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The Only Child of a Mentally Ill Mother. My mother is at the point when her physical frailty is noticeable but she's still able to do most things by herself. She gets around by Access or Dial-A-Ride. However, she is mentally ill and I have very low income. I don't know what to do when she will need a caregiver, because she is too toxic to be around, and I don't know enough about her financial affairs to be able to apply for IHSS. I have no siblings, no spouse, no significant other, no kids, and other family members want nothing to do with her. I feel absolutely alone in all this. What am I going to do when my mom really needs help?

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AllAlone, if there are any in person support groups in your area I really recommend going to those! You'll be able to hear and share with other people - doing so in person is invalueable. This group online is new to me tonight, and I see great value in being able to get supportive answers and help more immediately as well. But as just one person with a difficult situation, I think the in person support group will be very helpful!
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I understand both the undiagnosed mental illness aspect (my mom too!) and the complete frustration with how you could possibility get some assistance lined up. Because, if your Mom is anything like mine, she won't let you see ANYTHING that gives you a solid basis to be able to apply for Medicaid or other programs. The list of things needed for Medicaid is long. Whenever I had asked my Mom who was clearly having trouble managing her bank card, identity and local scammers for about 4 years, I would have one bank statement flashed me in anger and remained clueless. But then one day, the residents of her Section 8 hole called an ambulance for her. She had a urinary tract infection, and was hallucinating because of it. Although she still refused to relinquish her keys from her tight grasp, even in the hospital, I was able to get in with my Uncle and begin to find the relevant papers. It was enough to apply from Medicaid, with help from the Skilled Nursing facilities business manager. Win, win, win! She is stuck for awhile in a nursing home which is restrictive while in transition while this all takes time to get established and find her new place. And while she goes back and forth about it, she is no longer living with those bed bugs! Some of the residents of her building said she would actually appear in the hallways with the bugs crawling on her face. But if you ask her, all was well and she had her much needed space and independence, was able to get around and exercise at the Y (one block away) - pure heaven.
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Lassie: Oh, my word! To some extent, you described my late mother. She was nicer to the person coming in off the street than she was to me, her daughter, the "mean" caregiver. I was the proverbial chopped liver! I had to tell her to take her meds, to eat, and to get to the bathroom sooner rather than later. Wiping up a bathroom floor, shower seat (used as a toilet) and toilet seat daily was NOT FUN! ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE DANCING TO USE THE TOILET! I DONE SIT ON EXCREMENT. I feel for you, Lassie. (((Hugs)))
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Maybe you should report her to the local social worker as an adult in need of services. If they take over guardianship, then you will be off the hook. When she is behaving well, you can visit and be a daughter, not a caregiver. When she is being toxic, you can walk away for as long as necessary, knowing that professionals are watching over her.

My parents were mostly great, but some of my dear friends have had awful horrible parents, and I have seen what damage that does. Do not accept being trapped by guilt. You need to expend your energy caring for yourself, or for other people who will be grateful to you and will benefit from your efforts. She never helped you to learn what decent treatment you are entitled to. Listen to us, and make yourself the deserving focus of your own caretaking.
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I too want to add, "you are not alone". I have felt alone in all the caregiving of my son, dad and now mom but when I cried out to God he helped give me comfort peace and assurance with lots of love thrown in too, lol. The others gave some really good advice so all I can say is I will pray for you and I understand as do those on this site. God bless you and I will pray for you. Hugs
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Does my mother take medication for her mental illness? You need a good psychiatrist that will put her on the right medication. Mental illness is a disease and it is not their fault. Try being kind, caring and positive , give hugs and tell her you love her. A prayer to God for strength, patience, and kindness might be in order. I have 3 brothers with mental illness and it has been difficult at times but forgiveness and love always makes things better. I tell them I love them and really try to be kind and caring. Sometimes it is difficult when they get nasty from their illness. They think I tell them what to do too much but it is always out of love. One brother passed away January 2016 and he was in the VA hospital over 20 years. I was always available, had him over for dinner, holidays, overnight sometimes, talked with nurses and doctors frequently, went for rides, visits to the hospital frequently , stayed at the VA every other week while he receive chemo therapy and at the end of his life my family was right by his side holding his hand as he passed. What a gift and inspiration to us all. I sleep well at night knowing I did the very best for my brother since his illness at 21 years of age. No regrets just loving thoughts of a job well done. I tell you these things to help you make correct decisions and have no regrets later on. It has not been an easy life for my parents and our family but with love and caring you can get through touch times especially with the help of God. I wish you the best and hope your life gets better!
