I've had enough

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
I'm sitting here crying instead of getting ready to visit my mum in hospital. This is the 5th time she has been admitted this year. She dismissed her carers despite my objections. She did not tell me or the district nurse who visits daily that she was feeling unwell on Wednesday after her cat bit her and now she has ended up being admitted again. I feel so angry with her and with myself for having these feelings. My mum is 86 and has had ill health for years. She has had countless operations and illnesses since I was in my teens. I am the only one who drives her to her appointments. My life doesn't seem to matter. She calls me her rock. I hate that expression. I do not want to be her rock, I want my life back. I do not want to visit her when she demands or look after her or wash her hair or clean her house or wash her sheets or flea her cat or cut her toenails...aren't I horrible? Whatever would my family think of me if they knew that good old Fiona isn't really good at all. Shall I stay here and not visit her? I think I might.
Fiona, put the car keys back where they belong, put the kettle on, make a cuppa, and sit down and watch some easy-viewing daytime telly, or pick up a magazine, or whatever is nice for you to do mid-afternoon.

DO NOT VISIT YOUR MOTHER.

You might be her 'rock' but you're 'rock-bottom' right now!!!!!

I'm going to say something that might sound 'harsh' but bear with me -

it's this -

Your mother is the way she is because you let her be that way!

She dismisses her carers because she knows YOU will step into the breach and do what they do. She knows YOU will do all the chores and the personal attention etc etc etc.

So why should she bother to endure professionals when she's got her own ready-made slave? (A slave she's 'trained' since a young girl to be at her beck and call!)

You will have to get tough. You'll have to battle guilt, and objections from your family (who, I can promise you, must find it really, really convenient for them that 'good old Fiona' is looking after mum.....so they don't have to....), and most of all you'll have to battle your mum, who will 'kick off' (either with tears, or grumpiness, or calling you her rock to make you feel guilty about daring to want a life of your own), but if you HOLD THE LINE all of these will be defeated.

Remember, IF your mum had TRUE 'mother's love' for you the LAST thing she'd want is for you to be her slave.....always bear that in mind. Parents sacrifice their own wants to ensure their children have a good life. Your mother is being selfish - end of. The fact that she has got rid of professional carers because she wants YOU to do what they do, tells me that.

You will have to 'get tough' in that you will have to say to her - if you dismiss the carers I am NOT going to pick up their pieces! You will have to do without - end of.

Now, what are the living arrangements here? Is she with you, or you with her, or still in her own place? Whatever they are, you must claim more time for yourself.

One of the real upsides of having them in hospital is that wow, suddenly you have time to YOURSELF!!! So be glad that right now 'someone else' is coping with her, so you don't have to.

So, like I say, right now, enjoy the afternoon ON YOUR OWN (go shopping or whatever FOR YOURSELF) and make the most of it right now.

Your mother's in a safe place. She doesn't need you. YOU need you!

All the best, and let's see if we can't enourage you here to say with you 'you've had enough, you've done enough, time for a CHANGE'. And 'make it happen'.

Cheers for now, Jenny
Thank you Jenny, that made me cry. It's exactly as you have said it. My sister conveniently lives 40 miles away and doesn't drive (clearly never heard of the train-wonderful invention) and her husband has a bad back, oh and she is poorly too and has to look after her son who is on half term. No mention of my sons who are also on half term and never see me because I am either at work or at my mums. Everyone texts me for updates which really annoys me.

My mum lives in a council house on her own. She made sure she was up and dressed and was coping well so that the OT would agree that she no longer needed them. I have paid for her pendant alarm for 6 years and in all that time she has never had it on when she needed it. I put my foot down about the district nurse though, they come in every morning to prompt her to take her meds and they phone in the evening. If mum had told the nurse she was unwell on Wednesday, this hospital thing could have been avoided. I had one day off yesterday and now I'm on lates for 7 days and the whole day was ruined because of my mum. I feel like I hate her sometimes :-???

I didn't go to the hospital today and I don't feel too bad about it. At least she can't phone to demand to know if I have forgotten she exists. I just feel like crying all the time but have to get it together now!

I am off to work soon but thank you Jenny, you helped more than you know x
Hi Fiona, I second everything Jenny has said. My mum's pet phrases are 'I depend on you totally' and 'This is your good deed for the day'. At no point was I ever, ever asked if I was willing to look after her; she just arrived, having refused a really nice place in a care home in a retirement village near us.

