Caring for elderly mum who was recently bereaved

Hi, new to this forum. My parents are elderly (90/91 yrs old but have always been very independent), which they needed to be as, although they have 4 daughters, only 1 lived close (7 miles away but she did nothing for them basically, visiting for 1 hr a week). Two of us live a 4/5 hour drive away and the 4th in Africa. I could see Dad had become very frail this year and was struggling and my husband and I suggested to them that if we could find a new place with an annex in 2022 perhaps they would consider moving down to live near us, still have their privacy (and we would have our privacy too) but close enough for us to help, they said they’d think about it. Less than a week later, dad was in hospital and after a 6 week stay in hospital he passed away (in October). Mam then announced she didn’t want to stay on her own in their big house and would move down south to live with us. It all happened so quickly but We agreed this was her only option as she is 91 and very very deaf, and I could not be up at her place forever, and my sister who lived close wouldn’t do anything to help. However, I don’t think any of us really thought about how this would work. Mum moved down to live with us 2 weeks after dads funeral as I needed to get home. It’s now 13 weeks since dad died and I’m really struggling. I’ve had a lot of hassle from my two sisters, I’m dealing with all the business side of things and I also have a daughter with mental health issues and another daughter who both still lives at home and obviously life has changed for us all. Mam is grieving, having lost her husband/soul mate of over 74 years, my ‘home life’ has changed and I don’t know how I can help her and us cope with all the changes. I suffer from OCD with cleaning/tidying my house, which has been worse with all the stress, and having to find new homes for things (my daughter also moved bedrooms to accommodate my mum) but I like to do things my way, then I can relax and get on with other things. Mam is constantly sighing heavily, and fills up with tears constantly but for seconds then appears to get over it, I’ve said many times that it’s ok to cry and to just let the tears come. My daughter or I try to take mum out every day for a walk or shopping or to a coffee shop. Tonight as she went to bed she says it’s getting harder. I tried saying it’s still early days, and it’s all natural and there have been so many changes for us all it’s bound to be tough and especially our first Christmas/new year without dad but I I feel out of my depth, and not sure if I can do this, and then I feel guilty for struggling. I’m resenting the fact my sisters are on a video chat with her for 5 minutes and that’s it, they go back to their normal lives and seem oblivious to how much our lives have changed 24/7! (Apart from the one in Africa who is more aware but what can she do so far away). I’m trying to organise things she can go to (ie church, hairdressers etc) but with her deafness and she is shy so she finds it hard to mix with folk. I’m trying to involve her as much as I can in the house with getting meals ready etc. but not sure what more I can do. I know it’s early days, but I’m feeling ‘lost’. Any help or advice would be appreciated. TIA

Welcome to the forum.
As you say, you didn’t think it through! I was widowed at 54.
Today should be a wonderful day for us, our Golden Wedding Day, but I was widowed 15 years ago.
Mum has been uprooted from her former home where she knew where everything was, to your much busier home without her husband.
Realistically, she is never going to be the same again, too old to make a new life, as I have done. My sons and I miss our old life. For the moment forget about organising a social life for her, it’s way too soon, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. 6 months after is the worst of all. She needs time and space to even begin to adjust.
Did mum own or rent her home?
Does she have over £23,000 in savings?
Do you have Power of Attorney?

Hi Lyn,
No wonder you are struggling, you too are grieving as well as coping with all these home life changes.

Unfortunately, I don’t think your sisters will change - one sibling doing all the caring is sadly very common.

Despite her deafness, your Mum sounds pretty capable.

I think you need to consider the options - would it be better to look for sheltered accommodation nearby for your Mum or stick with your original plan of a house with an annexe? I suspect the former, as there are financial considerations to take into account should she need additional care in the future (which is likely.)


