These last few months, my siblings and I feel that my mom's dementia has taken a turn for the worse (although, ironically, the last couple of days she has seemed almost like her old self (to me, at least). In addition to my mom's condition worsening, my niece and nephew-in-law are considering moving out in December. It's not a for sure thing, and they are still giving it serious thought, but if they do leave, the question remains of what to do about Mom.
She can't live alone anymore. We just don't feel it's safe. She's already gotten lost several times in a neighborhood she has lived in for 50 years now and which was once so familiar to her. Her confusion and unawareness have increased. Her memory is pretty bad, and if someone isn't there to remind her to take her pills or to check her sugar or to eat or to pay her bills or to handle solicitors and repairmen or help her deal with her day-to-day affairs, I just don't think she can manage on her own.
For the first time in a long time, I am going back home to Jonah for an indefinite period of time, and so I won't be here, either, and Mom does seem to depend on me a lot, so I know it's going to be hard for her.
I'm not sure what the next step for Mom is if my niece and nephew move out. My brother and sister-in-law both work full-time and can't take care of Mom. My youngest sister has two infant children to care for. My older sister has offered to move in, but I don't think her husband is sold on the idea, plus her daughter tends to drain Mom. But that may be the only option if it's feasible.
Jonah and I would take her, but I don't think moving Mom from a more familiar environment to another state away from her family, friends, and grandchildren is in her best interest, either.
Ideally, I would like Mom to be able to stay in her home for as long as she can, and she is still aware and alert enough that I don't think an assisted-living situation will be beneficial for her and might even make her feel resentful.
Also, her current insurance doesn't cover non-medical custodial home or long-term care, so as she worsens, we will also have to consider how to pay for her care.
These are the questions, though, that my siblings and I are facing.
As to the title of my post, I've started the process of transferring most of Mom's bills and important correspondence to "paperless" rather than her receiving them by snail mail. I'm doing it without her consent. I tried talking to her about it, but it just seemed to confuse her and the fact is, she won't remember having the discussion anyway.
My reasons for doing it are, admittedly, for her protection. This will make it possible for me to just pay all of her bills for her, and since she has been prone to forget to pay them (or accidentally double-pay them) in the past, this will ensure that that doesn't happen.
Also, like her mind, her mail has become more scattered and disorganized. She used to have a very organized filing system (and still does when I'm there to make sure it stays that way), but now she is prone to just putting mail wherever, and this sometimes causes important things to get overlooked.
I, frankly, wish I could take over all of her mail for her, so I know that anything important she receives is not misplaced or overlooked. And I really wish I could get all these charitable organizations to stop sending her so much mail. It's gotten ridiculous, and Mom has such a generous heart that she'd probably give beyond her means were she to donate to all of them. As it is, I often throw most of her junk mail out when she isn't looking (and, of course, she forgets all about it anyway).
But I guess that's what makes me feel guilty. I do all these things behind my mom's back. And I know I shouldn't feel guilty about it. After all, it's for her own safety, security, and protection. But it still makes me feel dishonest. I had to go through my mom's purse today to get some information to change over some of her bills (which it turns out I didn't get enough of, so I have to do it again tomorrow), and I just felt like I was invading her personal property without her permission, which is something I never would have done when she is well.
But I have to do it because Mom will fight against it, whereas this way, I don't even think she'll notice she doesn't get paper bills anymore. I'm also likely going to cancel her cell phone without her permission. Whereas she used to use it all the time when she was well, now she is flummoxed by it. She can't figure out how to use it unless someone shows her; she never remembers to charge it; and she never answers it when one of us try to call it. I frankly don't even think she'll be cognizant that it is missing, but I do know that if I try to convince her to cancel it, she will fight me and claim that she uses it all the time, so I think it's better to take care of it surreptitiously.
If she used it, that would be one thing because we'd love for her to do so when she gets lost or when we're trying to find her. But she doesn't, so it doesn't seem worth the cost. We may try to replace the cost of it with a GPS tracking service instead. Then we could find her more easily.
I just don't want to feel that I'm taking away my mom's independence or taking any joy out of her life (she loves checking the mail and getting mail, even if it's a bill), and I feel bad that this seems to be exactly what I am doing.
Yet these are the realities we are facing, and it will only get worse from here on out. The leash will only get tighter as the dementia takes more away from my sweet mom. I wish it didn't have to feel this way. :-(