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Three elderly parents

(82 Posts)
maddyone Sun 15-Aug-21 12:29:44

I don’t know what I expect from this thread, but maybe some people are going through similar (and probably worse) but the whole situation is stressing me enormously. My elderly mother, 93 and a half years old, has moved into a care home (it’s fantastic) following her third fall in six months, and third hospitalisation, having sustained two (small) brain injuries, a broken shoulder, and having contracted Covid during her first hospitalisation. She already had heart failure and multiple other conditions. As my sister lives 250 miles away, has mental health issues, and in any case isn’t willing to shoulder any of the responsibilities, it’s all down to me. I sort everything out, have shopped, washed, arranged carers for her, everything in fact. I visited daily, was the only nominated visitor when hospital visits were allowed. I’m feeling the strain. Although I love her, she’s not been the best of mothers through my childhood and indeed adulthood. She still wants me to bring this, fetch that, go and do the other, and I do as it’s part of caring for her and I try to be a good daughter despite everything. She has decided to stay in the care home, at the moment curtesy of the NHS, but soon fully self funded, until her money runs out.

My husband has two elderly parents, one 94, the other 93, both also with multiple health and age related issues. They still live at home. They are not fit to be at home, and keep being admitted to hospital with various illnesses/conditions. My husband’s brothers are all over 65 and do much the same things for their parents as I do for mine, including the two or three daily visits. We ring every day but with the Covid situation haven’t been able to visit for some time.

Sorry to moan fellow Gransnetters. My husband and I are in our late 60s and sometimes wonder how long we can go on. The situation stresses me a lot. Not so much my husband, except he feels great guilt about being so far away from his parents. I just think it’s the situation of having three very elderly parents, all with multiple health conditions, that stresses me out. I know you can’t do anything, but thank you for reading.

Blossoming Sun 15-Aug-21 12:37:18

So sorry Maddyone, it is such a difficult situation.

Jaxjacky Sun 15-Aug-21 13:06:44

Maddyone stop visiting your Mother so often, if you are now, once a week should do. She should only need minimal fetching and carrying, I assume the majority of her needs are met in the home.
I think you and your DH need a meeting with your BIL’s to agree moving forward, sounds to me like your in laws need a care home, or at least regular carer visits.
None of you will be fit to help at if you get poorly, that includes mental exhaustion. Sometimes you need to stop, re evaluate and even say no. I wish you well.

Susan56 Sun 15-Aug-21 13:12:44

maddyone, we are in the same situation with three elderly parents none of whom live near to us.

My FIL is in hospital at the moment after a fall.His care has been dreadful which has been very stressful and due to the rules around Covid we have only been able to visit once in nine weeks.DH has been allocated a visit tomorrow so we will do the eight hour round trip.We will take a picnic and stop at a National Trust property and will have fish and chips by the sea before coming home.We used to just race there and back but then would be exhausted for days so basically make a day of it now.

My mother was very demanding and probably still would be if we let her but I have had to be firm about what we can do.I was getting stressed with trying to be all things to all people so we have tried to rethink our expectations and said what we can and can’t do.

We try to take at least a day preferably two a week to ourselves.It was hard to begin with but I feel so much better mentally and physically.My DH is more like yours and very laid back about everything.

We have booked a few weekends away as in this season of life we find being away for a week just causes stress worrying about them all.

It is stressful and it is a strain but you will be able to look back and know you did everything you could for your mum.With your in laws they have your husbands brothers looking out for them.We used to feel guilty that we weren’t there as often for my in laws but now take the view that so long as we go down when we can and so long as they have someone caring for them then that’s ok and ok is fine.

Take time for yourself and try not to feel guilty about what you can’t do and be proud of what you do ?

maddyone Sun 15-Aug-21 13:13:26

Thank you so much Blossoming, it is indeed a difficult situation. I think made worse for me because during the last six months I’ve been hospitalised myself with a serious dose of Covid and our daughter and family have gone to live and work in New Zealand for two years. I know it’s not very nice to say, but I feel as if we’ve swopped our beloved grandchildren, for whom we always did a great deal of childcare, for care of the elderly. All these big events in six months have really made me feel low.

