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New here. Carer for elderly parent - Carers UK Forum

New here. Carer for elderly parent

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Hi everyone,

I'm just starting to look for support as for a long time I didn't consider myself a carer and when I did I didn't know where to go for help.

My dad is 74 and tomorrow he moves into warden assisted accommodation from a top floor flat with no lift. It has been a very long hard battle to get dad to see the benefits of this (safety, less social isolation being the biggies) and at times I have felt like a monster for forcing him. But it's just the two of us, he is frail and he suffers in a crippling way from anxiety and depression following a stroke, and I work full time. I have been living with him since last September. Most days he just lies in bed to 3pm and eats biscuits unless I cook something and place it in front of him. I came home from work one day and he told me he was having a heart attack and had felt that way all day. Why hadn't he called me or 999? It turned out to be a panic attack but worry over that incident has been crippling me ever since. I just hope having a warden and pull cords will help...

Now I have been signed off work myself with stress for two weeks and anxiety and advised to go back reduced hours for a couple more weeks. I started getting separation anxiety about leaving him. There was one particular moment in tescos after yet another row with dad that the shopping list just felt completely beyond me... It felt like the final straw. So I too am unwell but organising a move.

I feel like things are hopefully going to improve but one of the challenges I continue to face is his total stubbornness. No he doesn't need a cleaner / someone to help with chores / mental health intervention /doctor etc etc. It has felt it all has to be me and I have buckled under the strain.

The thing at the moment that is really destroying me is the GUILT!! God I feel so guilty for making him move and so guilty for taking time off work. It feels like all my colleagues must think I am just after a holiday and must resent me. I know this is probably the illness talking and when I go back to work part time on Monday and dad is set up in his new place with his new SKY TV things will be better. Somewhere inside there is a voice telling me I am doing the best I can but I need it to be louder!. I feel so alone and none of my friends really understand for all their kindness.

Anyone been through something like this? Thanks for reading. Emma
Hello Emma and welcome to the forum :)

You are definitely not alone in feeling stressed/depressed/guilty/isolated - these feelings are common to all Carers in fact we have a name for it - "Clapped Out Carer Syndrome" :shock:

YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN - please don't ever let yourself think otherwise.

I cared for my elderly Mum for five years (with Alzheimer's and aged 87) until she passed away in March 2012; initially part-time and then full-time 24/7 until six months before she died at which time I could no longer cope and she moved into a residential care home. 2 years on from her death and I STILL feel guilty at times - but I know I did the best I could and so are you.

When your colleagues have walked a mile or two in your shoes then they can criticise - but until then it really is not their business. I was lucky enough to have had a boss who understood as he'd been there already caring for his grandmother and so knew what kind of strain I was under.

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Hi Susieq,

Thanks for your reply. The carer's guilt thing is something I wasn't expecting to such a degree as everyone always tells me I'm doing the right thing to help him, but it's difficult when the person I'm trying to help doesn't see the value in what I'm doing...Sometimes he does but it's been a rocky ride!

Sorry for the loss of your mum. My gran had dementia and we moved her to a home too in the end. It struck me that in my gran's case she was content in her own way and well cared for, more so than any one person could have managed. In a way that's a big motivator for me to get dad to a better and safer situation earlier. It's about quality of life for everyone really but dad of course is not going to see my vision of how things could be because his anxiety drives his view...
I don't think anyone 'expects' the guilt 'cos we're doing a 'right thing' looking after our parents aren't we ? and one doesn't usually expect to feel guilty for doing the right thing !

But I think it stems from our wanting to 'fix' everything, our wanting to keep everybody 'happy' - and, of course, that just ain't gonna happen, it's just not possible - hence the 'guilt' because we feel we've 'failed' in someway. But you know what ? We haven't failed, we've only admitted that we're human - not superhuman !

