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Caring for parent with MH and unhelpful relatives! - Carers UK Forum

Caring for parent with MH and unhelpful relatives!

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Hello there to all carers out there!

I have been thinking about doing this for a while and now finally have decided to pluck up the courage. Any advice/response would be gratefully received - good or bad!

I care for my mother who lives with me and my husband (we made this decision about 5 years ago now). She has a long history of mh but even more so in the last two years. I dont have any sisters or brothers so the main caring responsibility lies with us. She has a sister that lives 150 miles who mom is always in contact with but I am finding that she is questioning how we are looking after mom. I do not speak to her sister any more because we have had arguments in the past and I am angry and upset that she would even think that we would not look after her. My mom says to me that she blows things out of proportion and makes her own judgements based on what mom is telling her but then my mom is not supporting me either. She even said at one point that my mom would be better in sheltered housing (note that she did not even suggest that she would have her living with her - this would upset her social life. There are really two issues here i think, the issue that mom is telling us that she wants to be with us but then saying other things to her sister, and the other issue that the sister is being unhelpful and unsupportive to us as the primary carers and are here all the time and is making her judgements based on a conversation between her and my mom. My husbands parents and family who live nearby have been very supportive, see mom and us more often and know how she is and what she can be like. I am getting to the point where I have just had enough of the whole thing and I am wondering what to do? :-???
Hello AW,

That is a difficult situation, we've had similar sorts of problems so I do feel for you.

I've lost count of the number of people who've lined up to tell me where I'm going wrong with my son over the years (he's twelve and has autism and epilepsy). I tend to apply this criteria now: 1 Do I value their opinion (due to their own experience and/or level of understanding and 2 Do they step in and offer to help? The answer to both of these questions is always no, because I find the people who are eager to tell me what to do are the kind who never do anything themselves and know nothing. That's helped me develop a sort of water of a duck's back attitude now; I don't let myself get drawn into it and to be honest most people don't do it anymore because they know what sort of response they'll get.

Re your mum telling your aunt different things - I've had this with my mum a lot over the years (I noticed you posted in the narcissistic parents thread about recognising some of those traits). Again I've had to focus on the basics, which are anyone who knows me well would know immediatetly the things my mum claims I do and say are completely out of character for me and not things I'd ever do. I've just had to focus on the people I choose to have in my life and work at valuing what I do for myself, instead of focusing on what other people (wrongly) think about me. It's really hard! But I keep doing it and it does get easier over time.

I don't know if any of that helps at all but you're not on your own, there are people here who will understand :)
Hi AW not an easy one this.
We all have rellies or 'friends' who think they know better and would advise us to do 'this' or 'that' differently. They make you sick as they have no idea how damned hard Caring for a loved one really is.
If you dont speak to this woman, how do you know what she thinks, or is Mum telling you what she's said? That seems a bit unfair on your Mums part I'd say. :(

I care for my wife, so I dont get too much interferance from anyone, but have done in the past from her favorite brother and wife who live hundreds of miles away and took her to one side and gave her a good talking too, hence pushing her over the edge into a complete nervous breakdown! :mad:

I expect others will have better advice for you, but dont forget just how important you are to your Mum and how totally unselfish you are to take her in like you have.
That womans views really dont count as she couldn't even hope to step into your shoes, even for a day!
Mum who cares and Pete the Paint,

Many thanks for your posts, believe me it really is appreciated, in fact I was so touched I got a bit upset (in a good way :) ) that other people understand and have been/are going through similar situations.

I wouldnt mind if what the sister was saying was constructive or suggestive and helpful but it isnt.

I think I must really try harder to develop my ducks back attitude but when this has been going on for quite some time it does start to have an affect.

I am more angry and hurt by the fact that her sister would think we would not take care of her and this is something I cant seem to get past at the moment. We even suggested that if she was that worried that she should contact social services because we know we have nothing to worry about. We are seeing professionals, cpn'S, support workers and OT's at some point nearly every week and not one of them has said anything that would confirm what her sister is saying. I wish people would just keep their nose out where it is not needed!

