Becoming a full time carer

All about money
Since my Dad had a stroke in 2011, I have been helping take care of both my parents. Thus far, I have stayed in full time employment (very stressful PA role) and then done jobs for them when getting home from work at 4.15. I do all administrative stuff (shopping and help with bills), cooking and laundry. I have my own flat close to Mum and Dad's house but have not lived in it for the past two years as Mum and Dad have needed more help. It became too much of a hassle going back and forth between the two properties. Up till now, Mum has been able to help Dad with the physical stuff like showering and washing hair. Things are now changing. My job has become more stressful in the last year - my boss having been promoted and my role becoming bigger (something I did not want but was not given a choice over) and my mother is now getting increasingly tired doing what she does for Dad. She's 87, he's 88. I'm 52. I am now considering leaving my job and becoming a full time carer. My mortgage insurance policy will cover me for a year if I am a registered full time carer. After that, I'd either have to sell my flat or start working again and put other arrangements in place in terms of care. It all seems daunting and I'm not sure what order I should do things in. Do I resign then register to be a full time carer or do I register to be a full time carer first then hand my notice in? In case anyone suggests it, I did consider renting my flat out and then trying to find a part-time role, but without going into the awful details, I had a bad experience with the Estate Agent and realised it may well cost me more than I was able to pay and be more hassle than it's worth, so that's not an option. I was recently hospitalised for a couple of nights with a severe UTI and my heart rate was 124-130 beats a minute when I went in and 117 when I left on Monday. It's scared me. If anything happens to me, the impact on my parents would be immense, so I feel drastic measures are needed in order to safeguard my own health and wellbeing, otherwise I will be no use to anyone.
Hi Cathy.

Why not consider an alternative.

Becoming a Care Manager ... as opposed to ... one of us ?

( Our Lord Kitch adequately points out what to expect if you elect to join us : https://www.carersuk.org/forum/news-and ... rd%20kitch ).

Current level of outside care ?

Needs / carer assessments upto date through your LA ?

( Needs ... finances come into play here ... assets / income for starters ... enough on previous threads as to the current
criteria but ... yell if needed. )


CHC / NHS Continuing Healthcare ... even NHS Nursing Funded Care ... all considered ?

( More on any of the above ... just yell ! )

Your parents ... are their conditions going to improve ... or ... get worse ... in which case , how will you handle it ?

Possible move into parents property ?

Very few on the forum would ever recommend that ... too many variables down the line !

Sundry considerations ... power of attorny / wills ... considered ?

( Registering as a carer ? Short of doing so at your parents' gp surgery , there is no " Register " as such. )


Having considered ALL the alternatives , what is your viewpoint now ?
Mum is 87, dad is 88, and they now have rapidly escalating needs until they die. That is the brutal reality.
(I've now lost all four parents)

You have a very good job and a flat of your own, where you should be living.

The answer, as already suggested, is that you become their Care Manager. We can help you through this process, to make things a whole lot better for you.
I know, they "don't want anyone else" to care for them, that's the most heard excuse here. They have NO RIGHT to make you care, even a husband can't be forced to care for a wife.

They do not NEED YOU, they WANT YOU, but honestly all they need is "someone", to wash, clean, etc. etc.

How to achieve their "independence" from you depends mainly on financial issues.
Do they both have mental capacity?
Do you have Power of Attorney?
Do they own their home?
Do they have over £23,000 each in savings, or £46,000 together?
Are they both claiming Attendance Allowance?
Mum and Dad are not forcing me to care for them. Yes, Dad has said he doesn't want anyone else, that's true, but I actually do want to do it. It's not just about washing and such, it's about spending time together while I have them.
We have just sorted out the LPAs for both Mum and Dad, we are just waiting for confirmation that they have been registered. They own their home. Dad has just put a claim in for Attendance Allowance and is waiting to hear the outcome of that. They both currently have mental capacity. They don't have the amount of savings you mention.
As for my job, I genuinely hate it. It isn't what I signed up to when I joined the company a few months after Dad's stroke seven years ago. I changed my job because my previous company was going to relocate and I wanted to be local/close to Mum and Dad. I took a conscious decision to step back from PA work and take a Team Secretary role, so that I had some balance. Most people would say that a promotion and more money is great, but this is not something I would have chosen at this point in my life. It doesn't work for me. So I have no qualms about leaving my job. I have spoken to them time and time again about the fact that no one does anything while I am away and that the workload has increased to an unmanageable level. I now believe they won't do anything about this role until I resign or drop dead. I think the former is the preferred option of the two.
Hi Cathy, the fact you HATE your job didn't come across in your first post.

If you want to spent quality time with them, you obviously have a good relationship with them, not everyone has this!!

