Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I’m between a rock and a hard place, as my mother used to say. Elegante Mother has been living with us for close to twenty years. We built a home big enough to provide some privacy for us all. EM had the suite of rooms across the front of the house. She was able to live her own life, but was close, so that we could help her when needed. Over the twenty years, we have gone from seeing her be totally independent, to needing assisted living. We saw her through surgery for colon cancer, and a year of chemotherapy. About five years ago, I became her chauffeur and social secretary and her chief cook and bottle washer, and last year I had to pick up the job of handling her finances. It has been a full-time job.
Last June, my mother had a seizure. She was hospitalized for five days, and then went to a nursing home for therapy. She returned to us in good physical shape, but her memory was failing. January 2, we’re pretty sure she had another seizure, and she was in the hospital, again, for five days, and then she went to a nursing home. She’s been in the nursing home close to two months, and she is desperate to get out. Again, she has come back physically, but her memory is worse than before.
There comes a time when you are caring for an aging parent, when you have to accept the fact that you can no longer be responsible for their care twenty-four hours a day. I’ve finally reached that point.
My siblings and I met Saturday to discuss what we could do for EM. My oldest sister, whom I affectionately refer to as “My Sister The Nurse” has final say in Mother’s care, but she has included us in the decision making process. She researched the options for care outside the home and brought the best of those choices to us. We visited the site, and agreed to go forward. Essentially, we are renting a lovely condo for Elegante Mother and installing her with a person who will be with her around the clock..
I’m sure you wonder what the difference is, whether she stays with me, or stays with a care giver, and it boils down to the fact that I have to work. All but one of my siblings are still working, and the one who has retired provides day care for her grandchildren, so none of us have the ability to be with EM every moment of the day. In fact, we contemplated the idea of bringing her home to us, and hiring a live in caregiver to help with EM, but my siblings voted down this idea.
Elegante Mother will now be living much closer to my two oldest sisters and brother, and it will be my turn to make the trips to see her. In a way, I’m relieved that we have made this decision, because I have come to hate the nursing home she is in. The financial bottom line for this place leads to under-staffing, and staff indifference. The food is absolutely disgusting, and the facility frequently smells bad. I don’t want this for my mother.
We have put a deposit on the condo. MSTN is going to confirm whether the caregiver we interviewed will take the job, and then I can arrange to have EM’s furniture moved Dear Husband spent the morning working out a scale model of the condo and her furniture and has a schematic for the movers ready to go! I’ll have to do some shopping to outfit the kitchen and we can make this happen.
It’s going to be a busy week. I think it’s also going to be a tough week. As I write, the tears are threatening to spill. I’m still not adjusted to Elegante Mother’s absence. I hope we have made the right decision, and this is the best we can do for her.

6 thoughts on “Between a Rock and a Hard Place

  1. When we looked at exactly this sort of thing, we were advised that 3 full-time people would be needed to provide 24 hour care (ie 3 x 8 hour shifts), and more if they weren’t prepared to cover holidays/sickness. With on-costs, this worked out about double the price of good residential care (currently costing us over £3,500 per month).
    Hope everything works out well for all of you Buffy. I can only imagine how hard it must be after having her with you for 20 years. But, i am so pleased to hear she is doing better physically.

  2. Buffy…this sounds like a really wonderful option for EM….and for your family. I truly mean that. I think your family has worked it out right for your mother. Not everyone has such an option; I’m so glad you do.

  3. Your title says it all. No matter what you do, your inner voice will argue with you. “Blame” your sister the nurse on this one, if you must; but, don’t let it destroy you. Life is tough and you must live your own.

  4. Blue Witch, there certainly are a lot of pitfalls in making these decisions. As a family we have tried to think through all that might come our way, at least from a financial point of view. The rest all depends on Elegante Mother. It’s very odd to have spent the day working on her behalf, and not have her sitting just around the corner from me.
    It’s fortunate that you are a Thrifty Witch, so that you can help your elders. Not many could take on this kind of expense. I wish you the best of luck.

  5. Thanks, Joy! This condo is really quite nice. It has a lovely view of a landscaped area and a pond, and there are a lot of amenities she can take advantage of. We’ve tried our best, and I hope it all works out well.

  6. Cop Car, I don’t need to blame anyone. This is just the nature of my mother’s needs as she ages, and I want what is best for her. Even if I had given it any thought, I would not have been able to prepare for the change when she needed to live elsewhere.
    I’ve spent the day arranging for movers, for cancellation of her phone here and start-up of the phone at the condo. I’ll shop for what she needs for her kitchen tomorrow, and Thursday, we’ll move her furniture. The condo will be ready for her to move in on Saturday.
    I’m sure this is a good decision.

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