Mom is 78, lives “independently” but requires lots of help with her older home…maintenance, upkeep. Continues to pour money into fixing it up. It feels like a never ending project. She even borrowed $70,000 a few years ago to do some things to the house. She has had a couple of things done but now pretty much that money is gone. Some wasted I suppose. I’ve tried so hard to convince her to downsize to a smaller home or apartment that would allow her to still live alone and be pretty independent (still with my help for some things of course) but she don’t hear of it. It would give her less stress and more free time to enjoy life. Not having to worry about what needs fixing all the time. Plus her yard is huge and always needs mowing or leaves to get up in fall. Either doesn’t want to pay for yard work or expects us to do it. I retired 2 years ago and husband is near retirement. We don’t mind helping out some but I don’t think it’s fair to keep up 2 homes. I feel like I’m being selfish but this should be our time to enjoy life. It’s not my fault she hasn’t planned well for herself. I also worry about her falling ( which she has done a couple of times) she’s become like a hoarder….stuff everywhere. I’m afraid she’s going to trip over all the junk. We organize and then it goes right back to being cluttered. At this point I feel like I’m just waiting on the next fall and then she maybe forced into assisted living. I do not have POA. Any advice?

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You in fact are waiting for the next fall. Until then there's not much that you can do. In the meantime though, you may want to ask mom who she would like as her POA, because without someone being assigned, your hands will be tied. It's best to have the POA's done before mom starts showing any mental decline, as then she legally won't be able to assign someone.
The only way your mom is going to learn that her house upkeep is just too much for her, is if you and your husband quit running to help her. If she has no one to help her and she has to fend for herself to hire folks in to assist her, she may just realize that in fact it is too much for her. But as long as you and your hubby run to her rescue every time, she will never come to that realization. You are right, you shouldn't have to keep up 2 homes, only your own.
It may be time for some tough love with your mom. Best wishes.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to funkygrandma59

I am sorry because I don't think there are any straightforward answers. My brother and I tried to talk my mom into downsizing years ago when our dad died. We both lived out of state and the burden of maintaining her home fell on my brother who, at a seven hour drive, lived closer than my 15 hour drive. Mom refused to move and only continued to shop and shop and shop. It all hit the fan when her health fell apart drastically earlier this year. We had to pack up and clean out her house in a matter of weeks, both my brother and I taking a leave of absence from work, so we could move her to my house. Thankfully her house sold quickly, but my brother's garage is now filled to the brim with totes of her stuff that is worth selling. We threw away so much junk and gave away so much stuff... it was unreal. As all of us do, I love my mother dearly, but the burden she placed on us was unfair. All I can say is that experience alone caused me to reevaluate everything I have in my own home. I will not put my own kids in that same position. I know we can't control everything, but I can control what my closets and attic and cabinets contain, and I pray to the good Lord that if my husband passes before me, that I will gracefully let go and accept help early.

It's a hard thing to do, but maybe set some boundaries and tell your mom you're done maintaining her home, but you can help her find another... it's a new chapter in life and all that. It's such a strange position so many of us find ourselves in and for that reason, I am thankful for this forum.

Best of luck to you.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to New2This2021

Plenty of folk will tell you they live alone, independently. But they no longer are. To them, having family do their chores is an extention of themselves so they don't face up to the facts : things need to change.

Make a list of all her chores. Add columns for who does what; Mom, you & DH, Others.

While nobody does all their stuff themself (I sure don't cut down trees or service my car myself) this will show how much has slid over into your column. This can happen so gradually (like the slow boiling frog in the pot story). Family become a crutch that gets leans on more & more.

Show the list to Mom. Will she?
A. Be a little shocked, Oh that's a lot, I don't want to be a burden. Yes I see I need to either hire more help or downsize.
B. Shrug, ignore, deny. Well you just quit then. I'll manage.

If A. She has empathy & reason & you can move forward with new plans.
If B. It could be denial (very common) or increasing cognitive decline. Either way, you can cross out many tasks on that list & write in phone numbers for alternatives instead eg lawn mowing service. Each time she calls with that task needing done, you refer her back to the list.