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I don't agree you need to 'worry about it" . If you dropped dead from caregiver stress tomorrow morning, someone somewhere somehow would rescue the Poor Old Thing and bung her into a nursing home. Right now, get the legal things in order, the POA, the DNR, all that. Call the office for the aging thru your social services dept. and see if you can get her into a facility. See about Medicaid. Believe me, I lived my whole life with a lying, conniving, self-centered B*TCH who was an adorable cutie to the world, my f'ing god, everyone LOVED HER. and at home she was a crazy, bitter abusive waste of skin who hated her life and me most of all for 'ruining' it. mentally ill can jigger things to make themselves look good!
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You can start with her town's social worker. But and a BIG ONE...you WILL NEED HELP, ELSE YOU WILL FALL ILL YOURSELF FROM CAREGIVING BURNOUT. See what advice the social worker has to say. Start from there.
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I am only child and despite all the post and suggestions. You are alone. Trust me you need to worry about it. Agencies just give you more things to do when your already overwhelmed. Go by your gut. Don't let your mother deter you. Do what works best for you, then her as far as appointments n things but really I have not found anything helpful other than being here and being able to Honestly say I hate taking care of my mother. She never cared for me and now I'm forced to care for her. So just take care of you.
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Hi, I feel your stress. i went through a severe depression after thrown in an immediate turmoil with my mom. I would first get power of attorney for her medically and financially before things get worse. These papers are easy to get. I would then contact a elder care attorney to have things in order in case you have to have your mom in a nursing home. Medicaid is the best way to go if the time comes as a nursing home could cost 6000.00 a month and is so out of reach for most people. I'm suggesting just to have these plans in order in case you need it. I had to get everything set for mom three years ago after she had back surgery. She came out with dementia and is unable to take of herself. I wish I could have been the kind of person that could of taken care of her, but I couldn't.
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AllAlone, you could also discuss with her primary care doctor about her fragility. Many doctors co-ordinate with their patients' insurance companies and some have a social worker to help their patients. Please have a frank discussion about your mom's situation. As for being alone, being an only child is not the only way to be alone. I have 5 brothers and 1 half sister and many times it feels like I am an only child. But the others here have given you many wonderful options. Keep us up to date. Good luck, and you are not alone.
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Sooo sorry for the typos. Was rushing to finish this before heading out.
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Though not an only child, my siblings live in another city and I am the primary caregiver for my 83-year-old mom. Since April, it has been a big learning experience. The good news? There are a ton of government and city services for the aging population. Start with the local Corp. for the Aging. Then grab a big bundle of patience and take your mother with you to the Medicade office. They will let you know all of the programs you mom qualifies for. Many "all-inclusive" heath car agencies are popping up. Our city has a few. I enrolled my mom in one and they pick her up and take her to their facility where she receives all medical care with the exception of visits where she goes for tests of major specialists. One thing lead to another and the more I talked with friends and church members the more excellent advice I received. Just yesterday she received a call for the brand new senior building we've been waiting for. The sold her house years ago and has a small income so she qualifies for a lot including a home health aid, help with minor housekeeping, etc. I found a beautiful school that will do her hair for just $10. One local hospital here also has classes for caregivers. The senior center (of which I can attend since I'm 62) offers yoga classes for $10/month and massage $40/month. There is a lot of help out there. A Place for Mom, as mentioned here, is a good start. If your mom has enough money, speak with an elder-care attorney about getting a POA while you still can. I've found my mother's doctors were good at bringing this subject up. Bless you. And if you can't find a circle of people to talk with, START ONE. Not to moan, but to take care of your self. It can get depressing and overwhelming.
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As mentioned here, I strongly agree about the Medicaid idea because she may need it if she's eligible.

As for the toxic relationship between you and your mom, you may be left with no other choice but to simply walk away and leave her behind. Sometimes things are so toxic they become dangerous and walking away is sometimes the only choice. I had to do this with my abusive bio parents, and they were faced to suffer the consequences later. When they started ailing in age related decline, I was nowhere to be found and no one was looking for me. I was in a life-threatening situation with my parents and CPS rescued me at age 13. This is why my abusers suffered the consequences later in life when they didn't even have grandkids and I'm the only one who could've given them that. Sometimes when parents mistreat their kids they don't realize the dire consequences they'll face later when their own kids become parents and they deny grandparent rights to protect the grandkids. Sometimes you just have to leave a relationship to protect you and your household especially if there are children involved. It's the children who will suffer the most, you just have to do what's rightfully the best thing to do.