Angie
Hi, I'm going to echo and second what the others here are saying. Duck's back is definitely called for!

YOU know you are doing a good job by your mum. Hell, I'd say you were being BRILLIANT in having her live with you (and your husband definitely deserves his own halo!).

I suspect your mum is simply 'having a bit of a moan' to her sister. Living with others always has its tensions (even living with one's own husband/wife!), and although the 'favour' is in your mum's interest (ie, she is the one getting the most benefit from you all living together) that doesn't mean she will always be 'fair' on you and your husband (I know, not 'fair' but there you go, most people aren't, sigh), and so she 'vents' to her sister.

Providing you know that what she is venting is either (a) simply about the inevitable tensions of three people living in the same house and (b) 'not true' as in, she is exagerating any 'problems' and not mentioning all the 'benefits' she is getting, ie, 'unappreciative' of you, then I would discount what she says to her sister.

I would also, most definitely discount just about EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING your aunt says back to you. I mean, let's call it, shall we? The fact is - if your aunt ain't gonna bother herself with looking after her sister, then her opinion is worth absolutely zilch/nada/nothing! She can, in the parlance, simply 'take a hike' when it comes to her 'worrying' (!) about her sister living with you. If she objects to what you are doing, let her do it herself! Or arrange for her sister to go into supported living etc.

To be honest, she has a total NERVE complaining to YOU about what is happenign to the sister SHE can't be bothered to look after herself!

So, yes, developing a duck's back is definitely what is needed here.

I do understand your grievance, because as far as you're concerned, your aunt is adding insult to injury. Not only is she (a) not helping her sister herself thank you very much, and (b) not appreciating what YOU are doing for her sister , she actually has the cheek to tell you you're not doing a good enough job!

As an aside, the issue of 'appreciation' when it comes to caring is a very, very thorny one. A lot of us here care for someone who is blithely unappreciative of all that we are doing for them - either taking it for sublime granted, or not even noticing that we are doing it!

So I wonder if the root of your very justified annoyance is that it is not so much 'just' your aunt having the nerve to criticise you for what you are doing out of love and kindness and effort for your mum, but that your mum is herself so unappreciative of what you are doing for her that SHE has the nerve to complain to her sister.

As you say, though, maybe the time IS coming, if this situation cannot resolve and either (a) your mum stops moaning to her sister , or (b) your aunt stops her utterly outrageous criticism of you or (c) you develop a waterproof duck's back to the pair of them (!), that you and your husband should start looking for alternative accommodation for your mum in sheltered housing etc.

(If both your mum and aunt are 'moaners' then they will moan about sheltered housing too - that's the problem with 'moaners' they find everything 'wrong' - which is why one must ignore them!)

All the best to you. You know you are doing a HUGE amount for your mum (more than many - most - people would do), and that is all that matters. Your aunt can zip it! (and if she won't, then don't talk to her- -and certainly don't trouble to defend yourself, she isn't worth it!)

Kind regards, Jenny.
I think it's time you and your husband took a holiday, and mum went to stay with her sister for a couple of weeks, long enough for the novelty of somewhere different to wear off for the xisters. Then I don't mind betting by the end of the holiday, everyone would appreciate you more! Incidentally, how old is mum?
Excellent idea BB! :) :) :)
A W wrote:Mum who cares and Pete the Paint,

Many thanks for your posts, believe me it really is appreciated, in fact I was so touched I got a bit upset (in a good way :) ) that other people understand and have been/are going through similar situations.

I wouldnt mind if what the sister was saying was constructive or suggestive and helpful but it isnt.

I think I must really try harder to develop my ducks back attitude but when this has been going on for quite some time it does start to have an affect.

I am more angry and hurt by the fact that her sister would think we would not take care of her and this is something I cant seem to get past at the moment. We even suggested that if she was that worried that she should contact social services because we know we have nothing to worry about. We are seeing professionals, cpn'S, support workers and OT's at some point nearly every week and not one of them has said anything that would confirm what her sister is saying. I wish people would just keep their nose out where it is not needed!

