Newbie Posting - Old bones, young spirit.

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Morning folks - A first step into the forum here, hoping to gain some wisdom and understanding about my situation from others who might well have walked the same path - or might still be walking that path!

Here looking after mom, late 80's but with a younger spirit. Not adjusting well to the idea of limited mobility and physical function. Mental faculties all there but erring towards depression not helped by heavy whisky drinking during down times.

How do you motivate, lift the spirits of someone in their late 80's - a first challenging question! :)
Hello Pete and welcome to the forum :)
Pete_1503 wrote:Here looking after mom, late 80's but with a younger spirit..........................................How do you motivate, lift the spirits of someone in their late 80's -
I'm sure others will be along soon with some ideas for you, but in the meantime here are my 'tried and tested' suggestions :)

Regular outings, maybe with a wheelchair if Mum has limited mobility (you can hire one on an ad-hoc basis in most shopping centres via Shopmobility, or get one on long term loan from either The Red Cross or your local Occupational Therapy team).

Regular visits from friends and family (especially the younger members).

Trips to the local Day Centre - your Social Services Department or GP can advise you on those.

In the longer term, how about considering 'adopting' a pet (if you haven't already got one) that Mum could be 'responsible' for feeding and cuddling ? It's well known that just stroking a cat or dog has a beneficial effect on stress levels and alleviating depression.

Alcohol when depressed is not a good idea (as I'm sure you already know !) as it is a depressant in itself; so perhaps a visit to the GP to discuss the possibility of anti-depressants ?
Its easy to blame the obvious, namely the whisky, for the depression. But actually it could be that the whisky is what is keeping her spirits young? Who knows?
It must be pretty hard to stay bright and chirpy when facing one's imminent decay and demise - my mother (91) is now absolutely dreadful, constantly moaning about her crumbing functionality and death. And she doesn't drink much at all.
Re the wheelchair - my local St John's Ambulence were brilliant - I've got a foldable wheelie from them, deposit something like £40 (refundable when the chair is returned eventually), and it's on indefinite loan.

It is a bit 'hefty' to get in and out of the car boot - and don't expect to get a great deal else in the boot either - but MIL is very happy in it, and it has made outings far more practical (she walks, but slowly, and really can't go more than 'in and out' of the car etc). I put her on my National Trust membership and in the summer we went to NT properties and wheeled about the gardens (boy, it keeps you fit, pushing a wheelie uphill!). NT properties tend to have nice eateries, too!

I would definitely agree with getting a pet....

What about new hobbies - does she craft at all (knit, crochet etc), or paint? Keepign the brain going is essential (I'd say most of us here would agree that physical decay in the eldery is less ghastly than mental decay.....) so what about learning a language, or doing maths, or anything like that..

Finally, what about getting her to tell her family history? She is the repository of the past, and once she is gone, so is a lot of information about your family. Getting her to reminisce or, even better, write her 'memoirs' (where she went to school, what her weekends were like, what she did in the war, etc etc) would be a legacy for you, and your family.

All the best and I'm sure there will be a host of ideas for you here on the forum!
Sorry for the delay in replying to your various and helpful comments.
I take on board the comments about the drink, the wheelchair use and going out ideally around younger 'energies'.

The hobby options aren't really - with poor and failing eyesight, also deafness creeping in too. Her mental faculties are in place, no capacity or cognition issues at all, just worn bones holding back younger ideas really.

What I'm not winning against is that the fact the she (prob quite rightly) is bitter about how her other son and 2 daughters are so, almost uncaring about her. They are all (have been) nurses. When they come home to visit they visit as if they were district nurses and do for her without asking her. This has resulted in a fall out with one, who rarely phones any more and the other I had to speak to about the risk of the same happening.

Mom has micro narcoleptic episodes. Sits there, eyes close, head drops, second later head up and awake again and doesn't recall those few seconds. It's taken me a while to adjust and switch off to these but the sisters watch and it makes mom resentful - "waiting for me to die" she says.

Her views are what we now call 'mom' views about the siblings - I can't 'get' them because I'm a sibling. Thing is though because of the way they've treated her in the past I cannot arrange for the GP to home visit, can't talk about many medical things now. Their behaviour has effectively destroyed that level of dialogue here and I'm trapped in it, vicious circle and cycle.

So folks, we have at least arranged not to fall out about a diff in opinion about the others, it's outside of my sphere of changing anything. The drinking remains (has always been there - binge bursts of double/triple shots with water) but then nothing the next day until she can pluck up courage to ask me to go out and buy another bottle when she has reached the end of the current bottle.

