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Frustrated with mum refusing help.

(134 Posts)
Washerwoman Sat 10-Feb-18 09:37:04

Firstly to say compared to situations many of you are coping or struggling with I'm in relative clover so far.But I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with my 95 year old mum.She still lives alone, and has managed remarkably ,especially since our dad died several years ago.She had a really tough time caring for him in the last few years,and refused all help -to the point of stupidity my siblings and I felt.But that was her choice, and she's a fiercely independant ,and intelligent- or so I thought !- woman.But it wore her out physically and emotionally.She thought she was doing us all a favour, and her favourite mantra is 'you don't have to worry about me 'Easier said than done mum!
Fortunately we all live locally and so one of us ,sometimes all of us pop in most days if not everyday.If I can't I ring .Realistically it's either me or one brother,our older brother is retired and very often away on holiday,or helping his with grandchildren out of town.That in itself has been frustrating ,because lovely and good as he is despite repeatedly asking him to let me know if he is not around,or more helpfully if he is going to mums he never does.I still work,and a quick text,or I've suggested a WhatsApp group between us has fallen on deaf ears.It would be so good just to know he was planning to visit as I still work,and often call in between clients or on my way home often when I'm cold,wet and tired.He stays as longer ,as he doesn't go as often,is very kind and actually more patient than me and other brother.But as other brother says that's because he doesn't see her as often!
Anyway,The upshot is her mobility is worsening and her sight is deteriorating.She has macula degeneration and only has one functioning eye anyway.Her hearing is also failing. No big surprise at her age.But the state of her home,and her clothes is worsening.I did bring her washing home to dry as she has no drier and I have a really good one.And when I collected it we changed her bed.But she's even shoving me away from doing that now.We persuaded her to have a cleaner last year.She grudgingly agreed to an hour a week but pointing out no cleaner would come for just one hour,she finally agree to two. All well and good to start with.Then it turned out she was either asking the cleaner to take her to the shops.We do that regularly. Or following her everywhere and preventing her from actually getting on.She then found a reason to fall out with her and we reluctantly told the cleaner to come no more.
Things have deteriorated again.Her fridge is frequently in a terrible state.And I'm bracing myself to go round next week and do some cleaning,but tbh feel pretty resentful as she has enough money to pay for a few hours help.Even 2/3 hours a week would keep on top of things,and she could still potter with a duster.
Any ideas ?She wants to stay in her own home,we accept that,but just want her to work with us to make that possible.Her other favourite saying is 'oh well you won't have to worry about me much longer .I won't be here.Really mum?I know she hates the idea but she could live to be 100+.I've pointed out DHs aunt happily has some help.As do my friends elderly parents.To no avail.So frustrating,and instead of being a caring DD she makes me feel like a bossy control freak.My bother lost his temper the other day when he fixed her vac because it wasn't connected, and instead of saying thank you told him off for interfering. I must add so far she's shown no obvious signs of dementia,but we are aware she could be developing something,if only small ischaemic changes.Also to add she's been 'fighting ' the idea of getting old for absolutely years.I call it 'competitive ageing' as she has taken great pride in comparing herself with poor old Mrs so and so,how stooped/wrinkled/dependant etc she is -and she's 10 years younger than me you know!Not always very charitable and empathetic, and generally lovely as she can be not a trait I admire.She is terrified of being labelled old.I get that.But at 95 it's time for some common sense to prevail .Thanks if you've read this Rambling post.Just needed to vent !

MissAdventure Sat 10-Feb-18 10:09:10

I haven't got any advice, but I can certainly sympathise! My own mum was the same, and it affected everyone's quality of life.
She ended up having carers, after being in hospital, but that didn't make a great deal of difference, apart from the fact that they made more mess!

Jane10 Sat 10-Feb-18 10:10:02

Oh boy! A tough one. Have you discussed with her the advantages of choosing help now or just waiting for a crisis to take everything out of her hands? Maybe a serious family meeting involving all your siblings and her to spell out your concerns? Horrible prospect I know. However, the alternative is more of the same with her and the house slipping into neglect and further deterioration. Good luck!

Freemind Sat 10-Feb-18 10:19:13

I feel for you and understand the need to vent. I don't live near my mother, nor do my siblings and although she is increasingly frail and disabled, she refuses to let a cleaner or carer into her house. We spend hours travelling to help and care for her as we do love her, but she won't compromise at all to make it easier! Who would have expected things to be so tricky at this stage of life?