Hopefully this will reset any *enabling* back into the *helping* zone.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Beatty

My LO did the same thing. Tried to get her to move from a single family home to a rental in order to balance her monthly budget and eliminate the house-related burdens/expenses. Nope. Kept insisting an apartment would "end up costing more" and she would present facts/figures which made no sense whatsoever. Insisted on staying put and would call us for help. And she would call, and call, and call. None of this was financial help (I refused to give her money) - we would help with tasks, etc. We would help her out and THEN she would tell us that she didn't really NEED our help, but rather she was allowing us to help her.... it was very strange but I know she didn't want us throwing it in her face that she needed increasing help and we would then predictably revisit the apartment thing again. The other problem she had is that she existed on credit cards and home equity loans for years and her lifestyle exceeded her income for years. Her true reality was a subsidized senior apartment and her budget would then balance monthly, but she informed me that she would not consider a place like that and wanted something more upscale. One of the places she was interested in had a monthly rent that was more than her income!! She finally, after multiple falls and other serious issues, landed in a nursing home rehab and then directly to a nursing home placement permanently. Long story short, but she might have had a few more good years had she gone to an apartment when we told her to, but we could not force her. It's a horrible situation to be in. Our elder care system makes a lot of assumptions on what family/friends can or will do for an elder in order for them to age in place. We were in an unsustainable situation and were on a collision course with something very bad... and there was nothing we as caregivers could do to fix it. We just had to wait it out for the crisis to happen.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Mysteryshopper
Beatty Jul 9, 2021
"after multiple falls and other serious issues, landed in a nursing home rehab and then directly to a nursing home placement permanently"

THIS. Over & over & over we hear this tale & the enormous awful stress of this scenario.... Sigh & (((hugs))).

Could have downsized.. but didn't/wouldn't.

I wonder if it's as simple as some folk are 'Planners' & some are 'Stickers'?

My Planners downsized & thrived. My Stickers are on the same trajectory you lived through.
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You can just wait until events force her hand. It's a perfectly valid option.

Let alone this being your time to enjoy life, it's completely unreasonable to expect two people at or nearing retirement age to turn themselves into general factotums (or factota, strictly speaking, I suppose) so that your mother can sit in a house she can neither maintain nor enjoy. There's nothing selfish about your feelings at all. Common sense says you should be reducing your workload, not doubling it.

But. However strongly I might share your frustration with her obstinacy and impracticality, however entitled I and even more so you might be to our opinions, the decisions are hers to make and not yours. The good news is that the problems arising from her decisions are therefore, equally, hers to solve and not yours. Stop being the solution, and be frank with her about why.

Does she wear a falls alarm?

I need to add a caveat to this: in taking a strong line in favour of practical plans, it is vitally important not to underestimate quite how big a deal it is for an older person to give up her home. That's an awful lot of her life she'll be leaving behind her. Acknowledge the fear of painful loss that's involved, as well as pointing out the positives ahead.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Countrymouse

I agree. Stop mowing the lawn. A large lawn where I live costs the most $70 a week and that was 7 yrs ago when Mom got an estimate.

You need to sit her down and explain that you cannot and will not keep two houses up. Her house is now beyond her care. At 78, I suggest a nice apartment. At 78 she should not have another mortgage which seems she'll have if she owes the bank 70k. With an apartment heat and water should be included. She will only be responsible for electric and cable. If she picks one in a 55 and up Community it will be handicapped excessible. Her life will be so much simpler. I wish I had pushed my Mom to move to an apt. She was paying taxes (very high in my State) and high heating costs. That money she could have been using on a nice apt. The sale of her house would have put money in the bank. And...I would not have had to deal with Medicaid. As her house sat, it needed more and more work.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to JoAnn29

I also agree that you need to gracefully back out of house "duties", mowing, yard work, repairs. Sure, an occasional small repair is doable, but the joy of homeownership is offset by the care and maintenance of said home. If mom's short term memory wasn't so bad at the time, I would have read her the riot act about that with the car. Dings - nope, not me, was fine last time I used it. Sure it was. Inspection sticker at least 6 months past due? If you can't maintain it and keep it in good repair, then you shouldn't be driving.

Even before all that, she wanted to save some money on it, so I had her increase the deductible. Shortly after was the big bang... "brushed" the pole - I would hate to see what it would look like if she really hit it! ended up costing her more than she saved (over 6k in repairs!) It was around that time that I discovered she never retitled/reregistered it in her name only. Dad was still listed as an owner. I had a bear of a time getting him off the insurance and really should have made her do the retitle, but when I sold it, I used the POA and provided enough info about it all that he didn't have any trouble with it.

