I watched my mother serve as caregiver for my grandmother, helped mom with grandma, was primary caregiver with my father for my mom during her illness, and currently work for the state in its aging services division, working with a program that provides in home care for elderly and disabled participants. And I’m starting to think about these things with my dad since he’s getting older and there is a real possibility that he’ll need care before too long. So, I have some experience with caregiving and a lot of advocacy for those who do so. Sorry this is so long, feel free to skim through or just ignore it.
First and foremost, make sure that it’s her decision to move in with you. Even if you have to guide her to that, it has to be her decision. You said that she still has mental capabilities, which is good. It also means that as an adult, she has the right to make whateve decisions she wishes, even if those decisions are not in her best interest. With my grandmother, we had to present the facts and help her come to the conclusion that she needed extra care. We couldn’t “force” her to move in, or tell her “this is what you’re going to do…” Out of respect for her and her right to choose, we had to allow her to do so.
Second, and just as important, make sure you are ready for the ramifications of having her move in. Right now she may only need minimal care, but as time goes on her needs will increase. Can you physically, financially and emotionally provide the care she needs? At what point will her needs outweigh your abilities, and what are the options? It’s easier to make those decisions now, when you’re just starting and aren’t stressed to the breaking point. Some people do not want to be a “burden” to their family; others would never “dump their parent” in some nursing facility. What are your thoughts, and your mother’s thoughts? If you feel strongly about it either way, what is an acceptable alternative? Now is also a good time to research the options available and find out the various requirements. I don’t know about where you are, but in the US every state has a variety of service options available depending on qualifications. Finding them now, when it’s not urgently needed, is a lot easier than getting to the point where you need “something” but have no idea what, and no idea where to start.
Third, find a support system now. Being a caregiver is stressful. At some point you’re going to reach a breaking point and need somewhere safe to vent, to complain, and to say all of the horrible things you’re feeling. Also, prolonged illness can be very isolating. At first, all of the friends gather around and are willing to help in whatever way they can. But as time goes by, their own lives intervene and other things take precedence. I watched the majority of my mom’s friends essentially abandon her as her health problems continued. They didnt’ want to bother her if she were resting; she wasn’t able to be a member of the community so therefore couldn’t really participate in conversations about things happening; and the chaos of regular life took over and they just didn’t have time to stop by every week. Having a support in place now is going to be vital down the road. Also, you’re going to need a break now and then, time to get away and not have to worry about your mom. Leaving her alone (and worrying about all of the possible things that could happen in your absence) is one thing; leaving her with someone else (who can possibly help or at the least call if needed) is another. Even if you have to hire a “housekeeper” and run errands while she’s there, you need to get away. Caring for an adult is somewhat like caring for a child, except a child grows up and requires less care. With an adult, as time goes by they require more and more care. And serving as caregiver, knowing things are only going to get more difficult, is highly stressful.
Also, now is the time to set up all the legal documents you’ll need. Power of attorney, rights to make medical decisions for her, financial paperwork so you can take care of her bills when the time comes. I would strongly advise you set up a trust, and keep her money and bills separate from your own. A friend made the mistake of combining her father’s accounts with her own, and while she kept immaculate records, when he died her bank account went into probate. It was a nightmare and took months to get worked out.
And finally, take your time with all this. It’s a huge undertaking, and needs to be seriously thought through. If she’s just at the stages where she can’t fully care for herself, then you have time to research all of your options and make sure everything is in place for the time when you need it.