Hi, I'm new to the forum


I feel a bit of a fraud after reading some other people’s much more challenging experiences here, but I thought I’d register for the forum as I suspect I might find online support useful over the coming months. My problems are not big ones but I’d rather try and get things right, find the right resources quickly, etc.

I am 61, retired, and live about half an hour away from my widowed mother, who is 89 and lives in her own flat in a retirement block. Until just over a year ago she was quite fit and independent and didn’t need much support, but over the past year she’s had a number of problems that have affected her mobility and ability to be self-sufficient. I find I’m increasingly having to help out, pop over more frequently, do her shopping, help her with tasks and chores around the place, take her to GP and hospital appointments etc. I don’t really mind as I’m the oldest of my siblings, live the closest and, mostly importantly, am the only one that’s retired so I have the time. However, I think we need to face the fact that her mobility isn’t going to get any better and we need to start looking at where she needs more help on a permanent basis. I think this is going to be a difficult conversation because she doesn’t like the idea of needing help - it’s just about acceptable from me as her daughter but a different matter having to acknowledge she needs professional support.

I think that’s it for the moment - I’m still finding my way around the forum and the resources available, but I can see I might be asking specific questions over the coming months, and possibly sounding off a bit about old people who cause more problems by not wanting to be a burden than if they accepted help gracefully :laughing:

Hello Jo, you certainly have come to the right place for support! I joined the site four years ago and it’s been lovely to converse with people who have “been there, worn the tee shirt” so to speak!! Especially bowlingbun, jennylucas, Susie, Henrietta, mellie…the list goes on!

It is hard trying to persuade an elderly mother to accept help from others (“I don’t want strangers looking after me” my mother was always telling me. . And still is now that she’s in a care home!!)

Your mum might be eligible for Attendances Allowance if she needs help with any personal care. It’s a benefit that is NOT means tested. The number to phone for an application form is,I believe, 08457 123456.

Your local social services department would be a good starting point as they could visit your mum to do a needs assessment for her and a carers assessnent for you. They will be able to tell you the kind of services they offer as well as give you lists voluntary agencies such as luncheon clubs etc etc.

I am sure that tomorrow you will receive many more replies and advice from the ladies and gentlemen on this forum.
Cheerio for now Jo. Best of luck


Welcome to the forum Jo, you are sliding down a slippery slope increasingly fast.
Now is the time for mum to accept some outside help, someone other than you to “run errands” for her.

Mum only wanting family to do things is so, so common, but you must make yourself a little less available. How far can she walk? The more help she accepts at home, the longer she can stay in her own home.

Bowlingbun is so right Jo
The first time I got carers in was when my mother refused point blank at the last minute to go in for a short stay whilst we went on holiday. She had agreed to the short stay and I’d done everything to prepare for it as in labelling all her clothes etc etc. In the event I organised carers and meals on wheels and on the last day before we went she followed me round the house saying “I don’t know how you can go on holiday when I’m poorly!”. Talk about knowing which of your buttons to press!! I have no siblings or other relatives to fall back on (my daughter lives fifty miles away and works full time ) and it was all very stressful. It was at that point that I decided mum would just have to have carers as well as me going in. She was not happy at all but did eventually get used to them.

In the end Jo you really have to look after yourself otherwise you’ll be of no use to your mum. Looking after some one can go on for years and before you know it YOUR life will have passed you by as well. I am now 72 and up until last August was going to my mothers on a practically daily basis since I retired at 60. Well perhaps not in the very beginning it would be more like three or four times a week. But then as her needs became greater I was there every day.

Mum now transferred from hospital last week to a nursing home so now I feel that I can finally relax and have more time for myself and my rock of a husband!!

So Jo I know it’s hard for you but we’re all here to support you and offer advice of and when you need it.

But hugs from Joan x

Hi Jo and welcome.
I typed you a long reply last night but then battery ran out and I lost it all :frowning:
In summary 4 first things

  1. Get POA for both finances and health now, while Mum has capacity and it takes a couple of months to process.
  2. Focus on her NEEDS not her WANTS. Needs are vital, wants are wishes that are optional.
  3. Start introducing outside help in small steps now. Gardener, cleaner, ‘heavy’ shopping delivery, taxis to various places. This will introduce the idea it doesn’t have to be you and help if personal Carers are needed later.
  4. Make no unbreakable promises, e.g. do not promise never to move her into residential care. You have no idea what may or may not happen health wise, to her or YOU. Better that you promise to make sure she has the care she NEEDS. This leaves things nicely open so whatever happens the feelings of guilt are minimised.

