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Care & carers

85 year old aunt living alone, 350 miles from me

(19 Posts)
Shandy57 Tue 28-Jun-22 21:25:53

Hello, I speak to late Mum's sister, my aunt, every other day. I last went to see her in late 2019, before Covid hit, and am planning to go over again this September.

From our phone calls she appears to be fit and well, with full mobility, and managing to live independently. She does her washing/ironing and cooks for herself every day. However, up until now she has had a very caring neighbour to call on, but this neighbour has been away for months now caring for her parents, and now her father has sadly died so she won't be back for some time. This neighbour used to help my aunt in many small ways, ie taking her bin out, changing a light bulb, she did the majority of her shopping during early lockdown. I know my aunt misses her help, as well as her company.

I've started to wonder if my aunt is really managing as well as I think. Her land line stopped working in early December and she couldn't cope with sorting it out on her own, I had to do it from here, and involved her neighbour. I do have LPOA but my aunt hasn't actioned it yet. I bought her a mobile phone and even with the simplest instructions, she couldn't work it. She's had to ask her neighbour to help her with it twice in the past five months.

My aunt has just announced she would like to move to a flat in a block about a minute from where she lives. There are four flats in the block, and the residents are of a similar age to her.

I have encouraged her to look at assisted living instead. Do you think this is a good idea? When I suggested it she said 'what about your inheritance'. I am worried she will continue to struggle alone, secretly.

She doesn't need full time care, but she does need someone to help her occasionally. I should add that she is very tiny, at 4 foot 2" tall, and some things are difficult for her - like pushing a big wheelie bin out for collection.

Aveline Tue 28-Jun-22 21:29:47

Gosh. Assisted living sounds ideal. She's not suddenly going to get fitter or more robust. Could you visit sooner than you'd planned? Just for a general recce. I bet she'd be pleased to see you.

Shandy57 Tue 28-Jun-22 21:34:36

Thank you Aveline. I might be able to go late August instead - I've got to have all the floors ripped out here, the company are coming from 1 August. I agree she isn't going to get fitter or more robust and I'm too far away to be of practical help.

SueDonim Tue 28-Jun-22 21:56:15

Assisted living sounds perfect for her. Tell her you don’t care about an inheritance, you’re more concerned about her well-being.

Grammaretto Tue 28-Jun-22 22:26:35

Oh goodness. What a worry. I agree that assisted living sounds practical if she can afford it. Can you find out about it? There may be a long waiting list.

V3ra Tue 28-Jun-22 22:52:31

My Dad (91) has bought an extra-care apartment in my town. He can buy in as much or as little support as he wants or needs from the in-house care team.
He currently has lunch, tea, cleaning, laundry, some shopping, medication and a chaperone when he has to go to a hospital appointment.
It's a perfect compromise between "managing" (or not) by himself, or with the limited help I can realistically give him given that I'm working full-time, and moving to a full-blown care home.

NotSpaghetti Tue 28-Jun-22 23:09:11

Local councils will do the bins for her. She only needs to ask. Maybe you could call the council and ask if you can request the help on her behalf? If not, at least you will be able to get the correct number and name of the person to speak to.

CocoPops Wed 29-Jun-22 00:26:32

I have a relation, Christina, the same age as your Aunt. She's a 4.5 hour flight away and wants to sell her house and move here. She's computer savvy, drives and manages shopping, cooking and most things but feels ready to live an easier life. She has arthritic hands but is otherwise healthy. She currently has a gardener who mows the lawns and domestic help for 2 hours a week.
Christina flew forth recently and spent 2 weeks in one residential home and 2 weeks in another one. She liked both homes, the staff and particularly enjoyed excellent meals served in a pleasant dining room. Both homes had a mini bus and took residents out and about for shopping trips, theatre etc.
However, should Christina become ill/frail in the future she would need to buy in extra care or move to an assisted living residence depending on her needs.
She is now considering an assisted living residence as well as the other two homes.
Perhaps a trial run at an assisted living residence will help your aunt decide and should she decide to move it will give you peace of mind. Hope that helps.

luluaugust Wed 29-Jun-22 09:17:59

I think you should also consider moving her to an assisted scheme near to you. This would make things much easier for you and that will become a big consideration as time goes on.

Shandy57 Wed 29-Jun-22 09:43:56

Thank you for all your replies.

My aunt has had a lifetime of comments about how small she is, and being treated like a 'child', so I'll have to tread carefully. My late Mum was her older sister and bossy with her and she regularly says to me 'I don't like being told what to do'. It's a delicate situation.

