New here and need some help with Mom moving in

boneladyJuly 31, 2009

My mother is 87 and has severe mobility problems. She uses a walker all of the time. Her mental ability is pretty good, but she is pretty deaf. I moved her into my house and I think we are both having a hard time. She can't really do the stairs so is sleeping on the sofa in the living room. I never used that room for much except for entertaining as I spent all my reading and TV time in the downstairs family room. So now my living room is her bedroom, my beautiful powder room is her bathroom and closet and my dining room table holds all of her papers which she always wants in easy reach.

She likes a lot of snacks and my kitchen counter has several jars of different kinds of pretzles, crackers, nuts, etc. I am used to clean counters and having all this "stuff" everywhere is driving me nuts. I can hardly fit anything in the fridge because she wants a wide variety of stuff I never use.

She does not like what I cook and I don't like the things she does.

I want her to be comfortable with me but how to you resolve two completely different ways of eating and deal with the complete loss of your living space?

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It sounds like you have three living levels -- an upstairs, a main level, and then a basement. And you've given your mom almost free reign of the main level. You say she's sleeping on the living room couch because of inability to manage the stairs to get to the bedroom area. Do you have plans to place a bed there for her? Are you planning on her using the living room, dining room, & kitchen areas indefinitely? If so, you might be better off just biting the bullet and removing the living & dining room furniture and actually setting her up with her own mini apartment, complete with the kinds of furniture she needs -- A sleeping area, a sitting area, a small snack area, and an office area. You could get her a small office size refrigerator and microwave for her snacks. Set her up with a mini-pantry in the dining room for all her special snacks. She may need some office cubbyholes for all her paperwork. You could get someone to install doors to close off her areas. Or you could do what we did when my mom lived with us for a while and just hang heavy drapes across hallways to define her spaces.

At 87, your mom is pretty young. What I mean is that she could be healthy enough to live with you for another 10 or more years. You need to come to an agreement as to how this is going to work. Set some boundaries and limitations. Otherwise you both could end up resentful and bitter. She'll need to compromise too. Can you alternate days for cooking? That way you'd each be eating things you enjoy half of the time.

Is there any way you can afford a stair-lift? Or a bit of remodeling so you can create a private living area for her on the main level?

Best of luck. I know how difficult this kind of adjustment is. But, as I said before, it's better to tackle these hard issues now before they escalate into something negative. Especially take into consideration the fact that her physical and even possibly her mental abilities will diminish as time goes by.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 12:30PM
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Agree with Shambo. You can probably endure anything temporarily but if this is permanent, you need to make some decisions.

If you have the money, modern hearing aids are terrific. The best of them no longer require ear-molds or any of that stuff. They can do it all in a single visit. My relationship with my 97-year-young mother would be entirely different if she didn't have them. They are life-changers.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 1:03PM
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We use the kitchen together. You have to go through the living and dining room to reach it. Yo are right, Shambo, I really have to address the issue. When she tells me to stop buying the good coffee I like to buy Folgers, I just do it!. It's hard to be almost 65 and still obey your mother without a word!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 3:44PM
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Oooo....that obeying your mommy thing should be adjusted right away! Things like that become patterns very quickly and MUCH harder to change later on!

Regardless of what other accommodations you make, you MUST be the alpha-dog in this deal. It can be done lovingly, but it must be done.

I assume if there was another viable alternative to her living with you, that would have been chosen. You can still be a good responsible caring daughter. However in issues of overall control you need to take charge and have her acknowledge that you are in charge.

Are there other alternatives? She doesn't seem like the kind of roomie you would have chosen other than from necessity.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 5:05PM
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Sorry, look into assisted living for her. No way could I deal with this. Or some larger cities have adult care homes with just a few people. Sounds like you are doing what mom wants not what you want. Are you taking care of taking her to the Dr ( if needed), montering her finances, making sure all the authorizations are on file, for HEPPA laws other than that, you or no one else can help if she cannot make decisions. Are you married/ have siblings/ have friends coming over? If you are getting upset now, make a list of pro's and con's and do something before it is too late.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 5:27PM
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Bonelady, the others are right about the need to address the "Who's in charge?" issue right now. You're allowing your mom to live in your home and are taking on the task of overseeing her care. As she ages, you'll be doing more and more physical care and handling of paperwork, etc. So it's imperative that you set up some guidelines now. In essence, when she moved in with you, the roles changed. She needs to understand that. As Asolo said, it can be done lovingly, but it still needs to be done. There is no reason why you should acquiesce to her demands. You need to have a say in what goes on in your own home.

If there are no other living alternatives, is there a way to create a hallway that will allow movement from the front door, through the living room & dining room, and into the kitchen? Or from the basement to the kitchen to the upstairs? Look at your entire main level through fresh eyes and see what could be done to close off some private space for her and allow you free access to the kitchen, the basement, & upstairs.

