Hello fellow carers,

What a year we have been through, eh? I look forward to getting to know and chatting with you all. None of my friends have been in my situation, so they don’t really understand fully what it is like. I seem to have written way too much about myself so will put it under the dotted line – don’t feel you have to wade through! But if you are interested, this is where I am at.


A few years ago I left my job in England to live closer to Mum and Dad in Northern Ireland because, although my brother lived two miles from them, his wife had fallen out with my Mum and they barely saw him. My move was well meaning but ill thought out. The idea was to stay with them while job hunting and then get a place of my own. I had a road accident shortly after returning, and was left with injuries which took a long time to get over. During that time, I took on a part-time office job, to tide me over but ended up staying with my parents.

They got increasingly dependent on me, Dad had started having falls, Mum’s COPD got much worse and it made it harder for me to leave. I was about to sign up for a little flat near them though when the whole Covid thing kicked off and I got furloughed and made the tough decision to stay with them, as I didn’t see how they would manage without me there. Mum had a few TIAs which left her with memory gaps, she said very mean things at times and was generally quite contrary. Although I loved her, it was quite mentally draining through lockdown. Her hands were too weak to administer her own inhalers so her care started at 7am and lasted throughout the day until 10pm. For the last few months she was incontinent and it was relentless.
Despite her general ill health, Mum died very suddenly in August, after a period of being much improved, which was a big shock and a few weeks later Dad had a stroke. He refused all forms of help when he came out of hospital, even physio, as I was there to look after him. I spoke to a social worker and tried to get her to see that I was struggling with my mental health at that stage but because Dad said he was fine, they just discharged him and ignored me. It is now just assumed that I will do everything!

His right side is weak, his swallowing not the best sometimes and his speech is affected. He can still dress himself and toilet etc though. He is great for a 91 year old! However his behaviour has changed. I suspected he was in the early stages of dementia before Mum died, but now his memory has taken a dive, and his behaviour can be very out of character at times. Just the way Mummy went….Daddy was always a very quiet, man, never a harsh word to anyone – but now he follows me around the house, shouts at me if I do something he doesn’t think I should be doing (he treats me like a little child again and I am 51!) He wants constant company and he sulks if I go to my room for half an hour to watch some TV (he doesn’t watch TV or listen to the radio – just sits in silence looking out the window). If he thinks I am not listening to him, he shouts at me, but doesn’t listen himself and frequently starts talking to me in the middle of one of my sentences to him…If I try to read a book he constantly interrupts. We have the same conversations many times a day, every day.

I go out about once every fortnight for a couple of hours to socially distance walk with a small group of friends and Dad sulks and tries to make me feel guilty for going out without him! My brother is still working and pops by the window once a week after work for a few minutes, tells us what he thinks we should be doing, and then flies away as quickly as possible. He never comes by at a weekend….we didn’t even see him at Christmas.

I was speaking to my sis-in-law and she wished me a better year this year, after telling me what a lovely Christmas they had had and I just cracked. I had been keeping quiet about their lack of support, but I told her that my year would be better if my brother provided more support to his dad after he gets his vaccine, e.g. have him out for a meal, take him out for a drive, maybe help him in the garden - which would help me get a break from time to time. She went ballistic, called me selfish for wanting a break, said there was nothing they could do in this pandemic and how upset she was by my suggestions, and ended the conversation…didn’t want to discuss it again…OTT reaction and such a brick wall!….

I love my Dad and want to support him to live at home, which is all he wants, but I never intended to be a full time live-in unpaid carer, it just kind of happened. I know he is still grieving, and I think he may be depressed, but am not sure how much of his
behaviour change is a lasting effect of his stroke. My Dad point blank refuses to have any strangers look after him, won’t speak to the doctor about his mood and I am emotionally drained. I haven’t really been able to grieve properly for Mum as I need to keep a brave face for Dad, and I just feel exhausted and isolated. I haven’t seen my own ‘children’ in over a year as they both live in England. The last time I had a full day to myself was in February last year! When I get taken off furlough, it is going to be very difficult to juggle work and Dad and I don’t want to give up work entirely!

Sorry for the long ramble. It actually made me feel a bit better getting it written down and out of my head though! I feel so isolated right now and let down that my brother has proved to be so little support. I guess I just need to toughen up and insist on having some ‘me time’ and brave the sulks and manipulative behaviour. I wanted to spend some quality time together with my Dad and make his later life comfortable, but I am not sure I can do this much longer at such a toll on my own health and having no life myself! So, currently trying to work out how to balance my quality of life with caring for Dad…it ain’t easy!

Hello Rhonda, I’ve just read your post. You have been a very kind and caring daughter to both of your parents. You have put them first again and again. You should feel very proud of all that you’ve done.
I find your sister in laws attitude incredibly sad but not at all unusual. It does annoy me how unaware sisters/brothers/inlaws can be when it comes to supporting their family.
I care for my elderly mum full time and one of my sisters used to stay with mum alternate weekends. Then she stopped staying the night at mums and just visited for a few hours. When I asked her why she had changed she said that now that our mum was ’ old and needy’ it upset her too much being with her for more than a short time!!
I now try my best to look after myself. I used to go to dance classes, meet friends for a coffee, joined a walking group. But all that has now stopped due to Covid. But will start again in the future.
I think you need to be more assertive with your dad. Tell him that you have ‘given him his breakfast, done the washing up etc etc and now it’s your tea break time and you’re watching a programme on tv.’ If he continues to talk then turn the volume up and tell him you’re watching tv. Plus you should feel free to go out whenever you want to - your dad doesn’t own you!
Finally, don’t give up your job. Your job is really important financially and to give you independence and a social life.
Please look after yourself,
Take care,
Karen x

Many carers have ended up in similar situations. So easy to move in, so difficult to move out.
Sadly, the only long term solution will be residential care, if he has dementia and is going down hill fast. Dementia also means that he doesn’t remember how old you are!
When I was stuck between disabled mum, disabled son, when I was also disabled almost unable to walk, I had counselling, which was really helpful, especially setting priorities.
Of course you are not selfish at all, you are a brilliant, kind daughter.

Finding a solution depends on various things, apologies in advance for the “inquisition” that follows!
Does dad own his home?
Does he have over £23,000 in savings?
Do you have Power of Attorney?
Is he claiming Attendance Allowance?
Is he getting the council tax exemption for severe mental impairment?
Have you discussed your worries with his GP?

For the next week, keep a diary of what is happening.
If dad starts having a go at you for going out, etc. record it on your mobile phone if safe to do so.
This has proved really helpful for other carers, to show doctors.

You mention your own “children”. Can you tell us a bit more?

Hi Rhonda.

I can’t offer any suggestions but I understand the siblings not helping situation fully. I have 2 siblings who got married and moved out and now think all the caring for Mum (and 2 other siblings) should be done by me. Apparently I am single and have no kids so it is my direct responsibility. My sister doesn’t even phone Mum for a chat once a year and the cow only lives 5 minutes away.

It’s very hard work. I think once I started posting on this forum, I realised there was no point asking for help because some people are just that way inclined and don’t give a hoot.

I’m working on trying to get myself out of this situation but it really is very hard work.

I wish you all the best for 2021.

I think when one sister is the full time carer of mum or dad then the siblings are often UNAWARE of the sacrifices made by the full time carer and UNAWARE of all the responsibilities and stress that go with the caring role.
To be honest before I became a full time carer I had no idea of the commitment I was taking on.