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Garage conversion-elderly mother. What would you do?

(18 Posts)
LadyBella Sat 23-May-20 11:11:21

DH and I are in our 70s. My mother, 95, lives with us. She has a room with an ensuite. She is a cold person and is unfeeling, ungrateful and irritating. Most of the time she stays out of our way but has NO concept of what we go through having lost our privacy. Last week, at my wits end, when she came into our kitchen prattling on about rubbish I happened to mention that perhaps we could convert our integral garage into a kitchen for her as it adjoins her room. She jumped at the idea. BUT then she said that she would offer to help with the cost of this but her money was "all tied up". Actually I'd prefer her not to pay as I don't want anyone feeling they had a share in our home. However had she'd offered to pay I'd have refused but would have felt much more willing to go ahead with the project as it would have been a kind gesture on her part. I now wish I hadn't mentioned it. It means we'd have to take everything out of the garage, erect a shed for stuff to be stored in and than arrange and pay for the building work. She would, as she always does, just sit back and look on. I know she's 95. I'm not expecting her to do any of the work! But I'd love some understanding of what we'd have to go through to get this done. I feel full of resentment as to what we go through on a daily basis. By the way, I have suggested sheltered housing, retirement flats etc but she won't go as she knows which side her bread is buttered. What would you do?

travelnan Sat 23-May-20 11:22:34

Please do not do this, I know from bitter experience this will be the tip of the iceberg. She is 95 will she still be around when the work is finished? Please I beg you DO NOT DO IT. Let her go into a retirement flat if she wants independence. Think about your own and your husbands needs first. (flowers)

PamelaJ1 Sat 23-May-20 11:59:22

My instinct would be go for it?
It depends if you can afford it easily, will it add value to the house? Maybe somewhere for the carer when you need one?

Seems to me that you would feel resentment whatever you do and this way , at least, you would have your privacy back.
She’s 95, if she is in good health she could live for years yet. My mum is only 92 but we are expecting that she will beyond 100 because she is fit and has no underlying health issues.

MissAdventure Sat 23-May-20 12:06:37

Surely you considered loss of privacy when the arrangement was made for your mum to live with you?

I know that doesn't help now, but it seems that her wandering around the house upsets you?

rosenoir Sat 23-May-20 12:13:38

I would have said 'if you're not happy move'.

I have a mother that sounds like yours, I only help out as just the one sibling out of 6 would be doing everything alone.

When the time comes that she needs constant care it will be in a residential home,becoming more frail will not wipe out the years of nastiness.

Sorry seem to have made this about me, converting the garage will not change her personality , as I said offer the choice move or put up with it.

LadyBella Sat 23-May-20 12:22:50

I should have added she was in hospital, then a nursing home as a temporary resident. Everyone, all the doctors, thought she had a couple of weeks left. The nursing home was saying they couldn't keep her unless she was registered as permanent. I couldn't keep going there as it was too far away so took her in thinking it would be for a couple of weeks. That was nearly 18 months ago. I know it sounds heartless but, at my age, I don't want to be doing any of this.

Davidhs Sat 23-May-20 13:05:27

As others have said she won’t change, even if she has a kitchen she will still be around, on the other hand she is your mother, you do need to have a degree of tolerance.

Instead of converting the garage use the money to get away more, if she needs attendance, get her to pay for a carer when you are away.

MissAdventure Sat 23-May-20 13:09:27

It must be difficult, Ladybella.
Is it the kitchen issue that is the main problem?

Oopsadaisy3 Sat 23-May-20 13:18:08

So she has a room and an en-suite and she keeps out of your way? Poor old thing I’m not surprised she’s ratty, she’s probably bored to tears and wants something to do, being shut in 1 room must be hell for her.
Get the extension done, give her a sitting room and a kitchen and arrange times for ‘visits’. It will always be useful as a spare room.
It sounds as though there is a lot of resentment here and you basically don’t want her Living with you at all, which is a shame in her final years.

Smileless2012 Sat 23-May-20 13:20:42

Is she going to be preparing all or the majority of her meals if she has her own kitchen? Is she going to be content with eating the majority, if not all her meals on her own?

