Caregiver from a Distance

by Donna
(Fort Worth, TX)

I only live 8 miles from Mom, but that means 16 miles per frequent visit. She can't drive so I take her everywhere she needs to go -- hair salon, church, pharmacy, doctor, grocery store, specialty stores. She complains about "never" getting out of the house. I take her out about 3 times a week. Only very seldom do my brother or sister help out.

I am considered "the solution" because I am receiving SSDI and don't work. But that's because I have a major mental illness -- schizophrenia -- and sometimes it's all I can do just to take care of myself. They never offer to pay for my gas or my time, although I get a "Christmas bonus" from my brother every year. I feel like the hired help, only no one has hired me. They don't think it is a "real job."

My brother is even retired, and mostly what he does is travel all over the world with his wife.

They say they made a pact with each other that they would never give my mother or my sister-in-law's mother any money. Yet my brother is about to buy a $75,000 car and just went on an African Safari and a 2-week vacation to Puerto Rico, are about to go to Spain, and they only buy the best of everything for themselves.

Even though my income is extremely limited, I have lived independently the last 3 years. I would like to be able to help Mom financially, so I am thinking of moving in with her so we can share expenses.

She has recently broken a hip and cracked it again later, broken her back, and torn her rotator cuff. She insists on living alone in her own home, but it won't be long before something has to be done. She agreed to "think about it." Not something I am really looking forward to. I could use a little help.

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Think Twice
by: Anonymous

I moved in with my mom to help her out. I was living independently 300 miles away. I think it's admirable that you are so helpful to your mom. I won't even mention your brother because it sounds like the only time he is going to show up will be at the reading of the will.

Before you move in, take some time to list all the pros and cons. It will be a radical adjustment. Moving back into the home in which I was raised was a time warp. I put all my belongings in a storage unit because there wasn't any room here for anything of mine. I am back in the bedroom I left when I was 18. The bedroom doubles as my home office. Thirty-five years later, my mom still sees me as that 18 year old.

Your mom may "mother" you just as she did when you were young. It will take a while for her to realize you are an adult.

Being in the home with her 24/7, you are tied at the hip. You'll no longer have the house to yourself, there will never be alone time, you will adhere to her schedule, meals will be arranged, you will be even more available for all those trips for shopping and you will feel more responsible for getting her out of the house for entertainment. Her life will become your life.

Especially if you don't have a job yourself, you will be at her beck and call.
Not to be facetious, but if you have a major mental illness, and it's all you can do to take care of yourself, this kind of situation could just about push you over the edge.

You have financial stability now, make sure your finances won't be compromised by moving in with your mom. Because after your mom passes, you will have to carry on again by yourself. Make sure that you take care of yourself FIRST, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and financially before you make this commitment to move in with her.

If it turned sour, 8 miles is going to look like you only lived right next door. Maybe you could consolidate your visits with your mom. Make Wednesday the day she gets her hair done and all the shopping. Sunday could be church day and also you take a long drive and go out to lunch.

As long as she is independent, cooks her own meals, cleans her own house, is able to dress herself, can be trusted to be alone, let her do her own thing. In the meantime, come up with a plan for later.

Only you know your situation and it could be a win-win possibility. Just think twice.

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