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Care & carers

Ageing parents

(48 Posts)
Twilly Wed 01-Jun-16 10:57:12

My mother is in her 80s and has been in good health but has suddenly become "old" and is struggling with life a little. I live 200 miles away so while I see her as much as I can. I can't be as hands-on as I would like. She is adamant that she doesn't want to do into a home. I would really appreciate any ideas from anyone who has been in a similar position with ageing parents

grannyactivist Wed 01-Jun-16 11:06:52

In your shoes I would contact social services and ask for a Community Care Assessment for the Elderly. This will help to find out find out what your mum's needs and circumstances are and what support she needs and her views are very much taken into account. If it's established that there is a need to provide a community care service, the local authority has a duty to provide that service and as it's cheaper to provide care in the home they certainly don't 'push' nursing home care.
Good luck. smile

trisher Wed 01-Jun-16 11:17:00

I moved my mum when she was in her late 70s to a sheltered housing flat near me. It is a decision we have never regretted. There was little family left where she was living and being close to me has enabled me to look after her when she has been ill. She is now 93. The sheltered housing gave her a new lease of life as she was relatively active when she first moved in and went on holidays and short breaks knowing her home was safe. It has given her a social life now she is less mobile with coffee mornings and social evenings in the building. I would recommend looking at property close to you and taking her to view them. Anchor Homes have properties in many places. They also have 'extra care' sheltered housing which provides more support but isn't a care home. Hope you find something it is worrying and being a distance away is very difficult.

granjura Wed 01-Jun-16 11:20:43

This is so hard for you. I looked after my parents from the UK and them living abroad 800 miles away, for over 15 years, and it was so hard, in so so many ways. I even gave up my job due to this, and finally moved over to be there for them- but too late.

But one thing I can say is that you have to respect her wish to not go into a home- and find a way, privately or with the help os social services, or a mixture of both (as we did in the end) - to provide a support structure for her, which allows her the independence she wants. You are lucky that the UK, despite massive cuts- has much much better support structures for the elderly than most countries. Could you take a few days off to visit her GP for advice with her, and talk to social services, but also neighbours who may have local experience and know good and trustworthy people who do private care too. I feel for you as it takes its toll, physically and emotionally x

Willow500 Wed 01-Jun-16 13:10:28

I too would get as much support in place now whilst she is still able to agree to it and most authorities would far prefer to keep the elderly in their own home than move them into care. There is a lot of help out there it's just finding it. The council came and put grab rails at my parents, provided a frame for the toilet (mum hated that but my dad needed it in the end), we were able to arrange for meals to be brought in each lunchtime, carers who came in to bathe my mum - we bought a rise and fall bath seat as she couldn't stand to have a shower, and also as time went on carers who came in to see to my dad 3 or 4 times a day. We also had an alarm system installed which rang us and the company if they pressed a button. Some of it we had to pay for but we also had a visit from a support worker who advised what benefits they were entitled to - I just can't remember where they came from unfortunately as it's about 8 or 9 years ago now. I always promised my mum I would never let her go into care but circumstances decreed we had no choice in the end so if that should happen in the future don't beat yourself up about it. The main thing is your mum is kept safe and as happy as she can in her own home for as long as she can be. It's tough and I feel for you.

Twilly Wed 01-Jun-16 15:23:40

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I will start looking into them now

hollyandjack Wed 01-Jun-16 15:51:18

for my father the hardest bit was the loss of independence. He really struggled with it. Everyone is different but if this is the case for your mother it's worth looking at help for her that can work around what she is still able to do and therefore keeping intervention to a minimum while giving you both peace of mind

nananorm Wed 01-Jun-16 15:54:59

As I know all too well Twilly it's a difficult situation

I can understand she doesn't want to go into a home and so it is worth looking at carers she can have in her own home instead. Obviously I don't know what her financial situation is - both options can be expensive as I am sure you know. Do you/she have a financial adviser who might be able to make sensible suggestions?

