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Care & carers

Of a certain age and in a heartbreaking situation

(74 Posts)
Dealite Wed 29-Jan-20 22:35:19

Hi.

I need help and advice please. I’ll try to keep this short.

I was a young granny at 43 and now at 59 my life has become so surreal and I can’t find an answer? It’s not about my grandson, he’s about to turn 16 and I get on wonderfully despite his mom and my son separating in 2008. My son was ill with bi-polar disorder and after 9 years of struggle (he maintained a great relationship with his wife and my grandson but they couldn’t live together) my son, who lived with me took his own life in 2017. Since then my mom (87 now) who lives on her own in Ireland hasn’t left me alone, she wants me there and for the past 18 months I’ve lived there, traveling back to England (home) to try and keep a little business afloat that allows me to spend the time with her but I’m not happy. I don’t suppose I’ll ever be happy again. But it’s like I’m a child again, she expects me to be with her 24/7 and to clean and cook basically do everything like drive to appointments, pick up medicines etc. I have to live with her and leave my home.this sounds so selfish of me.....but I’ve had the care of my boy for so long and I’m heartbroken, honestly I don’t want to be a Carer for the rest of my life, I can barely care for myself. I want to stay in my own home but guilt and responsibility weight so heavily on my shoulders, I want to do the right thing. My mother chose to leave 20 years ago and live there and at the time I said she should make the decision based on what she wants, not what I would like! but she’s not allowing me the same choice. She’s not the same, a little bit of dementia setting in and I have constant comments about selling my home, it’s of no use to me, I should be surrounded by family but they weren’t in my corner the past nine tough years , there wasn’t any help then! I have two brothers who live near my mother one never visits just says he’s there if she needs him and the other pops in a couple of times in the month. If I stay in my home and something happens to my mom I don’t think I could forgive myself but on the other hand I think I’ll crack up if I stay there? Here I have the support of friends who have been in my corner for years, we’re there for me when my son was not himself and when he died. I’d appreciate any advise. Thank you

pinkquartz Wed 29-Jan-20 22:45:44

I am very sad that you are so trapped.
I think you need to live the rest of your life for you.
You may want to go and help your mum some of the time but no, do not go and live there taking care of her.

Tell her you will help her find a care agency and that is that.

I hope you find the strength and bravery to stand up for yourself.

it is not loving of your mum to demand your help.
Time for you to come first and do not feel guilty.

GrannySquare Wed 29-Jan-20 23:07:38

I’m sorry to hear about your situation.
No-one should be forced to care, & it sounds like your mother & brothers are relying on a mindset that assumes that you, the daughter, will step in & ‘do the right thing’.

That is, the right thing by them, not the right thing for you.

This is your life & it is here in England. Of course you care about your mother but that does not mean that you are the de facto Carer.

You cannot change your mother & brothers mindset & expectations overnight. BUT what you can do straightaway is to instigate local social care assessments for your mother & give your brothers names as the local contact points, & coach them into stepping up as her carers.

Whilst you to & fro fraying your own resources - wellbeing, health & fiscal - no-one will budge out of their comfort zone(s). You can make the changes you need for you - stop stepping up by default.

I suggest that you contact Carers UK for advice about how you in England can help your mum in Ireland to get help. Also there is an online forum where you may find others facing the dilemmas (guilt etc) as you are, & gain some advice & support.

Carers UK - www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/talk-to-us
Our telephone helpline providing information is open on Mondays and Tuesdays between 10am and 4pm - 0808 808 7777

Maybe this route is more direct: Family Carers Ireland

Freefone National Careline 1800 240724 from five to seven days a week, increasing availability for the over 5,000 calls received on average each year.

familycarers.ie/find-us

clareherald.com/2016/03/new-carers-group-launched-in-ennis-678/

Wish you well.

midnightschild Wed 29-Jan-20 23:08:49

I’m in total agreement with pinkquartz here. You’ve had such a tough time and now you need to think of yourself a bit. It’s not as though your mum won’t have family around her, your brothers need to step up, and as long as you are taking all the strain it sounds as though they will be content to let you carry on doing that. Make thorough enquiries about what care is available. Put arrangements in place that you feel confident about and then go home with a clear conscience. Very best wishes and I hope you are able to be strong and true to yourself flowers

Ginny42 Wed 29-Jan-20 23:42:08

Check your private messages. flowers

Coolgran65 Thu 30-Jan-20 00:21:05

Tell the truth.... That your own health will not allow you to continue like this. Make enquiries about care for your mum, arrange for an assessment with your brothers as contacts. Live in your home in England and visit mum when you can but not as her carer.I

I was in the same position to a lesser degree. I lived a one hour drive away. Working full time I visited 3 times a week taking shopping, taking laundry home and cleaning as best I could. Mum had Alzheimer's and was doubly incontinent. A good neighbour checked in her twice da ily and several times I was phoned at 7am when she was foun d on the floor, making my way there to sort things and then back to go to work and make up the hours I'd missed.

My brother visited a couple of times a month reading the paper and leaving after a half hour.

It almost broke me. Eventually her GP accepted the situation and she went into care.

You have to come first.

