Feeling guilty for not embracing the chance to care for mum

My mum had a difficult time when I was growing up. I had a brother who had s heart condition and he died aged 7 (I was 9). Mum then had another child 10 years after that and he was born with Downes Syndrome. He still lives with Mum. Mum is 88 and both she and my brother now require increasing outside help. Mum won’t accept outside carers and is expecting me to take it on when she cannot look after herself. Given that she has had a massive burden of having to care for others for most of her life, I should be jumping at the chance of being able to give something back. But I’m not jumping at the chance. I do a certain amount for them and social services are involved with my brother. I envisage having to move in with him when mum dies which I accept I will do. Mum is a very controlling person. Ok - now tell me I’m being selfish and to pull myself together and get on with it. No one else will tell me this - I don’t have any friends and never married. Thank you

Hi Chris … welcome to an extremely quiet forum as I type.

A whole host of questions arise from your posting.

To enable us to home in on the areas of immediate concern , can you provide us with further information ?

Mother … present health condition ? If deteriating , potential care home / CHC / NHS Continuing Healthcare on the menu ?

Mother … on the radar of AGE UK ???

Brother … social services mentioned … to what extend are they helping ?

Mother … assets ( In excess of £ 23,000 ) ?

All family … current range of benefits / allowances ?

All family … mother : sole home owner ? A tenant ? If so , social of b.t.l. ? Brother … living with in mother’s home , or
a joint tenant ?

Mother / brother … power of attorney held ? Wills ?

Mother / brother … I presume no needs or carer assessments done ( Although mention of the local ss in respect of your brother ) ?

You … do you sincerly want to become one of us or … if possible … a care manager ?

There is NO legal requirement for anyone to care … the family responsibility card is played far too often !!!

Enough from me , others will be along to add their insights and , with further information , provide some guidance and recommendations.

Hi Chris,
Very sorry but I won’t tell you that, and I doubt whether anyone else on this forum will either. Completely the opposite will be the belief held here and I think that’s what you need to hear.
Yes your Mum has had a hard time of it. Losing a child must be the most awful thing to happen and then for the next baby to be in need of constant support into adulthood was no doubt another blow. However hard it’s been, Mum has lived her life and has made her own choices throughout it and there is no justification for her to take your choices away from you and lay the same burden of care that she has endured onto your shoulders. Whatever Mum’s life has been like, you have every right to live yours in the way that you wish.
Please take to heart this truth:-
No-one HAS to care for any adult, whatever the relationship, or whatever the condition of that adult. Not parent, sibling, spouse, adult child, grandparent or even great aunty Susan!!
You do NOT have to care for either Mum or your brother whatever anyone says or hints.
It’s entirely up to you how much you are willing to do. In a way you are lucky because you already realise that this is not something you want to spend your life doing. So may sons and daughters have willingly and happily taken on the care of their elderly parents only to bitterly regret it years down the line.
Very many elderly people seem to have this ‘no strangers, no carers’ attitude and ‘expect’ their grown children to look after them. They get focused on themselves and perhaps don’t realise or even don’t care what damage they are doing to their children whom one hopes they didn’t have in the first place with the idea of ready made servants for their old age?
There are many threads and information on this site which will give you hints and tips as to how to proceed when you have decided what level of involvement to want to have with your carees.
You DO have choices. Mum will have to accept and comply with your choices. She must not dictate your life. It’s YOUR life.
Keep posting with updates and ask any questions if you cannot find the information you want. Your first reply from Chris is a good start.




Forget what you might think other people will judge you. Should you not want to take on a caring role.


No we won’t say get on with it, be strong and do what you want.
Don’t feel guilty.
There must be many people here who feel trapped and find they cannot get enough help so their own health (physical and mental) deteriorates.
Many also wish they had never taken on the responsibility and feel resentful towards the state (and sadly maybe the person who needs care)
You just need to balance your needs without feeling too guilty about it.
You can ‘fight’ for your mother and brother’s rights without taking on the carer role, just make sure you don’t get swept into doing too much for them

best of luck

My son has severe learning difficulties as the result of brain damage at birth. He is 40, lives in a flat with carer support.

You need to ask Social Services for a Carers Assessment, regarding mum and brother. It is utterly shameful that your brother is stuck with mum, and vice versa, when he could be having a happy semi independent life of his own.

I’m currently campaigning locally so that all parents have a “right to retire”. Currently, the council only know how old the clients are, not the parents!!

I have serious health issues, not supposed to care for anyone ever again, but my son comes home alternate weekends, and wwe speak every day on the phone. There should be lots of help available for your brother and mum. Don’t delay. Make it cler that your brother is going to need to leave home when mum dies.

Who owns the property where they live?

Everyone is different and have different relationships with parents etc.

For me, My Mum is also my best friend, but that is rare nowadays. We live together, have help from Carers and look after each other. I couldn’t live without her and I think vice versa.

My Sister, on the other hand, has as little contact with us as possible, despite living five minutes away.

I think the annoyance comes if you start telling your Mum and Brother how to act without helping, but you come across as the kind of person who will help at every opportunity.

Agree with all the posters you do not HAVE to be a carer for your mother and brother. All you can do is try to help by getting outside help in place. Please do not sacrifice your own life. Not everyone is able or willing to care. I do not think that you are being selfish. I care because I have no choice but to do so if I want to keep my own home. So it is a very big decision and in your position, I would NOT move in with your brother under any circumstances. Would you consider talking things through with a professional counsellor? You say you have no friends and this is sad as my friends have got me through the last 8 years…

I will focus on the long term future of your brother.

Almost 50 years ago, long before I had my own children, I met a couple with a Down’s Syndrome daughter, who they loved dearly. They went to Social Services trying to secure a safe future for her. She was told “something” would be arranged, but no clear plans.
40 years later, I read in the local paper of a girl with Down’s Syndrome running up and down her road trying to get help because she “couldn’t wake Mummy”.

Death is an inevitable fact of life, and your brother may have to live without mum and you, in his later years. You might become seriously ill, still alive but unable to care for him, so what would happen then?

My son left home for boarding school 15 miles away when he was 16, I’d been really ill, 14 lots of antibiotics in 12 months, because I was so run down. I cried and cried at the time, it wasn’t what I wanted.

However, he was so near that he could come home whenever he wanted. He’d always been used to spending weekends in a caravan at a steam rally somewhere, so he coped really well with being here and there. He moved from school to college (60 miles away, I clocked up a lot of miles in 3 years!) but he always knew I loved him and did my very best. Then from college he went to a residential home. It was really lovely, lots of space, lots of people for him to talk to, a walled garden to grow veg in etc. Very happy years. Then he went to a smaller home, just 3 residents, the most capable people. Then when that closed down, he went into Supported Living, and now lives in his own flat, with carer support. It is a lovely sunny flat, the bedroom is enormous, and we have spent many happy weekends maing it just how he wants.

My husband died suddenly 13 years ago, soon after I was disabled after a serious car accident. Since M left home, I’ve had 8 operations.

Don’t think “it can’t happen to me” because it can, and sadly, death is inevitable!

I am NOT suggesting that you move your brother into a home tomorrow, I am saying that from now on, he needs lots of supprot to become as independent as possible, ready for the time when he doesn’t have mum or you.

Gradually, your role as far as both of them is concerned is to become his and mum’s “Manager of Care” rather than care provider.

IF mum owns her home, and would like your brother to remain there, it may be possible, there are various schemes to enable this.