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Caring for elderly parent

(29 Posts)
MaiBea Mon 17-Feb-20 19:33:12

I’m going to be very honest and am hoping for some frank advice.
My Mum is 87, lives alone in a beautiful 2 bed council bungalow with wet room.
She is struggling with her memory and I have tried to help as much as I can whilst working full time and usual family chores but am now being called out regularly, early hours, day time and nights.
When I get to Mums she’s in a panicky state but calms very quickly.
I got her a cleaner as she struggles with heavy cleaning but she refused to let her in as “my daughter can do it” she won’t cook, even microwaving is a no.
What are my next moves? Anyone survived a similar situation

midgey Mon 17-Feb-20 19:37:34

‘Hurt’ your arm.....maybe if she sees you are damaged she will allow the cleaner to crack on!

Witzend Mon 17-Feb-20 20:48:17

Have you got a power of attorney in place? Preferably for both finances and health and welfare. If not, pls do it ASAP, since once people are having memory problems (if it’s dementia looming, I hope not) then speaking from experience they can become very suspicious and think you’re just after their money.
Being without these can become a major headache later.

One effective ploy that I’ve heard of, re getting help in, is to say that so and so really needs a little job, and she’d be doing her a favour.
Or else, the doctor says you must have some help. (Whether s/he has or not.) Of course that would mean getting a bit tough and saying you just can’t do it all.

Grannyjay Mon 17-Feb-20 21:06:40

Hi MaiBea, my advice would be to contact the Alzheimer’s society on their website. You may have a local support group in your area with a support worker for you. The website have a link called Talking Point which people with or care for those with memory loss share experiences and advice. When my mum started having memory loss the anxiety kicked in and she was constantly phoning me up and would make up stories. As her memory became worse she thought she was fine and as far as she was concerned she was washing herself and cooking meals but she wasn’t. Arm yourself with as much information about memory loss and how to deal with it. Never become confrontational about your mums memory as she cannot help it. I’m afraid if it’s dementia it will progress but I found the Alzheimer’s and Age UK a great support. What I did find very hard was dealing with her friends and neighbours who haven’t a clue about what happens to those who start to lose their memory and their ridiculous pieces of advice. My mother’s memory loss developed into vascular dementia and she suffered for eight years. My siblings just would not accept what was happening and just kept correcting her. If they gave lots of patience, reassurance and support her life would have been better. Find out about home support ready for when she needs it. If she is like my mum she will fight it and say she hates strangers etc with the right support you can deal with this. Also you need to get power of attorney for your mum if this has not been done. It’s never to early to do this. Good luck

kittylester Mon 17-Feb-20 21:07:38

I think you should ask for a referral to a memory clinic.

korol Mon 24-Feb-20 07:49:49

Maybe you need to think about living with your mom?

Marydoll Mon 24-Feb-20 08:22:25

MaiBea, I was in a similar position, working full time with three children and trying to study for a second degree. My mother was forever phoning the school where I worked, demanding to speak to me about very trivial matters.
e,g, I want pin head oat meal for tomorrow's breakfast from the health shop. (in another town).

My mental and physical health failed from the stress of going in every evening and weekends, doing washing, housework, trying to do my job and look after my family. My husband children hardly saw me and my mother was an expert at piling on guilt. Nothing I did was right.
Her GP, who was also my GP said that she would be the death of me and I had to stand back. Easier said than done.

It all came to a head when I went in one evening to find her lying behind the door with a broken hip, she had taken off her alarm pendant.
She lied to the hospital staff, saying that I was giving up my job to look after her, so that she could get home. When I found out, (no-one had consulted me) I went ballistic.
I demanded a meeting with everyone concerned and refused to hand over her house keys, so that they could assess her making a cup of tea at home. When I turned up with both hands in wrist splints and told them I had multiple health conditions, they realised that I wasn't physically capable of looking after her, but were determined to send her home anyway, as they needed her bed.

I broke down in school one day and a colleague phoned social services, handed me the phone and told me to tell them how bad things were.
They were wonderful and came out to school to see me. A care package was quickly put in place and they discovered that she should have been claiming certain benefits.
At first she refused to let the carers in, but in the end she so looked forward to their visits.
She was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimers, after I made a fuss, when she ended back in hospital.