PamGeo Thu 30-Jan-20 01:06:32

Very sorry for your situation Dealite, I think you've already had some good advice from the previous posts so there's nothing I can add.

When your mum decided to move to Ireland she was already older than you are now, certainly old enough to know what she was doing. I wonder if she had some idealised image of how her life would be with her sons close by but she's now angrily and bullishly stamping her foot for you to up sticks and take care of her.

She's made her decisions 20 years ago, where will you be when she has gone if you sell up and leave all you hold dear ?

Don't rush into anything, don't feel pressured into being with her 24/7 just to make your brothers lives easier. Look into all other options first, let your brothers and their families help out where possible and go over a few time a year for a week or so to give them respite. Look after yourself first for a change

Fiachna50 Thu 30-Jan-20 02:47:26

Do not sell your home and move back there. Have a look at carersuk.org

Dealite Thu 30-Jan-20 03:28:19

Wow - thank you everyone for sound advice. I’m humbled that you’ve given your time to help me.

I know in my heart that I want to stay here but I don’t know if I can actually do that to my mother? I’m also selfishly afraid that if something happens and I’m not there then I would be riddled with guilt and the what if’s, I already live with enough what if’s after loosing my boy!

I know I have to make a decision and soon, it’s bringing so down. I do need the comfort of my own home and I need peace something I certainly don’t have when I live in my mother’s house!

God Bless xxx

GrannySquare Thu 30-Jan-20 05:54:17

I understand your concern about something happening to your mother when you are not there ...& you’d somehow be responsible.

Well, you would not be responsible.

No-one, not even the most devoted person, can be there 100% unfailingly observant, capable & responsive. That is not real life.

It is reasonable for all efforts to be made by the organisations responsible to assess your mother’s needs so that she can live independently & safely. From that her real needs will be known. So plans can be made accordingly & your brothers get to step up to help/participate

If she cannot live independently with support agencies engaged, then the next phase assessment takes place.

So, please do not torture yourself with fear of what might one day possibly happen to your mother, & distort your life & wellbeing being distorted by that fear.

You lost your beloved son so recently. I can only guess that a part of your sorrow may be that you could not be there to help him make a different choice. Please don’t bring your understandable sorrows into the situation with your mother - you cannot & should not be there on a just in case loop.

Please be kind to yourself.

gmarie Thu 30-Jan-20 08:04:37

Would it be possible to tell your brothers that you need them each to take a third of the time with your mom, maybe a monthly type of thing? Carers can be called in to help your brothers learn what to do. I don't think that either the care OR your brothers' "education" should should be considered your "responsibility", exclusively! Many posters on here, most of my friends in daily life, and I have all been caretakers for parents and other relatives which seems to be expected just because we're women.

I was lucky in that my dad and I shared the care for my mom, grandma, great aunt, and uncle. I was a single mom and had to work and raise my sons so I drove down to help with mom weekends for several years and then flew a dozen times to visit my grandma and set up care for her at home with social services. Dad helped with the costs for that. Then he started flying out to to care for my aunt and I watched his house and pets. We both brought my uncle home on hospice.

Please, please, please don't sell your home! My dad passed suddenly in August. I miss him terribly and I am so glad I have my own home to be myself in and to try to figure out what comes next. I worked hard to get where I am and to have some independence and security and I'm sure you did too!!! Sending hugs and supportive thoughts... flowers

Greymar Thu 30-Jan-20 08:12:36

Hang on a minute here!!! There are 2 male family members living close to elderly Mum? Time to step up I think.
Do not be played by a selfish narcissist.

Live your life, you have had more than enough to cope with.

timetogo2016 Thu 30-Jan-20 08:17:25

Pinkquatrz is 100% right.
It`s your life you live it as you wish to.

MerylStreep Thu 30-Jan-20 08:30:26

Dealite
Remember. Don't rescue to the point where you have to be rescued.
I appreciate that guilt is heavy burden but our only 59, you still have a lot of life to live, surrounded by your friends.

Grannyknot Thu 30-Jan-20 08:31:00

Dear Dealite you've had good advice from other Gransnetters.

I don't think it is selfish to want a peaceful life as we get older, now that I am 70, I recall my mother at this age saying Please no more drama. And my lovely MIL saying Anything for a peaceful life as she dealt with yet another calamity (she had a big family).

I believe that a peaceful life is worth striving for, and protecting, and sometimes that includes making tough choices.

You deserve to live your life now.

flowers

Iam64 Thu 30-Jan-20 08:36:12

Dealite, I can't add to the good advice given here. The constant tension between balancing our own needs against those of our parents, children, siblings and loved ones doesn't go away as we age. As women, most of us have been in the position of caring, mediating, keeping things as calm and safe as we can do. It's time to take a step back, to be honest about how you feel and about the limitations ageing puts on us. xx

GrannyLaine Thu 30-Jan-20 08:56:52

Dealite I feel so sorry for your situation, particularly the tragic loss of your son and I would agree with the very good advice above.

Just one thing to add - you can be so busy being everyone elses anchor that you don't realise you are drowning yourself.