She would never move from the area as she is very involved in her local church, and she supports a neighbour who is losing her sight by reading to her twice a week. I definitely don't want to move down there.

I'll come back and let you know how I get on, having a trial run is a great idea. It is only a ten minute walk from where she lives now, she could still go to church/see her neighbour.

luluaugust Wed 29-Jun-22 10:00:42

It is great that your aunt is involved with neighbours and I hope her local church support her properly. I was just coming from the point of view of watching friends and neighbours have to drop everything and go to relatives, sometimes hundreds of miles, over weekends. They would then often say they wished they had moved mum/dad nearer to them earlier. It is a big and as you say delicate problem.

Shandy57 Wed 29-Jun-22 12:56:59

I did ask her when I was house hunting in 2020 if she'd move up here and live with me, and she preferred for me to move down to the IOW to be near to her smile I did look at RightMove at the time, but never made it down to view, and then this bungalow came along. She moved over there from Twickenham about thirty years ago, and does have a lot of friends.

It's my late Mum's birthday today, she'd have been 87, and I rang my aunt this morning. I suggested she ask the council to deal with her bin - seems her partially sighted friend she reads to is doing it for her now!

Aveline Wed 29-Jun-22 13:37:35

Get her name down for the assisted living place trial asap as it's bound to be popular.

ExDancer Wed 29-Jun-22 13:57:30

Have you discussed this with her?
What does she think?
I am almost her age and would be furious if my younger relatives were making such decisions for me. She's obviously being very sensible about moving to a flat and is happy about change.
At this age we are sensitive about 'care homes' so do be careful not to give her a breath of a suggestion that she may be heading in that direction. This idea terrifies us.
All the suggestions sound wonderful for someone else, but I'd stick with the status quo and encourage her in her own choice whilst throwing other options into the mix without pushing them.
AgeUK are the people to go to for practical help with bins, light bulbs and diy etc.

Allsorts Wed 29-Jun-22 14:06:42

I think ExDancer as almost your Aunts age is correct, the one thing about getting older is that some people seem to think older people don’t have their own mind and wishes respected. She does sound a very lovely person, cares about you very much worrying about your inheritance, looking out for people less able than her, I am sure if you tell her that it would make you happy that she does what she wants, it’s her money and she should spend the lot on care or have help coming in if that’s what she wants, I never got a penny from dad, just wanted him happy as he so deserved it, his went on holidays.

H1954 Wed 29-Jun-22 14:16:43

It is a very fine line between being told what to do and being offered advice on how to remain safe and live independently. Sadly, too many elderly people confuse the latter with the former and dig their heels in, that's when things can go disastrously wrong.

I think the best way is to tread carefully, and let her think that the ideal living arrangement was her idea after all. By all means, introduce the concept of assisted living and all the benefits that it brings but avoid saying things like ' you ought to live here' or ' this is the best place for you' ; perhaps you could open the conversation with ' my friends Mum has just moved into **** and she loves it, she has company if and when she needs it, a network of assistance for shopping and odd jobs, but she has her own privacy '.

I wish you well, it is always a worry for us when elderly relatives are at risk but so want to remain independent.

Floradora9 Wed 29-Jun-22 14:56:29

Our local council will send someone out to put out bins and replace them when empty . See if you can get a social worker that you can speak to as well .

Shandy57 Wed 29-Jun-22 16:33:49

ExDancer, I am just encouraging her to explore her options, I'm not making any decisions for her.

She is already in a ground floor flat, and her lovely neighbour is the freeholder. I think the interest in this new flat that has become available is because she is worried that her neighbour will sell - which is very likely. My aunt has had new windows and a wet room in the past five years, the flat is suitable for her and she does have savings to pay for carers to come in.

Interestingly, she has mentioned several times that she told her neighbour to put her father in a nursing home!

ExDancer Wed 29-Jun-22 18:36:00

I only speak from my own experiences, but have found well meaning relatives have frequently jumped on my ideas and 'improved' them to the point that they are nothing like your wishes.
I have learned over the years to listen quietly, then go away and please myself without telling a soul.
My easy maintain garden ideas were taken over and now I have a lovely garden that I have no hope of managing myself, so a gardener was organised for me. I enjoy gardening but this is now denied me,
Same thing happened with my new kitchen. I now have a lovely modern kitchen with an island and breakfast bar. I never wanted an island, and why would I want a breakfast bar of all things?
I put my foot down over a wet room and went ahead without asking for help and have exactly what I wanted.
I really resent people interfering, and yes I do dig my heels in and will continue to do so. I will not be bullied, remember the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
I just beg you, tread carefully.