I’m Liz and I just wanted to say hello and introduce myself. I’m so sorry that this is so long.
**Warning: very long post! Summary - long distance care of 2 parents with differing care needs which have suddenly changed and increased.
I live in Kent and my elderly parents live in South Wales. It’s about 4-5 hours drive and I have made it to the hospital before the X-ray results when mum had a fall, so I keep telling myself that it’s not like being the other side of the world. But I am finding long distance care a struggle.
My dad is 84 and had a stroke a year ago. Before the stroke he was fit and active Although was using a walking stick. He was going swimming once a week and very socially active going to social clubs, and playing on darts teams so that he was out pretty much every evening. Since the stroke he has regained mobility and at first glance you’d think he’s fine. But he doesn’t have the same level of focus, his memory is not good, he looks after his own personal care but struggles with buttoning up correctly. His hearing has been bad for years and although he has hearing aids he doesn’t like them. He tends to nod and smile and I’ve seen him do it to social services / professional visitors and they have taken it to mean he understood what they were saying.
My Mum, 83, on the other hand has been in constant pain and suffering from lots of physical problems for many years and gradually become less and less mobile so that now she can only manage to get around in the house. They have a stairlift and grab rails and perching stools, so she manages but can only be on her feet for very short bursts. Over the past few months she has had a number of falls. Back in November she fractured a vertebra, that on top of the spinal stenosis that she has had for years. But the fracture healed. Sadly she had another bad fall last weekend which has resulted in a hip fracture and a partial hip replacement.
So right now mum is in hospital and dad is home alone.
After Dads stroke myself and other family members stepped in and got social services involved as mum couldn’t cope physically without dad. Eventually everything settled down with us having Home Instead providing an hour of care every day of the week. My mum is a formidable woman and was adamant that they were managing but eventually accepted practical help with housework, laundry, changing beds etc. The carers are fabulous.
Now with mum in hospital I have become aware of how much dad is struggling. His memory and logic is poor so that he has bought a loaf of bread and a tub of butter every day while mums been in hospital - so he now has 5 tubs of butter in the fridge. I know that he struggles with money. And it also turns out that he isn’t managing his medications. Also I’m worried that my mum is starting to lose mental capability. Her memory seems to be worsening. But her character is so formidable that I don’t think other people would notice if they didn’t know her. She comes across as being sharp as a pin.
I have spoken to Home Instead and they are aware of all the issues. I am going to try to persuade my mum to increase the visits to 2 per day so that they can help dad when he’s most active and likely to go to the shop. I have contacted the gp about his meds, and asked Home Instead to support with that - so that’s under control.
I feel it’s time to look at using the power of attorney that they registered. But it’s so daunting.
So this is where I am. Mum is still in hospital. Dad is wandering about to the shops and taking the dog out for walks. I’m not supposed to go there under current covid rules, if I go I’d have to stay in mums bed as there aren’t any hotels open, I normally check into a premier inn. And if I went there the hospital isn’t allowing visitors. I can’t track down the LPA document. So I’m a bit stuck in terms of taking over their finances. I’m just feeling overwhelmed, worried, and guilty for being so far away.
I guess that there is nothing unusual in any of this. It’s actually a great relief to find a group of people who can understand.
I’ll post more focussed questions in the relevant boards but just felt the need to explain my situation.
To anyone that makes it through my very long post - thank you and I look forward to getting to know you.