Are we 'Carers'?

Hi all.
Seems a common theme from the posts I’ve read so far that a good ramble is therapeutic , hopefully someone will read to the end, but welcome any thoughts from the community

My partner’s Mum (now 86) came to live with us nearly 18 months ago, after the sudden loss of her partner of 49 years (they never married). She’d always been pretty independent and fit/Active; playing tennis and swimming, gardening etc but about 3 years ago has a bit of a nervous breakdown over a dispute with a near neighbour that nearly went to court but eventually settled. However, she ended up in hospital for a few weeks, and on medication for stress/psychotic episodes after everyone became ‘them out to get her’. Although things eventually got back under more control, she was never quite the same, but returned home to live with her quite frail partner until his unfortunate accident/fall that finished him off (but that’s another story) However, upshot being that although her house is only 15 miles from ours, its across one of the worst bits of m25 so can take 2 hours or more to do the round trip so not good for emergency situations. My partner is her only daughter, and although Mum has 3 sisters they all have their own care/carer obligations and only one neighbour on speaking terms so not much support close to home- hence when her partner died we felt it only right for her to come stay with us ‘temporarily’ so she wasn’t on her own, especially given the recent instability period.
She’s still pretty fit and able physically though, can walk up to the local shop unaided to get a paper and/or few bits shopping for her lunch etc. No problem with eating or hygiene etc. She will occasionally put some washing on for us (sometimes even on the right programme!) and fold up the drying. But for the most part, she’s lost interest in doing anything.
Although she lives in the house, my partner runs our small business and I work full time as well as helping in the business, so we’re often out 10/12 hours a day 7 days a week so Mum is left on her own. My partner does often get Wednesday and Thursday away from the business, but can then end up ferrying Mum over to her house to go to Doctor/Dentist/Optician/beautician/hairdresser/chiropodist etc etc as she’s not willing to change to a local alternative closer to our home (as she’s known them all for years/hates change) so those precious days off disappear in traffic and waiting.
We’ve tried to broach the subject of her returning home for a day or so every week, she can still drive on the roads she knows near her home, so its not like she’d be housebound. But she says she couldn’t cope, especially the thought of being in the house on her own overnight. She has this nervous wheezy moan that gets worse when she’s stressing about something, and she appears fine in the car travelling to her house, but the minute she’s walking up the path it gets worse and she can’t wait to get out again. Her one near neighbour just very kindly invited her over to stay with her this past weekend, as she too thinks Mum could be back in her home again , so they’ve spent a few days pottering - but called us privately this morning to say that although Mum was OK in her garden, she just won’t stay indoors.
We’ve suggested selling the house (not that she needs the money, but its still an expense and needs upkeep/time which we just don’t have) and her other neighbour offered to buy it for a decent price as he’s trying to redevelop his adjacent plot . But she just refuses (or is not capable) of talking about it rationally.
So we’re stuck. I relate so much to other seemingly common themes on here .

  • Mum’s absolute refusal to accept outside help, or contact any third party. The likes of AgeUK said they can’t so anything unless she specifically asks them, even then having an ‘assessment’ however gently phrased might push her over the edge.
  • Us feeling ill equipped to cope with her mental rather than physical issues. Even though I like to think I’ve got bucketloads of patience, my partner is getting increasingly stressed and on medication for blood pressure , and we’re missing ‘our’ time as we don’t get much anyway due to commitments, but against a background of guilt for feeling like this as Mum’s got no-one else.

So, are we ‘carers’ ?
Mum says that even though we’re out so long each day, she still likes/needs the company in the evenings - despite usually 10 minutes after eating her evening meal and mum friendly TV diet of Pointless/Chase or Millionaire re-runs she’s snoring in the chair (but refuses to go to bed as she won’t sleep) but she’s got little or no conversation as she’s not doing anything.
And clings to her hours with her daughter, even though they’ve never been that close - they were never a huggy, living in pockets family . and its the daughter who is going to need help soon (or me) .
Because she doesn’t actually want to Do anything or take an interest in much at all, even thinking about one of the local age group coffee mornings or somesuch just to get some interaction and break up the days is met with abject refusal.