Washerwoman Sat 10-Feb-18 10:46:59

Thanks for prompt replies. I'm very lucky in the DH has the patience of a saint,and will call in instead of me some days. He's even said she could live with us if things got bad-im not sure on that score for either her or us!Aso for a family conference I have suggested that ,but one or other of my brothers is either away or has had a much more well let's wait until there's a crisis,or if that's what's she wants mentality.That's changing with one brother now though,and he's proposing after his next holiday to install a new kitchen that's easier to keep clean,and some practical changes to the cottage so that feels a step in the right direction.And both brothers can ,and will do the work so they are good in many ways,.It's just the lack of simple't worry about mum today I will go/ take her shopping that also frustrates.I guess that's men for you.
Frustratingly also last year a friend told me how happy and settled her DMIL was in sheltered accomodation, some of the nicest available.2 flats were available.Bright,spacious ,lovely view a, modern kitchen and completely independent with warden and shuttle bus to shops etc.Plus coffee mornings and mum has always been gregarious.Initially both brothers attitude was yes good idea ,you sort it.Surprisingly mum was intrigued enough to want to go to a coffee morning and meet the lovely warden.In steps SIL ,who I get on well enough but as a retired social worker and kind ,but in an airy fairy kind of way compared to practical me and vetoed the idea. DB is very under the thumb and decided not to pursue the idea.I know if we'd all got behind the idea she would have at least considered it.SIL had some valid points about her moving at this stage ,but I nearly lost it with her when she pointed out the village where the accomodation is also full of 'millionaires'?!Ironic as her mum lived in one of the most affluent parts of the country,and totally irrelevant!It's not it as a council estate and a real mixed community with a lovely accessible centre.Other SIL is great,but has had major issues with her own mum,but is a good listening ear and does practical stuff like wash mums bins out and some gardening.So it could worse I know. Out for the day now,but thanks for listening.

mollie Sat 10-Feb-18 11:55:20

Playing devils advocate here, your mum is very independent and has managed for 95 years. It sounds to me that while you and your family are lovingly concerned and caring, it is clearly seen by her as intereferring and criticism in what is her life lived her way. She’s entitled to let things get a little grubby if it doesn’t matter to her and I’m sure she’d rather see you all without the constant inspection and fussing. I’m sure she will know when she needs help and will ask for it but until then let her live her own life. She’s earned that. Back off a bit and give yourselves a break too.

Christinefrance Sat 10-Feb-18 12:19:10

In agree with mollie. I had the same situation with an Aunt some years ago. She had very limited vision and colon cancer and had lived alone all her adult life. My Aunt refused all offers of help and would not pay anyone to clean although she could afford to do so. In the end she died in an accident at home. People are entitled to make their own decisions even if others think they are wrong. I realise this does not stop you worrying or feeling guilty as I did. Perhaps you could set up a Rota so you have more of a break and accept what your Mum wants.

Washerwoman Sat 10-Feb-18 12:20:19

In my defence constant inspections and fussing is harsh Mollie.And indeed mostly we just leave her to get on with it. We call in and chat and turn a blind eye.Rarely said anything until recently. Grubiness is one thing but when you go to make a cuppa and the fridge is in a terrible state with spilt and mouldy food ans door seals encrusted its only reasonable to want to try -very diplomatically- to suggest some cleaning .She genuienly can't see well enough.As my brother said her mmune system must be good !Oh well.

Jane10 Sat 10-Feb-18 12:33:43

It's a very sweeping statement to say that 'she'll know' when she needs support! She patently doesn't know that she needs help right now. If the OP and her brothers and family withdrew all that they did for her she'd really be in trouble. Currently, it feels like she's just not letting herself acknowledge the truth of the situation. Yes she could be left to get dirty and unkempt but that would be neglectful by a caring family. How would they feel if she was just found dead one morning? Telling themselves it's what she would have wanted wouldn't let me sleep at night. She needs help. The problem is how to do this.

MissAdventure Sat 10-Feb-18 12:41:16

When a parent is frail, leaving them to get on with it just isn't an option.. we explained over and over to my mum that refusing to see a doctor when she was poorly, or getting up to do housework when she could barely stand meant that she was going to have an accident or end up in hospital, but she flatly refused to accept the facts.