I am so angry with her that I have signed up with a counsellor to talk things through. For me.
Hi Fiona
I was also referred to by my dad as his rock. Being the single daughter who lived nearby (30 miles away!) it was always going to fall on me over my sister who of course had every reason only to turn up when she wanted something!! :roll: I was also holding down a job miles from home and....I could go on, but you get the picture.
I got to the state you are in too and ended up at the GP. Although I tried to get my grown up nephews and nieces involved they were at a distance. They did, however, phone, write him letters and send photos which helped. Some cousins did this too. It took off a bit of pressure and gave him something else to think about.
I resisted visiting Dad every day but made sure someone else did by having the district nurse, cleaner, gardener, meals delivery and a befriender all lined up on different days. I also got him to go along to the Age UK day centre once a week. Basically, I became his PA and liaised with the different people who contacted me if they were concerned about him. Although I spoke to him on the phone every day, took him to appointments and handled emergencies I also managed to step back a bit and have some life.
He started wearing the Lifeline all the time after on serious incident...and my constant reminder of an aunt who died on the bathroom floor having left hers in the bedroom.
At several points I had to be brutally honest and remind my dad that I had the right to a life too and did he really want someone to find him at the bottom of the stairs with his head cracked open several days after he'd fallen down them?
So, having gone on a bit, who can you get involved? Tell your family that you are under the GP and that you are having problems at work. Be blunt - tell them what you are doing - what can you lose? Look for others help - voluntary organisations like Age UK and WRVS and brilliant and will understand. And be devious with your mum if it's the only way it'll work. White lies are fine!
Hope this helps in some way.
Jx
Hi Fiona
On a Friday morning I have my only 'diversion' in the week. I just go to an art club. It's a group amateur artists who just 'do their own thing' for a couple of hours, chat and exchange tips.
I arrive at Mum's at 9 0'clock and take over from the double team of carers who have hoisted her out of bed, washed and dressed her. I make her breakfast and do any odd jobs until 9.30. I then settle her, in her electric chair, by the front window with everything she could possibly need to hand and leave at 9.45. At 10.30 a carer arrives to provide a sitting service until 12 when I arrive back ready to make her lunch.
The carer sitting today was a nice girl who hasn't actually impressed Mum much. She's not good at 'jollying her along'
Conversation today when I returned.
Mum, (complaining) " I'm not having that girl around here any more, she's useless.'
Me. (exasperated) "Well she's coming a couple of times tomorrow with the double team. What do you want me to do? Cancel it?"
Mum, (hard done by and martyred) " Oh no, I've just got to put up with it, I suppose"
Me. (Unsympathetic) "Well, we've all got a lot to put up with".
Mum. (Very sarcastic and sneering). "Oh diddums, poor you".
At which point I walked out of the room before I blew my top.
Tomorrow I will be at Mum's from 9 o'clock until 5.30, with an hour's break in the afternoon when the double team are there. Same again Sunday. I spend an average of at least 6 hours a day with Mum with short sharp breaks when carers are with her. I frequently cry all the way home. Today I started weeping in the middle of my art group because someone said something kind to me.
I know she should be in a Home, but she refuses. My problem is that she is 99 years old for goodness sake. She cannot do a thing for herself. There's no-one else but me. What kind of daughter forces her very, very old and needy mother into a Home when she is so frightened of going? On the other hand - I want my life!
By the way, my most hated task is not cutting the toenails but the hairs on her chin. Gives me the shudders.
I know how you feel.
Elaine
I know exactly how you feel. Mum is no longer here and I miss her desperately BUT I do not miss the life I was living this time last year - the frustration, the sniping, the gut-wrenching anxiety when I was not there, the guilt when I tried to claim back some life of my own. Mum tried on numerous occasions to sack the carers. I told her they were on a monthly contract so we would do it next month, she refused to speak to the dementia sitters, refused to go to daycare etc etc.

When finally at rock bottom, I did phone Social Services and threaten to walk away. Suddenly they found money for respite. I cried all the way back from placing mum in respite but although it was not perfect, she did more or less settle. It gave both of us the opportunity to test run the idea of a care home.

I would suggest, even if you think it will never happen. Visiting care homes and even putting mum's name on the waiting list. It can be a long wait! Firstly, it gives you a feeling that you are doing something and secondly, if there is a crisis, you know where you would like your mum to go

