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Any suggestions?

(41 Posts)
itsonlyme Tue 01-Sep-20 23:13:43

Hello ladies,
Just wondered what you think of this situation.
I am an only child. My mum is 90 and lives 250 miles away.
A very difficult lady, fiercely independent, has done all her own bills, banking, grocery shopping ( but agreed to Tesco deliveries during lockdown)
Alienated her (few) relatives
Rude/indifferent to neighbours
NO friends
NO visitors of any sort
I used to visit every 5/6 weeks - any oftener causing irritation along the lines of, “I’m not in my dottage - it’s not necessary.”
Since lockdown eased, I have suggested that I visit again, to be told that “I’m shielding- you might bring something.” She doesn’t like daily phone calls - “I’m fine - I don’t need it.”
She has poor eyesight, and very high BP. If she fell, or had a stroke, I wouldn’t know for 2 days. If there was no answer, and I did call the emergency services, and it was a false alarm, she has said she would take this badly, and refuse to answer my calls from then on.
Thanks for any thoughts.

CanadianGran Tue 01-Sep-20 23:33:28

Being very direct herself, she should be able to take a very straight conversation from you... ie., "Mum you need to have a plan for emergencies, and I won't stop bothering you until you have one in place."

Whether it is a cell or cordless phone she carries on her person, or one of those medical emergency buttons., it will give both you and her some sense of security. Threaten her with a daily visiting care aide or housekeeper. You never know she may capitulate.

Some elderly can be very stubborn. I know it is not nice to give up independence, but accidents can happen to the best of us.

Chewbacca Tue 01-Sep-20 23:34:21

Clearly, your mother is a fiercely independent woman who doesn't appear to feel the need for company. Would she consider having one of those personal alarm necklaces so that, in the event that she fell or hurt herself, she could just press the alarm and summon help? It would set your mind at rest that help could get to her in an emergency if need be.

LadyBella Tue 01-Sep-20 23:44:44

My mother, in her 90s, until 2 years ago lived an hour from me. She wanted to stay in her home forever. I could foresee problems and I was right. She had a couple of falls, ending up in hospital. She started to not eat properly as she couldn't be bothered. She barely washed and started to smell. To cut a long story very short, she has been living with us for 18 months now as she just could not carry on. Your mother definitely needs a plan. Otherwise things will get much, much worse. I don't like the situation I'm in having my mother in my house and, basically taking up one-quarter of the property. If she had had the foresight to move closer to me a few years ago she could probably still be in her own home and I wouldn't be putting up with 3 carers per day coming into my home, using my kitchen, and me (in my 70s) doing all the washing, shopping etc etc. Also the stress all this has caused me has impacted on my health. My mother is only interested in herself and has little interest in anything I do and I often wonder why I have done everything for her. We MUST all plan for old age and what we are going to do about it.

Humbertbear Wed 02-Sep-20 08:41:09

Itsonlyme- There are systems that can be installed which monitor movements in the house and set off an alarm if no movement takes place. I believe one is Hive. So if your mother didn’t get out of bed at her usual time or didn’t go into the kitchen to make supper, you would be informed. Of course, she has to agree to the installation.
Your problem is the opposite of the one we usually read, where the elderly parent is demanding help and attention.

Taliya Wed 02-Sep-20 10:09:15

My mum died when she was 60 after years of disability and strokes 20 years ago so I'm not in your situation. worrying about a very elderly mother. As you say,bshe has been is fiercely independent and just likes her own company from what you have said but if she is rude to her neighbours is there something else going on? Has she always been like this? What has your relationship been like with your mother during your life? The best thing you can do is offer support and maybe advise her to get an alarm necklace that alerts companies such as Homecare if she has had a fall or needs help. Getting to the age of 90 is some achievement and to be still independent and I suppose she may be worried that you will think she needs to go into a home and the loss of indepence. All you can do is try your best really.

Quizzer Wed 02-Sep-20 10:09:49

My mother was very much the same. However when she died we found that she had not been managing her bills as we thought. Her gas was on a monthly payment plan, so she didn't need to do anything. However she had also been paying the amount for the gas used thereby paying twice over. The gas board had not informed her. The other worry is that she had failed to pay house insurance on her flat. A real worry as she might have been liable for any damage to the other flats in the building.

Bluekitchen192 Wed 02-Sep-20 10:19:05

I agree with earlier recommendations. Have the direct face to face conversation with your mother and agree a schedule of calls and visits that will put your mind at ease. Ensure her Bill's are paid by direct debit including insurance. Check her Will and any instructions about resuscitation administering of antibiotics etc are as she would wish. The latter has to be registered with her GP and is a regulated administrative process which will make life easier for both of you. Make sure she has q check up at the same time. You will feel better ,and whether your mother admits it or not she will feel the benefit herself.