I have to ask - did she and your dad have some retirement time together (assuming they were together and he has passed)? My parents had a GREAT retirement. Trips. Cruises. Winter in their FL condo. Get togethers with friends and relatives. A GRAND retirement. Close to about 20 years of good times before dad was failing. If your mom had her retirement years, then point that out. YOU deserve to have them too! The first 6 years of my retirement was helping mom in her condo, coordinating all legal stuff, finding aides (which she rejected shortly after), finding a facility, clearing, cleaning and getting repairs done on the condo, point person for the sale, all the while managing everything for her in MC, trust, SS, pension, appts, visiting, supplies. About 2.75 YEARS of those 6 years were hauling butt to her condo multiple times/week to clean, clear what I could manage and coordinate repairs. For about 6 months after she passed, I still had to juggle the trust, income, report to SS (multiple times because they couldn't understand that pittance didn't even cover 1/4 the MC) and pension, get trust and her taxes done, set up probate for non-income funds coming in (on hold until we get her tax refund, then another round of trust taxes and estate taxes to finish it off.

By the time it's all done, almost 7 years of my retirement is gone. I'm not into traveling, FL, cruises, etc, but there are many things I would have preferred doing than what I did do!

Assuming she has had at least 13+ years of retirement, possibly more, with or without husband, why do they think it's okay for you to spend your retirement working for her? All too many of them never took care of their own parents, yet they think nothing of tasking us!

Back off and provide her with names and phone numbers of people who do yardwork, repairs, maintenance, etc. Boundaries need to be set. Your house mom, make it work or give it up, we have our own house to take care of. Make plans and go DO stuff while you can! She will either take it on or not.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to disgustedtoo

If you are "helping"her you are actually at this point enabling her in avoiding thinking about what is in her best interest. I myself am 79. I don't intend leaving my two flat building any time soon. However the time is close when my partner and myself will need to hire in help to do many things. If there is money for that then that is great, but if she has no money to do that, then you are, by paying for such things or doing them, enabling her. So I would sit with her and explain that, while you will assist with shopping once in a while, or will assist with doctor appointments within reason, you will not be helping with the house any more.
As to your POA that is worthless in trying to make changes. While your mother is not demented she is entirely in charge of her own choices in life, INCLUDING who is her POA and who is removed from that position.
Wishing you good luck. Withdraw from the equation. That may help.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to AlvaDeer


Stop being Mum’s maintenance and garden crew. If she asks for help offer to help her hire someone that she will pay.

You have no obligation to do any work for her.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Tothill

If your mother is competent there isn't a lot you can do. Mom has a right to live where she wants to live. What she has no right to do is rely on you and hubby to keep her afloat living there. At some point you will take on more and more of the work to keep her in "her" house. You and your husband are both retirement age so the extra work isn't easy on you; you and hubby have a right to enjoy your retirement. Set boundaries now - make a list of what you want and can do as well as a list of what you won't or are unwilling to do.

I'm not advocating you abandon mom but if you want mom to move someplace smaller - don't do the upkeep of her house; tell her kindly that you and your hubby can no longer do her yard work and she will have to make arrangements to pay and have it done. Maybe you could vet a few lawn care companies, do the checking and when you find the keepers give her the names and numbers.

Sit down and make a list of questions for her to consider and what you need to know. You you don't have POA. Has she given a POA to anyone? If not this should be part of your heart to heart with her. Do you know her financial situation - how much money she has for her future? Do you know what she wants as far as future medical needs? How long does she see herself being able to stay in her current home - another year or two; forever? Don't bring up moving or not moving - just gather information and file them away for the future. You could suggest a meeting with an elder care attorney for an assessment of what she needs to do to get her ducks lined up - financial discussions; pros and cons of POAs and such.

You say she has fallen a couple of times - were the falls recent and close together (within 3-6 mos of each other)? My father fell constantly over 3 or 4 years where mom maybe falls a couple times a year. If you are concerned enough you might look into the companies that provide fall alert systems or set up cameras in the house to keep an eye on her.

Is she a true hoarder or has she just gather stuff and not gotten rid of any of it. I claim hubby and I are close to hoarders but at some point all the stuff was there and it seems overwhelming to pare it down - especially all the paper needing to be shredded. AARGH. LOL

I wish you the best of luck - I think an honest heart to heart with mom while she is competent is a good place to start to make a plan for everyone's future.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to cweissp

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