I can think of two things that might help.
First because of your mothers age. At least I'm hoping she is old enough
to be considered in the category of Department of Aging.
As far as I know each state has one.
I would get ahold of this agency and find out what kind of help they
can give her. I would also just inquire about this. Especially with
the back surgery. She should qualify.
Next with the niece, I would apply for SSI, She definately should
qualify. This will give her some income of her own. But she should
need a rep payee. Period, do not let them make her responsible
for the money. I would also suggest that you be this person, instead
of your mother. I would suggest you do this because of your mothers
age. And the fact she can walk all over her.
This would make it possible for you to pay your mother, rent for her.
Help with the utilities, and pay the cable bill.
Explain to them both, that if its listed that she pays rent, she gets
more money. So they want this to happen. Otherwise she might
get like 200 less.
You and they don't have to pay as much as you say. Just have to do
it on paper. Then also she will pay for at least part of the food she
You will also, teach her how to cash a check each week. THis will
be what she is allowed to spend each week.
PS. If there is extra money, she can be allowed extra, but it takes time.