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Elderly mum wants to move closer - I am uneasy

(52 Posts)
Booksandmorebooks Mon 13-Jul-20 14:56:13

Looking for a bit of reassurance/advice. Will try and give you the info you might need to form an opinion without rambling on too much!

My DF died last year and my DM (85) has decided she would like to move closer to us. My DSis has offered to help her move closer to her (much nearer to where she is now) but she has told both of us that she wants to move here.

I have a few things that worry me. The main thing is that although my DM says she wants to be with us, I struggle to think that is really true e.g. we have lived in our current house for 8 years but DP have never even seen it. My DP have never been very interested in their grandchildren e.g. they haven’t taken up offers to visit at Christmas or invited us there (oldest DD is 21 so quite a few opportunities!) They have always been the same with my DNs so it is just how she is I think.

I am also worried (perhaps selfishly) about how this will affect our day-to-day lives. I work full-time, have two children still at home and I help my DH with his business too so I’m always very busy. I just don’t have time to visit her every day and while she would be welcome to hang out here, I don’t think she would want to (see above!)

She keeps saying she wants to move to make things easier for me. This feels a bit manipulative as, if anything, I think it is likely to make things harder for me as she is very demanding by nature e.g. since my Dad died, I call her every day but these are always one-sided conversations where she never asks what have the children been up to etc. I think part of the reason she turned down my sister's offer is because she has always been better at setting boundaries than I am!

Tbh, I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and she hasn’t even got here! So, a couple of questions for you.

One, if she were to move closer, how often would it be reasonable to see her? I can help her look into activities in the area etc. but she doesn’t know anyone apart from us (yet) so she might well be lonely if I/we don't see her several times a week.

Two, would we be better finding her somewhere with a bit of distance from us to try and discourage her from overly depending on me? Also, she tends to fall out with people and I worry that she might upset some of our own support network if she’s too close by (e.g. she came to stay one weekend when the kids were very small and had a bit of a barney with the lovely lady who looked after them after school etc.).

I realise I am coming across as a bit of a cow here. I am really not – we are the go-to people for my DBIL who has mobility issues and lives in a care home so we are quite happy to do stuff with/for our wider family. I am just worried about creating a difficult situation for my long-suffering DH and children that I then can’t get us out of!

All ideas welcome. Thank you! x

OP’s posts: |
Happynow001 Mon 13-Jul-20 15:03:16

Why doesn't your DM want to move near your DSis? What does she feel she will gain being near you?

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 13-Jul-20 15:15:49

"I think part of the reason she turned down my sister's offer is because she has always been better at setting boundaries than I am!"


And you need to up your game yourself and now re boundaries; what is and is not acceptable to you from your mother here. Have a read too of the current Well we took you to Stately Homes thread; I think you would fit right in there and you could find many of those replies helpful.

Your difficult sounding mother wants to move for all the wrong reasons and has not considered any consequence of doing so on her.
She does not want to make friends and wont make any effort if she did live near you. All she wants is for you to become her sole social and emotional means of support and for her to live as close as possible to you. She will pick holes and find fault in anything you suggest both socially and in terms of housing. She is being manipulative here yet again (such people really do not change) and wants to make things "easier" for her again no matter what cost, emotional or financial, that would incur to you.

Say no and keep repeating negative consequences to her i.e you're too busy yourself and . I would also look at further reducing all current levels of contact with her too.

Sugartitties Mon 13-Jul-20 15:32:06

remember when you were a little girl and your mother would look after you......well, now it’s your turn

AudTheDeepMinded Mon 13-Jul-20 15:38:07

@Sugartitties there are more ways of caring for someone than being stuck in at the deep end when you have your own family and career to consider. OP how about some sort of warden flats nearby as a compromise?

MrsSiriusBlack1 Mon 13-Jul-20 15:41:49

@Sugartitties 🙄🙄

FedUpAtHomeTroels Mon 13-Jul-20 15:43:54

remember when you were a little girl and your mother would look after you......well, now it’s your turn

What a crock. Did you have Children just so you had someone to cater to you when you are old? Poor kids.
I'd get her to move halfway between you and your sister, that way you can both take turns seeing her.
Sounds like she has decided you are the one who is going to be her carer and friend.