Chardy Wed 02-Sep-20 10:33:37

It's the falls. The worry of being unable to get up and stuck there all night is scary for both you and her. A movement monitor sounds like an excellent idea, or a personal alarm necklace.
Would she do that for your peace of mind?

NemosMum Wed 02-Sep-20 11:03:25

Unless you have strong evidence that she is dementing, and given that persuasion has failed so far, there is nothing you can do. She is legally entitled to decide what she can and cannot do and the Mental Capacity Act is clear that we cannot protect people from unwise decisions or behaviour UNLESS they are mentally 'incompetent' (in legal terms). Sadly, therefore, you cannot protect her from herself, and in her terms, it's served her well so far! Circumstances will intervene, no doubt, at her age. She might well have a fall or a medical event, but she knows that, and is prepared to take the risk. Very old people tend to view these risks differently to younger people. It is you who are suffering, but if appeals to her fail, you have little choice but to live with the uncertainty. There is an American Occupational Therapist called Teepa Snow who has written and lectured widely about 'elder' matters, principally dementia, and she characterises the elder fiercely independent person as a 'diamond' - glittering and apparently hard on the surface and reflecting all your emotional insecurities back to you! It is difficult, but you are doing your best. Good luck with your mum.

Sunshine6 Wed 02-Sep-20 11:04:39

Hi itsonlyme, What an awful position to find yourself in. Very worrying&must make you feel powerless to change the situation. Instead of looking at gadgets, is it worth looking at why your Mum's like this. Is she hurt about something& wants to punish you. Does she feel let down or abandoned. Was she always like this. Shes maybe got stuck where she is& it could be that the neighbours are nosey-like mine!- and thats why she keeps to herself. Without doubt, the knowledge that a deadly virus is outside, will make older people stay in,and away from other people, which is a real shame. I feel for you.

cassandra264 Wed 02-Sep-20 11:04:41

Personal alarm REALLY good idea. Also especially all suggestions made by Bluekitchen192. You might also consider having a conversation with a qualified social worker from her local council, who is experienced in adult social care and housing issues, who could advise on one or more of the following:

1. aids/adaptations in her home (which can be provided through one of the department's occupational therapists) to limit the chances of accidents.
2. Care and Repair (separate agency, government funded) to ensure her home stays fit for purpose, and does not present a danger. Even if her home is in an excellent condition now , we can all suffer storm damage etc. In our area the first £60 of essential minor repairs have to be paid for, but any other repairs up to £350 are funded through this scheme.
3. Home care services (these have to be paid for) to help with cleaning etc. In our area the minimum that can be arranged is 2 hours per week .This will mean she is on the radar if her situation gets worse.
4.Advice on/assistance with any welfare benefits she may be entitled to but not claiming AND help managing finances generally if needed/ disabilities more serious etc.
5. Advice on supported accommodation options in her own area - or in yours - should the time come when she can no longer manage independently in her own home even with visiting carers.
6. Carer support - and information - for yourself. You should make it clear you have caring responsibilities for your mother, even though you live at a distance.

Good luck!

25Avalon Wed 02-Sep-20 11:17:28

This is a horrible worry for you but not much you can do whilst she still has mental capacity. I would, however suggest that you get Power of Attorney which she has to sign whilst she has capacity. Should she then fall ill or become mentally incapacitated you will be able to manage her affairs both health wise and financially. This will only come into force if that happens so do try and persuade her especially from the way she is behaving this could be the first signs of dementia. As we were told with mil act get it now before it is too late.

NotSpaghetti Wed 02-Sep-20 11:28:25

I look at this and think of my mother-in-law. Fiercely independent till 96 but now accepting she needs (some) support after a series of T.I.As (maybe that's what your mother's falls were?).

I think you are wasting your time until she feels as though she is struggling. Personally I'd start by offering a cleaner once a week "to do the really tricky stuff". My mother-in-law accepted this help. Now she visits twice a week for a short time. She's private rather than an agency worker and is happy to help with not-really-cleaning jobs. Having someone go in the house a couple of times a week has made a huge difference to my husband.

Good luck!

