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Can she live alone?
Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 3:21 PM
Joined: 4/15/2019
Posts: 8

My mom started showing memory loss and other issues (social withdrawal being one of them) a little less than year ago. While concerning, I pretty much denied anything was really wrong. When my sister visited her recently (mom lives alone very far away from us), she called me and said she was also concerned about mom's behavior, and told me some concerning stories. So I knew something was up. I started calling her every day and she would always sound exhausted. Finally I come to find out she has bad insomnia, wasn't eating much, and lost about 25 lbs! I was shocked. She claimed it was her thyroid and was taking meds for it, but then her doctor said to stop taking it. I told her either her doc is terrible or she is not understanding what the doc is telling her. Thankfully I convinced her to come stay with me while we get this all sorted out. The good news is she is sleeping better, but her short term memory seems to be terrible. Just as 1 (of many) examples, this morning, she watched me leave to take my daughter to the school bus and said goodbye to my daughter. 30 minutes later she asked me where my daughter was! Anyway, we took her to a neurologist last week and he evaluated her with ES dementia, and a CT scan shows vascular disease and a possible minor stroke. Her blood pressure also ins't great. They want additional bloodwork and an MRI, which we are hoping to get done soon.

 In the meantime, though, she keeps saying she wants to go home already and nothing is wrong with her. I told her what the neurologist said a few times and she doesn't seem to register it or just outright denies it. She even accused the doctor of making it all up so he could take her money. I told her that was a ridiculous accusation and that we all see that something is wrong. I've literally broke down and cried in front of her a few times telling her it's killing me to see her like this and that I just want to help her.

Anyway, most of the time, she seems ok. She's eating better, gaining back some weight, etc. But then these weird memory loss events will happen that just make me feel like I can't let her go back home by herself. There are family members (cousins and aunts) that live about half an hour away from her where she lives, but my understanding is they don't really visit her. So I don't really trust them to check in and take care of her. And I know that one of them keeps asking her for money so I fear she might get taken advantage of.

Most people (my wife, my father-in-law, a few aunts) agree that she shouldn't live alone so far away. I agree with them. I never wanted her to move so far away. (She used to live much closer). But it's killing me that I have to make this decision to put my foot down and tell her she can't live alone. I wonder if she can even live alone nearby. So far she doesn't want to move to where I live because she hates the weather.

I do have some trustworthy family members that live closer to me than my mom's current residence, but still far enough away that it would be an 8 hour drive to visit her. And my mom sort of agreed to move there, but I worry even that is too far away for me to make sure she is ok.

Sorry, looking back on this post I'm rambling now. I guess my question generally is can someone with ES live alone? Do I need to start looking into AL or MC locations already? There are several close by, but as I said above, so far she refuses to move here, using the winter weather as an excuse.

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 3:48 PM
Joined: 11/27/2017
Posts: 37

Hi runningworried76, glad you found us and welcome to the club no one wants to join.  

I can tell you from personal experience, without lots of support and checking, the ability to live alone without support diminishes over time.  Even with a lot of support, keeping my LO home alone was not sustainable and not in their best interest.  Early on I moved my LO close to me and other support, which worked out for awhile.  However as she progressed she required more support and outside help.  IMHO, moving closer to you now might be easier in the long run.  Other have said if your are asking the question then no, they should no live alone.

Please make sure that your have all the necessary paper work completed and or update,  DPOA, HIPPA, living will etc.  

this is can be a long journey, and you need to make sure you take care of yourself.  

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 4:20 PM
Joined: 10/25/2018
Posts: 238

Yes, you need to look into memory care. Based on the incidents you have shared, assisted living will not be sufficient, and moving people twice is hard.
Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 4:21 PM
Joined: 9/7/2017
Posts: 796

Once you're asking if she should live alone, she usually should not live alone.  If she is paranoid (doctor wanting to take her money), can't successfully interpret doctors orders, probably can't manage her own medications, successfully feed herself, or keep herself on a schedule... if her short term memory is impaired, she should not be alone with the stove.  

An 8 hour drive is too far.  She has a terminal illness.  She is going to need your help.  She has a progressive illness.  The best she is ever going to be is today.  
Plan for the future by wrapping up her life where she lives and moving her with or near you.  I did not involve my in laws in wrapping up their old house - we just brought them here and got them settled, and then went back and closed up the house, sold everything and sold the house.  The alternative would have been upsetting and unproductive.  
She may not like it. Don't try to get her to like it - trying to convince her and get her to agree usually backfires.  Just start making plans - "we love you mom, we want you closer to us, it's not safe or healthy for you to live alone anymore, so you're going to stay here closer to us".   She needs security, love, assurance, calm, and agreement.  Agreeing doesn't mean doing what she wants.  It's more like "I know you want to go home mom.  I know this is really hard for you.  I totally understand and I wish it were different too.  But I love you so much and will do everything I can to make this easier for you.  We want to help you and make sure you're safe.  And we love being with you."   I used to try to lighten the mood a little bit "I think you like being here a little with us too - just a little "  As much as you can, don't argue, keep things light.  
Read about anosognosia - she is not in denial.  She thinks she is fine.  You can best help her by remaining calm, don't bring up her memory loss, and learn more about validation techniques.  Stop talking about where she is going to live - and start making plans for her to move close to you.  You would be better off facing this head on and either moving her in with you, if that's your plan, or looking at Assisted Living (make sure you choose one with a memory care option).  Be prepared, they may assess her and recommend memory care. 