NotSpaghetti Sun 15-Aug-21 13:14:21

What sort of things are you getting for your mother? What are you fetching and carrying?
Must it be you,
I also think once a week is enough.
Look after yourself a bit more.

dragonfly46 Sun 15-Aug-21 13:22:55

Oh gosh that is so hard for you especially with your DD moving away and being ill yourself.
I had the same thing with my parents for about 8 years. I had moved them to a warden controlled bungalow within walking distance of me as I am only child and previous to that they were a 2 hour drive away.

I was on call 24/7. I took my father to the hospital at 2 in the morning because his catheter had come out, I visited my mum every day for 6 weeks when she broke her hip, in fact visiting them both in two different hospitals in the same day.

I cancelled many holidays and weekends away at the last minute so it was a relief when they went into care.
My mother had severe dementia and didn't know me and my father was immobile but sharp as a button.

I found I had to limit my visits to three times a week as the strain was too much. My dad then died and I was diagnosed with breast cancer, fortunately my mother was totally unaware by this time to with Covid and treatment I only saw her about once a month. I was there for her 100th birthday there.

I feel your pain but as others have said - now your mother is in care limit your visits. It will help her to settle quicker and give relief to you. As your DH's brothers are coping with his parents I think you must distance yourselves for a while but also keeping in touch.
You cannot be all things to all men!!

maddyone Sun 15-Aug-21 13:47:43

You are all very kind, thank you. I’ll try to answer queries.
NotSpaghetti it’s small things really. Go to BonMarche and buy……go to the flat and get…….can you get me birthday cards……..I need more shower gel or……..
It’s just small things really, but she’ll ask me to ‘run errands’ for her about three/four. times a week. All her business correspondence, bank, medical, organisation of service charges, payment of bills, just everything really. I had a text, the manager of the home needs to talk to you about me staying, come at such a time on such a date. Health providers ring me up about her eyes, ears, therapies etc etc I know others have to do all this too, I’m just feeling stressed about it.

JaxJackyI have already decided to cut down my visits, now she’s not alone in her flat, she doesn’t need daily visits. I know she doesn’t agree, but I have to do this otherwise I have no life left (when we did childcare I wouldn’t visit her some days and she accepted that, but without the childcare, she thinks I have nothing else to do.)
My husband’s brothers have discussed the parents going into care, but no progress on that yet. The parents are reluctant at the moment. I know it’s stressing the brothers, I feel for them. One brother had to get his father out of the bath, after he had fallen in backwards whilst having a shave. It was difficult for him, it’s hard to lift an elderly man out of the bath, especially when you’re 67 yourself.

Susan an eight hour round trip to make a visit must be exhausting, but a good idea to take food and get fish and chips on the way back. Glad to hear you’ve booked visits away for a break. We managed a week away in Somerset in July. I left Mum in hospital and she was transferred to the care home whilst we were away. I rang to speak to her the day after her transfer, and she would barely speak to me. Said she was too ill to talk, and wasn’t eating any food. Her floor supervisor carer spoke to us when I rang the home and told us she wasn’t ill (obviously some pain due to broken shoulder) and had eaten all her food.

Susan56 Sun 15-Aug-21 14:33:47

I really feel for you madly.My mum’s party trick is to pretend she is seriously ill if we say we are going anywhere.We now don’t tell her until the day before and sometimes not at all, we just call on the mobile.The other thing we have done is take the answer machine off the house phone as we would come home to messages which would send us into a panic.Whwn we called there was invariably nothing wrong.

Could you get a notebook for your mum and say to her jot down anything you may need and I will call you when I am going shopping?

I found it hard to put boundaries in place and to some extent you have to harden yourself emotionally.

Skydancer Sun 15-Aug-21 14:39:26

I did exactly what you're doing for my elderly mother, 96, except that she was living with me. My stress levels were through the roof. Now she's living with my sibling. I would never, ever go through it again. The constant demands as you describe were the worst of it. I do send my heartfelt sympathy.

FarNorth Sun 15-Aug-21 15:37:34

maddyone Have your DH's parents been assessed for home care? That would be a start.
His brothers need to tell their parents that they can't cope . Then the brothers need to get things started for an assessment and not just leave it up to the parents to choose to make huge demands on them because they prefer to think they are 'independent'.