For the sake of your own health and sanity, you need to seek help and support for yourself and your mother. flowers.

Greymar Mon 24-Feb-20 08:28:07

Great post Marydoll and sorry you had to go through this. To be very blunt OP, this situation could last years. Organise now while you can. Get the paperwork in order and get care in place early.

Septimia Mon 24-Feb-20 09:41:51

We managed to get carers in to help my FiL by telling him that they were just coming to make sure he got his tablets (which he kept forgetting). He wasn't too thrilled, but put up with their, initially, 15 minutes once a day visits. After a while we were able to increase the time and get them to do more.

Maybe with regard to a cleaner, at least, you could suggest that someone goes in for a short visit to do the heavier, more awkward stuff. A gradual spring clean perhaps.

The rest of the advice on here is worth serious consideration.

Susan56 Mon 24-Feb-20 10:13:07

We are in a similar position with my mother and it is only as a result of my health issues that she now has a cleaner and gardner.She point blank refuses to see a dr or to consider carers.
She gets absolutely furious and very nasty with me if my health prevents me doing things for her but it’s a 100 mile round trip so not always possible.She has wanted me to drive to take her a bag of apples before now.
We have the power of attorney set up which she sorted many years ago as she remembered how difficult it was with her own mum but haven’t put it into practice yet as for some reason she is still a whizz with her finances.
We can still have good times but I can see her memory failing.I feel that like Marydoll it will take a crisis before we can sort anything.My daughters are brilliant but the rest of the family don’t visit often and my brother refuses to acknowledge the decline in her health.I worry about her continually.
MaiBea,I am sorry I have no answers for you but perhaps if your mum isn’t resistant to going to the Drs that may be a first step and as kitty says a referral to a memory clinic.Please look after yourself,your health will suffer if you don’t.I hope you can get something sorted to help your mum and make your life less stressful.

Dillyduck Mon 24-Feb-20 10:25:06

Join the Carers UK Forum, lots of us with experience of this sort of problem.
If you haven't already, get that Power of Attorney done absolutely as soon as possible, because any minute now mum won't be able to give her consent due to her mental state, and it will be an awful lot of aggravation and expense to arrange an alternative.
The carers need to be much firmer, say that you are there because you CANNOT do everything for her. I don't know how old you are, but not too far from retirement age yourself??

JennaPierce Wed 04-Mar-20 10:51:55

If I were you, I wouldn't stress her out, I'd find alternatives to please both her and me. Give up on the cleaner you hired, maybe she just doesn't want strangers with her when she's alone, it's understandable. Instead, at least make your life a bit easier with automatic cleaners that take a bit of the load off your hands. Check for robot vacuum here -, compare a few options, see which suits you best. My tip - get one that has the mopping function too, this way you get rid of both vacuuming and mopping the floors. This way, you have one chore less on the to-do list when you finish work (and your dear old mom won't have to sit with a stranger in the meanwhile). Just program the bot to start its cleaning session when you want, and let it do its work. There are robotic window cleaners out there too that basically follow the same working principle as the vacuums, taking all the load off of your hands. You should also talk to her and establish a few ground rules when it comes to cleaning and cleanliness upkeep if it's the case. Just don't ignore what she asks of you, you will likely regret it later.

GracesGranMK3 Wed 04-Mar-20 11:04:10

Marydoll's post rings far too many bells for comfort. You need to get help in place - preferably through the local authority as they will then know what's going on.

I hope you have Power of Attorney, if not get it if you can. Althziemer's is, by its very nature, unreasonable and seeks any answer other than the truth at times. It isn't personal but it definitely feels it. You need help but it is getting more and more difficult. So, do whatever you need to do to get it.

On the other hand - in another post - being told not to "stress out" is, to say the least, unhelpful. Had it been said to me in the years before my mother went into a home I would have been very annoyed and probably in tears (again).

Marydoll Wed 04-Mar-20 11:06:37

Who cleans the house is minor in the scheme of things.
A robot vacuum cleaner won't solve the problem of being called out regularly, early hours, day time and nights.

