My mum is 85 and has just come out of hospital this week after a nasty fall. This isn’t the first time we have been here in the last 5 years,we have also had a broken femur, broken hip and a bout of pneumonia. She is very independent and each time she has come home she has been determined to get back on her feet. This week has been different and honestly on Thursday when she first came home I didn’t know what to do even with the careers coming in twice a day as she was panicked and couldn’t even take her insulin. I live and work about 300 miles away and she lives on her own usually with help form a cleaner etc. The trouble I have had this week with her wanting me to stay here all of the time and also feeling she can’t cope on her own has been so stressful. What she will do and say for the Carers and how she will treat me is completely different. I have Carers coming in and he has friends popping in but the guilt I am feeling is becoming overwhelming.
First of all change the word ‘guilt’ to ‘sad’. It is sad Mum is getting older and has all these conditions, but NONE of them are your fault. You have nothing to be guilty for.
As people age they do tend to become more clingy and dependent. It was once described to me that the last few years of life mirror the first few, I.e. the independence, mobility, cognition, -even food and sleep- start to reverse back to babyhood.
So as she ages her NEEDS are going to increase and this last hospital admission may have knocked her further back.
It does sound like she needs more help, but that doesn’t mean you giving up everything and moving in. There are other options…
Initially see if you can get her care package increased, and contact the GP surgery to see if a nurse can go in to administer the insulin.
Then start thinking about other options, extra care housing, live in carers, full residential, moving her nearer you… there are many permutations
And remember, all this is sad, that’s all, no one is guilty, she’s just at the next stage of aging and no one can stop that. None of us stay the same forever.
(3 years ago my mum was living independently, 2 years ago in residential home but going out. 1 year ago a bit muddled, 3 months ago a bit confused, now not recognising us. It’s sad, very sad but we can’t change it, and don’t feel guilty, just sad)
I went through a very similar situation in 2007 except my mum hadn’t had any falls and was still able to cope with help, aged 90. However her home was unsuitable and she was finding life more and more difficult. We discussed whether she would prefer to move into a Home where she lived or move and re-settle near me. She chose the latter and moved to a bungalow very close to me. Over the subsequent years her needs steadily increased as her mobility, continence and eyesight declined. Eventually she had 4 double visits from carers daily, various occasional visitors and me. Mainly me. She died in 2016.
Your Mum isn’t going to get younger, isn’t going to get stronger (although she may rally a little after this last hospital visit.) I suggest that with her fall frequency and medication she is now at the stage where she will need 24 hour care very soon.
If my Mum had been as frail as yours seems to be I would have insisted that she move into a Home close to me, where I could see her frequently, oversee her care but not worry day in and day out that she was alone and in danger.
Hindsight is a clear vision but had I taken that road then I would still have had a life of my own and not have suffered the devastating exhaustion that became my lot through long daily hours of caring.
I completely understand the ‘guilt’ but it’s really worry and concern combined with anticipation of the next problem waiting in the wings.
Of course there are all sorts of muddy pools to wade through like finance, finding the ‘right’ Home, convincing Mum of her own best interests. There is help on here concerning all that. My mum was in West Wales, I live in Yorkshire. Long distance caring is not possible when at any moment you may get a call for urgent aid and every day you cannot see for yourself what is happening.
Beware the knee jerk reaction of giving up your life to live with Mum. Plan instead.
All the best
I’ve not been reading the forums very long myself and don’t have the length of experience of some people here, but I ended up with a similar situation a couple of years ago with my dad who was suddenly widowed and had that ‘switch’ that meant he suddenly wasn’t able to cope on his own. His situation was a little different in that he didn’t have the existing physical care needs your mum has, but that same sudden anxiety. He spent a year ‘hanging on’ in ever more miserable circumstances until it came to a head last summer. Are you the only child, or is it case that the responsibility has fallen largely upon you?
With my dad, it was up to me really to take on the main responsibility. I’d looked into the different housing options near me and near him, and left that information with him to look through for a few days to give him time to process things, then booked a load of appointments to view different places, brought my dad down and went round them all. After each one, I talked through with my dad what he felt the pros and cons were. It was very difficult, but we found somewhere in sheltered housing he was happy with, and were able to get a place there. I tried to do it in a way that gave my dad agency and offered him choices. It was stressful but once we were moving on things I kind of felt there was an end in sight and it became less stressful.
Are the friends you refer to your mother’s friends? Does she have a strong social network where she is? That was one thing we didn’t have to consider with my dad as he had become so isolated over his marriage he just didn’t have any friends. In one way that made it easier for him to make the move.
I found that the year and a half my dad was on his own were very stressful and I was worried and anxious all the time. Having him local to me has had an impact on my day to day time, but I haven’t got that overwhelming dread all the time. So having him move nearer me was a positive thing - although I know other people have had different experiences.
Have you got an LPA sorted out?
I found an interesting article about guilt which gave me some insight into my feelings:
You need to have a conversation along the lines of
“Mum, you know I have to work and cannot stay. Either you manage with the carers or move into residential care where there are people who can care for you all the time”
The choice is yours.
Thank you Janey for that interesting article. Keep the link handy, I think it will be used many more times
Janey, I read it too. Not my parents I suffer guilt about, but my lovely husband. It amounts to almost the same thing though. An in sight into feelings.
Thank you all for your responses, makes me feel much better. It would be difficult for me to move her near me as I am in the Military and live on base and also she has lived there all of her life and does very luckily have a good social network. I have come back today to start work again tomorrow and she has Carers coming in, along with a district nurse for her insulin. I was also lucky enough to find a local lady my mum knows who is going to pop in each day to help if she needs it with laundry, cleaning etc. It has been difficult to leave today but I think I have done everything I can for now and can only see how we go from here. I just want to try and let her stay in her home and have some independence while ensuring she is safe and I’m not worried constantly.
Remember that you have SSAFA as a resource. They may well have at least a listening ear, if not practical support, for you.