AGAA4 Sun 15-Aug-21 15:37:43

Maddyone I remember you posting about having covid. You were very ill if I remember correctly.
Your mother is in safe hands and you need to look after yourself. Some old people can be very demanding and I have seen a friend run ragged by her mother, who was over 100.
As we wouldn't give in to unreasonable demands from our children so we shouldn't allow our parents to do this either.
Hope you can find a happy medium with your mother so you are not at her beck and call flowers

sodapop Sun 15-Aug-21 17:26:11

You need to take care of yourself maddyone otherwise you won't be able to help at all. You deserve a life of your own as well no need to feel guilty about that. I agree that weekly visits are sufficient unless your mother really is ill.Susan56 had a good idea about using a notebook for the shopping list so you can go at your own convenience.

tippytipsy Sun 15-Aug-21 17:35:49

maddyone I have a friend in a similar situation to yours. She is finding the more she does, the more she is expected to do and the more health professionals call on her to sort out her mother's and in laws needs. It becomes all consuming especially if you are the only family member stepping up to it. Like you she can't switch off from it all and it is dragging her down both mentally and physically. A difficult situation indeed and it could go on for ages until your stamina is completely sapped.

I agree you need to set boundaries, and offer your help on a particular day or two of the week, not being constantly available. You could join a few groups or do some charity work which would give you a good excuse not to be available to the older family members! You shouldn't have to fill the time you would have been looking after your DGC with looking after elderly parents, it isn't the same at all.

I hope you can get things sorted quickly in order to take some of the weight off your shoulders.

grannyactivist Sun 15-Aug-21 17:53:37

maddyone I have every sympathy with your situation. When my mum was in her 60’s her own parents had died, she had limited involvement with her grandchildren and her time was her own. I think nowadays many people of our age (especially women) get the short end of the stick when it comes to other people’s expectations. I’m afraid you’re going to have to get tougher with your mum, but I also know that’s easier said than done. flowers

I’ll be 68 at the beginning of September and I care for three elderly parents, am very involved with my grandchildren, have caring responsibilities for a mentally ill relative and I still work (running a small charity for homeless and vulnerable people). All of which I was okay with, but then having been very ill I now really want to shed some of the load and find it’s impossible. The only thing I can do is to reduce my working hours, but finding someone to take over has proved a fruitless exercise and I can’t abandon it.

SueDonim Sun 15-Aug-21 17:55:35

Goodness me, that’s an awful lot, Maddyone. flowers I think, as others suggest, you need to cut back on the amount you do for your mother. Visit her once/twice a week. Tell her that if she needs things, you’ll shop for them when you go to the shop yourself but you’re not constantly running back and forth.

Tell her you’ve your IL’s to deal with too, you’re stretched, and that she’s not the only person in the world. She may well sulk or whatever, but deal with that by not engaging with her until she’s in a more reasonable frame of mind.

My own mother is 93, still in her own home and copes pretty well, but always at the back of my mind there’s the question of what might happen.

PippaZ Sun 15-Aug-21 17:58:58

I tried to stretch myself with my mother Maddyone. I finally had to cut back on daily visits because my health was deteriorating. I then realised that mum was quite capable of going for longer. She also became more settled if I came less often. Now she did have Alzheimer's and was 98 when she went into the home, however, I think fewer visits let her get into the routine of the home. I think it was me, not mum, who expect me to carry on as if she was still at home, with all the falls, sorting carers, etc. I made the cut back gradual and let her and the carers know when I was coming next.

