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Mum in care - Carers UK Forum

Mum in care

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Hi I have never been a full time carer so am not sure if I really "belong" here.
However mum is in a residential care home and I am struggling. Does that sound ridiculous to those of you caring full time?
I am astonished at how much time I need.
Mum phones me often (10 times yesterday). I visit 4 - 5 times per week. I always take a bag of goodies with me (biscuits, sherry etc) plus essentials (tissues, wet wipes, shower gel, talc, toothpaste etc). she asks me to order clothes, underwear etc from the Internet 2-3 times per week.
There are issues with her care that I spend time discussing with the staff.
I make an effort to chat to other residents (those that are capable of chatting) and staff while I am visiting.
I visit after work and get home at 8. By which time my darling husband has made dinner.
There are also issues with her house, bills to pay, her finances to take care of, etc
Is it normal to spend so much time when a parent is in residential care?
Am I doing something wrong?
I feel guilty for taking time away from my husband, feel guilty for not being able to concentrate fully at work and of course feel guilty when I don't answer all of mum's phone calls.
Is this normal?
Welcome to the forum!

You are most definitely a carer, with all the running around and feelings of guilt it entails. My dad was in a home for what was to be the last eight months of his life. Like you, I took things in, organised shopping, made sure he had trips out, dealt with health and social care matters etc. I felt guilty he was in the home but also relieved that he was there and had 24 hour care.

My own life went on hold for several years while I cared for Dad. At the time, I was frequently tired and resentful. Now I look back and I'm thankful that I did it. Caring for the elderly isn't for ever - even though it seems like it at the time.

Juggler x
Hi Louise
My Mum too is in a Home and it took a long time for her to settle. One of us visits at least twice a week but her needs in terms of extras, toiletries and clothes are minimal. The odd contribution of homemade biscuits or bottle of sherry perhaps. We do do her clothes laundry as the Home loses or ruins everything. we let them do towels ans sheets so its only a small load a week. And yes all the financs, forms and problems fall to us as well.
It sounds like your Mum is doing her very best to keep you close by as often as she can.
Is your Mum doing everything she can to integrate? All the activities , trips etc? Is boredom the root of the problem?
My Mum has said it helped her to adopt the same attitude as she had to in her first days at the boarding school she was sent to after being expelled ( in 1932!), and her first days in the Services in the war, I.e. it's not perfect but needs must. She's gradually finding things to do but fading eyesight restricts the reading and crafts she used to love.
Both she and we know it's tough, it's like helping your child find its first independence. You have to be there to pick them up if they fall but not there enough that they don't learn to stand.

Sounds to me that with firm love, you need to set limits on your visits and encourage her to turn to staff and other residents rather than always calling you. She will need to do that when you arent there eg holiday, so start practising now
Well, I'd say bluntly that no, it's not normal to spend so much time with a parent in residential care! (That said, my MIL in care has dementia, so she's in a home to save my sanity!).

How much time did you spend with her before she went into her care home? Was it more than you are spending now? If so, it sounds like she's trying to get your 'attendence' 'back to normal' (ie, normal for her!)!

To be blunt again, what is the point of a care home being paid a shedload of money to look after her, if you are trotting in and out all the time yourself?

I agree she should be either joining in the activities on offer, or amusing herself (reading/knitting/TV, whatever).

In practical terms, first of all, use an answerphone to take her endless calls. Don't just 'phone her back' when she says 'Phone me back!' or 'I need you to do something for me!' etc etc. Phone her once, the latest you can, wrapping up everything she wants in one single phone call. You will have to be tough on this, and stand firm!

Secondly, don't go in as much as you are doing. Just go in, say, three to four times a week, then two to three times, etc.

If she's asking you to keep ordering things for her all the time on the Internet this is abnormal behaviour! She obviously doesn't need so much, so it's either because she's bored, or extravagant (did she always do online shopping before she went into care, and do so much of it?)(some folk are shopaholics!), OR, she is developing dementia! What do the care home staff think?

(I might have suggested, why doesn't she order it herself from the home, but obviously she shouldn't order so much in the first place, whoever does the ordering!)

It sounds like it's a ploy for getting your attention.

The problem with your mum's endless neediness (and it is neediness!) is that the more you pander to it, the worse it will get!

Finally, though it's nice that you make time to chat to other residents and members of staff, it's your time that is at a premium, and quite frankly, your mum is taking up quite enough of it! So don't spend any more of it on anyone else. I know it's sad, but there it is. You, too, are entitled to a life!

All the best, and time to 'back off' gently, but firmly. She won't like it, but the ball is in your court. What does your husband think about all this?

Does her health permit her to be taken out for outings? I take my MIL out for drives (and cream teas!) when I visit, as it reminds her of the outside world existing, and it's a pleasant way for me to pass time with her (her dementia makes conversation very limited alas).

Finally, is there any possibility that your mum could come out of the home every now and then and stay with you for 'sleepovers'? I did this with my MIL before her dementia got so bad, and she came to me twice a week, and I could cope with that (just)!, and it gave her a reminder of 'home life'. This might be something your mum would enjoy (and you and your husband could cope with!), and give her something to look forward to? That might be 'the deal' for not endlessly trotting in and out to see her five times a week!
Has your mum a mobile or landline in her care home? Can you put a limit on when used. If a landline the staff could unplug for a few hours and explain its out of use for that time?
It's a little different for me as my husband has dementia and not able to use a phone now. Sadly and almost ashamedly, it's a huge relief that hes unable to contact me. When in the Ist hospital I had endless calls. In delirium,he was very nasty. Then he was desperate. Get me a taxi.......,and so it went on. Also to the family. It nearly cracked me up,and that's not being flippant. In the end I took the battery out of his mobile for my own sanity.
I visit most days. Im learning not to give other residents time, unless he's been taken to the bathroom. I'm not there for the others and they do start to recognise regular visitors and want time. Im not an unkind person ( I hope!). Just having to learn.Hubby is the important one to me. I'm losing him to this vile dementia and need to treasure what I can.
So back to you. It's a different relationships. Your mum is obviously very important, and very much loved. But you have a husband. Time with him is very precious. Your mum is being cared for so don't feel awful for cutting visits down, limiting phone calls which can be a nightmare. You sound like a wonderful daughter but you need some life,very much entitled to it.and so does your husband. Try to balance it out.
So kind of you all to reply. You are helping me to put things in perspective. I do feel overwhelmed at the moment, as there are issues with the care home.
I need to think things through and sort out my priorities.
Thank you
Louise, several of my relatives have been in residential care. Try to BALANCE mum's needs with yours. She now has a team of people to help her, cooking, laundry, social activities, cleaning, etc. Who is helping you?! No one?
During the next week, make a list of everything she asks you to do, regardless of whether or not you do them. I suspect that very few, if any, are vital. It's really just attention seeking. She can't need many clothes in the home, next time, ask her if she has room in her wardrobe, and when she is planning to wear them? Will they be robust enough for the home's washing system - or does she expect you to do that too? By all means take in special treats like special soap, fresh flowers, etc. but remind her that the home is being paid to look after her now.
Hi Louise

You mentioned that there are issues with the care home. What might they be? Maybe someone on here may be able to offer advice?
Can I ask about the future plans for mum's house? I had to spend over a year emptying my own mum's house, she was a terrible hoarder, and then deal with selling it. In the end I took the first reasonable offer just to get rid of the responsibility, which for me was definitely the right thing to do.