LessCumbersome Mon 13-Jul-20 15:45:17

I think you have no choice but to belatedly set and explain some boundaries to your mum, just set her straight on what the reality will be versus her expectations. Also at 85 moving will be a massive undertaking for her, setting up a new home, creating new routines, getting used to a new area and having to get used to and create appropriate emotional and physical support. It just sounds like it's a lot. And if you aren't going to be able to help her as much as she wants/expects then this could be a very poor move for everyone. Could she wait until she may have to go into assisted living and if/ when that happens it can be near you? (I'm aware I sound callous)

Mangofandangoo Mon 13-Jul-20 15:48:41


remember when you were a little girl and your mother would look after you......well, now it’s your turn

I think this is a very unfair comment and it shows either you didn't read the OPs post or you live on another planet

cptartapp Mon 13-Jul-20 15:49:30

sugar what crap. Someone has brainwashed you. We don't have children so they can return the favour as we age, and if we think like that it demonstrates complete selfishness. Who'd want their DC to be tied to caring and running round after them? Very poor parenting.

Mangofandangoo Mon 13-Jul-20 15:50:14

Very hard situation for you Op, but as others have said it may be worth setting more boundaries. Don't let her push you around and you can't alter your life because it's what she desires. Obviously I'm sure you will help her as much as you can but you have a life too

SallyWD Mon 13-Jul-20 15:51:59

Unless she's really horrible I'd want her near me. She doesn't have long to live and is very vulnerable being 85 and on her own. My parents are old and far away. I'm desperate for them to move here but they won't (I can't move there because of my husband's work). I hate not being near them to help them in their old age. They're so frail now. I think people in this country really don't look after their elderly. I'm sure this is a very unpopular opinion though...

Headandheart Mon 13-Jul-20 15:54:20

Does she really want to move house at the age of 85? Who is going to pack/declutter/organise all that? (Thinking of my own elderly parents here.)

Does she have any friends or support network where she is?

Is she hoping you will ask her to move in with you?

Financially is it a good idea?

shamalidacdak Mon 13-Jul-20 16:00:27

Sorry but I think you need to give in on this one. Realistically you only have her for a few years, make the most of it. I don't agree with the typical British sentiment of avoiding the elderly. She may be lonely and if she lived far you may have to do a lot of traveling as she gets frail and needs more help. Cherish the time you have with her, it may not be easy but life is not meant to be easy all the time. Do the right thing you will never regret it.

D1ngledanglers Mon 13-Jul-20 16:04:52

I second @FedUpAtHomeTroels
How about moving halfway between you & your sister? Is that an option?
And/ Or
Suggest Assisted living where they can provide meals & have social activities.
I suppose the thought of what you think she needs may always encourage her to stay put!

I would love my DM to be closer but we have a different relationship...

SnuggyBuggy Mon 13-Jul-20 16:05:40

OP you've hit the nail on the head yourself by mentioning that your sister has boundaries. This can work but only if you have boundaries.

whenwillthemadnessend Mon 13-Jul-20 16:09:47

Can you get her into assisted housing near you so she can have company off people her own age as well as you and your family.

We have lovely places near us where the person has own flat or small house but there is a warden and the community can mingle etc.

I expect covid has made her realise how vulnerable she is.

huuunderickssss Mon 13-Jul-20 16:11:39

I don't think you have to look after your parents , I'm not going to care for mine . She has plenty enough money to pay someone. I will obviously manage the situation but aside from that I keep her at arms length . You can't waste your best years caring for elderly parents .! Can she move somewhere that there is care included ( a retirement village or whatever ) so you can manage but not care yourself ?

rvby Mon 13-Jul-20 16:13:12

You're really talking about the fact that you have limited resources and they are currently stretched thin, and now you're likely going to be expected to stretch those resources even further. Resources include money, time, emotional energy, and so on.

Folk like to make it about "caring for the elderly" etc but really it's more a practical question of finite resources and how to distribute them without literally dying under the strain.

Your mum sounds unpleasant, but then most people are unpleasant, so there you go. She is just another person, albeit one that you feel beholden to in a different way. But it may help you to reframe all this as, "I care for a lot of people, my mum now wants my care as well, let's see what I can manage but I can't work miracles".

Your post seems to be asking for clarity on what she will expect from you. But that isn't the deciding factor - unless you want to run yourself into the ground. The decider is what you can manage, not what she demands.