99gyf99 Wed 01-Jun-16 16:03:11

I agree with Willow500. From my own experience it's better to plan ahead and think about things now rather than when things deteriorate and it's harder for both of you. I found it hard to talk about with my mother, I was wary of upsetting her and it was hard for her to accept she had suddenly aged to the point of needing care. But the harsh reality was that for both of our benefits we needed to address it.

leila Wed 01-Jun-16 17:04:24

Do you have siblings? My advice if you do is try to split things evenly between you from the start both in terms of practical help and financial intervention. I've seen too many family relationships break down over things like this so it's better for everyone to be up front. My husband and his sister have no contact now and I think if they had worked things out up front it could have been different

twiggy Wed 01-Jun-16 17:12:38

I echo leila. My brother was bloody useless when my mum was in this position and it all fell to me. I did it because I didn't see why she would suffer just because he is a selfish idiot but I resented him putting me in this position ("as the daughter" as though that made it automatic). We barely have any contact now.

glenda Wed 01-Jun-16 17:16:32

You said your mum doesn't want to go into a home. I can understand this. But has she voiced any thoughts on other options? It's a difficult decision for everyone involved but depending on how she feels and the help she needs there are a number of things you could do. For my mother, we started off with a carer who dropped in early morning and early evening to do bits and pieces. As she became less able we got a live in carer which worked well for all of us but was not a cheap option. Would she consider moving closer to you/any siblings? Understand that this isn't always easy - she probably won't want to leave her home/friends and you may not be in a situation to accommodate. But all things to think about. I wish you well and hope that you find something that works for both of you.

granjura Wed 01-Jun-16 17:56:23

Willow500, my mum did talk to me about this, and she wouldn't agree:

'The main thing is your mum is kept safe'

she told me she understood how I worried, and that she knew she may fall or hurt herself, etc- (before those alert bracelets of pendants existed)- and maybe left until the carer called again- but as far as she was concerned, that was a risk she was prepared to take, and that I had to respect that- which I did.

Beware about taking an elderly person away from familiar surroundings and neighbours, etc- I've known it to be a total disaster in a few cases when friends did that with their own parents.

GinnyTonic Wed 01-Jun-16 18:23:25

My Mum lived with us for 37 years , with increasingly poor health. As an emergency, she went into respite care last October saying she would never eat until she came out. 24 hours later, she said she never wanted to leave and is now so much happier, with lots more opportunities to retell stories. The staff are incredible - patient and loving. So I would suggest talking to Social Services about a spell in respite care - hope it works out as well as it has done for all of us. By the way, many more people visit her in the care home, as did when she was bedridden here.

cornergran Wed 01-Jun-16 19:37:47

It truly doesnlt have to be all or nothing. A move to a housing environment with independent living but a development manager available for most of the day and built in emergency call system can increase confidence, independence and also increase social contact. It isn't for everyone I know, it does depend on both the individual and their personal needs, but it can make it possible for independence to be maintained whether in a familiar area or a new one. How much anyone is involved in any communal space or activity is up to the individual. It worked well for both my grandfather and my parents. A neighbour is currently researching privately sourced personal care, expensive but less so than a home, the benefit being the control over who is coming into their home. As others have said, lots of options for the life stage that hopefully we will all get to. smile I do hope you can find one that meets your Mum's needs and also your own for peace of mind.

royguts Thu 02-Jun-16 10:17:24

There's a very helpful article on caring from a distance on a site called myageingparent, which might really help you out

aggie Thu 02-Jun-16 10:31:40

As an " Aging parent " I am reading this with increasing dread sad My DD1 and her Husband are selling their bungalow and we are raising funds , so that together we are planning a new bungalow with separate Apartment for OH and I . He has PD with related Dementia and I have arthritis . I wonder if we are wise and maybe just go into a Care Home !! He was in one for weeks while a care package was set up , this care package has been a godsend . The Carers breeze in , chat while they care for him and send me out to the shop , or for a breath of air . They will continue when/ if we move

bear Thu 02-Jun-16 10:33:05

I read all this with great interest, not because I've got a parent to look after - mine died in their eighties nearly twenty years ago but because I'm 85 myself now and know I've got to face a home when I can't look after myself any longer. It's a horrible position to be in.

granjura Thu 02-Jun-16 10:41:19

Hard isn't it and flowers to all involved, both carers and those needing caring for.

But surely, it is much cheaper to have care at home for as long as possible rather than go into a home. I tried for years to get my parents to adapt their home (rented) so they could stay as long as possible- but dad always said 'oh we can manage, and don't want to spend anything here as it's not our own' - and what happened had to happen - all of a sudden it was too late adn there was no choice. Which financially was a disaster as all their savings melted VERY fast. With a bit of moeny spent in time, to put a ramp, a proper shower and a few bits and pieces- and with the support structure I'd put in place + food delivered- they could have stayed in their own home. Such a pity.

