Mom needs to move in with me, but how do I proceed?

1 answer | Last updated: Aug 21, 2013
A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad died suddenly on 4/13 this year, I received the call at work which is 2000 miles from dad's house and his arrest. I was called at work that he had fallen in the shower and I had my staff making reservations to make the trip. I left my office and on my way home I received a call from the hospital that my "pop" had passed. I can recall my words "why am I driving"?

I am healing from the loss of my father. I am suffering more from the fact that dad had been hiding the fact that my mother, his 7 year younger wife, is suffering from memory loss. I am crushed and confused. I had mom move in with me, she lasted 9 days and was so hostile, bitter and homesick I flew her back to Ohio. She now calls all times of day and night with questions ranging from what day it is to did I tell you where is my whatever. I am going nuts myself, this long distance problem does not work. My front door is open, the light is on and I want my mom here in my home or at least close enough that I can take care of her when she needs me.

How to proceed?

Expert Answers

Maria Basso Lipani writes a popular website on geriatric care topics, where she puts her expertise as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to good use answering care planning questions. Maria is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work and is licensed in California and New York.

I'm so sorry to hear about your father's death. Sudden deaths are very traumatic and in this case even more so because the loss revealed something you didn't know about your mother"¦and that something changes everything.

Before I get to how to proceed in planning to care for your mom, I hope that you don't minimize the importance of caring for yourself. The best thing you can do for you is to make sure that there are people in your life with whom you can talk about all that's happened (and happening) and how its affected you. You might consider a bereavement group at this point or even an individual therapist to help you work through some of the hurt and confusion you describe. What you're going through isn't easy. You shouldn't shoulder it alone and I hope that you won't.

Now to your mom. From what you've described it does seem that your mother is experiencing memory loss; the first step always is to have it properly assessed. Memory loss has a variety of causes and some are reversible. If you haven't already, I'd recommend contacting her primary care physician to ask if any formal work-up has been completed.

If the memory loss is due to Alzheimer's or another form of dementia there are quite likely several daily tasks she can't complete any longer or isn't safe trying to complete on her own; chances are good she may require at least some help on a daily basis. I know this is something you'd like to provide for her by moving her back to your home, or near your home, but understand that this may not be (and seems not to be) what your mother wants. Remember that she has just lost her husband; losing her home, friends and way of life would be extra traumas that should be avoided unless she makes the request to move. It would be much better to find out what's available where she lives and to set your sights on keeping her independent for as long as possible where she is most comfortable. For most people that's at home.

To get this process started, it's important to speak with someone who is not only familiar with the resources in your mother's town, but who can meet with her in her home to get a sense of what's working about her daily routine and what's not. After the assessment is complete, you'll want this person to share his/her impressions with you and make recommendations about the kind of care she would benefit from and tell you where you can find it.

While her physician may be able to provide you with part of the picture and perhaps a conversation with her neighbors or friends could yield you more info., it's been my experience that at the end of the day, nothing is as good as an in-home assessment by a professional. This is the role of a geriatric care manager. If you haven't heard of geriatric care managers before, I'd encourage you to visit my site. You can search for a geriatric care manager by zip code by visiting the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers site at: