Dad can't cope with Mum any longer

Hello. I’m hoping you might be able to give me some advice.

My Mum is 89, is partially sighted, arthritic and has osteoporosis and mobility problems with regular falls. She has already had 2 periods of stay in hospital and 2 lots 6 weeks of rehab before coming back to the family home. The last time she came home from rehab in Oct 2019 we had a meeting with social services to talk about any additional care she might need. At that point my Dad, who is 88, was adamant he could care for her and didn’t need any help as he’d managed for years without. I supported him at the meeting but said he must make sure he let’s us know of its gets too much. Mum is often anxious, she worries about where my Dad is when he leaves the room and constantly calling out to him usually for no reason. She now has little interest in anything and finds it hard to hold a conversation and regularly thinks I’m her sister as well as obessesive behaviours (repeating words or checking her diary for dates over and over). She has has egularly falls since coming home because she forgets to use her frame properly or is looking to see where my Dad is. I’ve been called out many times in the small hours to pick her up after a fall.

Since lockdown I’ve found mum has declined rapidly which is very upsetting. I have been doing their shopping but had only been in the house twice since March both times as Mum had a fall. Last Tues she fell on her way to bed knocking my Dad over with her. I went over and we called for an ambulance. She was diagnosed with a lung and water infection. Came home on Tuesday and fell 3 times during the afternoon and went into hospital again that evening (being treated for a water infection at present). My Dad is exhausted and has admitted he can’t cope any longer and needs to place her care where she will be safe, but obviously feels he is letting her down. We’ve let the hospital know and they’ve said they will assess her and find a place for her. I have tell her she can’t go home, which will be hard as not sure she will understand or not… Does anyone have any good advice on this kind of thing?

Thanks in advance sorry its so long.

Hi Sarah,
you are doing the right thing.

Has your Mum been diagnosed with dementia or has her confusion only been since she has had UTIs? How you deal with telling your Mum the plan depends on her level of understanding and what you and your Dad think is best. You could leave it for the social worker or doctor or sister at the hospital to tell her or you could do it yourselves. Some folk tell their relative that they are going to stay at a nursing home because they need nursing care; some blame it on the doctor or whoever - the doctor says you need to be looked after or go there until you are better or because you aren’t ready to go home yet. Pet66 calls these 'kind lies," because they protect the caree from the harsh truth.


Don’t tell her that, now is the time for white lies. Let her think that it’s an option when the doctors say it’s OK. Sadly, she never will be.

Mum hasn’t been diagnosed with dementia although how she is would suggest something like this has developed. I know she was tested for Parkinsons when last in rehab. When there she often forgot where she was and wouldn’t remember to press her buzzer for help to go to the loo. One evening we arrived for a visit to find her in the bathroom very distressed and calling out for my Dad. So the confusion has been around for a while now but was much more acute with the infection. We’re wondering if perhaps she was discharged too soon this time.

Thanks for your help. Thats given me a way of approaching the chat I’ll have with her. Just have to brave as its not easy.

Not easy at all, but no point in distressing her. From now on you have to put what mum NEEDS first, not what she WANTS. My mum became so I’ll and frail that residential care became the only option left, everything else had been tried and failed. So very sad.

Hi Sarah
It’s not easy at all. When my husband 1st went into the nursing home, he thought it was a stepping stone to getting back home. I went along with that , saying the Doctors have to be sure. If he said they are so slow, would agree and say I wish they would hurry up too, but we are not allowed to rush them!! Then found distraction was the key.
Feel very sad for you