The relentless cries for help is biggest problem, it takes it's toll on you, physically and emotionally. I know from experience.
MaiBea, your poor mum can't help herself, she needs you to ask for help, whether she likes it or not.
I wish I had the foresight to get POA, but I didn't it would have made getting support so much easier.

silverlining48 Wed 04-Mar-20 11:29:53

I too understand how hard this is as I have been in your situation. I initially had a hot meal delivered every day which meant someone called and mum ate. Then when I could no longer cope with it all I contacted Social services and a morning carer was organised, and as mum got worse the care was increased. Initially she wasn’t happy with carers and they were not always reliable, so you need to keep an eye on things, but it helped. My brother was less than useless.
Get in touch with Alzheimers who can advise and support. It’s always easier to agree with what she may say, don’t correct her as it adds to the distress and gets you nowhere. She can’t help how she is, she’s probably very frightened.
Finally don’t beat yourself up, it’s very very hard, do try to get any support from family friends etc you can , otherwise you can only do your best.

silverlining48 Wed 04-Mar-20 11:33:31

Might your mum be willing to try a day centre? Mine was reluctant initially but enjoyed in her own way her day out.

Alexa Wed 04-Mar-20 11:36:04

I am in a similar situation to your mother's as I am 88 and live alone. Despite I'm in very good mental health I have referred an offer of personal help from social services to what my sons wish to do for me and about me, as they were my primary carers when I had a bad fall over a year ago. I expect them to arrange for any outside carer as suits them. For instance one of my sons has already advised me not to engage any workman without first consulting my son.

I'm suggesting perhaps your mother expects you to take the lead by telling her "This is what I've decided to do, because -".

If I became demented or otherwise incapacitated so I could not cook or even make a cup of tea I'd like my carers whoever they are to leave sandwiches, a fresh opened pot of youghurt, cream crackers and cheese, sliced apples and custard, my medications, plenty of water or Oatly in a large jug, so I could find these and use them. What I am saying is cold food is not ideal but is better than no care at all and can be adequately nourishing.

I wish I could suggest what to do about the frequent call outs and your mother's panicking. I don't know if your mother would take to the following but perhaps you might consider getting soothing recordings of your voice perhaps assuring her you love her and think about her a lot, that you will be with her at -- time and then you will make tea and sit and chat together. sort of thing.

I understand when dementia is too frightening for the sufferer the doc can prescribe something to ameliorate the agitation.

Marydoll Wed 04-Mar-20 11:40:25

Alexa, excellent post.

By the way, I thought you were much younger, you are obviously young in your outlook. smile

Witzend Wed 04-Mar-20 11:52:19

The endless phone calls certainly strike a chord. Before she finally went into a care home, my mother was ringing my poor brother up to 30 times in one hour. Of course her dementia meant that she had no idea that she’d only just rung him. The strain on him was colossal.

One strategy I’ve read about, is to have dedicated cheap mobile phone for such calls, and have a recorded message on it, e.g., ‘Hello, Mum, sorry I can’t speak just now, but I’ll call you back soon.’
And call back maybe just a couple of times a day.

The endless phone calls was the reason, when she finally went into the CH, that we said absolutely not, to a phone in her room.

For the first couple of weeks she would often ask the staff to ‘ring my son’, so they’d ring for her but limit it to once a day and otherwise tell her he was out.
It was amazing, though, how quickly she forgot about it.

GracesGranMK3 Wed 04-Mar-20 13:49:55

Might your mum be willing to try a day centre?

Are there any left silverlining?