Annaram1 Wed 02-Sep-20 11:31:25

My elderly neighbour (85) had a fall about 3 am when he went to the loo. I was on his alert system to be phoned if anything happened. He always had his phone on him. He only phoned me about 8 am. When I got to him he was lying across 4 steps face downwards. He apologised for getting me up and said he had been lying across the steps for 5 hours! I told him he should have called me at once and he said he did not want to get me up at that time. I could not get him to his feet and had to get a male neighbour to get him to his feet. We put him in bed and phoned a company who sold him a little gadget to wear around is neck and assured him that they would come out at any time day or night.

Mamma7 Wed 02-Sep-20 11:36:46

Mobile phone AND medical emergency button worn on wrist or round neck. Once the button is pressed you are phoned by the 24 hour switchboard. I had to insist my Mum wore one and she lived round the corner and I saw her several times a day! She was stubborn too!
Explain she could be lying on a cold bathroom floor/in garden with a broken hip for several days. She’s obviously in denial about getting old
and vulnerable and although I can admire her feistiness she has to accept help now.

eazybee Wed 02-Sep-20 11:37:06

Are you able to communicate with her neighbours and ask them to inform you immediately if they suspect anything may be wrong?

I think you should try to persuade your mother to agree to all the suggestions made here, but from what you have said in describing her personality, I doubt if she will agree.

To be brutally frank, you need to do everything you can to protect her from herself, and also for your own peace of mind, so that when something does happen, and it will, you have nothing to reproach yourself with.

FarNorth Wed 02-Sep-20 11:38:22

Have a conversation with your mother about what level of communication and help she wants.
How does she view the possibility of no-one knowing she has had an accident?
And so on.
As a previous poster said, your mother is entitled to make her own decisions about these things.

jaylucy Wed 02-Sep-20 11:43:47

The fact that she is grumpy to everyone and has upset so many people makes me think that all is not well and she is fully aware that they are not.
It's pride that makes people hang on like this - and the "didn't want to bother" attitude.
Is there anywhere that she could live that is warden controlled so she will still have that independence that she craves, but still having someone within cal?
I think you need to not pussy foot round her - straight talking will work better and maybe giving her an ultimatum that because you are worried about her - even though she thinks that you shouldn't be- she either needs to move or to have an alarm fob to wear and signed up to a care package.
I would also guess that at heart she is really very lonely but her pride will not allow her to admit it.

Davida1968 Wed 02-Sep-20 12:41:22

I advise calculated use of "emotional blackmail" to get your mum using an "alarm" necklace or bracelet. We did this with MiL, stressing our high levels of worry and concern. (Wrote a letter and kept a copy, so there could be no misunderstanding.) It did the trick.

Mauriherb Wed 02-Sep-20 13:00:32

I read somewhere that there is a device that you can have fitted to an electric socket that will send you a text when used for the first time each day. That way you would always know when she, for example, made her morning cuppa so you would know that she was up and about. I'll see if I can find a link

blueberry1 Wed 02-Sep-20 13:14:22

Mauriherb's idea sounds good but failing that,could you ask your mum to ring you at a pre-arranged time each day and just let it do 4 rings without you picking up? That way, she would not need to have a conversation but it would let you know that all is well. Tell her that this small act on her behalf would make a great difference to your peace of mind.

ExD Wed 02-Sep-20 13:14:53

Re the personal alarm, my Mum had one round her neck but hated it. She said she never wore jewellery, not that she had much, except on special occasions, so why should she put up with this 'piece of tat' on a 'string'?
She also said everyone knows what they're for, so why should she advertise that she needed one and that she never had falls anyway (lies!). It was useless because she kept it in a drawer in her dressing table. One round her wrist 'irritated and got too tight'.
I did try to disguise it and make it look pretty, but she still considered it a piece of plastic rubbish out of a cracker.

Phloembundle Wed 02-Sep-20 14:02:41

Fiercely independent sounds like a euphemism for not very nice. I think blueberry1 has the best and simplest solution to the immediate problem.

Tweedle24 Wed 02-Sep-20 14:24:48

I wonder if she would agree to any of these suggestions. If she is that independent (might I say ‘cantankerous’?), I cannot imagine her accepting a personal alarm, daily phone call or any of those things.

My grandmother, not, I may say, a difficult woman at all. lived in a beautiful three story house with a spiral staircase. Bathroom was on the first floor requiring quite a tricky manoeuvre to enter and leave. When her husband, my grandfather, died, some of the family nagged her to move to ‘somewhere more suitable‘. She said she would move when she got old (88 at the time). When it was suggested she could fall downstairs and break her neck, her response was, “Yes but, I would be where I want to be.”

She did move when she was 92 but, that was her choice and for four years she was very happy in her little flat.