I wish you luck, and strength to get through, Anne x
Oh my God, thank you all so much.
I feel like a real person after reading all your experiences, not a selfish, horrible person :huh: I thought there was something wrong with me. I expected either a big silence OT for people to remind me of my duty.
Some of you have it worse than me, I feel for you all. It's not fair though is it? I never want to put that upon my children, it's not why I had them but all these years of looking out for my mum and my siblings (one autistic, one useless) and looking after my mum through her menopause, cancer, through operations, falls, broken bones, arthritis, joint replacements, pneumonia, you name it-she has had it, it has taken its toll on me and everyone around me has expectations of what I should be doing and who I should be. My only confidante is my husband who understands and doesn't make me feel like an evil witch.
I want it to change so I must make it change but how shall I do it in reality?
Fiona, I'm so glad we've been able to reassure you, and sympathise with you. There's lots more where that came from! I agree that it can help just knowing that others too find it exhausting and exasperating having to cope with an elderly, dependent, 'helpless' relative, however fond we may be of them (even if they don't seem that fond of us at times!!!!!!!!!)(ie, never express appreciation, gratitude or commiseration....sometimes, yes, because their mental capacity has gone - that's the situation with my 91y/o MIL, alas, who now has dementia and is blissfully unaware of the fact without a whole team of other people looking after her she couldn't survive......takes it all blissfully for granted!)

Wanting things to change in your current circumstances is NOT an indication that you are an 'evil witch'! It's an indication that you are human, and that you are as entitled to a 'decent life' as anyone else. Remember, it's not 'your fault' your mother has (enjoyed??????) ill health all her life (OK, it's not your mum's fault either - or not entirely!), and YOU are as much entitled to consideration as she is. Like I say, 'true' maternal love would NOT want to be such a 'burden' on our children, and would at the very least be appreciative and grateful about it - not 'demanding'!!!

OK, how to change the situation. Well, one sure truism of life is that 'when you can't change the external factors, you can change your response to them'.

I would say the first essential is to change your attitude - as I say, your mum is the way she is because you 'allow' her to be. You 'collude' with her, if you put it that way! Now, I agree that 'standing up to your parents' is very, very hard, both because we tend to regard them as 'authorative' (after all, they were when we were kiddies!) and because, when they get frail, we ourselves turn into their 'parents' so to speak, and feel we should look after them.

But not entirely at the expense of our own lives, sanity and happiness!

Let's get to grips with caring, and just what it entails when the caree is a frail, elderly person. (This may be common to other carees, but for you and me, it means a frail elderly person!)

Caring breaks down into several components:

- Financial and administrative: Taking on the practical issues of things like council tax, utility bills, banking, pensions etc. Plus things like, as you say, driving to hospital appointments.

- Chores: This is all the things like cleaning the house, laundry, gardening, property maintenance (getting in the plumber etc), shopping.

- Personal care: This is all the things like helping with bathtime, washing hair, toenails (and worse!), plus cooking and clearing up

- Companion caring: This is the 'keeping company' with the caree, whether it's watching TV with them, eating with them, taking them out on social occasions.

(I think that's about it, but there may be others!)

What one member of the forum says is that we have to think of ourselves less as 'carers' than 'care-organisers'. We organise the care that needs to be provided for the caree - and it does NOT all have to come from ourselves!

If you look at all the categories I've listed, it's immediately obvious that some of them can be done by other people, ie, professional carers. Now, just how much can sadly depend on finances, but even so there's still quite a lot that can be provided.

Obvious ones are having carers in to do the 'hygiene' stuff, like assisted bathing/hairwashing/personal grooming, and then hiring a cleaner to clean the house, a gardener for the garden, etc. Outsiders can also provide 'companion caring', like sitting services and so on.

One member here advocates taking a ruthless look at the chore front. For example, pave over the garden, get a dishwasher, minimise housework, get shopping delivered, etc etc.

On the issue of having 'other people' in to do some of the caring, as you have found, the key 'block' is the willingness of the caree to accept 'strangers'. This is because (sigh!), they actually want US to do it all!

This can be because they, for example, fear abandonment (not unreasonable I guess, though of course, the deep irony is that the more onerous they make caring for them, the less you'll want to do it!!!!!!!!), and it can be because they crave your company. This latter again is not unreasonable, after all, as mums ourselves we like our children around us!

It may be for that reason that they 'invent' things that 'need' to be done. They may say 'I need the kitchen cleaned'....not because they want a clean kitchen, but because they want YOU to come and visit, and spend time with them. That's the 'real' reason they reject having a cleaner in.

This is where what I call not 'tough love' (because that sounds too harsh!), but 'firm love' comes in. It's about deciding before hand (talk it through with your husband) just how much of your time you will allocate to your mum, and then telling her, and then sticking to it.

As I say, she will kick off! Expect it, and steel yourself for it! It may be tears or anger, she may go all 'trembly' or have 'accidents' ("See, I TOLD YOU that I NEED you ALL THE TIME!"). She may get sulky or grumpy or carping or sarcastic. (Elaine's anecdote above about her mother saying 'oh diddums!' to her brought me to boiling point!!!!!!!! GRRRRRRRRRR! How DARE she abuse her daughter so!).