JuliaM Wed 04-Mar-20 14:32:09

We have just been trough a similar situation with my elderly Dad who is 92. We struggled with him and StepMum.for over 5years, im the only child and step mothers son lives over 200 miles away, so we became the 'go to' contacts in times of crisis, until Step Mother passed away two years ago and left Dad on his own. The GP became a big help to us, she organised a CPN and a Social worker, we hired in a local care agency to do a daily visit to check on Dad, but he started to suffer falls, and refused to have one of the panic alarms fitted simply because he was obsessed regarding money and didnt want to pay for it.
My own mobility is very poor, and my husband is 80 and not so active as he used to be. As time progressed, Dads demands became greater, including him ringing us in the early hours of the morning just because he wanted to chat about trivial things. Just before last Christmas, he suffered a nasty fall and couldnt get himself up out of his hallway. He managed to knockhis phone off the hall table using his walking stick, and . We drove straight to him, 15 miles away from.our own home. Neither of us could lift him up to get him.onto a chair, and he was desparate for the toilet. The Ambulance took 5 hours to arrive, he then refused to go to hospital, despite needing several stitches to his arm where he had split it open on the edge of the doorway as he fell. Luckily, l do.have Power of atourney for him, and was able to.overide his wishes in a Best interest decision. So they took him to A&E against his will. He remained in hospital for several weeks, a case conference was held, and a place found for a local care home, where he still remains. It was no longer safe for him to remain home alone at anytime, he was struggling in many ways, and said he felt lonely. he has asked us several.times to take him.back home, but its simply not safe or practical to do so. Getting power of Attourney for someone after they have lost Mental capacity is very difficult indeed. They need to be able to pass the memory test before they are deamed fit to consent and appoint an attourney in the eyes of the law. Thankfully Dad did this a couple of years ago when he fully understood the implications of what he was actually signing to consent to. If the Social services end up going down the route of making a Best interest decision on a clients behalf, and they have available funds, they can claim the costs for this back from the client, and it becomes a much more expensive approach than if the Client had appointed their own Power of Attourney in the first place.

mamagran Wed 04-Mar-20 17:00:19

Sorry to hear what you are going through. I can imagine it must be quite difficult for you. I do agree with kittylester about going to a memory clinic. Try to convince her to do it. I think you will be able to get an idea or an answer to what is happening. It seems like you require some added help now, so maybe try to get someone to come in part-time for now? I am thinking a housekepeer carer. If you get someone early on, for a few hours every day, your mum will get used to them. She will be well adjusted to the idea of having someone other than you in their home when the time comes to get a more hands-on approach. That is what we did for my mum. We found a carer for her from this agency called Guardian Carers, but only for 2 days per week. It was quite difficult at first to be honest, given the fact that mum was quite resilient to the idea as well. What we did is tell her that she is getting a personal assistant, as she had a PA in the past. That seemed to do the trick. And later on we hired Monika for full-time. It was a very seamless transition.

polyester57 Thu 05-Mar-20 09:46:01

I am in a similar position with my MIL, but lucky that we all live nearby and are willing to pitch in, she absolutely refuses to have strangers in her home. In my opinion, a robotic vacuum cleaner is absolutely not the answer. My MIL tripped over her cat and broke her arm, I cannot imagine how she would see a dark spheric thing whizzing around, a definite no no, from me.

Twig14 Thu 05-Mar-20 11:30:35

My parents will both be 100 in June my father spent 3 weeks in hospital night before New Year’s Eve. He returned home. He also has Alzheimer’s. Three weeks ago my mother began hallucinating n sering things. She then fell n cut her head badly. She was taken into hospital. I had great difficulty getting my father into respite care as I couldn’t cope as my DH has a serious medical condition. Social services tried 10 homes without success and told me in any case my father would need to be assessed. As it was Friday afternoon I was told over the weekend he wouldn’t be assessed. I was so desperate and tired I pleaded with then and in the end threatened that I woukd ho to the press. Surprisingly a place was found 5 mins later. To have to look after two elderly parents and not get help was awful. My father is still in respite and I have brought my mother up to stsy temporarily with me. She wants my father hone to be together. A meeting was held last week at tge hospital she is deemed to have capacity. Carers will go in 4 times per day but no cover for them overnight. I honestly don’t know what to do. Any advice from forum members woukd be appreciated. I have power of attorney for health and welfare but my mother and my sister refused power of attorney for finance. My sister appears to always be on holiday whenever things need to be sorted it.

Dillyduck Sun 08-Mar-20 02:14:56

Join the Carers UK forum. This is sadly only going to get worse. Introduce a carer you refer to as a cleaner whose initially works alongside you to help YOU as far as mum is concerned, so she recognises her. Has she got a Lifeline pendant? The only solution to the phone calls is to keep your answer phone on 24/7.