BlueBelle Sat 10-Feb-18 12:42:52

I think it’s a hard one, 95 is a great age and yes she probably does have a strong immune system, my dad used to regularly call in on his widowed sister in law and has said she was eating penicillin bread and meat that was gone off She was also in her 90 s and her strength got her there She was burgled while she slept in her bed but it didn’t put her off she took it in her stride and stayed alone in her rather grubby little house until she died at a similar age to your mum
I can understand why you would love her to be in a pristine, sheltered housing with a warden and friends but that’s obviously not what she wants is it ?
I think you’re doing what you can and although your brothers aren’t perfect they are there to help which is really pretty good it usually rests with one ...As one brother doesn’t let you know can you draw up a rota or even have a morning text ‘ are you going to mums today then I needn’t ‘ or similar
As for the fridge, kitchen etc if your brothers are going to update it perhaps you can have a good clean at the same time
Good luck my daughter often tells me I m stubborn but I don’t feel I m at all stubborn but I know ‘me’ and if I call on an inner strength that gets me through difficult situations so be it

eazybee Sat 10-Feb-18 12:59:46

I’m sure she will know when she needs help and will ask for it
No she won't; she will get worse as she gets older. The 'competitive ageing' is very true, as is her determination not to accept any help or believe that you are genuinely concerned. It isn't dementia or ageing, more a determination not to be told what to do by her children.

I went through this with my father until he was found wandering by a neighbour, the result of poor food and hygiene. As soon as he was in a Home, properly cared for, he regained all his faculties, aged 92; if he had agreed to the help in his home that I tried to arrange for him or moved closer to me, (150 miles away) he could have maintained his independence but he flatly refused, behaving exactly as as your mother is doing.
All you can do is do as you are doing now, so you won't reproach yourself later.(You will though.)
Not easy; my sympathies.

mollie Sat 10-Feb-18 13:09:22

I did say I was playing devils advocate and I wasn’t attacking the OP personally, just opening the debate. However, I wonder how any of us would feel in the future if our children, or grandchildren, insist they know what is best for us. Of course they may be right but surely we all have the right to accept or refuse help, advice or treatment? Who are we to insist our idea is more valid than theirs?

MissAdventure Sat 10-Feb-18 13:13:42

Its fine to want to be left to get on with your own life, in your own way. My mum broke her hip and decided not to have medical help and to carry on walking around on it. She fell again, and damaged it more, which meant my daughter (who had terminal cancer) had to get her two young children out of bed, on a school night
and go with her Nan to hospital.
The damaged hip never healed properly, which made her mobility worse, and well.. you get the picture..

MissAdventure Sat 10-Feb-18 13:21:30

Just to add, mum also spent 19 hours sitting on the toilet, because she didn't want a handle fitted, so she could pull herself up. Her hairdresser was outside, looking through the windows, and shouting out (also blowing up my phone with calls, which I couldn't answer as I was at work) she was freezing cold, her backside was bleeding where the seat had cut into her flesh, and she couldn't stand at all when we finally arrived to help.

Marydoll Sat 10-Feb-18 14:37:41

I was in a similar position with my mother. She had a coal fire and stone floors and would get up at 6am on a winter's morning to try and light it. Her house was permanently freezing and she refused to allow the council in to fit central heating and double glazing.
She then fell and broke her hip one afternoon and lay for hours, as I was working and she couldn't move to get to a phone. She went downhill after that, neither washing or changing her clothes. The smell in her house was awful, but she would hit me with her walking stick if I tried to clean up. We were getting phone calls dozens of times a day, she was phoning my friends, asking if they knew where I was.
She continued to refuse help until my own health began to suffer, as I was trying to work, look after my family and also my mother. It was like having a fourth child.

Eventually I broke down at work one day and a colleagues insisted I phone social Services for help. It was the best thing I ever did. She told Social Services that I was giving up my job to look after her, which was totally untrue. It wasn't until they saw the splints on my hands, that they realised I was physically incapable of looking after her. She could be very believable.
My mother did get the central heating and double glazing installed, increased benefits and carers coming in during the day, which, allowed me to continue working to support my family.
I was sure she had dementia, but her GP kept dismissing me, until she was taken to hospital with a UTI, (he refused to come out) after I phoned for an ambulance. A diagnosis of dementia was given within a few weeks and we were told that she would never to be able to return to her own home.
Sometimes our parents do not know what is best for them and we have to intervene for both their and our own wellbeing.

MissAdventure Sat 10-Feb-18 15:31:09

My mum didn't have dementia.. I was torn between wanting to shake the living daylights out of her, and admiration that she refused to 'give in'. As it was, she made the last part of her life, the last part of my daughters life a whole lot more difficult.

mcem Sat 10-Feb-18 15:32:02

While giving PoA to my ACs I have added that, if the time comes when I am, in their opinions, unreasonably insisting on remaining in my home, they are to overrule me and insist on any necessary care solutions.
I know that this is not legally enforceable but have 'given my permission'.
Probably the next step is a living will to formalize that permission.
Within my circle of acquaintances, one 94 yearold refuses to go into care and has now signed a contract for care at home. It will cost approx £6000 per month to remain at home.
We have concerns that, given a diagnosis of dementia, the contract may not even be legal but it has been rubber-stamped by SS.

