How do I balance helping my 83-year-old mother with breast cancer (I do not want to feel guilt after she dies) with the fact that in many ways I don’t like being with her? I don’t want her to live with me, but lately she’s been dropping hints about “mother-in-law apartments.”
I want to “be there” for her, but honestly, seeing her more than once a week is very depressing for me — plus we live 25 miles away from each other.
Her son lives with her and helps some, but has undiagnosed emotional issues. Can you help?
Trust your instincts. Do not live with your mother if you don’t like the idea of seeing her 24/7, and ignore all hints about mother-in law apartments.
But do help out, especially if her son has emotional problems. You will have a considerable amount of work and organizational tasks ahead of you, but at least you can keep your sanity and peace of mind. You don’t tell me what kind of help your mother needs at this stage, but I imagine her mobility, and needless to say, her general health aren’t in great shape.
So here’s a start: Analyze your mother’s condition and make a list of the kind of aid she absolutely needs. Does she need her meals prepared: then make casseroles and stews, freeze them, and deliver them to her on your once-weekly visits.
Does she need someone to drive her to doctors’ appointments: you can do that too on your once-weekly visits (and make sure those appointments fall on the appropriate day).
Does she needs someone to pick up prescriptions? Perhaps her son can do that. Household help to tidy her apartment? You can arrange that as well.
Is she lonely? Call around and ask friends and neighbors to drop by occasionally.
In other words you can do a lot, without necessarily always being there yourself. And you’re right. No one wants to live with guilt after a close relative dies. So just do what you can and organize and assign what you cannot do.
I bet if your mother’s needs are met, you’ll hear fewer hints about mother-in-law apartments.
Thanks for writing