Hi. Well, reading some of your issues mine seems very small. But, I know it’s all relative - it’s big to me.
My mum is 98. She lives in sheltered housing near us which, until Covid, had a good social structure. She has a lovely cosy flat which is much nicer than where she used to live. Due to Covid, all the social activities have closed down. The church hasn’t reopened (not that she’s religious, she just liked the company). The Sally Army across the road is also shut -she used to go for lunch. Ditto the Quaker House nearby. Basically she’s a very social person. All her sisters and brothers are dead and I’m an only child. Dad died many years ago.
In the first lockdown I brought her to live with us. It was okish. She was fed up though as she couldn’t go out and eventually wanted to go home. We have caring responsibility for our two small grandkids too. They were coming back to us as lockdown eased so it was actually safer for her back at home. The following weeks were manageable but her mental state has really deteriorated. She’s now just angry and tearful most of the time. She can’t rationalise why she can’t go out socially and why her facility won’t restart social activities. I’ve tried jigsaws, colouring, reading, tv, radio, knitting, crafts - all rejected with venom. She just sits in silence and then when I go - I talk to her through the window every day and they allow me to visit inside once a week - she just cries and moans and complains. I take her out twice a week for lunch but it’s becoming where I don’t want to go. She’s just so miserable and takes it out on me. I’ve ended up shouting at her twice now and then I feel guilty. She thinks we’re living the high life (as if) and leaving her alone. My OH has suggested having her back here but I really don’t want to. I don’t even want to bring her for lunch as I fear (possibly irrationally) she’ll not want to go home.
Does anyone have any coping strategies please? I try letting it flow past but it’s really getting to me now. Any suggestions would be gratefully received. PS I also suspect this is the start of dementia? Any advice also welcome on that. Thanks. Sorry it’s long.
Just a fleeting answer, on my phone whilst waiting for my laptop to boot up …
It might be worth looking at the stages of grief. Grief isn’t just the result of losing a person - she sounds like she is grieving the loss of her previously sociable life. Most folk have moved through the stages and are at acceptance (or resignation!) but staying with you over the first lockdown, may have delayed her reaction to the situation. I saw this response in S, initially he was really angry about Lockdown, then he was so sad and sobbed, he settled then into acceptance. As things started opening again - he was hysterically happy (never far from tears). He is steadier again now, but gets anxious when Boris is on the TV and if he sees the News. He too is desperate for his social clubs, cafe church, visiting people’s houses to start again. (We are tier 2 and not in a support bubble).
It sounds like you are doing everything you can, though I don’t understand why you are only allowed to visit her once week since she lives in her own self contained flat. I think you should follow your gut on her staying at her flat. Maybe contact the Salvation Army, Quaker house etc and see if they provide any outreach support for the elderly.
I’m “spring cleaning” today, so just a couple of questions to start with.
How exactly does mum “take it out” on you?
How old are you?
If mum is lonely, then you could suggest residential care instead, where she would have others to chat to.
I’m sure she would say “No”.
In that case you can then say “I’ve offered you an alternative, which you have turned down, it’s your choice”.
I believe we are all responsible for our own happiness, that’s mum and you too.
I’ve had some horrible years, nearly died of an illness once, nearly killed in a car accident, lost all my parents, husband, brother, and sister in law, but I REFUSE to be unhappy all the time.
Today it’s wet and miserable, but I’m sorting out my bedroom, with thoughts of a holiday soon. I’m going self catering, to minimise any risk, taking my sewing machine and some fabric for company in the evening, which I love doing. My place is often too busy to sew in peace. Son and partner separated, son lives with me, grandson often here, brain damaged son often here.
I’ll be making pretty summer clothes for my next holiday in Crete, which I love too.
When did you and your husband last escape for a week together?
It’s so important not to get “stale”.
There are some great last minute deals at the moment, as long as you are not under any restrictions.
What are the staff saying where she lives. Does Mum display the same negativity there as she does with you. I think a lot of people are fed up with the situation. Particularly, older people as time is not on their side. People just want quality and not necessary quantity of life. And want to just enjoy their remaining time. As you have already had Mum with you. And it semi worked for a time and she did ask to return home. I’m not sure trying that again will necessarily work. Mum needs to take control of her days.
Hi Wendy, There’s no easy answers to your problem. You are a kind and caring daughter to your mum. It is marvellous that you take her out for lunch twice a week - that gives her something to look forward to.
My mum (age 90) loves going round the supermarket and other shops. She is now wheelchair bound but it gives her something else to think about.
Could you arrange for someone else to phone her up sometimes for a chat?
The local church might be able to help or ageuk. Tell them how lonely she is.
Next time she gets angry with you tell her she is upsetting you and you miss the happy friendly person she used to be. Plus remind her of all the lovely things she can do when the lockdown is over.
Thanks so much for all the replies. It’s made me feel much better. Also spoken to my daughter today and she feels it’s mainly a short term memory issue. It’s clear to my daughter, when I tell her what’s been said, that mum just can’t remember what I’ve told her. She can’t remember I took her out 3 days ago. She can’t remember we can’t socialise. She just can’t rationalise what we are all dealing with. My daughter likens it to dealing with her 3 year old! We love them but they drive us to distraction. I need to work on how I respond to her. I’ve been correcting her and that gets us both wound up. I maybe need to stop that and just adopt a smile and nod approach??
I have spoken to the care workers in the facility (it’s sheltered housing but with a care element if needed. Currently mum has no physical care needs). They will go have a 10 min chat with her but they don’t really have time. They do tell me many of the residents (38 in all and all elderly) show similar mental symptoms. Anger, tears, etc. There is a lounge residents can use but of course they’re not allowed to socialise as we’re in tier 3. That’s now locked. In tier 2 they had just started small group (6 people) activities and mum was thrilled about that. That’s gone again of course.
I do agree there’s an element of grief too. Mum just wants her life back and yes, she does realise her time is limited to enjoy that. She’s started asking what the point of living is - and in her current situation I do find it hard to answer. She’s just existing.
Anyhow onwards … thanks again all. As they say it’s good to talk.
Wendy, from what you say, mum is now suffering from her extreme old age.
Sadly, her needs will increase, and her memory get worse.
You are now parenting an “elderly toddler”.
I hate that phrase, but it describes what is happening to mum. On the other hand she is lucky to have had such a long life, unlike my husband who died suddenly of a massive heart attack in his sleep at the age of 58.
Your role now is to focus firmly on what she NEEDS, rather than what she wants.
She is probably entitled to Disability Living Allowance and exempt from Council Tax due to “severe mental impairment”, easy to claim via the council.
Do you have Power of Attorney?
Yes you’re right re the elderly toddler. That’s exactly how it is. Money isn’t an issue as her pension and other benefits cover her needs. I took the decision not to have power of attorney as there’s not much to manage. Also, last time I suggested it her now departed man friend told her I was trying to take her money and put her on the streets . It caused such a drama I didn’t pursue it further. I have third party access to her bank account on the advice of her bank. She’s always been independent- I just keep an eye on things and help where needed. Thanks for the support.