Cath9 Thu 02-Jun-16 10:43:34

I know how you must feel.
Luckily for us, my parents were told of a wonderful place. Where they could not only buy their own little home in the same grounds where there is a Nursing Home underneath them.
My late father died in 2005, but my 98 yr old mother is able to get her meals from the home, ring a bell if she wants help from the home, also have great walks around the grounds, as the Home was once a prep school. She also has a carer who comes in once a day and my brother is financially well off to sort out anything that needs renewing.
I know couples who have moved there purely due to one not being well. While the other half loved the place also.

adaunas Thu 02-Jun-16 10:50:40

Sheltered housing is a really good option if you can find it but Mum couldn't bear to leave her treasures. My mum did NOT want to be in a home, but when that was the only option after hospitalisation, she enjoyed the company and the care. Before that she had carers 3x per day, but what she really wanted was company. I did the 3 hour round trip when I could and my sisters nearby went daily or several times per week but that left long hours with no company. Sadly, very poor hospital care and discharge whilst still ill, meant she didn't live long enough to enjoy the care home for more than a week before going back till the end of her life in hospital. I wish she had had chance / been willing to try a 'respite' visit earlier.

michellehargreaves Thu 02-Jun-16 11:33:00

I am feeling lucky. My father is 99, and after a hip replacement 18 months ago has become increasingly "withdrawn". My brother and his wife have moved in with him which is a godsend, I live more than 2 hours away. Daddy is still in his own home, he has constant attention, and if my brother gets more of the inheritance, I am happy, his assets could easily disappear in care home fees. Thank you God.

PRINTMISS Thu 02-Jun-16 12:30:35

We too are in our eighties, and obviously the time will come when we can no longer look after the garden, the home, and eventually, I suppose ourselves, but we enjoy our life, and try to live it without depending too much on other people, and not worrying too much about the future. Possibly head in the sand attitude, however life is short, and it is good to be able to be independent at the moment.

Rapunzel100 Thu 02-Jun-16 12:33:11

I can really identify with this dilemma and it's so hard when siblings don't take any share of the responsibility. My 92 year old father doesn't yet need outside carers and, for his age, is remarkably independent. However, he does need additional help with housework, gardening etc. We also ensure he has holidays and regular trips out for meals. This is in addition to the regular hospital visits - a 40 mile round trip. I have one disabled sister, who lives locally and does what she can; my other sister lives 250 miles away and is due to visit, for the second time in 8 years, this Sunday, to take him out for lunch. I feel a massive amount of anger and resentment towards her, which she cannot understand. She is not short of money and travels around the world, but because she rings her father several times a week, she feels her duty is done. Meanwhile I'm exhausted and resentful. Sorry for the rant but feel better now it's off my chest! I wish you well in an uncertain future.

Wilks Thu 02-Jun-16 12:42:19

I'm in the same position as Twilly and as Granjura was. My parents are in their 90s. Dad is registered blind though he still goes up ladders to cut the hedges and clean guttering! Mum since November has broken a hip, pelvis and rib and had a mini stroke. They were doing their shopping in the city market the other day so there's no keeping them flew over to my sister's in Wales when one of the crises occurred in January. We had a family discussion, , minus brother who couldn't make it from London! I'm not bitter! They decided to sell up and move near my sister but then decided they wanted to go home. So, that's where we are. Social care were involved while Mum recovered, but they are so stretched its a case of contact us if you need us. They won't entertain the idea of a home and quite honestly I think it would finish them off. At the moment they still have their spirits. ( they are hoping to fly out to visit us in July, god help us!). So we are where we are. I visit every 2 months which takes its toll on my health as I'm no spring chicken. Siblings visit less often which upsets both me and my parents. I'm afraid they haven't yet got used to the fact that I, who used to live 40 miles away and no longer do, am not able to pick up the pieces as I used to do.
I'm so glad we decided to downsize in our 60s/70s. Best move we ever made.
The elderly have a right to make their own decisions but we had to make it clear that to some extent they would have to put up with the consequences.
I assume yor Mum has got an alarm and has had all the necessary assessments of her needs Twilly? Then you just have to do what you can and let her enjoy her last years as she chooses.