Mother problems

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Hello, I'm Kay and have thought about joining for a while. I'm nearly 65 and my mother is nearly 92. I'm her only child and my husband and I live in the next road to hers. She's in reasonably good health, although steadily becoming more dependent and frailer while moving about her house, etc. Our history together has been 'difficult', as she told me ages ago that she had me in the first place to fill the void of her own mother's death!

Dad died in 2005 and since then I've been the sole focus of my mother and all her needs and insecurities. I have compassion for her living on her own and feeling lonely and frightened about her future, but I feels as if it's slowly killing me. After Dad's death, I began to wake up to how much I'd actually been used and taken for granted throughout my entire life, as my mental health (anxiety and depression) and then physical health (IBS) took a nosedive. I managed to come through this with counselling, which was really helpful.

After more family crises (including our son getting himself into a toxic relationship and divorcing his wife, with inevitable fallout coming in our direction involving his two children) and my mother's deterioration, I'm once again having counselling - but also suffering from the dreaded physical reaction of IBS, which is a pain in itself.

I'm currently feeling rather down and thought it would help to be in contact with other people in various situations. I'm not a registered carer for my mother, as the thought of that does my head in. I already feel as if she's sucking the life force from me and to be on a register as her carer feels it would take me past a boundary I can't cope with.

Counselling is leading me towards thinking about having a very difficult conversation with her, concerning how she's finding it much harder to manage and how I can't do everything for her, as my own health and wellbeing is suffering. I guess the next step would be a Needs Assessment, but I don't feel up to the inevitable confrontation this would involve - as she doesn't like 'strangers' coming into her home.

Sorry for going on rather a lot - and best wishes to all!
Hi Kay, welcome to the forum.

Many aspects of your mum applied equally to my mum, who passed away several years ago after many years of being housebound. Only recently have I realised that all her excuses were really to avoid admitting she ad agoraphobia!
I'm surprised your counsellor suggested having a difficult conversation. My counsellor first supported me to set my own priorities, that whilst mum always wanted to come first, she wasn't. In my case, I had a son with learning difficulties, who had to come first, as he didn't speak for himself.
I was supported to work out what I wanted to do for myself too (I'd not put myself first in years!!)
Then he taught me how to take control of mum's expectations. I'd do her banking and paperwork, and be responsible for arranging maintenance, but could not and would not do jobs that someone else could do. Cleaning, ironing, getting mum out of bed, etc. etc. Grudgingly she accepted outside help, and found she enjoyed meeting the different carers, hearing about their children etc.
Mum always had a list of jobs for me, the faster I did them, the faster they were invented. So I decided which job I would do, and refuse to take on any more until the first was done. I'd say "you asked me to do this, so let me get it finished first, then we'll talk about what else needs doing". This was life changing. I never actually said "No".
Your mum, at her age, is probably totally self focussed, doesn't realise how much you are doing, that's a feature of most "very elderly" i.e. over 85's. It's not just your mum.
Start by making a list of everything you do, and deciding what can be avoided altogether, and then what someone else can do. Definitely it's time for a Needs Assessment, and a Carers Assessment for you too.
Hello Kay,
I'm also new to the Forum today and have a similar issue to yourself-I'm an only child living near to my mum and my mother has literally driven me to tears today whilst we've been out doing the weekly shopping and so whilst your situation sounds difficult and I really feel for you it's comforting to know I'm not alone in feeling this way about caring for my elderly mum. I'm really hoping to find some support from this Forum as I don't know how much more I can take and feel so guilty for feeling the way I do. Her negativity and seeming anger about everyone and everything is starting to put strain on our relationship and I'm really worried that this may be and early sign of developing dementia-be great to hear from others who are in a similar situation
Caz
Hi Kay and archiebig and welcome

You both might find it easier to names yourselves 'Care Manager' rather than feel you have been forced into the position of carer. Care Managers organise and coordinate care rather than do all the day to day care tasks. Yes this does mean utilising outside help, but as most of us on here know, caring 24/7 just cannot be done by one sole person.
The sooner you can start introducing outside help, perhaps initially as cleaner, gardener, lunch club etc
, the better.

Counselling is very good, as is time away and time off for your own activities. You each need to find a balance of care that works for you. It's when things become imbalanced that stress and resentment flourish, but do be prepared that balance may have to shift when there's an emergency, or when care needs grow.

