I just saw your post to me about my husband's and my retirement - thanks for responding! You see, the house we live in now that is on the same street as my mother's, is large, antique, and a constant money pit. When my parents moved to our street about 20 years ago, we were all much younger and my children were actually lots of help with home chores (for their grandparents and for us) and with visiting them and being company to them. I remember being able to pay my kids $5 or so and have them run to the store, or mow the grass or sweep up a broken dish. Now they have homes and kids of their own and can't help. I actually wouldn't expect any of my kids to take care of their house and my house - it's beyond human ability!
My mother, who never raked leaves or mowed grass or shoveled snow, or did the many other chores necessary to run a house, doesn't understand that we are doing our own AND hers. Actually, to be truthful, we have tapered off in all of our chores - this is the first year that the leaves are still on the ground instead of being raked, because my husband and I both have physical problems. Last year, when my mother casually told me how she would like the lights strung on the outside of her house for Christmas (and didn't anticipate that our time would be hampered by my husband's ill parents), I practically threw a tantrum - stating that we didn't even have time and energy to hang our own lights, never mind hers. She was taken aback at that - just can't seem to grasp the difficulties in balancing everything.
Well, my husband and I will be more restricted financially after he retires - the taxes and the cost of heating this house will be more difficult. Not to mention that going up on ladders to the third floor to clean out gutters is harder than twenty years ago. We dream of a small house on a quiet street.
My mother actually says that she WANTS us to buy a small house for ourselves and that she'll "be fine without us and can get by. I feel like saying, "well if you could get by fine without us, why is it that almost every day of the week, you need errands done or house chores or doctor appointments. The truth is that she can't live in her house without our support, but she won't acknowledge it, and I think she is in denial. She really knows that we will find it impossible to pack up and leave. Even if I didn't feel guilty, everyone - neighbors, her friends (those still living), etc. , who actually have no idea of how hard this all is, would think we were horrible and neglectful. They would probably assume we could take her with us and have her live in a room in our new little house, but I know that wouldn't work! Occasionally, I have told her that we will be moving "some day" just to get her used to the idea, but I hate the look of panic on her face.
She wants to stay in her house until she dies, but it is becoming more difficult because of her physical problems. I am biding time, thinking that if I just take one step at a time, she may come to realize OR she will stop being able to get up from chairs or her bed by herself - and she will make the decision to move someplace else. I guess that if the retirement comes before that, I'll have to tell her that a move is necessary. I guess that expecting her to be unselfish is NOT going to happen.