no more, either your sons take you shopping or you sign up for grocery delivery, I am done. She now loves the grocery delivery service.

My Mum wants to stay in her home. But now that step dad has died, she no longer has his pension contributing to the household, it is expensive for her. Yet, she has $300+K in equity in her house. If Mum sells her house, and she lived until 100 (15 years), not taking interest into account, she would have an extra $20,000 per year. More than enough for rent, travel etc.

I will not do anything to support Mum staying in her house. Because why on earth should I be out time and money, when she has more than enough assets to meet her needs? Plus when she does die, we have to sell the house, pay capital gains etc.

It is all about setting boundaries and sticking with them.

You can tell Mum you have 4 hours a week you can dedicate to helping her. She can decide what she would like you to do during that time. When the 4 hours is up, you stop. If you are at her house, you could easily do a couple loads of laundry, put away an order of groceries and watch a movie together for social time.
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