Angie
Hi Angie,

I'm glad it helped a bit! Personally I think that people who criticise often feel they ought to be doing a bit more but for some reason prefer to give you a hard time rather than get off their bums and do something useful. I think as well some people do have a habit/personality type where they will find something to moan about, whatever is going on. You could give my mum a million pounds and the key to eternal youth and she'd still complain. The water off a duck's back approach is hard, I can't tell you how many times I've sat crying because someone's comments have hurt me so much. But it's something that comes with practise; keep reminding yourself that you're doing a good job and just try not to enter into conversation about it with either your mum or your aunt - if something is mentioned just say something like "well we all see things differently" or something non-committal like that and change the subject. It takes practise but I've found it gets easier and these days fewer things upset me (although some still do!).
Thanks guys, really, I mean it, for all your support and lovely cooments.

Sometimes I think it is very difficult for things to be seen from the carers point of view but I know that you are all people who know and understand the situation and that is brilliant.

Sometimes you have so many feelings and thoughts going through your head it feels like you want to explode. Every time you make a decision you wonder if its the right one or not!

BB - a holiday is definitely called for and we are currently looking at respite options. Only problem is mom is not keen! She wont go into a respite home, she wont have in home respite and insists she will be okay. Where do i stand if I leave her on her own and she decides to do something silly (she has a history of od's in the past) or do I insist on the respite option? Mom is 63 so she is still young. We are trying to get her as better as we can so that she can try and start enjoying her life again.
She's only 63?!!! Good Lord, that's only a few years older than me! What actually is her MH situation then? It must be genuinely severe if she has to live with you. (And I don't mean just Chronic Narcissism, if that is the issue!!!!)

I suppose, legally, and I know others here with more experience and expertise will clarify, providing she is still judged to have mental competancy, then she can be left on her own. Do you have any 'guardianship' of her currently, are you legally responsible for her wellbeing? If so (and again, if that is so then her MH must be badly impaired), then I guess you will have to ensure she is 'safe' otherwise there may be issues of negligence on your part????

Does she count as a 'vulnerable adult' because of her MH problems? Again, if so, you will, I believe (again, others will clarify) not be able to 'force' her into respite, unless possibly it's for her own safety (ie, if the alternative is leaving her vulnerable in your house.) It may be the case that, since it is your house, not hers, if YOU want a third party (ie, outside carer) to come and go at your discretion, with keys provided, then that's what YOU want, and you are entitled to let anyone you like into your own house. I'm not sure, though, if that means they can 'look after her' if she refuses that help. What would you envisage a third party carer actually doing? Is it personal care, eg, getting her dressed, toiletted, administering meds, etc, or is it more a case of providing meals for her? The former may have to be with her consent (not unreasonably), but that latter might not require her consent in that, technically speaking, if you want to pay someone to come into your house and put a cooked meal down on the table infront of her, it's entirely your call, and if she wants to eat it, fine and if not, also fine, the carer just take it away again???

I would say, speaking in 'ignorance' (which others here won't be!) the key issue is whether she is legally competent, or not, and/or vulnerable, or not. That, I would think, is going to guide what you legally can and can't do in respect of her wellbeing.

I have to say, overall, I'm somewhat suspicious that her refusal to go into respite care, and her refusal to have in home care, is simply a 'power play' on her part to keep you at home and looking after her. But perhaps I'm misjudging her harshly. She may be scared you'll put her into respite and then never take her out again (!), or that she fears a 'strange carer'.

As for getting her better so she can start enjoying her life again - well, I think you also need to keep very high on your agenda that YOU want to start enjoying YOUR life again as well (or even instead of!)

On a more positive note, it's often reported here that carees are initially reluctant to go into respite care, or have a 'strange carer' in to look after them while you are on holiday, but, once they get used to it, they are fine with it. Some even enjoy it. It's also been reported that it makes the caree a darned sight more appreciative of their family carers!!!!

All the best to you, and please take my comments above as very inexpert opinion, and wait to hear from those here who will give you chapter and verse re the legalities that may or may not be involved in you trying to get a holiday for yourselves!

Kind regards, Jenny