But you will need to hold the line! It may help you psychologically to think of your mum as an 'elder toddler' (!). Just as toddlers (and children in general!) put ALL the pressure they can on their parents to get their own way (!), so will your mum now. She will be 'desperate' to get the situation back to 'normal' (as she sees it!).

One strategy may be to present the 'new regime' (ie, you spending less time on her, and professional carers spending more!) more stringently than you are actually prepared to do - that way you can 'compromise down' to meet her 'demands'. eg (very rough example), if you said to her 'I can only see you twice a week now mum', you could be prepared to 'compromise' and say 'OK, I'll agree to see you three times a week', (which is what you'd planned all along!) and that way she may feel better as she has 'won' a battle of wills with you.

On the issue of professional carers, it will, as I said initially, be essential to make it clear to her that if she calls your bluff by dismissing them, that you will NOT do whatever it was they were there to do! She will have to do without. Her choice will be 'professional carer or no -one' NOT 'professional carer or daughter'.......

It won't be pleasant, but, in the end, what choice does she have? Her only power over you is what you grant her....

As for your sister, well, she's clearly a waste of space, though yes, the further distance is a real factor. I would probably just cut her out of the loop.

A friend of mine used to share (unequally!) her father's care with her sister, but the sister 'couldn't cope' any more (to be fair, her strong opinion was that their dad should go in a home, and my friend won't do that), so basically my friend has 'cut her sister out of the loop' - she gets in professional carers to stay overnight when she books a holiday. She no longer relies on, or expects, and is therefore never disappointed by, her sister.

What I would say, though, is make sure that when it comes to finances, if your sister is not sharing the caring load with you, that YOU are compensated financially by your mum for the care you provide! No way does you sister get to 'inherit' fifty-fifty from your mum, if she's not doing any caring and you are!

Also, stop updating your sister. If she wants to know how her mum is, she can visit, or phone herself (since your mum phones you!). You could give your sister a weekly email maybe, and that's that. Your sister likes to think 'oh, I'd look after mum but, alas, I can't, because of circumstnaces'.....but that is irrelevant to the fact that YOU are doing the caring and SHE is not!

As for your mum phoning you with 'demands', well, easy answer: Set your phone to permanent answerphone, and do NOT phone her back every time she phones. You WILL have to get a bit 'breezy' about this. And just say 'breezily' 'Oh, I had things I had to get on with!' You don't have to elaborate, just 'things', and smile cheerfully, and move on. You don't have to subject yourself to an interrogation, or 'justify' you 'daring' not to be there when she wants you to be. It's all part of the 'standing up to her' that has to happen now. Not 'angrily' but 'breezily'. You have to 'not mind' that she is cross, grumpy, fretful, etc etc. Her moods are her own business, not yours!!! You don't have to placate her all the time, you can just walk away.

Hopefully, when you've got a good part of your own life back, you may well find that your relationship with her improves BECAUSE it's less stressful for you! You may find it possible to enjoy keeping company with her BECUASE you are doing less of it! You may find there is more 'quality time' with her, BECAUSE you are doing fewer chores etc.

That's something quite a few of us have discosvered (especially when parents go into care homes - because 'someone else' is doing all the 'chore-care' and so we just have the 'nice time' care/companionship. I now take my MIL out for pleasant drives in the countryside, cream teas, wheeling her around the garden centre, etc etc, and then, oh joy, at 5 pm I take her back to the home where tea is waiting for her, cooked by someone else!!!!)

Fiona, all the very, very best to you. I hope you can use this 'free time' while your mum is in hospital (where 'someone else' is looking after her, not you!), to have a sit down chat with your husband, and plan your 'new life' ahead. And, of course, to enjoy Halloween with your kids!!!! :)

Cheers for now, Jenny
My mother (93) lives with me so I am unable to leave her behind to 'go home'. She was treated like a doll by her parents and my father, all of whom thought she was 'delicate'. She has not worked and now there is only me alive expects the 'hotel' service she feels is her due. Following a terrible crisis (mental/ internal) 2 years ago I have at last carved out a little 'me' space with the involvement of paid carers who I organise to keep her company when I am at work or occasionally out for social events (e.g. going to the V & A to see the Ai Wei Wei exhibition this Wednesday). Her care budget from the council pays for the 'sitting' service and once a week one for 'personal care' ie a shower. I have organised a chiropodist for her and drive her for a hairdresser appointment once a fortnight. My carer's allocation is spent on a weekly session with a counsellor who is helping me find ways to speak more directly to her and to refocus and look logically at the guilt, anger and resentment . There are many of us dealing with these spoilt old people and it is so not easy! :S