IMO unless the honest answer to these questions is yes, I wouldn't do it Ladybella. Imagine how frustrating it will be to go through the upheaval, expense and work of doing this conversion if it's rarely or never put to use.

I agree with David, use the money you would have spent on getting away more and paying for a carer when you're away.

MissAdventure Sat 23-May-20 13:21:20

I was going to suggest putting a lovely tray in her room with tea, coffee, biscuits and a kettle, if she can manage it, but of course, she has to come out.

Oopsadaisy3 Sat 23-May-20 13:28:21

If it’s her home ( albeit only until she dies) how can she be expected to Just live in her bedroom? It seems a bit cruel.

TerriT Sat 23-May-20 13:41:36

It is beyond most peoples understanding what it is like to have a mother such as the one described. All those folks who say poor old lady,last years of her life etc etc have no idea of what it is like to have a self centred cold mother. They are born that way and age nor circumstances change them. As for the idea that use the money to get away, why should they? Assuming they love their home then going away in their 70s would add to the resentment. But again most of you are adviseing with your own selfless kind lovely mums in mind. My advise, encourage her to sheltered housing so you can have your home back. In my personal experience being brought up by two very selfish parents, they expect a lot of you but can’t understand that it should work both ways!

Feelingmyage55 Sat 23-May-20 14:00:56

Could you put a mini kitchen in the bedroom since the water supply must be convenient, given there is an en-suite? A small fridge, tiny sink, kettle, multi oven and two ring ceramic hob can take up very little space. Does your mum have a comfy chair, tv and radio. In other words, make her room into a “studio” flat. Lots of examples online and lots of small equipment available to purchase. The work could be done in a very short time and would be much less of an outlay.
The much bigger issue of course is that you are fed up and resentful and your mum must be very lonely and surely it is natural to come into the kitchen and chat to you? If you set times that she is genuinely welcome and you have times you want to be a twosome perhaps you can create a better atmosphere for you all. Does your mum have friends to visit and do you include her when family visit? Lots to be discussed but try not to let a discussion become an argument. Other grans will come along with suggestions but if she would like some independence to make snacks, the studio idea is probably the way to go. Good luck, the lockdown must be making the situation more difficult. Retreat to the garden if you have one.

JuliaM Sat 23-May-20 15:48:12

We recently went through a similar situation with a view to looking after my elderly Dad and Step mother, but we didnt go through with it in the end, mainly because as time went on, and mental capacity started to fail for the pair of them, they both became a fire risk, especially where kitchen appliances were concerned. They underwent a mental capacity test for memory, alertness, and safety issues, and both of them failed it. Step mother started to need care 24/7 and also started to become agressive if prompted to change clothes, take a shower, or simply to stay indoors during bad weather. She soon required a hospital admission, where she passed away a couple of weeks later, leaving Dad on his own, aged 91.
We offered to have him live with us, started a Garage conversion, applied for planning and building regulations, and planned to fund the 21k price tag ourselves, which would have provided a groundfloor ensuite room for him. Again things did not go to plan, his care needs progressed quite rapidly to needing 24/7 care, he started to wander off, call the police for a chat because he was bord, and refuse to get dressed, then being agressive when prompted to get some clothes on and cover himself up. His behaviour towards any visiting females was also abusive and darn right rude. He also started to roam during the night, and suffered a couple of falls, the last one of which he made a bit of a mess of himself, and ended up in hospital. He was also an alcoholic, but we didnt realise this at the time because he wad very crafty on how he managed to obtain supplies and hid all evidence from us regards quantity.
A multi disaplinary meeting was held regarding his care, it was decided that he was too much of a risk to return home to me, or back to his own bungalow, he lacked Mental capacity, so was discharged into a Care complex for further rehab and assesment, where it has now been decided he will be cared for for the rest of his days, and by a team.of people on duty 24/7, his needs had just become too much for one person to cope with on their own.
The Garage plans got a re think after this, and we eventually went for a 50/50 conversion, the front remained as a small Garage, still capable of storing a Mini or all the usual junk normally stored in one, a fire door and wall divided the rear section off to form a downstairs Shower room and ensuite, plus a Living area large enough to take a single bed and some basic furniture, although it does tend to get used more as a utility for the large freezer and laundry area, with a very nice slate tiled floor. We were lucky that it was almost a tandem length garage to begin with, but at least this way we have mainained the storage space and it would only take a couple of days to convert the rear room into a bed-sit room simply by re aranging the contents and furniture.