I'm sure at some point your mom will definitely slip up and something will happen that will trigger the proper authorities to get involved. Your mom is an adult, and I'm assuming so are you. I think you have your answer just in your description when you mention your mom being too toxic to even be around. This is a strong hint to just walk away and move on and let the state deal with her. Just let whatever happens happen. Something will eventually happen and the state will step in
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Please call Caregiver Homes and ask for information about your concerns. You may qualify for income to help with expenses at home or they have a program where a caregiver can come into the home and take care of your mom and it will depend on her finances It is a great program and worth checking it out. Wish you all the best!
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If she is 65 or older and qualifies for Medicare plan G or F; and you can afford to pay the premiums for her, do this. Also, look into a short term disability insurance plan, which can offer up to 365 days of in home or nursing care for a fraction of the cost of a long term care plan; you can "stack" these. This is what I've recently done for my mentally ill mother. She makes just a little too much to qualify for Medicaid. I am fortunate that my siblings can pitch in for moral support but the financial burden is mine since they are barely making ends meet themselves. It's tough. I can empathize with how tough it must be when you're an only child. Hang in there!
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If she has a mental illness diagnosis, then she already needs help with whatever the challenge is. There are doctors who can treat on a sliding scale, just find one. There are plenty of meds to help with a mental illness, so get her the help she needs. Do not worry about something that has not happened yet.
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You are so wise to get a jump on this and not pretend it's not happening. All the above answers are great. It has been truly amazing to me the kooky stuff my mom can get into (and her mom before that) when we thought they were "behaving well". Keeping your mom safe (but perhaps not as happy as she'd like to be) is difficult. Get all your ducks in line and when the time comes to actually move her, you will be better prepared. Also, this is a great place to come and vent.
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I am an only child too and dealing with two parents who are rapidly moving toward the inability to live independently. This is partly due to my mom's ongoing depression and lack of care for her own self. I don't have any advice to offer, just that I feel your pain and it's tough to know what to do.
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I know how you feel but I have no good solutions. I live with my father who was diagnosed mentally ill but it turns out he may instead have frontal temporal dementia or perhaps both. I have a brother but he doesn't want to help. My mother is dead. My father's sister and cousins haven't spoken to him in years. It's all on me. I do have POA's in place though. So, my suggestion for now is to talk to a lawyer who knows about elder care and see what they say. I finally did that a few months ago, and you know, the guy never sent me a bill (don't know if he forgot).
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You are not alone here. This group is wonderful and available 24/7. My mentally ill mother passed 2 weeks ago at age 82. I have been caring for her in one way or another most of her adult life. My brother wanted nothing to do with any of it. He is just waiting for his part of inheritance. So you see you are in good company here. You need to get legal documents in order to help get her in to a nursing home. It is not easy to place a person with your mom's history but it can be done. As mentioned "A Place for Mom" is a good starting point. If you can enlist her doctor's help do so. My mother was hospitalized immediately before she went into nursing home and the staff at the hospital got her into a facility. This was very helpful to me. Keep posting here and be brave. It is not easy but just remember you are not alone. ❤️
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Definitely place a call to your local Area Agency on Aging. They are there to support older people through counseling, in-home services, benefits counseling, and much more. You should be able to find it by searching online or call 211 for community level information and referral. I would also recommend connecting with an independent living center (ILC). ILCs are run by and for people with disabilities and they assist with a wide range of issues, from basic living skills to finding housing to finding employment. They can also help you find support groups in the area. Finally, reach out to your local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness).
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You are wise to ask this question before you run into it head first! Start with any and all public groups in your area...I know that Cerritos must have them! Area on Aging calls might help. Call "A Place for Mom" maybe they can give you some tips. How about any friends, church, local hospital? Look in your local newspaper for groups that cover such topics...they can be great resources. Stop feeling alone and do not give up ...you are not alone in situations like this. The search for help might make you feel that way but there are resources. With limited funds do not be persuaded to get involved with any search that may involve your financial contribution. Good luck and post your results.
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When you get a chance take her to the city medicaid office and apply for benefits for her. You will need all her info for her ID, SSN, Annual income etc. A case worker will be able to assist you with what medicaid can assist her with. They should be able to give her provider services. Some one who will be able to come over and cook and clean for her. This will at least be a start for much needed help that she needs. Most important of all, pray. Pray like you mean it! You're not the only one in this situation.
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AllAlone, you can contact your State's Medicaid office to see if your Mom can apply for Medicaid. With Medicaid they can place your Mom into a continuing care facility where she will get 24 hour care and Medicaid will help pay for that care.

Now if your Mom owns a house, Medicaid could possibly place a lien on the house, so when the house is sold, the equity will help reimburse Medicaid.
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