I would rather not be here. Kills me inside to watch her drink, slouch, slur speech and then sleep BUT at least she isn't in physical risk. She knows she does it, says she won't - three days later cycle repeats. A comment about the whisky keeping her young is an interesting one, but can't see where this fits in myself.

I'm 50, from my 18th birthday I was effectively locked in to close parental caring when dad has a stroke day before my 18th. I should be used to it I guess. The bad days get balanced by the good ones BUT it is draining my drive to keep positive here to the point of re-evaluating what outside things I do and should I give them up.

Words of wisdom always welcomed.
Hi Pete,
First of all, I'd like to say "well done" for all the caring you have given. But I'm sad too that it has meant that you have given up so much. I'm afraid I too have had siblings, in my case two brothers, who seldom visited my mum, then when they did would tell me what MORE I should be doing for her!!! Blooming cheek. We have a name for family like that - Helicopter Brother/Sister. Next time one of them comes, just think "Here comes the helicopter" and smile to yourself. Have Social Services ever done a Needs Assessment for mum, or a Carers Assessment for you? I didn't know until recently that the "very elderly", generally the over 85's develop common traits, becoming more and more self focused, unable to appreciate how much others are doing for them. Mum will ask for you to do more and more until you refuse. In the end, I found this so frustrating that I had counselling, and I'm thinking that it might help you. Do not give up anything more, you've given up enough already. Have you thought about when you simply can't care any more? The point at which you've given all you can? One day, when my mum was in hospital after yet another admission, a voice in my head said "I just can't do this any more". It was all too much for me. There is no harm in thinking about how much more you can offer. Do you think there is any point in trying to entertain mum in various ways, what does she want to do? Does she want to go out more, or does she seem content to sit and grumble? This is not meant to be in any way unkind or disrespectful, but the one thing they want that we can't give them, is to make them young again. Acknowledging this fact, maybe saying it to mum, can help. It might not though. Counselling helped me to realise that I wanted to help mum, but had to "manage her expectations". Mum passed away in January, she was very ill towards the end. I know that whilst I could never do everything for her, she really appreciated that I did as much as I possibly could for her (I also have an adult disabled son. Hope that helps in some way.
Bowlingbun < thanks for the reply, much appreciated.
'Helicopter' - lol, excellent, will remember that.

No, mom won't have anyone in the house from any agency. It took a fall some years back for medics to come in to lift her (something I can't do alone) for her to hospitalised to find she was in fine form. The treatment/behaviours of the 'helicopter' siblings has affected mom deeply. I often wonder if she is hiding an illness of some sort, but have stopped asking and stopped looking now.

Mom isn't asking for more though, instead she's saying "am I a drag" and things like this and has talked about going into a home. Of course what happens here would be that if I went along with that thread, later I'd be shot for agreeing with her then I'd be in with the helicopter care crew as well. SO I don't reply. I'm mindful about quality of life and also aspects of safeguarding these days so she can say what she wants - if the house goes, fine, it's paid for and I'm not precious about bricks and mortar. One interesting thing here is that she wants my name on the deeds! Makes you wonder what's going on inside sometimes :)

The counselling is a great idea. I'm not unconnected with the sector so tend to take some of my own mediciine, being in this forum is a part of that, glad I joined.

I take your point about making them young again - she isn't pushing for that and yes she is predisposed to grumble, her life hasn't been brilliant. She's often said she wished she hadn't had us. Nice! To this end you're spot on about managing her expectations from which she draws motivation, it is about her really not about what I think - she isn't gaga thankfully.

I guess we forget about working within our limits. We _just_ do it and most times do it really well, but of course our elders don't always see things the same way. I would add that we can laugh about hearing aids (won't have one) and things like zimmers (no way) wheelchair or nothing(!).

The one thing I am really sure of though is that I'm not going to allow this to make me ill - what use am I to anyone if that happened, besides, there is no one else to care for me.
Hi Pete
Has your mum had a social services needs assessment? They might be able to do some small but helpful adaptations to make life a bit easier for her such as grab rails. It might be a good idea to try and wean mum off the whiskey because if she needs any medications further down the road, they won't mix well so if you get her into new habits it could be easier later on.
If mum wants to put your name on the deeds, then for heavens sake get on and do it as soon as possible, and make sure that it's done in such a way that the house automatically becomes all yours when she passes away. Then, not only could you put two fingers up to the helicopters, but it would also mean that if mum did need residential care at some time in the future, the value of her house could not be taken into consideration when assessing care fees. This is a complicated subject, the full "chapter and verse" can be found in the "Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide" usually referred to as CRAG.
Yes, do read all the small print in CRAG before the deeds are changed to make sure that you dont fall foul of deprivation of assets. Local authorities have been known to chase this up even if the change happened several years before.