Hetty58 Thu 30-Jan-20 08:57:53

My parents moved to the coast in retirement. They were a two hour drive (or train ride) away.

When my father died. Mum battled on alone and made us all feel guilty that we didn't visit often enough.

I had a full time job and seven other family members in this house - so 'free time' was limited, most contact was by phone and my siblings visited more often (being retired themselves).

Of course, she point blank refused to be sensible, downsize and move nearer to us. It was OK when she was in relatively good health, with paid help for housework and gardening.

When her health failed, she decided to live in a care home nearby. She absolutely hated it (so did we) but refused to live here. Three 'luxury' (yet inadequate) care homes and one year later she died.

I'm sure that, had she made reasonable adjustments earlier, she'd still be around.

NotSpaghetti Thu 30-Jan-20 09:05:43

Dealight
You shouldn't just go on as you are and you definitely shouldn't sell your little refuge here.
I don't know how you have managed 18 months of living there already in this miserable way. You need to get your life back and wean everyone off your caring skills (including you, to an extent).

You say that it sounds so selfish of me to want to be someone in your own right, to have a chance to grieve, recover, live again. Would you say that of someone else if they were in your position?

I don't know how capable your mother is but as others have said she could have an assessment. I am not sure of the system in Ireland (presumably Southern Ireland?) but I'm certain it will be possible. That is something you can organise to get a level-headed evaluation of her needs.

Regarding your feelings of guilt. This, you must know in your heart is irrational. IF you were working as a team with your brothers and other carers you would feel so much better. The reason you feel so low (and guilty at the thought of stepping back) is because you are doing this job on your own.

So, what could you do?
I think if I were you I'd do this:
- I'd arrange a needs assessment.
- I'd spread out my visits so that the gaps between them grow longer and the visits shorter.
- I'd get involved in something for me even if it's just a distraction, and would seek out a little bit of joy if I could (when feeling low, small things really do help).

The weaning of your family should force the men in the family to be more useful. If you had never gone over, what would they have done? Certainly more than nothing.

Finally, if this all fails you could simply tell her the truth. You want to recover from the death of your son in the place you need to be. All your memories, good and bad are here and this is your home. If she is desperate for you, she can move back and then no doubt you'll pop in when you can.

My mother-in-law has recently moved two hundred miles to be near us. She is 95 and it is so much better. Admittedly she doesn't need the care your mother apparently does, but it's certainly an option. It is lots better for all of us actually and she now says she wished she had decided to do it sooner. If you think it might work, next time she goes on about you moving there say no without hesitation and (if you think it might work) say "why don't you move near me?".

Good luck with this tricky situation. It is because you have been overly generous with your time that this has developed in the first place. Bear that in mind. Pull yourself up and decide to make a start weaning yourself off this role you have partly created for yourself! Most of us know that the bonds that tie us to are family are real and firmly knotted but you are not cutting them. You are not ignoring her, simply finding a way for you all to survive. Maybe the apron-strings could be replaced with elastic so you have more independence - and actually, so does she.

Please look after yourself. Enjoy watching your grandson grow into a man. Recover.

You are in my thoughts.
💐

Eglantine21 Thu 30-Jan-20 09:22:41

If it’s too hard to make the big decision, maybe tell you mother and brothers that you have to be away for the next month/six weeks attending to your business. Tell your brothers it will not be possible to come back in that time and your mothers care in that time is up to them. Let phone calls go to message.

I know it doesn’t solve the problem but it might give you a breathing space and break the pattern that’s developed.

Remember your mother made a choice to be near her sons rather than live near you, she has what she wanted so you have no need to feel guilty.

Luckygirl Thu 30-Jan-20 09:36:08

I know how hard it is to make a decision that you know will leave you feeling guilty in the future. But it is important to remember that you both have needs, and neither's trumps the other. At the moment you are feeling guilty because you are staying where you are in order to meet your needs; but if you sell up and move to be near mum, your needs will have been jettisoned - and they are just as important.

I think that you might consider some of the suggestions above for acquiring practical care and supervision for your mum on the spot.

I also think that those brothers of yours need to step up - but how to make them do this I do not know!

Could you see a counsellor? - he/she might be able to help you to put some perspective on this and deal with your feelings of guilt, which will get in the way of you enjoying your life - and you have the right to enjoy your life.

kwest Thu 30-Jan-20 10:02:56

Tell the truth. This is too much for you and dyou cannot cope any more.

Bernieellen Thu 30-Jan-20 10:05:18

I live in Ireland, there are many community care services in place. Your mother is not alone and your brothers can arrange all the services she needs
If you do make the decision to move please seriously consider the impact of leaving your home, community and friends. After all you have been through you deserve to put yourself first.

luluaugust Thu 30-Jan-20 10:10:50

Others are giving such good advice I would just say please don't give up your own home and precious friends. Allow yourself a gap now before you visit again you need to be kind to yourself for a while.

ReadyMeals Thu 30-Jan-20 10:14:11

If your mother was the one who chose to leave, then she can't in all fairness demand that you go there. If she wants to be near you she will have to move back. Well at least that would be my attitude. She was an adult with clear mind when she made that decision and should have taken into account what she might do when she became old or frail.