At 89, Mother insists on making her own decisions.  Decisions have never been her forte.  Rather than duke it out with her, her four offspring plan to wait until she is weakened by age or malady.  So far, that’s not happening.  She continues to drive–merging at 70 miles per hour–in her hometown city traffic in her Lexus.  The car has a compass, which is good, as Mother has never had a sense of direction.

Texas requires it’s older drivers to test periodically.  Mother keeps passing the tests.

She lives in an apartment now, having stubbornly and against advice, sold all the property she owned or inherited.  The proceeds are gone.

She runs out of money and food at the end of the month.  Her Social Security check arrives on the 3rd.  Our attempts to supplement end up in the pocket of a relative who has a good education, is offered jobs, but prefers not to work.  He stays several days a month with her.  Mother believes his sad tales and hands over everything in her wallet, and in her fridge.  When they are gone, so is he.

We are trying new methods of support–will share any that succeed–but are open to suggestions.


About sharonervin

I write novels for and about women. I work half-days in my husband and son's law office. A former newspaper reporter, I have a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. I have four grown children.
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  1. Pat Browning says:

    Your free-loading relative sounds like what my mother used to call “shiftless.” Be that as it may, consider this: he is giving your mother something she wants and needs more than anything — company.
    Living alone in an apartment is the pits. Take it from someone who knows. I play the TV for company sometimes. Your mother is lucky to drive. I’m stuck without a car and without public transportation.
    Don’t fight with her. Just keep an eye on her in case she needs you.
    End of advice. 😀

    • sharonervin says:

      Thank you, Pat. Your comments are exactly what I need. As it turns out, I’ve reached the same conclusion. She enjoys his company and attention and his being there contributes to her independence.

  2. This is such a hard thing to deal with. My mom just turned 92 and lives in her own apartment way over in Illinois while I live in Colorado. Luckily, my brother lives in the next building over from Mom and sees her every day. He does all her cooking and grocery shopping, takes her to her appointments, etc. I know two of my mom’s friends, however, who were taken advantage of by freeloading relatives, both of them grandsons. It’s so sad when that happens, and our elders are so vulnerable.

  3. connie kiesewetter says:

    There comes a time when you have to be a parent to those who took care of you when you were young. You will know when the time comes to step in and insist on helping your elderly mother make decisions. (Her merging speed on the highway may be your first clue.) We have to protect our elderly loved ones and people who might be hurt through the process of their making poor decisions. I remember the pain my parents felt when they took Grandpa’s keys away from him. He was 85 and had severe cataracts. He drove down the middle of every street in Oklahoma City. Gramps said, “They’ll get out of my way. They always do!” Taking care of parents is the most difficult thing in the world. I know because I’m doing it now.

  4. Vicki Holbrook Brown says:

    Boy, can I relate to this situation. I had in succession, a Grandmother, her sister with Alzheimer’s, my Mom then my Dad to care for – by myself. My siblings in California offered much advice, mostly unasked for and unwanted, by long distance telephone. Frequently, one would actually call my Mom or Dad and get them so lathered up about the presumed lack of care they were getting, that it would set the doctor’s and my efforts back by weeks, if not months. I DID have to become a parent TO my parents. There was no easy introduction into this either – accidents, hospitalizations, necessary decisions to be made without adequate information – all jumped up simultaneously and had to be handled. There were no volunteers and my parents were simply unable to make decisions any longer. The hardest part was that they thought they still could. As a child, you are brought up not to argue with your parents. They are always right and you are always wrong. That’s the way the world keeps its balance. But as they age and do foolish things, and become a danger to themselves and others, it is usually the ‘one’ child who becomes the caregiver and the one who has the pleasure of telling them they are wrong. It is not easy. It is not for the faint hearted. It is not for sissies. But when you love your parents, you do what’s best for them. Sometimes that is not offering suggestions or helpful hints. Sometimes it is taking the bull by the horns and literally stepping into the fray to take over. But sometimes, it is learning to simply accept that they are foolish little children, running out into the street to play and disregarding all the rules. The phrase “Let go and let God” became my Mantra. It will become your’s as well.

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