Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

My grandparents are making my mum ill

(16 Posts)
AnnieLouisa1 Fri 27-Jun-14 13:20:01

My mum’s parents are in their early 80s, and they have recently moved from the south of England, up to the north, to be nearer my mum. It was a move that my mum organised with them, as she was finding going down to see them for a week out of every month too disruptive to her life, and they really weren’t coping looking after themselves. Also, she is in quite delicate health herself, and it was really taking a toll on her, physically and mentally.

Anyway, she facilitated moving them into some lovely sheltered accommodation round the corner from her, but they are now making her life a misery. My grandpa complains constantly that he wants to go back down south (even though my Grandma has decided that she wants to stay up here.) He is adamant that he will cope by himself in his old house, despite never having made so much as a cup of tea for himself in his life. He bullies my grandma, and makes my mum feel guilty. He never left the house when he lived down south, and doesn’t have any friends living down there anymore. I understand moving is difficult, but he is tormenting my mum, and my grandma.

My grandma on the other hand, is calling my mum at all hours of the day, and uses emotional blackmail to get her own way. My mum spends most her time round at theirs, doing everything for them. My dad is getting really frustrated with my mum, as she is making herself ill running round after them, and he can see the mental and physical effects it’s having on her.

They’re not that nice to her, and they completely dominate her life – she does so much for them, but it’s never enough.

I want my mum to do less for them, as these are the years that she’s meant to be enjoying her life with my dad. But she can’t. My siblings and I all live quite far away, so we can only help on an ad hoc basis. I know there are agencies out there that can help with things like appointments and home help, but the emotional pull my grandparents have on my mum mean that she will not pass them off onto a helping organisation, despite her own poor health.

It’s got the point that whenever my siblings or I speak to my parents, it’s pretty much all they talk about, and Christmas’s have got particularly grim!

Can anyone offer any advice on how to make this situation less grim – for my grandparents, and for my parents?
What are your experiences?
Is there anything I can do to help make my grandparents be happier?
Is there anything I can say to my grandparents?
How can I be more supportive to my mum?

glammanana Fri 27-Jun-14 13:48:00

What a caring daughter you are to your parents,is there anyway you and your sibling can visit your parents and discuss the problem en-mass so to speak and have your dad make his feeling known to your Grandpa that your mum is entitled to a life of her own & some enjoyment.
Getting Social Services involved is not a thing to be dismissed I think and AgeUK will direct you all to the best possible outcome even if it only half a day respite at a meeting centre for elderly people,don't let your mum feel guilty about this at all she is certainly entitled to some peace of mind after all she has done. I really feel your dad needs to speak up on this for your mums sake.Best of luck for a happier outcome.

HollyDaze Fri 27-Jun-14 13:48:34

I haven't been in that position AnnieLouisa so I can't speak from experience - I have no doubt that there will be those on here that have experience of similar situations.

I would encourage your Mum to at least think about getting some help in on a daily basis - it's unreasonable to expect her to run both homes single-handedly for the foreseeable future.

Are there any clubs that your grandparents can join where they could make new friends? Maybe if they could, they wouldn't be so reliant on your Mum for company.

Paula8 Fri 27-Jun-14 14:14:33

Defently time for a FAMILY MEETING. Communication I think can go along way to solving this problem, you should ALL get together and all give eachother the time to speak --without getting interupted--Once everyone has said their peace there should be one strong member of thefamily to take a little charge and help the family to come to some decisions.

Good Luck--things will get much better after some air is cleared and decisions make smile

Paula8 Fri 27-Jun-14 14:16:49

PS-Your stress levels are probably through the roof right now so you should think of your own health aswell as your Mums..

TriciaF Fri 27-Jun-14 14:51:31

I think you need to get the Social Services involved - someone neutral who is used to dealing with inter-generational problems. Hopefully your local office has people specialising with the elderly.
When my Mum was in that position, and I was just around the corner, we managed to avoid the stressful demands, because she a had a good social worker.
In a few years time you'll be glad you were able to help, but in the meanwhile you need some help from someone not emotionally involved.

harrigran Fri 27-Jun-14 14:57:35

I am afraid I would be telling the grandparents to shut up and put up with it, their DD is too old to be chasing up and down the country to care for them. They are where they are to ease her burden and should be mighty grateful.

Aka Fri 27-Jun-14 15:36:09

Yes, what a caring and lovely daughter you are.

I agree, a FAMILY conference, which includes you, your siblings, both your parents, and siblings of your mother's and you grandparents. Whatever it takes to get as many family there as possible.

Between you and your father and others, you can make it clear that things cannot go on like this.

Some answers you need to find out and bring to the meeting.

Have your grandparents made a Lasting Power of Attorney?
What help can Social Services offer?
Who is going to lead the meeting and what exactly do you intend the outcome to be?

Good luck and it would be nice if you could keep in touch via this thread and let us know what progress is made.

rosesarered Fri 27-Jun-14 15:47:09

Good suggestions Aka. If the grandparents are not ill though, or mentally weak, would SS even want to be involved?AnnieLousa I think your Dad could be a bit more pro-active, and they could visit the parents together. If cleaning is needed could they afford to get a cleaner in?In time, would the grandparents be likely to meet other people?I do feel sorry for your mother, but as others have said, she will be 'there' for them but not on a 24 hour basis.

Nelliemoser Fri 27-Jun-14 15:52:55

Tricia That idea of a specialist social worker is a pipe dream, I am afraid. Such services just don't happen these days.

I think Paula is probably right, it might help to have a word with a local Age UK group if you can find one. I think your mum needs support to manage her parents demands without feeling she is neglecting them.

