Hello ,coping with guilt due to situation

I have become my 86 year old mums carer, she is living with myself and my family after having a stay in hospital due to a bad episode of COPD, she was indipendant before this but decided she couldn’t cope living alone and wanted to live with me, which was going to be inevitable at some stage, but it happened quicker than I thought, and it has changed my family’s life completely as I feel swallowed buy unbearable guilt for my husband and boys for having this situation forced upon them without any prior time to adjust, luckily he is incredibly understanding and accepting but i can’t cope with this guilt some days, night time being the worst time as i have difficulty sleeping because of this guilt and so the vicious circle begins.x

Where was mum living before?

Lucy, welcome, but I’m sorry you needed to find yourself here.

I think that carers feel guilt no matter what they do; it seems to be part of the package. It certainly was for me. I expect that others with experience of taking a parent into their home will be along shortly, to suggest how to help deal with the impact.

(My situation was different as I was my husband’s carer. My guilt comes from feeling I put upon my grown-up children to help, even though I know intellectually that they offered freely.)

"she was independent before this but decided she couldn’t cope living alone and wanted to live with me, which was going to be inevitable at some stage, "

Lucy, your mum had NO right to say she wanted to live with you!!! Why did you ever let her think she did, or that it was even on the cards, let alone ‘inevitable’!

The trouble is, most of us never really think an independent parent will actually ever ‘end up’ not being independent! I never thought it of my 89 y/o MIL living perfectly well on her own in her comfy flat 400 miles away!

But then she decided she couldn’t live on her own any more - sadly, what was actually happening was she was developing dementia - and I did TRY to have her with me. But it ‘ate my life’. (I’m widowed, and in a different way from you, that was ‘equally bad’ - I doubt my own husband would have agreed to have her ‘move in’ with us!)

What on earth does your husband think? Did he know previously that your mum had intended to move in with you and make her home with you ‘inevitably’???

The thing is, moving in with you solves your MUM’S problems - and CREATES yours!

I think now you need to take a long hard look at the situation from the top down and the bottom up!

To be absolutely brutal, the key question is ‘how long will your mum live now’? Because if she continues to live with you that is how long you’ll have her (I take she is seeing it that way!)

Having three generations in one living unit, with your mum ‘always there’ - so she is involved in mealtimes, sitting watching telly in the evening, being ‘part of the family non-stop’ is incredibly ‘intrusive’ into YOUR life and that of your husband and sons.

I know it’s harsh, and I can see JUST why your mum WANTS to live with you (who wouldn’t!) (I used to call my house ‘Hotel Jenny’, sigh) (MIL was blissfully happy living with me!), but it really isn’t on.

Do you think there is any physical space for her to have an annexe at all? One forum member has converted her garage for her ‘downstairs flat’ while her son is in the ‘main house’. Another member built a cabin in the garden for the mum. If that is so that MIGHT be sustainable until your mum dies (or, alternatively, needs SO much nursing care she HAS to be in a nursing home till the end comes)

If not, then I do think you need to present her staying with you at the moment as ‘temporary’ …it is ‘while she recuperates from hospital’ etc etc. It is NOT PERMANENT.

One option that MIGHT work for you all is this. When I faced total collapse and a nervous breakdown from having my life ‘eaten’ by my MIL living with me (each and EVERY day was devoted to her), I moved her into a nearby care home (it was an Abbeyfield home and afforded semi-independent living in a very sheltered environment), and then she cam back to me for ‘sleepovers’ twice a week. It was a compromise I could cope with, and it might be something to consider for your mum. She could come to you ‘sometimes’ to be 'at home ’ with you, but you would also be able to ‘get her out again’ routinely as well, so you had your OWN life with your husband and sons.

The whole situation is sad, and dreadful, and comes when parents get too frail to live independently. Do you, by the way, have any siblings? Another option, which my friend did for a while with her sister for their dad, is to ‘swap’ your mum between you and your siblings, so she ‘rotates’…that way she is always with a son/daughter, but each son/daughter gets enough of her NOT being with them, to have their OWN lives.