caregivers caregiving home careDear Sheila,
I’m the youngest of 3 children and my 84-year-old mother (who’s in pretty good health and still drives) has decided to move close to me so I can “take care of her.” My 2 siblings have no relationship with her (she was verbally abusive and not really there for us when we were growing up), so mom has decided I’m the one for the job. Frankly, I’m having nightmares about this. I don’t mind visiting her once or twice a year, but I can’t think of anything worse than having her live near me. On the other hand, I don’t want to leave her to fend for herself if she’s really going to need help in the near future. My dad left a good life insurance policy and she has a pension, Medicare and social security so I don’t think money is the issue. She’s just decided what will happen and nobody else’s feelings matter. My nightmares are getting worse and I’ve got to do something before she buys a plane ticket! Help!
~Unwilling Caregiver

Dear Unwilling,
The sad truth is you’re not alone. We in the home care business often hear stories like yours and my answer is typically the same ― honesty is the best policy. I suggest you speak to your siblings as soon as possible and ask them if they are willing to assist you with speaking to your mother or providing you with moral support. Have the difficult conversation with your mother and tell her what you can and cannot do. You don’t need to dredge up grievances from the past or give her reasons for your decision. Let her know she needs to stay put where she is; that you cannot and will not be her caregiver or decision maker now or in the future. Let her know that you will assist her to research resources in her area to plan ahead for her future.

A care manager can meet with you and your mother and discuss ways she can be of assistance: information about local resources (transportation, social clubs, meal delivery, housing and care options). The Care Manager can also look at your mom’s finances to determine what she can afford and the best options given her budget, and she can also help with choosing a durable power of attorney for medical and finances. You mentioned that your mom is still healthy and able, so I urge you to have this conversation earlier than later. The conversation may be uncomfortable and difficult for you, but you both will benefit from being honest and prepared. Good luck.
~Sheila

photo credit: Portrait of an elderly woman in her home via photopin (license)