Eglantine21 Sat 10-Feb-18 15:47:03

My MIL got into the bath, couldn't get out, sat there all day. At least she had the sense to let the water out and wrap a towel around herself. I couldn't get her out either. We had to send for help.

Despite this she refused to have a shower installed, was back in the bath the next evening. The only concession was to take her phone in with her.

Like Misadventure, it made our lives very difficult, when actually other members of the family needed care and attention.

Add to that the endless tummy bugs (?), minor accidents, setting fire to the kitchen! It didn't stop until she had a major fall and end up in hospital.

It was so selfish and there wasn't an answer to it. Now I think we should have withdrawn all that support earlier and stopped wearing ourselves out trying to avoid the inevitable.
Couldn't do it though.....

silverlining48 Sat 10-Feb-18 19:30:25

missA flowers

M0nica Sat 10-Feb-18 20:00:25

Leave her alone for a few weeks and see how she manages, or only visit at weekends.

It would drive me to distraction to have family members, however much I loved them calling in every day and trying to run my life for me.

Washerwoman Sat 10-Feb-18 20:41:59

One of us pops in MOST days when we are around, but not every day.My brother lives closest and literally sometimes just drops her paper in.I drive past on my way home as that's my route but often decide not to go and just give her a quick call in the evening ,so we're hardly trying to run her life.Until recently she still and friends calling in but and a good social life through church and a society.But the reality is her friends have either died,or gone into homes.One I take her to visit if she wants.But whilst she will say on the one hand you don't need to come I'm fine,the next time you go she will say I didn't talk to a single soul all day yesterday-which even if not intended makes me feel guilty.
And if trying to help her get safely out of the car on a busy road is interfering and fussing,or quickly grabbing the supermarket trolley because she won't let you push it but has just rammed it into someone's car ,well then we're interfering and fussing.She almost fell under a car the other week because she leapt out before my brother had completed parking outside church ,as he gives her a lift.He was furious, and rightly so.She's just incredibly stubborn.I'm taking note,and vowing to accept a helping hand graciously !
No one expects a pristine house but no one would want to eat from the fridge in the state it was in the other day,added to mouse droppings in the pantry due to inadequately stored food.Not to mention the state of the bathroom at times.Its just about food hygiene,and basic safety .Her eyesight is deteriorating rapidly.And she will even say my eyes have got a lot worse lately,but if you say I know mum it's rubbish and that's why perhaps a little help may be appropriate now ?In the next breath she will say I'm fine,I'm not like Mrs so and so.She's just lazy /stopped trying to do things etc.
Missadventure you've summed it up perfectly. Thank you.
Both my brothers are away soon,and on return are going to replace the kitchen and move the boiler which means no heating and hot water for a few days.So she is either going to stay with me,or her suggestion is to go to a Premier Inn for a little holiday.TBH if that's what she wants let her get on with it!Then we will see how things go.But as I'm up at 6am two days a week to get to my DDs to sort DGD out for nursery,then a full day at work,plus my own house and big garden to sort,plus dogs to walk and and DH with severe arthritis at only 60 I'm certainly not looking for extra responsibility!

MissAdventure Sat 10-Feb-18 20:54:20

I would have loved the opportunity to leave my mum to get on with it. I needed to, but never got the chance because she wouldn't have the aids and help she needed so I knew she would be safe.
She ended up unable to leave the house, because she wouldn't have a ramp outside for her wheelchair. She couldn't even sit in her garden once I was unable to virtually lift her out of the door anymore. Its such a terrible pity, I think.

Seaside22 Sun 11-Feb-18 06:21:00

Oh dear this is very hard, I am in a similar situation, my mum at 86 is very independent, but has a heart condition, deaf , and Maculer degeneration, but continues to drive ! No matter what we say and do, she will not accept help, she goes to hospital appointments on her own, then complains because it's too much for her and it makes her ill.I'm an only one, so find it very difficult, thank goodness my husband is supportive.I don't have any answers for you apart from to say I think you should take matters into your own hands, when need be, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous, and things could be made even more difficult for you all .Good luck

radicalnan Sun 11-Feb-18 09:13:43

This is scary stuff because I know full well I shall be just the same. Isn't it what we all fear, losing control and not being able to cope? No wonder elders prefer to struggle.

I had tussles with my lovely dad, he couldn't see and I could not prevent him driving, he refused help and although I had thought ahead, and could have had a little bungalow in the garden here for him...........he wouldn't leave his golf club and friends there.

He was strong willed and independant to the very end, as I hope I shall be, but how to protect my poor kids from all that?

I take my hat off to all those coping with this.