Katyj Sun 15-Aug-21 18:08:48

Hi Maddy. Please look after yourself now, your mum is being looked after. Ask her to write a list of everything she needs doing then pick it up once or twice a week at most. You’ve been very ill and need to recover.
My mum is only just managing at home, and she has 3 carers a day. She rang me yesterday whilst the carer was there to say why hadn’t I gone over there as she had a letter from the opticians and she couldn’t see it ! I told her to give it to the carer to read, it was just a pamphlet ? I refuse to visit more than twice a week now unless it’s an emergency, but their very good at making everything seem important.
I wish I had the peace of mind in knowing my mum was in a home, instead of being on call 24/ 7 it is making me mentally ill at the moment I feel dreadful . I hope your in laws will agree to a home as well. Then you can begin to relax again. Good luck.

maddyone Sun 15-Aug-21 22:59:44

Hi ladies, a massive thank you for responding to my post, it makes me feel that I’m not as selfish as I sometimes feel I am when at times I feel stressed and resentful about the difficult situation that I’m in, and that others are in. I knew there’d be lots of you dealing with this difficult situation, and just at a time when we’re all getting older, and in our case, moving relentlessly towards our seventies. Thank you for all your good advice, I think you’re right, I definitely need to cut down my visits to Mum now she’s settled in her lovely care home. Obviously we will have a lot of work to do now as we sell her sheltered apartment and sort out the things she wants to keep and those which she no longer needs or wants. But when that is finally completed we can settle into an improved way of life.
You are right AGAA4 in that I was very ill with Covid in January, and hospitalised for twelve days. Obviously that knocked the stuffing out of me and at the same time my poor husband was dealing with Mum, also in hospital at the same time after her first fall. She went on to have two more falls and she had Covid as well, but not too badly, she didn’t need any treatment for that. After I returned home, I discovered I had a hospital acquired infection which also made me really poorly, but luckily I could be treated at home for that. Then with my daughter and family suddenly deciding to move abroad for two years, I felt shattered emotionally. I think if it had just been mum I would have coped somewhat better.
With regard to my husband’s parents, I know his brothers have discussed their moving into a care home but at the present, although unable to cope by themselves at home, they have refused. They do have one care visit a day, plus the brothers make one or two visits each day. I feel very sorry for them, but I must recognise that there’s little we can do to change the situation. We hope to make a visit later this year if Covid stays as it is, and we have a little holiday planned to Zakinthos at the end of September. It will be so, so good knowing Mum will be cared for whilst we are away. We’ve always had to rely on our son and his wife to step in when we travelled before Covid, but in fairness, she’s vastly deteriorated since then, especially in the last six months.
Thank you so much for all your good advice, I will certainly put these ideas into practice, and try not to get too emotional again.

Riverwalk Mon 16-Aug-21 06:43:06

I'm sorry for those being run-ragged by demanding parents flowers

On a practical note, if catheters need replacing in the middle of the night or someone is stuck in the bath, please call 111 (obviously 999 if an emergency).

Paramedics will lift people off the floor/bath, and District Nurses can replace catheters.

dragonfly46 Mon 16-Aug-21 08:35:22

Riverwalk it is not so straight forward as that. The district nurse was unable to replace my dad’s catheter hence the visit to the hospital. It took 8 hours for the paramedics to come and lift my dad off the bathroom floor and 9 hours to come when my mum fell and broke her hip. Meanwhile you have to be there as you are the Careline call.

AGAA4 Mon 16-Aug-21 21:50:41

Maddyone. Have a lovely holiday. You deserve it after all you have been through.

maddyone Mon 16-Aug-21 22:43:41

Thank you AGAA4, that is very kind of you. Hopefully we’ll have a great time, we do love the Greek islands.

crazyH Mon 16-Aug-21 22:51:22

It makes us all think and plan that we never put our children through what some of the above posters have been through. Awfully selfish parents - sorry ….

fiorentina51 Tue 17-Aug-21 07:32:51

My heart goes out to you. We have been through more than 10 years of caring for various relatives since our retirement.
Our lives, our plans for the future were all put on the back burner as we supported our family members.
Most of what we did was done willingly and with love and was very much appreciated but one relative was very demanding and difficult.
It got to the stage that I finally had a melt down after another call out, due to another fall on the eve of a short break that DH and had planned.
The paramedics were amazing and sorted me out as well!
Later that day, I had a call from the social worker with a list of things to do. I politely told her I was not in a position to do anything as I was going away. Then I put the phone down.
It seemed to galvanise the authorities and care was organised which made life much easier for us all.
I hope that things ease for you too. As many others have said, you need to care for yourself as well.