Sorry if I have made this a long post, but having been through a similar situation myself, my advice would simply be dont do it.

LadyBella Sat 23-May-20 16:18:18

Thank you all for these suggestions. We never planned for this and it has basically come about as my mother refused care in her own home which would have probably allowed her to stay there with help from us. The problem mainly is we are so different. She loves routine and I hate it. She is not very intelligent so cannot hold a conversation unless it is about herself. I feel uncomfortable in my own home and often, when I'm out, I don't want to go home. Everything is taken for granted. I agree with someone who said it must be awful for her to be stuck in one room. I agree but I don't want her constantly around me. I am old myself and have had chest pains and my hair has fallen out because of all this. She needs to be looked after by younger people but won't go anywhere and, in any case, care homes are dangerous places at the moment. If I did suggest it I'd never live with myself. Thanks for listening everyone. Still don't know what to do.

MissAdventure Sat 23-May-20 17:02:25

Have you thought of getting a companion/carer to come to your mum? (Difficult in the current situation)

Perhaps someone to pop in for an hour or so each day.

Grandmafrench Sat 23-May-20 17:07:22

Poor you. You seem to have caught yourself in a trap of your own making and now are desperate to get your lives back to how they were!

If your Mum is of sound mind and you can have a reasonably sensible discussion, about her, why not sit down and have the chat? Explain that she came to you because she had been ill, her hospital bed was then needed, her convalescence was necessary and afterwards she needed to fully recover - with you making this possible. Explain that you can no longer care for her - or anyone else longterm -but that is what you are doing and sadly, you just aren't up to it at your age. I would imagine that she thinks of you as her Daughter but like most very elderly Mums, thinks you are barely middle aged, so when you say that you just aren't up to full time caring for a very elderly lady, this might just come as a surprise to her.

She clearly had a home; she'd still be there had she not been so adamant that carers were not necessary. Well, of course not, she always had you if things got difficult. That should stop. Your relationship with her - and you've honestly said that it's not a good one - will suffer and she needs to know that at this stage in both your lives, this is the last thing that you want. How capable is she? If you were planning the extra cost of a separate kitchen, she must still be fairly capable.

The discussion about sheltered housing, a care home, an easy to manage small flat close to you, must be had. Also she needs to realise that her money is not "tied up", if this is following the sale of her earlier home, then this must be untied pronto, so that funding is available for her care and her new life plan.

Having a separate annexe or further accommodation within your own home, with care provided for her by a paid carer when necessary would clearly not work because of your relationship with her and the fact that you want your daily life and your home to yourselves again. At your age (our age) what on earth is wrong with that? Your Mother must be encouraged to see that whilst she wants her own independence to continue - you want yours. The kindness of taking her in when it became necessary, and the fact that you did this for her, does not mean you are committed forever. She is neither dependant or bedridden and if she were, you would struggle even more to manage the situation.

Unless she is made of stone, she will see what you are saying. If she refuses to see what you are saying, then you will at least not feel any guilt about how she makes you feel.

Planning/building/extending for her future, I feel, would be a mistake at her age and on your property, unless you are up for that with all the disruption and extra work. It might just be understandable if you were very close and it would certainly alleviate worries and concerns if you were able to see her day on day. In your case, this has not worked and since her arrival was never planned, it should now change into something else, something better for her, not far away and easier for you. Involving her in a sensible discussion or two about what to do next, with you being firm and positive and not getting angry or stressed, is clearly the most important thing you should be considering now.
Very best of luck - and don't feel guilty.