Take some time to read about validation therapy, and look at some teepa snow videos on you tube.  Reminding her what the neurologist said, telling her this is killing you, talking to her about living her or living there - these topics will just upset her.  Tell her how much you like having her here, enjoy your time with her, and work behind the scenes to find a better living arrangement for her.  

Also, make sure she has all her legal paperwork completed - financial and medical power of attorney, will, DNR/living will, etc.  When you move her, make sure the paperwork is evaluated and valid for your state.  


Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2019 11:22 AM
Joined: 4/15/2019
Posts: 8

Thanks all for the responses. After the last few weeks, I believe she absolutely should not live alone. I've seen some shocking things, like her overeating to the point she gets a terrible stomachache and then self-induces vomiting, then goes right back to eating like nothing is wrong. I had to pull her away and try to direct her attention elsewhere several times. Our Easter weekend was awful because of this.

I think her best option is AL, maybe even MC. And there are great places here where I live. But, she keeps saying she will never go into AL, and that she wants to live and eventually die (her words) where she originally grew up. Without being too specific she cannot be reached by car there. Plane only. I told her the only way she can live there is in an AL facility. She's not having it. I tried telling her today that I want to build an in-law suite for her here so we can be close yet she can have her own place (and I would of course get care help, I don't plan on doing it all myself). I tried focusing on the positive- "you can be near the grandkids, I see how happy you are when you and them play outside, I love being able to seeing you everyday", etc.

But when it comes to talking about her staying permanently, she's not having it. She's always been a stubborn person, and now that she seems to have anosognosia, it seems much worse. She thinks nothing is wrong with her and keeps saying she is fine to go home. She could not be more wrong. "Everyone is forgetful." "Everyone does that." No, everyone does not do that.

I'm practically at my wits end and ready to give up. I know I can't give up, but that's how I'm feeling. I have several school age kids and I can tell this is affecting them also. My teenage son was crying the other night because we tried to take her out to dinner and things did not go well at the restaurant. That was a very trying experience. I don't think I can ever take her to a restaurant again.

Someone mentioned POA. Luckily she has agreed to sign those documents and I am getting them in order thru a lawyer, but how valid is that when your LO currently lives overseas. At what point am I going to have to demand (and legally enforce, if I can) that she cannot go back to living alone?

It all seems so daunting and hopeless. And this is apparently the early stage of all this, and it won't get better. Reading some of the later stage stories on here, I don't know how you all have done this.

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2019 12:43 PM
Joined: 9/7/2017
Posts: 796

I would suggest creative fibs to get her to agree to get on a plane. 

For example, if you feel she would be more amenable to living with you - tell her "oh we are putting in a new wing in our house and it's going to be amazing and (add whatever would entice her)." Whatever it takes.  

Then when she gets here, tell her "oh there was a delay and the contractors mother died and he left us in a lurch and we are lining up another one but it's not done yet so we need you to stay here until we can get that sorted". 

And she's in AL/MC.  Tell her its temporary.  Just a few weeks.  Take it day by day.  With POA,  and with her in your state where the POA is valid, you will be on solid ground. 

Will she be mad?  Sure.  Will she be here where you can get a handle on things? She will. 


Posted: Monday, April 29, 2019 9:12 AM
Joined: 4/29/2019
Posts: 1

New member today. This post is applicable to me. 5 + years of progressive cognitive decline for my mom that  is accelerating rapidly since  she  totaled car July 2018.( no one was hurt).  Her home has become her world  now so taking her out of it is scary, but she rarely remembers how to use her phone among other safety concerns.  ( tried assistive devices with no avail)   She has let me take over finances, my brother does most of her main chores. She is clean, house is superficially clean as well, but occasionally mixes cleaning products up as another safety concern.  There is occasionally some spoiled food,  we take turns taking her shopping and such, but she is alone up to 2 weeks at a time, with the mail man, newspaper delivery person and in winter month,  Snow Plow guy keeping an eye on her from a distance, unbeknownst to her. 

If any one else has advice on knowing when was the right time to push the issue of uprooting her from her comfort zone thoughts appreciated.

She is not on any meds.  No car, lives remote. She has refused to go to the Doctor, but next week she no dx yet and not sure if knowing what kind of dementia it I,  really matters unless it was treatable, but my medical background doubts it.  I worry that she will know I prepped her doctor staff to have a conversation about her living alone and though she knows I am firm about taking her this time ( no excuses like the many cancelled appoints before) so next week should be challenging in many ways.   

We are completing an ensuite area but slow moving and I am not sure that is the right choice. 

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