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Helping My Mum Get around on her own - Carers UK Forum

Helping My Mum Get around on her own

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
Hi Everyone,

My Mum moved back in with us last month since her stroke. She's a very proud woman and insists that she's fine to take care of herself. My worry is that when she walks for more than 10 minutes her legs feel weak and heavy so she has to stop for a few moments. A friend of mind suggested getting her a wheelchair, but I think that would put strain on her heart (the nearest shop is at the top of a hill). So I think I'm going to get her a mobility scooter and give it to her for Christmas. That way I know she'll be okay and she can get out of the house on her own. She'll need something that can take her up steepish hills, and that can travel about 20 miles so I won't be worried about her being stranded anywhere.

I think a mid scooter is what she'll need.
Does anyone on here have any advice/ has bought one before?
Thank's for your help,
Jon.
Hi Jon
Firstly Id like to ask: does your mum have any problems with her sight? I know that you dont need a license as you do with a car, but a mobility scooter is driven on the footpath and can pack a punch if you hit someone. Has she lost the sight on one side (pretty common in strokes) or have something like macular degeneration that is affecting her sight now?
Also, does she have enough power in her hands/arms to be able to steer and control it properly?
Thirdly, has the stroke affected her cognitive ability so that she might get muddled or misunderstand what is happening around her while she is driving it?
I live in a part of the world where mobility scooters are very, very common and I have witnessed several accidents and heard of many more when scooters have hit pedestrians. It can be very nasty, so make sure she would be OK to drive it before you get one.
Hi Jon, I too have a few questions, if you don't mind.

First one is, do you work for the company that you have linked to in your post?

That is rather direct and I'm not normally that way inclined, it's just my hackles go up if I think people may be here for no real other reason than to plug a service/product and they think it's ok to lie through their teeth to do so. So, I will gladly eat humble pie if I have made an unjust accusation, I apologise if it's so. Now, my other questions.

Your mum had a stroke a month ago which necessitated this "very proud woman" moving in with her son and his wife, at your "insistence". I'm amazed she agreed to such a step but then I don't know her.
For her to have recovered enough in a month to be able to manage a motor scooter, one which can get her twenty miles so she" doesn't get herself stranded" is also pretty amazing. The wheelchair that might be too much for her heart struck me as strange, was anybody really expecting her to self-propel herself around the streets? Has she got a bad heart? In what way has the stroke affected her? She can still walk for 10 minutes before her legs get weak and heavy but she can continue after that? Is her sight affected? Arms? Speech? Cognition? She has been assessed by a professional and is deemed fit to drive one of these scooters?

I think the points raised by Crocus are valid ones, and mine, well..I explained myself already. Look forward to hearing from you Jon, my humble pie is ready and waiting for me to scoff it ;)
Hi Crocus,

Thankfully her sight hasn’t been affected by the stroke and she doesn’t suffer from macular degeneration. But she has got the early onset of cataracts in her left eye. As I understand it she’s still got a few years before it causes any real issues. As for her arms she has said that the doctors have told her she’ll be back to almost normal soon. However, she’s very cagey about what the doctors have actually told her and won’t allow me to accompany her into the consultations so I’m kind of in the dark. I’ll have to check with her before she can drive one. Most thankfully of all she’s still as sharp as she has always been, this is part of what made it so difficult for me to convince her to come and stay with me and my wife, so in terms of her understanding the risks and limitations involved in mobility scooter usage there’s no issue. Thank you for your help in getting this all clear in my head.

Hi Ladybird,

I want to apologise for getting your heckles up. I must admit I was initially taken aback by your response. I’m very new to forums and wasn’t aware there were rules around posting links. I have now read the FAQ and forum rules and the section about commercial advertising and plugging products. Although I don’t see how my post can be interpreted as either you obviously seem to feel that it is and I am concerned that others may have the same opinion. Because of that I have deleted the link. You are correct in the fact you don’t know my mother and have no idea how difficult it has been for us to get her to agree to this. Believe me when I tell you I was also amazed.

I didn’t say she’s recovered enough to use one, although personally I think she has (bar the point raised by Crocus about whether she has the strength in her arms to safely control one. I’ll clarify that with her). I simply want her to have as much freedom as possible as soon as she wants it. The reason I want the scooter to be able to travel up to 20 miles is because that’s roughly enough for her to make a round trip to the nearest shopping centre, plus a bit of time spent shopping, and I want her to be able to visit there whenever she wants.

The wheelchair was suggested in a conversation with a friend, that then led on to the idea of a mobility scooter. She has diabetes and smokes, despite how much I try and convince her not to, so although she doesn’t have any particular heart problems that I know of I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the next thing to happen, especially considering her recent stroke. I couldn’t tell you if she could walk for longer than 10 minutes as she hasn’t got further than the end of our street since returning from hospital, she gets too tired and turns back. As for being deemed fit to drive a scooter, once again I couldn’t tell you. I was hoping to surprise her with it for Christmas but without her telling me too much about what’s happening in her consultations I can’t be sure. In hindsight I should clear that up before taking this idea any further.

Once again I want to apologise for any offence I have caused you with my post. I’ve simply come here looking for advice.

Thanks,

Jon
Consider my humble pie well and truly scoffed Jon. I did think you were one of the dubious characters we sometimes get here, purely because the info you gave did not seem to tie in with someone who had a stroke only a month ago, also that link so early on made me think you were part of the company.