Social Services aren’t interested, especially as there is no physical care need - and Charitable/volunteer services all seem to need the person to be proactive. We even tried to get her GP to speak with her alongside one of her other appointments, but was just met with ’ I’m fine’ so again, couldn’t do anything.

It seems almost criminal to have someone with all the physical capability to do something, anything, but just not prepared to and despite however we try to say that we’re really worried she’s just going to get more and more withdrawn and regress back to her mental instability and need 24 hour supervision as she won’t be able to be safely left alone, we don’t seem to be getting anywhere so life trundles on (and frustrations build)

Any thoughts appreciated.

I think its worth trying the "“it’s either home or into a nice Home” option. Those are her two choices. If she is too anxious to live alone in her own house, than you look for a nice hotel-like residential Home for her where she will have company, activities and support.
Given these 2 (and no other) options she may well decide to go home (but may then fail)
I suggest you do some research and visit some Homes and then show her round only the nicest. The sale of her home may well fund 8-10 years.
Staying on with you has to be no-no and you will have to be firm and assertive and not get into arguments bout it.
You know her best as how to ‘sell’ her the other options.
The process may well show if there is still underlying mental issues or whether she just prefers living with you.

Halfway house might be finding a day centre for her to go to, but don’t expect her to agree. She’s quite comfortable where she is.
Another option is to book really nice Home for her while you and daughter take a holiday. She may end up liking it and want to stay

Hi Jim,
It’s like quicksand. You put one foot in because someone ahead of you is beginning to sink up to their knees. You are shouting ‘Turn round, grab my hand’, but they are too scared, too stubborn, too embarrassed, too unware of the danger they are in and the danger you are in because you are trying to help. You tell them you are calling emergency services and they say ‘No. I’m fine. I can get out.’ Now they are up to their thighs in the mire.
What do you do? Go in after them or pull yourself out and call for help? ‘No brainer’? (I hate that phrase but it seems appropriate.)
Elderly people are often like that. You and your partner know Mum best. Put aside how irritating she is at the moment and consider. Could those MH problems be a sign of the dreaded dementia? Is she just a selfish, inconsiderate and lazy woman? Somewhere in between?
Whatever the reason and whatever her problems they should not ruin your lives. It’s only going to get worse. And worse. And worse.
Which one of you is going to be the first to give up your job to Mum sit all day?
Which one of you is going to be ill because of the situation?
Which one of you is going to decide the relationship no longer works because of mum?
Someone is going to have to get tough. Gentle persuasion hasn’t worked. Consider yourselves in the position of parental authority. This elderly toddler cannot dictate your lives. Perhaps you could play ‘good cop, bad cop’. In collusion of course. Toddlers cry and whinge to get their own way too. Reminders of a small child hanging on to Mummy’s skirts and crying and stamping their little feet when it’s time to go into school. Of course we all know that the child is fine 5 minutes later, playing happily, but Mummy worries all day. When parents grow old and needy the roles are reversed. The adult child becomes the ‘parent’ and has to be kind but firm.
Mum is just a guest in your house. Your hospitality has run its course. Don’t ask. Perhaps tell her that at the end of next week she has to go home. If she needs help she has to co-operate with the people who can provide that help. If she doesn’t want to live alone then a residential Home is the option. What is not an option is continuing to live with you without making any effort to live her own life while she can, or to allow you to live yours.
It’s YOUR home. It’s YOUR lives that are affected. One big problem with caring is that you never know how long. My Mum was 90 when I took on her care. How long could it be? She was 11 days short of 100 when she died and she accepted all help available, I was lucky in that.
Remember that quicksand.

I agree totally with Mrs. A.

It will be easier if you take control here. Say it is YOUR house, she has her OWN house, and must return to it on Sunday, or whenever.
She will be happy staying there, regardless of what you think. A friend of mine cared for his mum until she was 104!!! Is that really what you want???
Accept that she will never go willingly of her own accord. She is clearly lost without her partner, I’m a widow, I know what it’s like, but it’s so important that you send her home again. Maybe some sort of domestic/companion would be the answer?

Thanks all,
Tough love is just so tough to administer ! But all 3 have reinforced the likely outcomes if we do nothing and drift until something breaks. So, in best Pooh voice, ‘something must be done’ . And soon, said piglet.