Hi. I’m new here

Found this online community tonight and I already feel happier knowing that a lot of people have conflicting feelings about being a carer as much as I do. I’ve never joined a forum before so apologies in advance if I post things in the wrong place. Thanks for having me.

Welcome aboard, Ingrid28!

Feel free to join in, and don’t worry if you think you might post in the wrong place, we have moderators who will sort it out and let you know!

You might like to pop into the Members’ Area “Roll Call” topic, where you’ll often find some chatting about day to day stuff.

Hi Ingrid, welcome to the forum.

I wish I wasn’t a carer, I wish my son wasn’t brain damaged, I wish so many things.
Wishes won’t change anything, but I allow myself to wish.
I do my very best for others, but I now try very hard to still do some things I like too.
It’s important to try and keep a balance, even if our carees would like our undivided attention!
It’s OK to say “I can’t do this any more” as well. Everyone has their breaking point.
I’ve met mine.

What are you struggling with most at the moment?

Thank you for the friendly welcome. I’m just feeling burned out looking after my MIL. We are very close but she is behaving selfishly and demanding more than I can give of myself. My husband and I are looking after her at her cottage (he feels burned out too) and we can feel the life draining out of us but feel guilty that we feel resentful at times. I feel so much better just reading other peoples’ posts and I now know that our feelings are normal. I’ll probably just keep reading the posts on the forum as it seems most people have answered any questions I might have had for our welfare and that of my MIL. We’ve made notes to find more help and get more family involved in her care going forward. Thank you.

Hi Ingrid

I think ambivalence re caring is perfectly normal and I am sure many if not most of us feel that way at times. Also care needs seem to increase over the years . This is a safe place to get advice and support when needed and to have a good old vent at times too!

It will take the pressure off all of you to admit that some outside help is needed.
I know MIL doesn’t want that, no one ever does, but they are thinking only of themselves and what they want.
No concern for the effect their selfishness is having on others.
Nothing will change until you and your husband insist.
How old is MIL?
My mum was disabled, used to sit in her chair dreaming up jobs for me to do for her. Regardless of the fact that I too was widowed, disabled and had a business to run to earn a living, whereas she had a VERY generous pension!

Is MIL’s cottage making it easier or more difficult to care for her?
Things like a dishwasher, tumble dryer can make life easier, but most of all does she expect you to look after the garden too?
Is she claiming all the benefits which she is entitled to?
Does she shop online, pay bills by direct debit?
Is she a hoarder, or minimalist?
Every little helps.
Does she ring you a lot with “odd jobs”?
Does she have a social life?

We have taken care of every element of her life since she was widowed in 1994. We have carers coming in four times a day to help now but we are still living with her as we live away. We can’t help our family with our six grandchildren while we are living with MIL. She wasn’t expected to live beyond a couple of weeks so we moved in with her to be with her at the end. Now, months on, she’s more able and the doctors can’t understand how she’s still alive. She’s 95. We’ve asked her other son who also lives away to help with caring responsibilities. He says he will but so far nothing’s changed. She doesn’t qualify for much financial help. I think we’ll have to start looking into care homes - either for respite or for permanent living as we are making ourselves ill. We are in our sixties and both have our own health problems that are being aggravated by not being able to look after ourselves whilst caring for MIL. Sometimes things seem so bleak, then we feel guilty for feeling sorry for ourselves when so many people in the world have much bigger problems.

Do NOT fall into the trap of comparing with anyone else!

You have to look after yourselves too.
If doctors thought she was nearing the end of her life, did they do an End of Life Plan and arrange free Continuing Healthcare for her?

You need to put yourselves first.
Tell mum you can’t do this any more. Find out which homes accept CHC and visit appropriate homes, once you have decided with mum if she wants to be in her home area, or your area.
It is entirely your choice whether or not to care.
Don’t let anyone put pressure on you or tell you otherwise.
My husband died suddenly at 58, I’ll always believe his fatal heart attack was due to the pressure of caring for his parents and our disabled son.
We thought we had so many good years ahead when the parents wouldn’t need our support any more.

Every caring situation is unique because the people in each situation are unique. Comparing yourself with others almost an automatic reaction, but it’s pointless because it adds unnecessarily to your stress levels.

Your situation is yours - and all the things you like, and don’t like, about it are yours. And yours includes the fact that your health isn’t so great. If you don’t look after your own health, you won’t be able to care for your MIL, so may as well start handing over some of the care to someone else, whether a care agency or a care home. Social Services can help with selecting services, even if your MIL would be self-funding. That can help take some of the pressure off.

Don’t fret about the grandchildren, they are their parents responsibility. Keep your energy to deal with the present issue of your MIL, her needs and how to ensure she is looked after when you move out because your health is not up to caring for her. Don’t put the extra stress of the grandchildren on yourselves, sort out your MIL’s care or care home so you can move out, it could be emotional and upsetting having the conversations with her but people adjust.

When you are back home, don’t take on too much with the grandchildren, have boundaries. My aunt and uncle ended up from helping out once in a while to being full time childminders and had to tell the parents no more, the kids are your responsibility, because it was too much for them to be full time carers for them.

On the subject of finances, does your husband have Power of Attorney?

I have one grandchild, now 10. I’m the only grandparent he sees. Two are dead, the other one lives a long way away.
He has given me a whole new outlook on life, when I’m with him, I can forget about many worries and concentrate on giving him a happy time, as my grandparents did me.
One day, hopefully long in the future, he will inherit my house. He loves being here with me and his dad, my eldest son.
He is also very, very kind to M, my brain damaged son.

Grandchildren deserve happy relaxed grandparents to give them another view of the world.
My dad’s mum was physically so unlike me, tiny, aiming to weigh 7 stone. I weigh double! But mentally she is the person I take after most, almost like she lives on in me in a way none of the others do. We spent lots of time together, walking in the Devon countryside, making jam, giving me a love of sewing and craft things, learning about flowers, the way the human body worked (she was a physiotherapist and radiographer) and so much more. She was determined, strong willed, and always spoke her mind - definitely a lot of her in me!!!

I think you NEED more time with the grandchildren. Childhood is so fleeting, I can’t believe A will soon be 10 years old.
Your children also need you, and vice versa, not as baby sitters, but as their parents, to confide in, and you them.
You don’t want them to say “You were always too busy with gran to…”

Mum should not be allowed to take all this away from you.