How will you manage financially if you give up work? You would be entitled to Carers Allowance, not Means Tested.
This is the next issue.I would suggest that you ask Social Services to do a Needs Assessment for both parents, to look at what help they need - then they should be given the option of either care directly provided by them OR Direct Payments. These could be used to buy in some care if needed, but more about that later.

Another question now, Are you an only child, or do you have siblings? If an only child presumably you would inherit the house, but if you sold your flat and moved in with them, but didn't inherit the house, that would leave you potentially homeless.
Thank you. I thought because I'd said my job was stressful, it implied I wasn't happy, but I obviously wasn't clear on that. Sorry. My mortgage would be covered for a year if I registered as a full time carer, although my inclination is to offload my flat - it's a lot of money to pay out for an empty property that I would not move back into. I have a younger sister but she lives 160 miles away with her husband. It is highly likely that when Mum and Dad are no longer with us, I will move closer to my sister, that will be important for both of us, and in that area I would get more property for my money. She would never see me homeless but I'm not in a disastrous situation, as I bought my flat in 2007 and it's value is now almost £100k more. My parents' wills leave everything to each other and then to my sister and me in equal shares. There is an Equity Release loan to pay off but with the value of the house there will be still be a substantial sum when it's sold.
Cathy,

This is all sounding very positive. I hope it all works out OK.
Others will be along with hints and tips, feel free to ask us anything you like at any stage.
Thank you very much.
Hi Cathy
I think it's worth you taking a couple of weeks off work "with stress" and use the time to chill a bit (don't tell Mum and Dad) and really research your options.

Both Mum and Dad may actually go one for another 10+ years, my Mum is 96 . Even if Dad ends up in residential care (which is likely with dementia as it developed to need more than one person), Mum may well stop being so tired but will still need a lot of input. A friends mother was exhausted caring for her husband so they both went into residential. He died within the year, she is still there 8 years later -that's a lot of money, she now 99 and in good health

I say this as you need to aware that you would be making major changes in your life for what may be a long long haul. You may not like this job, but are you ready to never work again?

Work for most of us brings not only money and independence but also self-esteem, social contact with other adults ànd time away from caring. Caring 24/7 alone is isolating, exhausting and wrecks finances.
Would you at 52 have already built up enough pension for your own retirement?

Please do think about a different job, part time working, unpaid long leave as options. If you become a carer it is very very unlikely you could return to similar work at the same level. Employers just do not value caring as a skill, or a reason for a career gap, and are afraid you will need to care again in the future.

Once, just once, in the 3 years I have been on this forum, did a daughter give up her job and life to care for her father who dutifully died within 9 months. Even in that time she needed help and he ended up in residential care. She returned to her life and her job, but the hundreds and thousands of the rest of us do not have it so easy. It is a job without end, without pay and without friends.

Like most your parents will say they don't want outside help, but they will need to accept it, even if you are their full time live in carer as YOU will need help as you burn out.
Start small with a gardener, a cleaner, delivered shopping, befrienders and sitters. Start to build your team of support to cover for when you are poorly or need a break

I hope this isn't coming across as negative, I just want you to be aware of the pitfalls of the reality.

Read too the threads on "helicopters". You may have a good relationship with sister now, but what if she sees the balance of power changing? If mum and Dad cover your expenses for caring for them ( as they should) will she come to resent you having that money? Will you come resent it that you do everything and she does nothing?

Please do take the time to think long and hard about any decision. Try not to be knee jerked by your current stress levels

Kr
MrsA
Appreciate the lengthy and frank response - it's helpful. I haven't definitely decided to be a full time carer, it's an option I was exploring. To be honest, you are not the first person to say it's not a good idea if it can be avoided. The package I have now is way, way too much. My job has grown beyond something that is manageable and I no longer enjoy it or like the way the culture of the company has evolved, so I know I want to leave that for sure. My sister actually spoke to me yesterday and said I would be driven barmy if I was with my parents all the time - as much as we love them, and we do, there are of course lots of things that do irritate, and I don't have a huge dose of that now, but having it full time would be a different thing entirely. My sister is also concerned about me being socially isolated and lonely. What I don't have in my life at the moment is balance. I am spread too thin and have been pushing myself too hard for too long. I think perhaps selling my flat is the right way forward, then I have more flexibility to go for temping work, contract work and part-time work, options I don't have at the moment, as I have to hit a certain salary level to cover the mortgage and council tax, etc. It's not as if I would move back into the flat later on, I would move closer to my sister when Mum and Dad are no longer with us, and property is much cheaper where she is. My sister and I have a good relationship, I don't imagine that changing. I had to step up when Dad had his stroke because I was the one living close by, and was/am single; my sister is married and living 160 miles away. That's just a practical reality. I'm sure she wants the best for me and has as I said above advised me not to go down the full time carer route. Lots to think about and it is helpful to get the views of people I don't know, who can look at the situation dispassionately and advise based on their own experience. Thanks again.