Marie gave you good advice too. You need to consult an elder care attorney to get all the proper paperwork in order. Don't put it off.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 11:32PM
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Asolo's advice about hearing aids for your mom is absolutely correct. If she has the mental capabilities to learn new things, now would be the time to take care of that issue. Like many things when dealing with elders, if you don't address the issue now, it will only get worse.

Today's hearing aids are so much better than even those a decade ago. They're so easy to use with no need for volume controls to fidget with. Depending on the hearing loss, either in-the-ear or behind-the-ear aids will make a big difference in quality of life for both of you.

I can testify to that fact because I've worn hearing aids for the last 20 years, and I just turned 61. In fact, yesterday I got fitted for my newest pair because the hearing in my right ear has deteriorated since I got my last pair five years ago. I'll be switching to behind-the-ear aids this time around. My dad was extremely hard of hearing but wore a hearing aid only to work. Once he got home, he took it off to save money on batteries. So the whole evening was spent with my poor mom shouting at him four or five times just to get one simple sentence heard. Not fun for her or for me.

A common problem with hard-of-hearing elders living with their children is the TV volume. Eventually the super loud volume wears on the adult children. I've read about this problem numerous times on other elder care forums and my best friend, who just retired, is dealing with the exact same issue. Her dad has the TV on all day and turns the volume up so loud that even upstairs in her bedroom with the doors closed, she can't escape its sound.

Speaking of TV, if your mom's vision is OK and her mental functions pretty good, now would also be a good time to get used to closed captioning. I can't watch TV without it. Of course, you need a good sized TV in order to adequately read the captions and you shouldn't sit too far away from the screen. My husband also rigged up a speaker that sits on the end table next to my "spot" on the couch. Between my hearing aids, the captioning, and the speaker, I enjoy TV just as much as a hearing person would.

My friend with the hard of hearing dad uses those special wireless earphones that pick up the TV sound. She and her husband use them so they can watch movies in their loft area without her parents downstairs hearing the cuss words and getting upset. The great thing about those earphones is that the volume can be adjusted as loudly as the wearer wants but without blasting out the eardrums of everyone else in the room. I've used them before, but I think they're more beneficial for those with some hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids.

Just a few thoughts. Hope they're helpful.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 6:06PM
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You better buckle your seat belts cause it's gonna be a bumpy ride. I'm glad overall that I took my MIL in but it certainly has taken a lot of adjusting. The best advice I can give you is set some boundries now, and be prepared to change them as time goes on. Give her ( if possible) her own living space separate for yours. We are lucky enough to have two bedrooms and a bath on one end of our home that we have converted into an "apartment" (she calls it that) for her. She has a bedroom and a sitting TV type room and it has her furniture from her home in it arranged the way she likes it.(usually messy) She can get up and watch tv at all hours of the night if she wants, talk on the phone or do whatever in her space. She has her own bathroom full her of her stuff.( older people seem to have a lot of lotions and ointments and such for some reason) I no longer allow her to cook because she set fire to the kitchen 3 times but she is allowed to use the micro ( with supervision--she has been known to punch in 15 minutes to warm a roll). At night I unplug this stuff because she does get up a lot. She isn't doing this stuff to be spitefull or naughty--she just has lost the ability to think and reason. You cannot be angry or upset because she truly cannot help what she has become.
When she first moved in it was stressful because she loved her things and would often remove my pictures and pillows to replace with her stuff. It really bugged me. Now she has a place that she can have her things and I can still have mine.
As far as food choices, she's been with us for two years now and seems to enjoy what I cook. If she has a craving for something special I'm always willing to fix it for her and let her help me do the prep if she can. The dementia, physical weakness and mobility have really limited her on what she can do. She likes to sometimes sit in the kitchen while I cook just to have some girl talk. (thats another story--Ive been having the same "girl talk" for two years now--she forgets what she tells me)
There are gonna be days that you will be so frustrated that you cant breath and you want to go screaming in the woods. This will consume your life. Eventually everything you do will have to be planned around her. Think long and hard about taking this on. For us it started out that "MOM was a little ditsy and had to stay with us after Dad died. She certainly had more ability to care for herself then. Be fully prepared to deal with the situation if they start to loose those abilitys--chances are they will. I wish you a lot of luck with this. Let us know how it's going for you and remember this site is a great place to ask or vent or rant. BELIEVE ME--it has been my saving grace to have a place to go where people understand what it's like.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 9:23AM
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that I am going to lose my carefully decorated main floor. There is no way to close off the Living room/Dining room from the front door or the kitchen. I guess I will just move the LR furniture to the basement and buy her a day bed and a recliner chair. So she can get her legs up. We already do the closed captioning on the TV so the volume is not an issue.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:59PM
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