Encourage her to think that her self preservation is not being selfish. Make set times for visits in a routine, not on her parent's whim (apart from a serious crises of course)

Mishap Fri 27-Jun-14 16:31:59

What a hard situation for you, especially as you are not on the spot.

Your Mum needs to stand back - very hard to do, but she must do this for her own sake. It is worth remembering that, whilst family are very important, no member of a family has the right to drain another dry - there has to be give and take. Your grandparents are not able to engage in that give and take, or to see the effect they are having on your Mum - so you need to involve outside agencies. Age UK will help - they have phonelines as a starting point, and SSD will also try and help, although they are so poorly staffed now that it is likely that they might only point you in the direction of possible day centres etc.

I know that your grandparents will resist these interventions, but your Mum must be strong and say that she has arranged some possibilities for them and that they can choose whether to take them up, but at those times she is not available.

I know only too well how these problems can take over lives (I was a social worker for many years and also dealt with the problems of my own parents' care). I was just thinking about how my life was this time last year before my Dad died and every waking moment (and many when I should have been sleeping) was consumed with trying to organise suitable care. It took a huge toll on all of us - so it is important not to let that happen if possible.

TriciaF Fri 27-Jun-14 16:52:58

Nelliemoser - I thought that might be the case now. We were lucky.
But for the OP, hoping you can smooth things over without falling out.

NfkDumpling Fri 27-Jun-14 17:47:48

So many of us have been in a similar position to your mum. The Guilt is the worst thing. My DD2 gave me the best advise taken from the airline safety code - Always secure your own life jacket / oxygen mask before caring for others.
Your mum must look after herself first or she won't be able to be there for your grandparents and she must get this message through to them. Hysterics, tears, whatever it takes.
Also, she needs your dad to be firm too. Myself and a couple of my friends were running ourselves ragged. While their husbands were supportive and nice my DH lost his cool a bit and gave my DM a good telling off. He spoke from his position as The Husband Who Comes First (your grandparents generation understands this) It made her realise how depend she was on me - and how important it was that I stay well and healthy!

merlotgran Fri 27-Jun-14 18:24:07

I have been in exactly the same position as your mum, AnnieLouisa, I won't get back the seven years I spent running from pillar to post to meet my mother's demands and care needs when she was in sheltered housing/'assisted care' and it all but ruined our relationship. She is in a nursing home now and for the first time in years I actually enjoy visiting her.

Your grandfather will carry on being difficult if he knows it's winding everyone up. He's going to have to put up with the way things are and give your grandma and mum some slack. Your poor mum is going to have to stand up to them, I'm afraid, although it's easier said than done.

I didn't find social services much help but they may be able to put you in touch with a local day centre where your grandparents could make some friends and enjoy some activities outside the home.

I wish you all the best of luck because I know how hard this is.

Eloethan Fri 27-Jun-14 18:43:35

I'm sorry that things are so difficult for your mum and that it is worrying you. It sounds like an awful situation and I really feel for your mum.

I too think that some sort of meeting between you all should be arranged. It should be pointed out to your grandparents that your mum has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help them and that they are lucky she is such a caring daughter. Your granddad should also realise that he is placing your mum under intolerable stress by threatening to go back to his old house. They are lucky that they have a place in sheltered accommodation and, on top of it, your mum running around after them and having to listen to all their complaints.

How able are your grandparents? Can they do household chores, cook, etc.? If not, then I agree with others that some outside help should be called in - Meals on Wheels if appropriate and a cleaner. It is not reasonable for your mum to be expected to do everything and spend so much time at their home. Perhaps your dad should lay it on the line, politely but very firmly, that things will have to change as he doesn't want to see your mum becoming ill. Certainly some sort of limit should be placed on the number of times she visits them.

Just a thought, but do you think your mum might benefit from counselling (or possibly an assertiveness course)? It seems that she is unable to stand up to her parents. Has she spent a lifetime trying (perhaps unsuccessfully) to please them? She may need some help to sort out why she feels compelled to accede to all their demands, and strategies for dealing with them. GPs can sometimes refer people for a limited number of counselling sessions.

As others have said, I think you're a very kind and considerate daughter and it is lovely that you are so concerned for your mum's wellbeing. I hope the situation soon improves for you all.

Purpledaffodil Fri 27-Jun-14 20:06:00

I have every sympathy with this situation as I was the on the spot carer for my Dad for ten years until he died two years ago. However I was so fortunate that he was never demanding or bullying. He did everything he possibly could for himself, but I always felt that the buck stopped with me. My brother was very kind but he lives in North America so any day to day problems were mine.
I tried to do his cleaning, laundry etc while holding down a full time job, coping with a husband who'd had strokes and supporting my DD and baby GS. Nice try but humanly impossible. Finally between us we organised an excellent cleaner through Age UK who handled CRB and references. She was used to elderly people, happy to change his sheets every week and do any domestic stuff. We found a gardener who was willing to chat, grow vegetables in Dad's garden and share them as well as normal gardening. I used to take my iPad with me every fortnight and we'd do his shopping with Ocado. He also had a necklace alarm which proved invaluable when he fell.
All this meant that when I went to see him, we were able to chat, rather than me tearing around getting jobs done. He was never a club man, but our church has an excellent set of pastoral visitors and he had a weekly visit from a lovely man which he relished.
It is very hard for your Mum to cope with all that. I used to get a lot of grief about what I was doing from my DH and it made it all the harder. My advice is to contact Age UK locally as well as local voluntary orgs and get help in place, to be honest whether they like it or not. I suspect they feel they have done their bit by moving and now it is up to your Mum. Not true and not fair! flowers to your mum.