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Care & carers

Who should look after elderly aunt?

(50 Posts)
Honey1958 Tue 22-Jan-19 12:48:39

Hello all would like some advice. My aunt is 96 widowed with no children but has 3 nieces, myself and my 2 cousins who are sisters. Aunt lives alone and is becoming increasingly frail. After a spell in hospital it was arranged for carers to go in but this ended as she refused to pay for them!
Cousin 1 has shopped weekly for her as me and her other niece worked whilst she did not.
Aunt now needs more input. I have recently retired to look after grand daughter and my elderly mother who is aunts sister. Although she has not said as much Cousin1 has dropped heavy hints that she is not prepared to do anymore.
I feel unable to cope with any more responsibilities but can't see how to deal with the situation without falling out with Cousin1 who can be quite volatile.
Any views please?

FlexibleFriend Tue 22-Jan-19 12:52:51

I think you need to speak to your aunt, see how she feels about a care home. Also are the adult social care team of her local council involved, I'd suggest getting them in for an assessment.

Septimia Tue 22-Jan-19 13:02:01

Would your aunt and your mother share accommodation if they each had their own space within it? At least there would be someone to keep an eye on the other and you and your cousin might each have less to do. But maybe they wouldn't want to give up their independence like that.
My FiL didn't want carers (he had to pay for them) but we sneaked them in, telling him they were just there to make sure he had his tablets at the right time. That way we were able to gradually increase what they did.

HildaW Tue 22-Jan-19 14:06:14

I can fully understand Cousin1 letting it be known she will not be doing anymore. She's just letting you all know where she stands and in a way its good and honest. I can also understand your worries.....why should you have to step up, and that's the problem with caring, its such a complicated problem especially when the 'patient' will not be flexible.
I think a third party needs to be brought in...either through your Aunt's Doctor or similar and she needs to know what family members are willing to much and NO MORE. She will then have to accept that professional help will be needed or there will be a crisis and she will be faced with a situation totally imposed upon her. At the moment she still has a say....if she does not co-operate then its out of her hands. Try not to see you Cousin1 as a foe....she just knows her limits and is being brave enough to voice them.
Once you are in any way a carer the first lesson you have to learn is self preservation. Honestly its a must or your whole world can come crashing down. Been there got the T shirt! Good Luck.

PECS Tue 22-Jan-19 14:13:44

I have a similar situation. My elderly aunt in 90s. Her ACs are not local and another cousin and I are closer to her...though we both have other responsibilities. We were doing quite a lot but eventually said to our cousins that they needed to sort out care. Now she has and it is working well.

luluaugust Tue 22-Jan-19 14:35:51

It sounds as if you are going to have your hands full so please don't make any promises to do more, your Cousin is just being honest which is a help in a way as perhaps you can both talk to Aunt together, obviously outside help is going to be needed and somehow she has to understand or she will have no choice.

Anja Tue 22-Jan-19 15:21:53

Get everyone together and have a good talk with Aunt.

Elrel Tue 22-Jan-19 15:26:47

What does your mother think? Do they have much contact with each other? I visited a friend in a care home and two sisters in there had their own rooms but were happy to be in the same environment.

Honey1958 Tue 22-Jan-19 18:20:45

Thanks for all your helpful comments.
FF aunt wont consider a care home as she is fiercely independent and not at all sociable. She was assessed by social care but wont pay for carers. She is not poor just very tight and will only have the heating on 2 hours a day even in this weather.
Septimus moving in with mum is a no no. They don't get on at all. But I like your idea of gradually sneaking carers in!
Hilda your comment about not seeing Cousin1 as foe is a really good point think I have been starting to think of her as such which is not helpful.
Specs thanks for info re shared care but Aunt would refuse to have anyone else live with her. And have to say no one would want too!!
Anya/Eirel. My mums attitude is that her sister is impossible. She was so annoyed she refused to pay for carers that she wont speak to her. So family conference will not happen. To be fair mum is 93 with her own health issues and I just don't think she has the energy to deal with the situation.

I am seeing Cousin1 tomorrow as social care have given her a machine to dispense her pills as she has not been taking them and family are responsible for loading it up. Not easy when she has 9 different meds! Will talk to aunt and cousin1 then. Will let you know how I get on.! Thanks again

littleflo Wed 23-Jan-19 11:07:05

I am part of carers group and the situation you describe is very common. The person says they value their independence, which usually means , ‘I will pick and choose who I will be dependent on’

You have to be very strong, because in these cases one of two things happen. One family member runs themself ragged, being stressed and in ill health. The demands of the person seem to increase, the more you do for them. They never think that you do enough.

