Struggling newbie

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
Helen, I think that phrase of yours 'Until mum returns from holiday' says it all.

Read it through again, and then again.

THINK about it. Think about what your every-day life is, and then say 'But Mum is on holiday now'...

Then, if I were you, I'd go into a 'safe room' and smash your fist into the wall! (If you won't, I will, on your behalf!!!!!!!)
OK, if your gran has £30 in assets (her total wealth I take it?) (v glad she's been paying rent by the way, but yes, as BB says, it's not enough for the work you put in!), then she'll be self-paying for a while.

Please check re whether she is entitled to some 'free' respite - others here will know - she may be allowed to have a few weeks funded by the LA/NHS, I'm not sure.

Even if not, respite will cost at the very least about £700 for a week - that's what I pay for my MIL in the westcountry - in the Home Counties where I live, it's more like £1000 a week (included dementia care). (there are 'levels' of fees, depending on how much care the resident needs).

Have you and your husband got that kind of money 'handy' - or access to it. If you have, you can simply pay direct for respite care (ideally a fortnight), and then, once she is out of the house physically, you almost literally 'change the locks'. You tell her GP/SS, and of course your mum 'WHEN she's back from holiday -I mean, we don't want to spoil her precious holiday, DO WE?????)(that is sarcasm by the way!):

'Mum, Gran is in a care home for respite care for a fortnight. We're not having her back. They'll keep her longer, but she'll have to be self-funding till she's down to the £23k limit, so it's over to you to sort all that out with the care home and the social services. I don't care what you do, but I'm not involved any more. I've done 8 years of care, and I will visit Gran regularly, and she can come to me - once she's settled - for 'sleepovers'...providing she agrees to go back in afterwards!'

The key bit is 'getting Granny out of the house'. Respite care is a good 'excuse'. I know it sounds mean and horrible, but it is the first essential step.

I know you love her, but right now, she's breaking you in pieces. That has to stop.

Leave your sister 'be' for the time being - don't involve her in anything. This is between you, your Gran, and your mum (and only to do with your mum as she is the purse holder for Gran.)

All the best. J
Ultimately, legally, Gran is MUM'S responsibility, not yours, especially as she has Power of Attorney. First, ring Social Services to find out what immediate help is available to you, and talk the situation through with someone face to face. There can be no substitute for face to face in my own opinion, especially when discussing residential care placements.
Hi Helen
You obviously love your Gran very much, and I am glad to hear she doesn't have dementia as that means she has the capacity to understand. (By the way dementia isn't just forgetting things, it can be mood swings and irrationality instead)
As she can understand and behaves like a toddler, you must put rules and boundaries in place just like you would with a toddler or a stroppy teenager. You need to make it clear it it your house and you are in charge. The roles have reversed and you are now the parent , not the compliant child you used to be. If she wants to stay there with you, she must do as asked and accept you getting in extra paid help if needed. She is only a part of your responsibilities and must accept that if you spread yourself too thinly you will get ill and be of no use to anyone, including her.

Btw if sis doesn't apologise for her behaviour, ( and she should, stress is not an excuse for violence) ignore her until she does come to her senses.

Good luck
Xx
MrsA
Thank you Mrs A, here's hoping today is a better day xx
Helen, how will you make it a better day?

This isn't sarcasm (!!!!), it's a genuine question - and it is also designed to challenge you.

'Hoping' isn't really a forward strategy, because it depends entirely on 'other people'...probably your gran. As in 'I hope Gran is better behaved today', etc.

Even if you're reluctant to consider care homes at this stage - and I do understand why - it took me five months to accept that my MIL could not be anywhere else - I 'wasted' (in hindsight) a lot of time trying to make other solutions work - she came to me for five weeks at a time, and 'just about' managed to 'survive' for two weeks on her own (in her flat 400 miles away from me!), by dint of me having groceries delivered, and incredibly 'simple food', eg, quiches and sliced ham and toast, etc, but whenever I went to fetch her she was just about in a state of collapse, and she absolutely could not bear when I took her back so I could get my desperatelbe y needed fortnight break from her....then I tried booking a care-worker to come in for her, faffed about with agencies and so on, only to be told by the agency that she'd refused to let the woman in the second time...so that was a no-no....then I spent months trying to rent a flat for her near me, before realising that all that would happen would be that I would have to spend all day in the flat, looking after her and keeping her company, etc etc etc, until finally, five months later, I 'admitted' she had to be in a residential home where 'someone else' looked after her.....

So, as I say, I do understand that me saying ' Put Gran in a home ASAP!' can meet with an outraged (or despairing) 'I can't do that to her!'.

But think about it. And please, whatever you do, TALK to your husband and children about what THEY would like. It's their lives too, not just your gran's and you! And their house too...