3 other tips are :
1. Always change the 'feeling guilty' to 'feeling sad', it is not your fault your parent is ageing and feeling guilty ain't going to help
2. 'Needs' trump 'wants'. As aging progesses Needs increase and what parent Wants has to take second priority to their Needs. they may not want strangers coming in, but it becomes necessary ,as residential care may do too
3. Make no promises. Don't promise to do it all yourself/never go into a home/stay a t home etc. None of us know how it's going to go and adding guilt of breaking promises just doesn't help at what is a difficult time anyway . You can promise to love/do your best/help of course :)

Glad both of you found us. Feel free to share highs, lows and rants. There's no judgement on here

Kr
MrsA
Hello all,
I'm new to this site, and already finding it very informative and reassuring to know i'm not alone.
My mum has just been diagnosed with vascular dementia, on top of having numerous other ailments.
For the last 2yrs she has been living in a flat quite independently (she's 82 now) but in the last two weeks we have had to increase carers visits to monitor and give her medication, which is done by onsite staff now.
Previous carers were useless and I ended up complaining to the Ombudsman and CQC and are now on Special measures.
My problem is that all the responsibilities,finances, food and hospital appointments etc have fallen into my shoulders.
I have two brothers both of which live within 30min drive who will take Mum for the odd appointment or do a shop if they aren't busy but that's all and only if I say I can't get time off work.
It has now come to the point where the relationship between my brothers and I has broken down and we are hardly civil!

I live alone, work full time, usually from home and feel I'm on call 24/7 as I live nearest.

This week -Monday, on a visit to the office I broke down in tears in front of my boss, felt physically ill. Although I have spoken to friends about Mums diagnosis and been fine, the full impact hit me right there in the middle of the office!
Luckily my boss is aware I'm a carer for my Mum and was very understanding, let me have a few days off to get my head around what needs to be done/ put in place as we all know it's not going to get any easier.
My mum is housebound, and thinks I still live at home with her, says she waits to hear my key in the door.
Looking at other posts, I can see maybe I need to get more help with visits from professionals as I feel I can't rely on my brothers to turn up when they say they will, let alone take any responsibility for anything Mum needs.
Are there any other suggestions anyone can offer?
Anything much appreciated
Hi Julia
It does sound as if things would be easier if your brother's took on their fair share of tasks.
Is the majority left to you because you are:
female
Single
Nearest
Work from home (seen as not really working)
Work from home (seen as super flexible)
Haven't really clearly set out all the duties and divvied them up
All of the above?
Questions for you to ask yourself.

Also there's a school of thought that where there is an unfair split of care duties between siblings who expect to inherit equally, that the care giver is paid for her duties so that as the inheritance is diminished by the cost of care, there has be a redistribution that feels more fair. Consider this in terms of residential fees. If mum were in a Home, fees would come from her money and would diminish any inheritance equally, but in this situation no one sibling would be doing more than the rest. However that doesnt follow if care needs living at home are great and are mainly on one sibling.
Just ideas for you to consider.
Kr
MrsA
Welcome to the forum. Try to think of yourself from now on as mum's Care Manager, NOT provider. So think about the jobs that need doing at the moment. Can they be avoided altogether (tumble dryer rather than the line): can they be reduced - putting away all ornaments, removing piles of newspapers, magazines, any ornaments etc.; can someone else do them - cleaning, gardening. Food shopping? - shop online.
Make it clear to everyone, especially yourself, that work must come first. During the hours of x-y you are NOT AVAILABLE. Just because you are working from home does not mean you can stop for mum. If she can't get to the hospital herself, then transport can be arranged.
Forget about your brothers doing anything, take charge yourself, then you won't be disappointed. Do you have Power of Attorney, or are you mum's DWP "Appointee"?
Hello Mrs A and bowlingbun,
Thank you for your reply, and spot on!
Advice from friends also say I make myself too available, but it is so hard to say no.
I know I need to get out of the house more and live my life as my only outings seem to be visits to Sainsbury's and Mum!
And so annoying when I did actually book a few days away giving plenty of notice, my brother booked exactly the same time off...deliberately? ?
I can't help thinking of Mum sitting there all day everyday without even a phone call from them ...
I've suggested they take one day a week to be responsible for whatever happens on that day to give me a break, one did Wednesday...popped in for a while but under duress..or so it seems, Mum said he must have somewhere else to be as couldn't wait to leave....hardly seems worth it!

I'll take on board what you've said and try and get something organised for me time,
Thanks
Jx
Oh forgot to say, yes I have POA but jointly with my elder brother, not that he's bothered registering with any banks etc and I'm the only one who has access to Mums finances.
I made sure of that after my brother and his partner decided to ring her bank and get her to give clearance for them to transfer money to an online account...soon put a stop to that, as she would not have had access to her own money!!
Hi,

And welcome to the Forum. Sounds as if you could all have a newbie support network :D I too was the only child, working full-time and caring for mum. Exhausted, bad-tempered and frustrated in equal measure.

Only suggestions I have - make sure your parent gets all the financial support open to them - attendance allowance? exemption from council tax if diagnosed with dementia etc. If not sure, email the Carers UK Adviceline about benefits available for them. Use that money to outsource as many tasks as possible - cleaning, gardening, additional visits, eg dementia befrienders etc.

If you have not already done so, contact Social Services to arrange a Care Assessment for parent, Carers Assessment for you, and find out what is available locally in terms of support.

Finally, carve out time for yourself. How, you may well ask? Even if blocks of an hour, do something physical to let off steam.

And of course talk to us. Between us, we have all been there and done it. It doesn't make us experts but we do understand.

Take care, Anne x