Try not to let your Dad's anxieties and insecurities become your anxieties and insecurities ! He will settle in his new place, it may take a little time but once he realises that he is safe and well cared for I guarantee he will be happier. In the meantime you can become his 'daughter' again and can spend quality time together without the worry of physically having to care for him. I found that was the real bonus when Mum took up residence in the care home ! I didn't care for her any the less just because I had handed over the physical side to someone else.
Yeah very true I guess. It's hard to explain that to someone else. In actual fact dad is doing pretty well the last few days. It's like he's handed all the worry over because at least this torture of constant phonecalls and forms will come to an end! Looking forward to quality time indeed :-)
You so have done the right thing for you both. Congratulations!
Welcome to the forum. My mum has recently moved into a nursing home after 6 months in hospital. She became too frail to live at home after she lost the use of her legs. It was the only option left, but I have felt very guilty, especially selling her lifetime's collection of things. You are there for dad. Some children, like my brother, just ignore the needs of their parents. Others live abroad, so can't help. Feel really proud of hat you HAVE done for dad, not whaa you can't. Every time a negative thought creeps in, trample on it!

Yes I do know what you mean and I have a sister who lives quite some way away but not an impossible distance has never got involved in dad's care. Some of my friends get quite annoyed on my behalf but I just choose my battles and I think like an only child I realised in the last few years because it's just easier. At least dad doesn't have much and mostly just wants rid of a lot of his things. It must have been difficult selling your mum's things but what can you do? Sounds like there was no choice there. I hope your mum settles well into the home
Thanks. If dad wants to get rid of his things, and they are not worth a fortune, have you discovered Freecycle? Mum had lots of flower pots, I've just found someone wanting some via Freecycle. Cheaper than having to get a skip or go to the tip with them.
Hi Annica/Emma,

Welcome to the forum, you've come to the right place for moral support and helpful advice.
Now I have been signed off work myself with stress for two weeks and anxiety and advised to go back reduced hours for a couple more weeks. I started getting separation anxiety about leaving him. There was one particular moment in tescos after yet another row with dad that the shopping list just felt completely beyond me... It felt like the final straw. So I too am unwell but organising a move.

Those words jumped out at me, because I've had spells of serious depression in the past and funnily enough I had similar episodes when the supermarket shopping trip was the final straw - there were times I couldn't step foot inside those places without feeling tearful and panicky. It's not surprising you're feeling anxious and depressed about things and the "separation anxiety" seems to be a sign that after carrying the burden of care by yourself for so long, you might be finding it hard to let go.

My parents are in their 80s now and I have been their part time carer for about 7 years, so I know how the weight of responsibility can weigh you down. Dad is now in a care home (84, dementia, mobility problems) while Mum (86) lives alone, with the support of paid carers and myself. In some ways Dad's care is no longer my problem, as he is well cared for in the home and the staff are kind to him, but that doesn't stop me worrying about him and I view myself as his advocate now, someone who has to speak up for his needs from time to time when the home staff overlook certain things. Meanwhile, Mum is very listless and mutters things like "I've lived too long", which is hard to deal with, because although her mobility is much better than Dad's and she is physically capable, she has no motivation to do anything and has to be coaxed to eat. Her diet is very restricted too, mostly by her own choice/faddy food issues, so the carers and myself have to coax her to eat and drink. On top of this there is the never ending stream of paperwork to contend with - I handle all their finances, plus organise all household repairs/gardening at Mum's place, so it feels like I'm running two households now. Only yesterday I discovered that Mum's TV had broken, so that's another thing that needs replacing. Meanwhile I'm applying to the LA for funding for Dad, which involves a mountain of paperwork - it feels relentless. So, I know something of how you're feeling, as do many others around this place.

Feeling guilty seems to go with the territory of caring for elderly parents, especially when you have to start making decisions for them, which they might not always agree with or understand. However, from what you've written I think you're doing the right thing for your father, and for yourself, as the situation was difficult for both of you. Try to pace yourself as you sort the move out. I find making lists is useful as a way of freeing up my mind a bit - I don't fret as much if I have my list of tasks written down, as I know then I won't forget anything important. Don't worry about your work colleagues - those that matter will understand, those that don't understand don't matter. Keep your boss in the loop and don't attempt returning to work until you feel able to cope.