So sorry for your loss, and I hope you find some peace in your thoughts and memories today especially.
To be fair there was no real opportunity to think it through properly as mum ‘announced’ she was moving to live with us and I couldn’t really say no, especially as this was within hours of dad dying. I don’t regret having her here as I know it’s her only option. They did own their own home which she wants to sell asap, I’ve recently applied for power of attorney for her to be able to deal with everything a bit more easily as her hearing is such a problem, especially on the phone(not just hard of hearing, it’s also a bit of cognitive issue as messages don’t translate to her brain well). It is very early days I know, and it will take time to get used to for all of us but I want to do the best I can for her but realise I’m also grieving not only my dad but my life as it was before this (even though that wasn’t easy with my daughter who has mental health problems). I know from dealing with her that talking to others in similar situations is really helpful, hence why I’ve joined this forum

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I know my sisters won’t change, they’ve been squabbling between themselves for years but they’ve been so difficult with me the last few weeks which is hard to deal with on top of everything else. Yes mam is very capable, which is why I try to involve her doing things but then that’s tough with my OCD issues. They owned their own home, so looking at getting that on the market in early Feb (have recently applied for power of attorney for my mum and also probate to deal with dads side of things so waiting for those to come through). To be honest I couldn’t cope also trying to sell our house and look for something else at the same time as dealing with selling mam and dads house (which is over 250 miles away) and emptying it of all the furniture etc. mam has brought a lot of her personal stuff here so we’ve tried to make her surroundings familiar. She has said she doesn’t want to go into any kind sheltered accommodation,so I think the annex idea will be the only option in the long term, but she will be 92 in June so I think I need to wait to see how she is once their house is sold and all the business side of things is finalised. Our house move to somewhere with an annex would have major cost implications (and reading between the lines with my sisters I think they are frightened I’m going to take part of their inheritance to fund our move which is not the case - although mam has said she feels as we are doing everything for her we should get more than the others).
I’m trying to take one day at a time, as you say all of us are coming to terms with massive changes but I know from dealing with my daughters mental health that it’s good to talk with others in similar situations so hence why I’ve reached out to this forum.

I had two money grabbing brothers who never helped mum, left me to it, so I sympathise.
I’ve also had to empty out three houses, mum was a hoarder, that took me and my sons a year!
So much to consider, so I’ll ask a few things at a time.

My top tip would be to start a list, or series of lists, of jobs to do, shuffled into priority order.
Have you told mum’s insurance company she isn’t living there now? This is really important?
Arranged with Royal Mail to have all the mail redirected?
Does anyone other than mum have keys to the house?
Removed all valuables?
Emptied the fridge and freezer?

Did dad make a will?
How old are you and your husband?
Is mum making a significant financial contribution to household expenses, and to you for the care you are providing?

Finally, for now, do you have a garage?

It’s good to hear you have all the basics covered.
I now sleep in my garage. I had a very serious car accident that ruined my knees, I had to crawl upstairs. My son spent one winter converting it into a lovely bedroom with ensuite, so I wondered if this was the least disruptive way of taking pressure off the accommodation issue.
With regard to the money, have a look at the website of the Office for Public Guardian site, then “SD14” which deals with payments to family members.

Our garage is separate from our house (in middle of an estate so probably not an option to convert). Thanks for the info on the public guardian site,I’ll take a look at it as not heard of that I don’t think.

The OPG is the organisation responsible for Powers of Attorney. Shame the garage isn’t attached to the house.
Remember that without your support, residential care would be the only viable option, at around £600+ per week. If she doesn’t pay her way, and then leaves an equal share to all her children, the others who have done nothing benefit from you getting nothing as you go along.
I have a sneaky feeling that your siblings will get a share of the house sale?
Mum cannot give any money away because it would count as “deprivation of capital”.

Mum and dad had mirror wills where all the house etc goes in equal shares to all daughters. However in recent weeks Mam wants to change things for her side, having witnessed how awkward my siblings are being. Now Christmas is over I will try to get her a solicitor to go through want she wants to do. Not understanding the deprivation of capital you mention, do you mean she can’t give ‘her’ money away or ‘dads share)? I’ll look into that some more. Thanks for all your help, much appreciated

Happy to help. My dad as mum left everything to each other, then whoever died last divided things between me, always helping mum, and my two absentee brothers. We had the same solicitor. Mum decided to rewrite her will, giving me half and brothers a quarter each. Mum was housebound, so I let the solicitor in, and went into the kitchen. The solicitor asked me to go into the garden so that there could be no later allegations of me influencing mum. Mum never told my brothers what she had done. After her death, youngest brother was paid his share. Then had a solicitor friend write demanding more. My solicitor dealt with that. I have not heard from my brother, nephew or niece since!!!
You need to be similarly careful.
If mum gives all her money away, and then needs residential care, Social Services will ask what happened to the money from the sale of the house. If it was given away, that counts as Deprivation of Assets, and you may be expected to pay for her care instead!
It is important that these issues and the POA are discussed with a solicitor sooner rather than later.