Alternatively, you step right back and wait for the inevitable crisis. Not taking meds, becoming ill, having a fall or a hospital admission. At this stage the LA is forced to take action and all the good hearted people who tried to help feel guilty.

Please don’t be sucked in and ruin your own health. It really is in your Aunt’s best interest that she recognises her own limitations and takes the help from the LA.

HildaW Wed 23-Jan-19 12:14:03

Honey1958, Good luck with all this. Unfortunately when some people get to this stage demanding they keep their independence at all cost it can get very fractious as in reality they have not been truly independent for several years. Family and others have filled in the gaps sometimes without they person realising or, more annoyingly, choosing not to see it. I summed it up as 'being a darned nuisance by trying NOT to be a nuisance'. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down and let them know where you are all drawing the line. Often its better if someone in a professional capacity can be called in, or sometimes they take it better from a male family member (no idea why). Good luck and make sure you get all the support for yourself.

Anja Wed 23-Jan-19 15:00:10

Step back then.

Honey1958 Wed 23-Jan-19 20:54:10

Have seen Cousin1 and Aunt today and had a bit of a chat. I feel we can work as a team. Thank you to who it was who said not to treat Cousin1 as a foe. Made me realise I was being a bit paranoid!
Hilda and little flo social care seem to be trying to pass responsibility back to family. Cousin1 told me they had expected her to call Aunt 3x a day to remind her to take her meds. When she would not do this they have provided an automatic pill dispensing machine but this keeps going wrong. I contacted social care today and they cannot come out to machine till Monday. So second visit
today to Aunts to sort out her meds for next few days.
I think Cousin1 and I do understand you have to look after yourselves first and set boundaries. But it's so difficult sometimes! DGD arrived for night and DD was fed up and tired as DGD had been unsettled andshe had been very busy at work. DD called her other half less use than a chocolate teapot. This is a recurring theme. She just needed to be heard but I was feeling I had very little energy left to give. Retirement is not quite working out as I had imagined

HildaW Wed 23-Jan-19 21:16:24

Honey1958, Some positive outcomes, sorry Social Care are not helping. I know its not helpful but its probably down to finances. When we were involved in a similar case as soon as they realised there were private funds we could not even get any basic info let alone real help. Best to keep them in the loop though, just incase.
The lack of energy you speak of is probably caused by the combined forces of both actual physical exhaustion coupled with all the stress and emotional turmoil. Carers support groups are useful and most Drs surgeries seem to carry info about them....certainly our Drs surgery as my Mum used to say 'keep making a fuss' to get what you want. All the best and keep a file on all that you do and might be useful to have conversations recorded etc.

Witzend Wed 23-Jan-19 21:43:25

I agree absolutely with Littleflo.
You will have to make it crystal clear to social services that family can do no more. If your aunt is not suffering from dementia, she should be able to understand - though I dare say she won't like it - that it's unfair to expect family to undertake her care when she can afford to,pay.

Dh had an old aunt who could well afford carers, but was incredibly tight with money and refused to pay for them. She would send away any that dh arranged - she expected to rely on neighbours, most of whom were themselves frail and elderly, couldn't cope, and should never have been expected to.
We lived a 2 hour drive away and there was nobody else.

It was a bit of a nightmare since she simply couldn't manage without a lot of help. Things more or less had to come to crisis point before she was finally persuaded to go into a care home. Getting her to pay for that was another nightmare, though she could well afford it.

Daddima Wed 23-Jan-19 22:31:38

I recognise so much of this! The Bodach’s unmarried aunt had carers, but usually when they came in and asked her if she wanted help with washing and dressing, she refused, and they made no attempt to jolly her along or encourage her, so I felt I had to do it every couple of days. She never was big on personal hygiene. When my widowed aunt was admitted to hospital there was talk of a similar care package, but she was becoming increasingly confused. The social worker was excellent, and got her to agree to a care home. Fortunately by that time I was her financial guardian, as she did not have capacity, and would never have agreed to pay for her care. I suppose it is much more difficult if they have capacity. I agree with others who say you must look after yourself.

ninanil Thu 24-Jan-19 10:04:47

If she agrees to giving you and your cousins a Lasting Power of Attorney, that would solve the problem with paying for carers. If her health get worse an LPA is invaluable. As long as you spend her money for her benefit everything works out okay.
You can go online and do it yourself on the OPG website.