Firstly the practical resource management:
So - can you help her move? Can you pay for someone to help her? Can you call in a favour from someone to help her?
Can you have her for afternoon tea once a week at your house, while you do other things, but chatting to her?
Can you schedule a day out once/twice a month, garden centre etc?
Can you pay for a carer, cleaner, or something similar once a week?

Then there is the emotional resource management:
Have you figured out how to not allow her to hold court?
Have you practiced being a woman in your own right? Do you know how to calmly and kindly say "absolutely not", without feeling that you are a bad person?
Are you the matriarch now, or is she still holding on to that role? Because if you care for everyone, then you're the matriarch and you call the shots. You get to decide how everything is going to work, on what cadence, etc. Your mother becomes a dependent of you, the person around whom everything revolves.
Basically, do you have a spine, or are you still in the role of quivering child who needs mum's approval?

If you work those two pieces out, you will be fine. It will be stressful and a bore at times, but it will also be finite (hopefully, if you outlive her) - much like parenting.

The key is to constantly snap yourself out of the deep subconscious crap that you've carried around since childhood. Your OP screams "I still want my DM approval" - you need to sort that. You won't get it. She will not appreciate you, she will moan and be dissatisfied and depressed and a total nightmare, that's just what unpleasant folk are like as they age, you've got to accept that because she will not change. You need to be in an emotional position of saying to yourself "She will never be happy, and that's fine - so I'll do what's right for me and she will get over it".

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 13-Jul-20 16:13:43

There are red flags a penny here re Ops mother, not least she having no real interest in her own grandchildren and only talks really about her own self. This is a woman too who has never visited op in her home in all the years she has lived there. Demanding people are just that, demanding.

Your mother as it is knows that your boundaries are too low when it comes to her hence her manoeuvre now into moving nearer you. She thinks you will cave in and say ok mum. What do you think will happen if that move goes ahead, yep you will become her sole means of support financially and emotionally.

Stuckforthefourthtime Mon 13-Jul-20 16:17:51

remember when you were a little girl and your mother would look after you......well, now it’s your turn

Maybe the op remembers when her mother didn't visit her daughter and grandchildren (or invite them) for 21 Christmases in a row. Or where she doesn't give a damn about the OP's life on a call, or to visit for 8 years until she suddenly doesn't have someone to do her dirty work.

It may of course be that the mother has had a change of heart after seeing her DH die, but it's also fair that if she's already got family, a job and helps with support for a disabled BIL she may not want to care for the mother who wasn't that interested in her until she needed a hand.

Your sister sounds caring and also like maybe she's more able to step up, so perhaps the two of you could have a good heart to heart before going to your mum and setting some boundaries?

SpinningWheelOfFortune Mon 13-Jul-20 16:18:09


remember when you were a little girl and your mother would look after you......well, now it’s your turn

What utter nonsense, I don't buy this from people at all, I didn't ask to be born and to need looking after by my parents. I wouldn't want my child to give up their own life to look after me.

I agree with what other have said, to maybe suggest assisted living, if your DM moves nearby you will end up being the one doing everything, being on call 24/7. You need to make it clear to DM that you won't be doing that.

cheshirecat777 Mon 13-Jul-20 16:20:34

Gosh this is difficult. My MIL would be like that if she could but is v wedded to where she lives and its a plane ride away. But the one way conversations you mention are MIL all over and we are so glad that geographically we have that distance from her.

Beautiful3 Mon 13-Jul-20 16:21:15

I would ask her straight before she moves, what does she want and expect to happen. Explain that you're busy with the children and suggest a local assisted living flat.

Fanthorpe Mon 13-Jul-20 16:22:46

Your gut reaction is important. Not that it’ll be nice to see more of her, or you’ll stop worrying about her, or even that you can get a bit closer and do nice things. You’ve mentioned your boundaries so you’re clearly aware she’s not massively respectful of yours.

I think you should bite the bullet and let her know that you can’t offer what she’s looking for.

It’s not to make life easier for you, it’s to make life easier for her, so why wouldn’t she say that? You say she’s not interested in her grandchildren, how do they and your husband feel about her? Don’t jeopardise your relationship with them. Do you know about FOG? It stands for fear, obligation and guilt and we should be aware of how much it influences our decisions.

Could she afford a retirement village?

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