Daughter or Carer??

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
You know up until now I never thought of myself as a carer!!!.... To me I am just a daughter looking after Mom....

My sister and I have on many occasions stopped at Mom's over the last few years to look after her.... like when she had very bad sciatica and had problems walking etc... and when she broke both her wrists.... (yes at the same time!!!) ... so she had plaster on both her arms from elbow to wrists!!... but bless she was still determined to try and be independent...

And now since last October when she was diagnosed with lung cancer we have been staying and looking after Mom... more so since January when she needed 24/7 care.....

But not once did I ever think of myself as a carer.... to me it was just a natural thing to do.... until we received a phone call to say we were being assessed as carers to see what help we could be offered....

Still seems strange to me... ...
It is an odd situation to find yourself in, Angie. I used to work for a chap who was nursing his wife through cancer, lovely couple, he got quite cross when someone at the hospital referred to him as her carer, he said he was doing what he always did which was spending time with the woman he loved. I think it's really just part of the labelling system that we're all herded into these days; in order to decide whether or not someone can get some help they have categories, if you fit the category you get given a label. I think it's more about other people than yourself, if you know what I mean! It's a weird thing to get your head around though. Sort of like the way you identify yourself isn't the way other people identify you which feels a bit odd.

Bless your mum, though, how did she manage to break both her wrists at the same time?! :)
Yes, I never thought of myself as my husband's carer when he was diagnosed with cancer, except that it swiftly became a necessary label when accessing cancer support and information forums online - I mean, I wasn't a patient, so I had to be a carer, those were the only two options!

So I do agree that being seen as the carer of someone you love can be odd and unsettling, and something one rejects psychologically because, as you say, you are just doing what comes naturally.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, since I 'inherited' my MIL as she became increasingly dependent on me - I was the only person she had, as her surviving son lives in the USA, and though very appreciative of my efforts, can't actually do anything practically - for me it was a role I deeply resented and resisted mentally. I didn't WANT to be my MIL's carer, and hated describing myself as such, or thinking of myself as such. I never went down the path of accessing any 'support funds' as the last thing I wanted was for 'Officialdom' to label me This Woman's Carer - I don't want any official or legal responsibility for her at all.

That said, I think it can be 'dangerous' not to think of oneself as a carer when that is what one actually is. Especially when mental health issues come into play. All too often, the offspring of parents with MH problems do not actually realise that the domination of their lives by their MH parents has turned them into their parents' carers....it's an 'invisible slavery' perhaps is an extreme way of looking at it. Young carers are raised to BE carers for their parents, and for that reason don't see the chains that bind them to their parents, don't see that they are not free to live their own lives, without the endless and crushing responsibilities that their parents' vulnerabilities impose upon them.

So, I would say, sometimes it's important for us to recognise that we ARE someone's carer.

Just my personal opinion, formed by my own personal circumstances. Each of us reacts to our life situation in our own ways.
Hi Jenny
Thank you for your very honest description of being a carer. I have just started being my Dad's carer suddenly as my Mother has had a serious fall and will never walk again. She also suffers from a confusional state and so sadly will have to remain in a nursing home. Until the accident Mum was Dad's carer although as said by others, she was just doing what most partners do for each other. I suppose my resentment about having to be a carer is not against my Dad but the blow that life has dealt us. I am a widow and nursed my husband until he died. I have just got my life back on a fairly even track and now my poor parents are having a very hard time. Not much I can do except deal with the situation and I am getting Social Service support put in place even though it's slow. I'm having a big moan I suppose! I will do all that I can to help both my parents to have some quality of life with the time they have left but as a new carer, it is such a sad responsibility! I've gone through feeling selfish and guilty for resenting all of this but with support trying to get to grips with it all and maintain some life for myself as well.
Am I being a terrible daughter for not wanting my Father to live with me but to care for him in sheltered accommodation instead? My mind is reeling!
You're not being a terrible daughter at all! Some people assumed that my dad would move in with me after we lost Mum. No way! I needed my independence and he needed his. It works for some but wouldn't have worked for us. Instead I ended up caring at a distance of 30 miles by doing emergency runs up and down the motorway, calling in to see him regularly, talking on the phone each day, organising the practical, financial, medical and social aspects of his life. Eventually we had 'the talk' and agreed that a care home would be a better option. That meant reducing my list considerably and becoming a daughter again. It meant I was less resentful and could relax in the knowledge that he was being looked after. For Dad, it meant accepting his decline but the upside was having good food, company and care. He also got to spend time with a far happier daughter.
Jx
Catherine, I completely agree with Juggler!

Like you, I am widowed, and I think that definitely contributed to my resentment at being 'landed' with my MIL. I thought 'Oh hell, isn't it bad enough I've lost my husband, and now I've been landed with his mother?!' It was so 'unfair' - it was so 'unfair' I lost my husband, so 'unfair' I was forced to bother about his mother....

Of course, as we grimly know, 'fair' is the last thing life is...for whatever reasons, even if that's nothing more than blind random chance, we each get 'handed and landed' with things that don't really seem to make much sense or logic, and we have to deal with it as we can, and count the blessings we do have. I do know, from the bottom of my heart, that losing my husband was better than us losing our son (and I think my brave brave husband would say the same) (and to her eternal credit, the first thing my MIL said when we had to tell her of her son's diagnosis was 'It should have been me'.....)

In respect of your dad, I would most definitely second Juggler and advise against him moving in with you. For a year, until I finally bit the bullet and got her into supported living (live in a home and have meals cooked and other people around) I had my MIL staying with me 'on and off', weeks and weeks at a time, and I was driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown. Just having her in the house, let alone that I had to 'wait on her hand and foot' (cup of tea, Granny, time for lunch, Granny, etc) it became incredibly boring - watching endless day time telly with her, taking her out to the shops, going for drives, etc etc. Basically, living the life of a 90 year old! It was nothing to do with her personally - I get on well with her and always have, thank goodness - but it just took my life over....

So I would most definitely advise keeping your dad in his own accommodation. You say your mum was his carer, but what exactly are his care needs? What does he need done for him? Is his frailty physical, mental, emotional, practical? All of the above?!

I also firmly agree that living in sheltered accommodation, supported living, or even a full care home, means that with the 'daily task' taken off your shoulders (someone else is doing all the meals, bathing, etc etc) you actually get to enjoy their company more when you do see them. I now take MIL out for the day, she even has 'sleepovers' with me, and it is quite companionable and easy - and then, hurrah, I drive her back to her Home, and 'hand her over' to the staff there, and drive off back to my own life.....