How can I convince my mother that she needs an assistant to run errands instead of expecting me to do it when I live two hours away?

1 answer | Last updated: Jun 22, 2010
Mindy asked...

My mother (age 78) is living in my state but about two hours away. She is doing fine at home and can handle her own affairs, cooking, light cleaning. The problem is getting out to do errands. She expects me to come every week to take her shopping and I cannot do that. I have talked to her about getting an assistant once a week to go on errands with her and have even offered to pay but she absolutely refuses and insists it is my job to do that. Any help appreciated.

Expert Answers

Boy, this is a tough one. I wonder if your mom insists on you doing weekly errands as a way of making sure she sees you at least this often --- her personal strategy for this. Or if she feels too proud or embarrassed to hire someone for this task. Or perhaps some of each. I think it may be time for some tough love. How often can you see her realistically? How about proposing a new game plan where you hire someone to do the weekly errands, but lay out a visiting schedule based on what works for you, such as every two weeks, or once a month. (You can also try having her groceries delivered; some large grocery chains do this by internet or phone. Check on-line with the name of your mom's town.)

It sounds to me like your mom needs a routine to help her feel organized and secure. I would stress to her the benefits of being able to spend time together without needing to go shopping. Talk about other things you can do together, social or recreational activities, or non-essential errands. Emphasize that you have no intention of stopping your visits. And that if something happens where she needs additional help, you're paying attention to this -- you have your eye on her. I would also tell her you'd like to give this a try. See if you can get buy-in for a trial run, so that she can learn you aren't going away, and her shopping is still getting done. It's also OK to tell her that the weekly trips are just too much for you, and that your relationship with her will benefit if you are less stressed-out. Tell her that you'll be better company if the visits are quality time, versus quantity. I wish you the best of luck, and would love to hear if this helps.