I apologise for giving you a less than pleasant response to what I can now see is a genuine post and hope that my reaction hasn't put you off using the forum, which really is a great source of advice and support.
I was disabled in a car accident a few years ago, and used a mobility scooter for a while until I had two knee replacements. I bought mine (Shoprider Sovereign I think) from a friend, who bought it for his mum, who couldn't manage it. It was a good sturdy vehicle, I'm stronger and larger than the average woman, and it managed to get me round the vast Great Dorset Steam Fair without any problems. However, there are a number of serious issues to consider, apart from those already raised. Firstly, where are you going to put it? I would not even entertain the idea of 20 miles in one. At 4mph that's five hours in the saddle, so to speak. What will the journey be like? Pavements are a nightmare, you wouldn't believe how many people get in the way. Whilst on the road everyone is going in the same direction, pavements are a different matter! Realistic speed would be 2mph. As a pedestrian you can dodge round things, but a scooter takes up a lot of pavement where dodging isn't an option. Then there is the no small matter of the weather!!! I support my elderly disabled mum, and it's hard seeing her get less active and less able. Much as we want to "fix" them, sometimes it is better to support them to become accustomed to their increasing frailty. If you think mum might benefit from having a scooter, then try one through Shopmobility. And finally, after all that, make sure you get one which is small enough to go into your car. I drive a Discovery, but my scooter was too big - my son took it to shows in a trailer for me. However kind and well meaning you are trying to be, moving mum in with you is, in my opinion, a HUGE mistake, for a million and one reasons. It's not about what you want, it's about what she wants. Let her go home. Arrange the care she needs via Social Services so she can have her own life for as long as possible. The time for her to move out is when she has failed at home with maximum help from Social Services, and not a moment before. Despite two badly injured knees, being in constant pain, walking with two sticks and going up the stairs on all fours at times, I could still run a home, and I could drive. If mum gets tired when she's walking, the solution is a taxi or a bus pass. If you are worried about possible emergencies at home, she needs a Lifeline. My mum had all sorts of falls and medical problems, shuffled with a Zimmer frame for years, but she could call for help via the Lifeline. I've supported three other elderly frail parents living at home until very close to death. Now is the time for you to step back, support mum to do what she wants, and then both of you can get on with your own lives. Make a list of what you are afraid of, problems to overcome, and come back to the forum and we will happily support you to work through it.
Is there no 'half-way house' solution possible, whereby you create, or move to, a self-contained 'Granny annexe' so that she has her own space and privacy, and you (and your wife!) do as well? As I've mentioned, I speak as someone who has to care for her own MIL (my husband her son is dead, and her other son is divorced and lives in the USA so there is 'only me')(alas) and looking after an MIL is UTTERLY DIFFERENT from looking after one's own mother or father. (Plus, I speak as someone who had a brilliant relationship with her MIL as we never 'bothered' each other!)

Do look ahead over the coming years and appreciate that your mum's care needs will only increase, and that the time may well come when her state of semiindepedence now is only a long lost memory - you and your wife need to take the maximum advantage of what independence your mother does still have, as the time may well come, alas, when your own lives are 'taken up' entirely by looking after your mother.

What comes across time and time and time again in these discussions here is how it is easy to look after an elderly parent FOR A SHORT TIME - but it is something entirely different when that goes on and on and on and on - for years and years and years.

So many people 'panic' when an elderly parent seems to be ill, or evinces a desire to be 'closer' or whatever, and we have a knee jerk reaction that is fine for the time, but cannot be sustained without the most appalling consequences for the carers.

I did a 'knee jerk' reaction just over a year ago when my own up-till-then incredibly self-reliant and completely independent MIL phoned me to say 'I can't cope on my own any more' - and I immediately rushed 400 miles to collect her, and have her to stay with me for weeks at a time - and she got very comfortable here at Hotel Jenny....with the result that she now HATES being 'dumped' in a 'care home' even though that is the only thing that is keeping me sane after a horrendous year.

The warning here is - don't 'take in' elderly parents when (a) they don't need it (!) and (b) may not want it (!) and (c) you can't 'sustain' it for years and years and years and years....

(A friend of mine says her husband would like his mother to move in with them, and for my friend, this really would be enough to cause her to divorce him)

I'm sorry to sound so negative, but having a parent 'live in' is a VERY difficult (impossible?) thing to sustain for anything other than a short, temporary period. It is the constant living 'en famille' that is so, so wearing......for everyone!
Hi Jon,

And welcome to the Forum.

Do you have a local Shopmobility in a shopping centre near you? If so you can hire mobility scooters for the day very cheaply so that you and mum can check that she would be safe to use them. I think (but am not sure) that the Red Cross may also arrange something similar in certain areas. I only suggest this as I would hate you to spend tons of money and then for mum to decide she is not going to use it.

I say this as the daughter of an elderly stubborn mother. I have lost count of the amount of mobility / dementia aids I have bought and hardly ever been used.

Good luck, Anne
Me too Anne. Mum kept saying she needed aids, never cheap. When I emptied her house after she had gone into the home, I found all of them, still in their packets. When I bought them every penny counted, so I was really annoyed that I'd wasted my money on her. Mum has a substantial Civil Service pension, and never thought that pennies might be tight for me once I was widowed and not able to work!!!
Having a resident parent or In-Law isn't always a nightmare, as long as you follow a few basic rules. I did this for ten years, and most of the time it was OK. Establish some ground rules first:
Firstly: It's your home, so you are the boss. (i.e. This is NOT a democracy, it is your home)
Secondly: Everyone pays their way, according to their means.
Thirdly: When it gets too much, you can pull the plug.
PS: it is better if the plug pulling is mutual, but not essential, refer to rule #1.