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Hi, New here! - Carers UK Forum

Hi, New here!

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
My name is Pam and I am the only carer for my 84 year old mother.

She has had numerous falls and a lot of injuries as a result so is basically housebound.

Being a strong willed formidable lady I am really tired now. Have not had a day off for over 2years and no chance of a holiday.

My Mum has stopped carers to help her dress coming in, which did help me at the time. Respite care has been refused so although I have family they have their own lives and I feel isolated.

Each day gets harder and I feel selfish for my feelings. I know I need to get a bit more focused on me and try to get back into the community, but don't know how to start at the moment.
Hi Pam
I do so feel for you.
It sounds like your mother is a bit selfish and of course it happens to many elderly people.

Do you live with with your mother?
What if you said to her that you are now going to live your own life if she chooses not to have care workers in?
You are entitled to your own life.
Have you had a Carer's assessment?
It is exhausting caring.
What are your mother's needs and what can she not do for herself?

I have looked after my mother both in her own home and mine. She is now in a residential care home.

Others will be along soon to give you more structured advice.

Hoping you keep in touch
Thank you so much for your post. Makes me feel a bit better.
Sadly my Mum feels its my duty to look after her. Yes I do live with her because of the numerous falls.
My extended family and brother expect me to stay and care for her, which puts me in a difficult situation. My Mum is a strong lady and could do more for herself, but because she is prone to falling its a bit tricky. She does have numerous walking aids and frames.
Thanks again I do feel better.
Hello Pamela and welcome to the forum :)

Two points to bear in mind:

1) if you go under who is going to care for Mum ? You really do need regular 'me' time to recharge your batteries, whether that is a few hours a week or regular respite time of a whole weekend now and then ! Has your Mum had a recent Needs Assessment and have you had a Carers Assessment ? If not I'd recommend getting in touch with Adult Social Services and arranging both as soon as possible. It's not so much what Mum "wants" now as what she "needs" and they are not necessarily the same thing ! You can find further information on both assessments here http://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice ... al-support

2) Has the reason for Mum's frequent falls been investigated ? Her GP should be able to arrange various tests and a referral to a Falls Clinic. You can find more information here http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Falls/Page ... ction.aspx
Hi Pamela
Welcome to the forum
I've got a stubborn 90 year old father so I've trodden down the same path you are on at the moment. The first thing you need to do is stop feeling selfish. You need to reinvent your role as carer to that of supreme organiser in chief and start delegating :D As mum gets older and more needy you will need to start telling her what is happening rather than seeking her approval which you will never get and this can be challenging if she has always been a dominant character.
If you haven't already done so you need to organise 2 different assessments - needs fo ryour mum and a carer assessment for yourself. Preparation is the key to success for both of these so write down everything you can think of under various headings- what you do for your mum for personal care, for finance, for social, for appointments, for housework, gardening, laundry, entertainment, medication, keeping a watchful eye and every other category you can think of. Then for the needs assessment most of the same categories but also think of mobility aids, medical conditions, mental decline if there is any etc and write detailed notes for each of these.
Then think of what you want help with - what are you entitled to, what discounts, respite, training, support groups etc are there for carers in your area and write down their answers so you don't forget and so they do a thorough job. If you can produce documents , print a copy off for them so they can take it back for reference and don't forget what you've said.
I found the best way of getting reluctant acceptance for outside carers was to get help for me rather than help for Dad. It seems to be easier to sell it that way.
Dear Pam

Three years ago this September I 'inherited' by 89 y.o MIL who announced she couldn't cope on her own any more. For nearly a year my life was not my own, and I nearly had a nervous breakdown. She wasn't horrible , just increasingly 'helpless' and wanted me to look after her and come and live with me. The awful thing was, it boiled down to 'my life or hers'. When she stayed with me I spent the entire time looking after her, and doing what she wanted. What was fine for a week or so, when full time it was tiring, frustrating and desperately boring. If I had had to do it 'indefinitely' I'd probably have crashed the car with us both in it, I was so near to screaming. I was the only person to look after her (my husband is dead, and her surviving son lives in the USA).

So I do know how grim it can be to be the only person around to look after an elderly, frail person who has no idea of how much of our lives they are 'using up'. They can love us and be lovely people, but it still 'uses up' our own lives.

You say your mum thinks it's your 'duty' to look after her. Well, no it isn't. You describe her as 'formidable' but this can often mean 'likes her own way' (?!), and maybe she's always assumed you'd be the one to be there to take care of her in her old age. It's something that her generation did rather take for granted. but that doesn't make it true. You have no legal duty to care for her at all, and are free, in that sense to walk out tomorrow if you really wanted.

The tough question is, though, could you do that? It boils down to finances alas. Do you have any means of providing your own accommodation, whether renting or buying? Could you get work and be financially independent?

If so, then you truly are 'free to go'. It does rather sound like it suits your sister and brother very nicely to have good old Pam to look after their mum! So they can get on with their lives thank you very much!

I could point out, you know, that if, say, you got a job looking after an elderly person, living in to look after them, you would be entitled to a set amount of time off every day, and definitely a set amount of holiday time. So that is the very least you should get with your mum!

It's nonsense, you know, that she refuses carers! The problem is, she refuses them because she wants YOU to do it, and if you do do it, well, hooray, she's got her own way! You will need to be quite firm about this, which can be VERY hard when dealing with a parent who thinks you 'should' be looking after her non-stop.

I hope we can suggest ways that might help you stand up to her, and set out what you WILL do for her, and what you WON'T.

What is her own financial position? As you probably know, if she has more than £23,000 in savings or property, she isn't eligible for 'free' care in a residential care home. The difficult choice families all have to make, if their parents own property or have savings, is whether they want to keep them 'safe' to inherit eventually, or to 'blow' them on residential care. (With my MIL, she is basically burning through the money she got from selling her flat!). Now, if your mum does have savings or property, and you and your brother and sister are trying to 'safeguard' them to inherit, that is all very well, but it also means that in the meantime, since YOU are the one looking after your mum, YOU should get some 'payment' for it (and no, 'free accommodation and food' does NOT count!!!!!).

So, I guess all this boils down to -

- you do NOT have to look after your mum legally! (And it is NOT your 'duty' to do so either!)
- you are free to walk at any time ( though financially that might be tricky?)
- you are entitled to 'time off' and holidays whether or not your mum objects (!!!!!)
- you are entitled to 'payment' from your mum of some kind for the work you are doing (and it IS work!)

Wishing you well, and reminding you that we only get one life - please don't let yours be used up by someone else!!!!! (especially as it only seems to benefit your mum, your sister and your brother - not you!)

Kind regards, Jenny