As you read more of the forum you will we are a wide variety of peopleinawide variety of situation but the depth and breadth of the ‘hive’ knowledge is amazing. I wouldn’t have made it through without the help of the good people on here. Please pass on what you learn, and do answer others threads too. It’s the way it works :slight_smile:

Hi all, and thank you so much for your welcome, advice and experience. I went to her local Carers organisation this morning and picked up a load of literature to browse through - I know there’s a lot on this site but sometimes it’s good to sit down with a finite amount, plus it’s all local.

My mother really isn’t too dependent yet, quite the opposite really. She thinks accepting help is the slippery slope to dependency. She doesn’t believe she needs help and mostly she is pretty good at looking after herself, but then it does tend to be me in emergencies. I have a brother who also lives about 30 mins away but he’s still working, plus there are occasionally things like helping with dressing if she’s had to get undressed for a hospital appointment, that it wouldn’t be appropriate for a son to do. But he’s pretty good at stepping in when I’m away.

She’s always been a bit clumsy and periodically used to trip over her own feet but now she’s more frail we worry about that. She fell in the street yesterday and she’s fine but her face is a real mess as she has two very impressive black eyes. We worry that she might fall and break her hip, which would be life-changing, but I said that to her this morning and she’s aware of that.

I suspect I may be over-reacting because I’ve seen how my sister-in-law got dragged in to supporting my parents-in-law over the past couple of years, but they do need a lot of help. I think I need to pick and choose my battles with Mum, for example she’s adamant she doesn’t need anyone to do a bit of dusting and hoovering for her so I’ll probably give up on that one. Although I did notice recently that her bathroom had started to smell so I gave it a good deep clean, but I resented every second because I’m not domesticated, hate cleaning, and pay someone to clean my own house! And then I felt guilty for feeling resentful :unamused:

I might focus on trying to get her to do a bigger fortnightly shop, possibly if I do it online for her or take her to the supermarket myself (her retirement place does run a fortnightly bus to Sainsbury’s but I think she’d need help getting a lot of shopping). I don’t like that she only buys small amounts at a time and makes herself walk into town 2 or 3 times a week to restock.

We do have a Power of Attorney signed, but it was the old scheme which I think possibly only covers financial rather than health & wellbeing. We haven’t registered/enacted it yet. I might start a new topic about comparing the old and new ones, as I don’t know whether it would be worth doing a new one. My partner and his sister got them for my in-laws recently so he knows all the details if I do decide to do it.

I suspect part of the reason I’m concerned about what I’m getting into is that I have no kids so I have never been responsible for another human being before. Cat yes, I can do cats. But I am starting to feel very responsible for my mum and it’s a bit daunting.

Thanks again for all the suggestions,

Hi Jo.

On the Power of Attorney front , just like ice cream … they come in different flavours :



What are the Types of Powers of Attorney and What are the Differences ?

You need to be more honest with mum about the bathroom.
There is NO SHAME whatsoever in getting someone else to do all the bending and stretching to clean a bathroom, but as her sense of smell is probably none too good now, then you need to say gently to mum that it would be a good idea for her to get someone in to do the “heavy” work…so she doesn’t run the risk of falling over herself when doing it…or because you have a bad back…or…
Or just say that "it would really help me mum if you got someone to do the bathroom etc. so there is more time for us to enjoy a shopping trip together.
Can I suggest that you keep a brief diary to record how many hours a week you are doing things either with, or for, mum?

What is her flat like, streamlined, or cluttered. Use the danger of falling, if neccessary, to get rid of stuff she doesn’t need any more. My mum was a hoarder. My brothers and I all agreed that if mum ever offered us anything, we’d take it, even if we didn’t want it, just to reduce the clutter mountain!

Hi, just to chuck a few more thoughts in!

Why not get one of those cleaning agencies to do a monthly ‘blitz’ on the house. That way you’ll know it’s been properly cleaned regularly, but as it’s a ‘big clean’ it won’t seem that your mum is ‘past it’ for the dusting etc etc. I would stress that now she is an OAP she is entitled NOT to have to do any housework any longer! (Especially as you hate it as well!).

