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Why do people send their elderly parents to care home - Page 5 - Carers UK Forum

Why do people send their elderly parents to care home

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
87 posts
Denise - I completely agree.

There isn't an easy answer - my MIL (whom I've just been visiting) is in a lovely care home, with lovely staff looking after her, who seem to have 'chosen' their jobs (it's a rural area, and work is not easy to come by) and I'm incredibly, unspeakably grateful that there ARE people who want to do those jobs (and I hope it is indeed a positive choice for them). She is blissfully and utterly unaware of how much care she needs - any more than a toddler would.

But if, overnight, all the care-workers in the country suddenly decided to quit, and work in a different field, ie, that there was no one professional around to look after the 'needy elderly' (whether that's dementia or anything else), then what on earth would I do? I would have no choice but to take on my MIL's care myself - and wave goodbye to my own life. (And quite seriously, I would consider suicide. I know that can sound dramatic, and fortunately the existence of my son would keep me from that, but otherwise I would have totally no joy in my life at all, and would rather be dead than spend the next ten years looking after my MIL with dementia.)
Denise, I sympathise. But, who is making the choice? Who is taking your life away from you? There is no legally binding reason for you to continue to make personal sacrifices, if you don't want to. So who is stopping you? Who is forcing you to do what you claim you don't want to do? The answer is you, and no-one else.

My signature states my position - it's my choice....
SoA - this debate about 'choosing' to look after a needy elderly person came up when I first joined a couple of years ago, when I said I didn't want to look after my MIL, and was told, "well, don't then".....

The problem is guilt - guilt that what would make the caree happy (being looked after 'en famille') would be exactly what made the carer (ie me) unhappy (because my own life would go on hold, as Denise said, until my MIL died).

The problem is that either the caree is unhappy, or the carer is. We can't square the circle. And realising that is hard to accept.

Which brings me back to the thorny, thorny issue of 'priority' - who should be the 'unhappy' one, the caree or the carer? And I would argue, the caree should, because the carer's life is 'more important' than the caree's because they've had less of it! (Which is why my poor MIL is in a care home, rather than living me.)

There can, however, be another consideration, which is financial. There are those on this forum who've made the decision to move in with the caree, to look after them, and are now 'financially dependent' on the caree dying and leaving them a (share of) the family house. It's now become a 'non-reversible' decision, and they are committed until the day comes when the caree parent finally dies - or else walk out 'broke'.

I think that's why it's essential that anyone thinking of co-habiting with their caree-parent tries to set up the situation such that the financial fall out from walking away is not (too!) crippling.
Valid point Jenny. Only care for a loved one, if you, as a carer, are happy, and prepared to do so. However, like many things in life, don't rush into making that decision, without first doing the research. And that, as a prospective carer, involves some very deep and personal questions. From a materialistic point of view, it's very much like taking on a mortgage you know you can't afford, but you do it anyway - and then you wonder why it all goes wrong, when your house is repossessed.
jenny lucas wrote:There isn't an easy answer - my MIL (whom I've just been visiting) is in a lovely care home, with lovely staff looking after her, who seem to have 'chosen' their jobs (it's a rural area, and work is not easy to come by) and I'm incredibly, unspeakably grateful that there ARE people who want to do those jobs (and I hope it is indeed a positive choice for them). She is blissfully and utterly unaware of how much care she needs - any more than a toddler would.

But if, overnight, all the care-workers in the country suddenly decided to quit, and work in a different field, ie, that there was no one professional around to look after the 'needy elderly' (whether that's dementia or anything else), then what on earth would I do? I would have no choice but to take on my MIL's care myself - and wave goodbye to my own life. (And quite seriously, I would consider suicide.)
Totally understand why you'd consider it, in that situation. I would be the same if I was suddenly forced to care full time for my elderly father (85, mid to late stage dementia). I care about my father and support him in his care home with visits and gifts to brighten his days, but I would find it utterly intolerable to care for him 24/7. I have the utmost respect for paid and unpaid carers of elderly people, it really is very difficult and demanding providing that sort of care.
SW - I think the key issue is whether one is 'sole carer'. That's the killer! Families where there are several siblings etc to 'share the care' are very fortunate. Even just on things like taking my MIL out, if my son is with us it's just SO much easier! (And a lot less 'heavy going' in terms of conversation).

Best of all would be a large, integrated family - like in 'olden days' when the 'old folk' were simply 'swept along' with whatever was going on, and there were lots of people to 'keep an eye on them'. Same with babies/toddlers of course. The stress vanishes when you know there is always 'someone else' to hold the baby when you need to do things.....

Our small nuclear families are quite 'unnatural' compared with traditional 'tribal' families.

With elder caring, the mistake is the same as with baby/toddler caring - ie, thinking you can do anything else other than care.....caring IS a job, ie, it takes up the whole day (and usually a lot of the night too, sigh.)
I'm with you there Jenny: caring is a job best shared, or shunned.
The sole carer model is unsustainable: no reasonable person can do this without cracking up.
Being a sole carer is indeed one of the most difficult tasks most carers will encounter. As with many things in life, it takes a certain type of person to carry out certain tasks. Some people, probably a very small minority, will cope well as sole carers, the majority of us won't. Some kind of support infrastructure is essential - whether it be from immediate family, friends, or, where possible (although increasingly less likely) the state. Thankfully, support, especially of the more virtual kind, is now much more easily accessible than ever before, hence the existence of forums such as this.
I think it also depends if the carer thinks there is 'something else' they'd rather do with their life! eg, career maybe, or just something enjoyable like travel (or simply doing what they want during the day, and going where they want).

It's probably akin to the question why some parents (usually mothers but not always) are happy to be SAHP (Stay at home parents) and have their 'job' as raising their babies/toddlers/children/teens, and some who are not because they want to do other things.

It's not quite the same of course, but akin.

Also, of course, it depends whether one loves one's caree (I don't, as it's my MIL, fond though I am of her!) (but there are no 'heartstrings' as I call it, compared with even thinking about if I were caring for my own mother). And, I do think too, it depends on the prior relationship with the caree. Personally, I hate reading about carers whose parents have treated them shamefully all their lives, and yet who now 'demand' their wretched children slave away to keep them in the comfort etc to which they believe they are entitled. I hate that!
Forgot to say, the other key factor is, of course, duration. What we can do for a year or two is not what we can sustain for year, after year, after year, after year (and the caree deteriorating all the time.)
87 posts