And, am I right in thinking that what is really stressing you out is that your gran is now not 'safe' in her little annexe where you can shut the door on her after being with her, and then come back into your own home, your own territory, where it's just you and your husband and children....but now that gran is 'with you' she is 'en famille' ....ie, she's there 'all the time', having meals with you, in your territory, there is no, absolutely no 'getting away from her'??

And she's started to 'rule the roost' with her demands - her impatience you said, I think, when her 'cup of tea is late arriving' (!), and has the effrontery (for it is effrontery) to dare to 'object' to when you have visitors IN YOUR OWN HOME?????

I suspect that it is the difference between having her in her own annexe, and actually living with you in your territory, that is the key cause of your current stress??? Added to the 'extra care' that she now needs????

Is that what is pushing you to breaking point now???
Can you pinpoint exactly why she cannot manage in the annexe on her own?
After a car accident left me disabled for a few years, my son converted my own garage into a Granny Annexe. It's really lovely, and by far the warmest room in the house.
If Granny has over £23,000 then to start with, in residential care, she would be classed as "self funding", until her capital went below about £23,000 (there are general rules about charging for care, but each LA has discretion over certain aspects, so each area may be slightly different).
Would you feel better if Granny left completely, or if the Granny Annexe was changed, perhaps extended, so she could have her own carers, but still be with you?
Planning rules have also changed recently, so some extensions no longer need planning permission - again, check with your LA, and you would still need building regulations approval.
Do you really want to try to look after Granny a bit longer?
The current situation, with her in your house, is simply not working, so lets look at the options.
A. Permanent residential care
B. Respite care at agreed intervals.
C. Extending the Annexe, and arrange some outside care with strict ground rules about who goes where and when. (Maybe find out if she would be entitled to a Disabled Facilities Grant?)
I know it's a hugely difficult decision, but something has to happen. Talk to Social Services, arrange a Needs Assessment, and then go through the above options carefully. Maybe a family conference with three pieces of paper, divided into two columns - Advantages/Disadvantages?
One of the trickiest aspects of situations like yours (and as mine once was), is that we are so busy 'firefighting' ...ie, the everyday 'coping madly'...that it's very, very hard to clear enough time, or headspace, to sit down and think ahead, and make plans, and make decisions ....and then put them into effect. It all just seems like 'more work' at a time when we are stretched to breaking point.

But unless you do this, then nothing will change.

One thing I grimly realised, finally, was that in a way I was 'hanging on till MIL died'....as in, I was saying to myself 'If I can just keep going, then One Day, the end will come, and so will my release from all this, and I'll get my life back'.

But we can't, we just can't, live our lives on the basis of waiting for someone to die.........
I completely take on board all the valid points you are making and they have really made me question and debate everything with my husband and kids. However husband pointed out that I am tired from hosting xmas for the whole family and all the background financial worries. My eldest daughter writing off the car last week, 2 weeks after passing her test did not help my stress levels either (but thank God she was ok)
Most of the time gran is well behaved, but as somebody suggested, I need to set out much clearer ground rules.
Fortunately her room is v big so apart from a bathroom, it is well equipped with fridge, microwave kettle etc... Now she is much stronger I am encouraging her to make her own cups of tea, or heat a prepared meal, which she always used to do. I have also arranged for some additional care so she has different people to see and a more structured week.
Our TV room is actually quite a long way from her room so we are not on top of each other and I have a child gate at the bottom of the stairs so even if she wanted to explore she couldn't! My biggest challenge is that the downstairs toilet is quite a walk, so in the night or in an emergency she uses the commode. I find this the hardest part of caring and it will probably be thing that finishes me off!
Being a bit more assertive, although I am dreading it, I am going to speak with the rest of the family when they return and ask to be paid an amount more in keeping with a residential home. This will enable me to buy in extra care if necessary to keep my sanity... Does £1200 per month sound reasonable? Given the state of our finances I need to rent out the annexe and start doing more teaching and painting ( I am an art teacher)
I was rock bottom yesterday and I have made a firm decision to put gran in a home if I continue to feel like this, but having spoken to my husband and kids we all want to give it a last try and pull together.
As an aside my sister rang up this morning and apologised profusely for her behaviour yesterday and said it had shocked her into seeking professional help (which is a relief for everybody as she's been a nightmare)
I do really appreciate you being so forthright and honest, it sounds like you have had a really tough time. Guilt is a killer but I do know what to do if I can't make this work. Many thanks again xx
Dear Helen

I'm so glad to hear that your sister has apologised. Hopefully, you can both move on and work together now. It sounds like you have a good plan in mind, so I wish you luck.

Kind regards.

Emma