My mom has what seems to be undiagnosed borderline personality disorder. For the last many years, she's burned bridges at work and let her self-loathing get the best of her, to the point that she's chronically unemployed, has alienated most of her friends, and has exhausted all her financial resources. She's hit rock bottom, with $0 in the bank and debts to pay. And she's turned to me for help, saying she doesn't know how to take care of herself. I'm 26. I'm struggling to pay back my own student loans. Please help me help my mom. This is in Canada.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (22 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The irony is, I work with social services agencies that should be able to help her, but she slips through the cracks in almost every area. She's got an ivy league education. She is not a minority. But she hasn't been employed full time for ages. She's worked as an "independent contractor" for the past fourteen years, and now she's 2 years away from being retirement age and refuses to claim her pension early. Also, even if she does claim her pension early, in the intervening months between now and her birthday she has absolutely nothing to live on. I know she wants me to take care of her, but I can't afford to. There has to be some alternative. I don't want my mom to be on the street.
I suggested that she go on welfare, but she seems to think that if she does so they'll make her cut out what they deem "unnecessary spending" -- her internet connection and cell phone, which she uses for job searches, her apartment, which is not subsidized housing. At my insistence, she's signed up for a temp agency and is looking for any immediate part time work.
What else can she do? How can she get some money to live on, right now?
Here's the selfish whiny kid part: I don't know how to take care of my mom, and I'm scared for her future. I don't have a partner to fall back on; I don't have siblings. She's a single mom. I feel terribly guilty for not being able to take care of her, but also fear getting pulled into having to care for her my entire adult life. Though she's close to retirement age, she's got the vibrancy and talent of someone in their 40s. There's no reason she can't work, take care of herself, and live well. But she has no retirement savings, no property, no nothing; she went completely bust when I was a teenager, sold everything, and we spent a long time living out of our car and on people’s couches while she tried, in vain, to get a high-level management job like the ones she quit, or was let go from. Since then, she’s even sold the car. Her pride prevents her from doing many things that might improve her life. How can I help someone like this, and how can I do it all by myself? I love her, and this is so painful. But part of the reason I'm struggling to pay back my student loans now is because I took them out the last time she was in a situation like this, got us an apartment and used the loans to pay rent. I'm still paying that off, and can't go into that kind of debt again.
So, I guess my question is twofold, in order of importance:
1. How can my mom get immediate financial assistance in Canada so she is not evicted, homeless, out on the street?
2. How do I deal with this issue overall? It's big, it's here to stay, and I don't know what to do. And I’ve seen a therapist about how to deal with it emotionally, but I don’t know what to actually do to prevent my mom from slipping into dire poverty. Are there counselors who deal with people like my mom? If your answer is "a social worker," in which program?