ReadyMeals Thu 24-Jan-19 10:13:00

Unless the aunt has dementia, she should be allowed to make her own decision - but so should the cousins. If they think she is unreasonable to refuse carers while expecting them to be her carers then they should turn round and tell her they can't do it any more (or how much they are prepared to do). Then if she won't pay anyone to do the rest, well then she won't be cared for. I don't understand why people think the elderly should be forced to be cared for to a certain standard. Some people would genuinely prefer to be allowed to "decay" in their own home in their own way rather than have someone else take control of their lives.

Kim19 Thu 24-Jan-19 10:29:32

H58, hats off to you for being resilient enough to take the advice (and slight criticism) on board and not alienating your cousin. I'm glad at least that arena has been softened for you. Hopefully the rest will resolve itself in due course. You certainly seem to have the will to try. Bravo!

Annaram1 Thu 24-Jan-19 10:31:04

My husband of 75 had dementia for 4 years, gradually getting worse, and I looked after him by myself. He could be very difficult Then he had a severe stoke and was in hospital for over a year. The hospital needed his bed and sent him to a care home nearly 30 miles away. It cost £850 a week. This is thought to be a reasonable charge. He was by then blind and unable to move or feed himself. He could not understand anything and did not recognise anyone, not even me. I drove to the care home every day and stayed with him for 5 hours a day. My husband was in full employment all his adult life and participated fully in social activities, the Church, and volunteered for a charity. .
You will probably be surprised to read that I totally disagree with old, frail, or disabled people having to pay for care in their final years. My husband paid all his taxes and NI etc and was a worthy member of society. If he had been a benefit seeker or had been unemployed or a scrounger his care would have been free. Yet as a homeowner he was deemed able to pay the fees demanded. I think everyone has a right to free care, no matter what their personal circumstances. My husband was in the home for about 13 weeks until he passed away.

Annaram1 Thu 24-Jan-19 10:59:16

Your aunt is probably thinking of the cost of the home and does not want to pay. Try getting LPA.
Honey, I salute you.

newnanny Thu 24-Jan-19 11:14:28

When my two elderly aunties got to the point of not really being able to mange alone anymore they moved into two bed bungalow together. They each had their own room but shared a lounge and kitchen. Neither had children of their own but they were very good to my sisters and I for all of our lives but especially when we were children and our parents were poor and so our aunties treated us often. My two sisters who lived in same town went in to help them. One sister did shopping and changed sheets and did laundry and the other who worked as a carer anyway helped them to shower and dress and cleaned bungalow. I went down every other weekend to stay overnight and really apart form cooking for them they liked me to talk about the old days and we laughed about things. I took them out for cream teas as they loved them. They just liked the company and someone to make the coffee. They liked to go out for a ride in my car. My sister who lives overseas came for 2 weeks twice a year to give other sisters a break. They also had meals delivered daily from a local pub which were actually nice and paid a private help to come in twice a day to help get out of bed/dress and to check they were ok. That worked for many years before they eventually had to go into a care home but got a double unit with 2 beds and sitting room, it was very expensive but we encouraged them to spend their money on comfort and put themselves first. We loved them so much they were like second mothers to us and our childhood would have been so much poorer without them in it. As children we never had a car but one of my aunties did and she took us to the beach, and everywhere really. I still miss them a lot. Would your Mum and Auntie move in together but each have their own room? They would be company for each other. If so it would be easier for you to deal with both. Would your cousin take them out for a meal, cream tea etc to give them a break and something to look forward to?

Hm999 Thu 24-Jan-19 11:19:51

Annaram1 This paying for care in our old age is a minefield . My opinion is that we paid for previous generations to have council-run, warden-assisted sheltered housing and care homes etc, but now that it's all privately run, and they want to turn a profit, and our generation is in need, all of a sudden it's well you have to pay for it. I worked for 40yrs plus in a graduate professional job, and when I retired I was not earning as much per month as was required to keep my mother in an ordinary care home for a month.

newnanny Thu 24-Jan-19 11:23:37

Sorry read back and missed your post about Mum and Auntie not getting along.

FlexibleFriend Thu 24-Jan-19 11:47:11

I wouldn't do for free what she can afford to pay for but won't because she's independent. She's not independent she's just being awkward and you're enabling her. Step back and see how independent she actually is.