The other approach is to stress to her that you want the time you spend with her to be QUALITY time - what I call ‘companion caring’…not the ‘chore caring’ that involves cleaning, shopping etc etc. Stress that if you organise ‘someone else’ to do the chore stuff, that frees you and her up to do the non-chore things.

This can include simply spending nice time with her - even watching TV, having tea together, etc. But it can also mean taking her out and about on ‘treat trips’ etc etc.

I would definitely urge, by the way, tha she goes through old photos and memorabilia with you (do you have nephews and nieces by the way?) - this is both good for her emotionally, and mentally, and believe me, you need to ‘capture’ all this information inside her head …sadly, I have a lot of family photos that I simply do not know who is in them, or where they were taken etc. So think ‘legacy’ with her. It also exercises her mind and memory as well - increasingly important as she ages.

Finally, re the small shopping trips - don’t forget that for us, shopping for food is usually a chore…for the elderly it can be an ‘outing’ in its own right. My late MIL loved (when she was still able) to come to Waitrose and go round (very very slowly, leaning on the trolley) …a shop that took me ten minutes as I rushed around to fill the trolley and get out ASAP would be a lingering experience for her.

Yes, my Mum set it as her benchmark that she would get out every day, even if it was to get a newspaper or post a letter. When that became too much for her she did ask us to find a residential Home. It turned out she had been to look at a couple herself but she decided against those particular ones and decided to move further away near my Big Bro. The other factor in her decision was her loneliness and isolation. She just outlived all her nearby friends and family and had no one left locally at all.

Jo, get Mum to wear fall’s pendant, the local council will have a scheme that is quite cheap. My Mum had one for a few months before she would actually wear it (we think she had a fall or 2 she didn’t tell us about). She agreed one after I told her the story of neighbour who had a fall in the bathroom wedged by the toilet, without her knickers on, and was sooo embarrassed she couldnt help herself in that situation. Mum would have been mortified to be found in such disarray.
It’s a matter of playing to their strengths and fears.

There’s many options between full, safe, indepence and full, bed bound 24/7 residential care, and she’ll probably work her way through most of them. They are a tough generation. My mum (very nearly 96) describes her Home (which is quite a good one really) as " much better than boarding school, and a bit better than the barracks in the war" !!

And forgot to say…
None of us find the transferring of responsibility easy when it is parents who are declining. Most of us have had them in the position of authority for 60 or even 70 years (all our lives!) and it is sad those roles reverse and we have to become the Parent while they revert to being a Child, not that most of them would admit to that. Fun times ahead :slight_smile:

Thanks again everyone, some very useful advice there. I will look at the POA link, thanks. I have suggested to her that she just gets someone to do a big clean periodically and then she can just do the normal weekly maintenance. However, I’m going to back off on that topic because (i) it was the one she was most resistant about, and (ii) she has always been so ridiculously houseproud that it’s perversely pleasing to see the odd bit of dust here and there :laughing:

One of the difficulties is that I don’t have a regular routine - she’s pretty good normally but I get pulled in for emergencies. At the moment it’s ok, but I’m aware I need to monitor to ensure the emergencies don’t start to become her new normality. The one thing I don’t want to farm out to others is taking her to medical and other appointments. She’s of the generation that doesn’t question professionals so I think she needs me or one of my brothers to ensure we understand everything and that she gets the best care. Thanks for the reminder about the pendant, she has one but doesn’t wear it :unamused: She said she would when they got their new alarm system and she could wear it as a bracelet, but I put it on for her and she’s found an excuse to take it off again!

Good thought also about shopping trips being enjoyable outings - maybe a fortnightly trip to Morrison’s would be a good idea. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what she buys regularly, but if I can get it down to a fine art, then when she doesn’t feel up to it I could do an online order and have it delivered to her.

I very rarely have to go two days in a row, but I’m going over again tomorrow as the district nurses are coming to rebandage her leg ulcers and I want to check if there are other options. She has the bandages right down over the foot on one leg, meaning she can’t get her shoe on so she has to wear a canvas boot thing, and she says that’s why she tripped in the street yesterday.

The more I think about it, the more I realise it’s not so much about chores, it’s about feeling responsible. She looks to me for advice, which is good in many ways - she won’t let any cold callers or the bank or anyone talk her into doing anything without checking with me first - but that means I feel honour bound to find all the best possible options, research things for her, etc. I think that’s what could become a bit emotionally draining. But I talked to both of my brothers this evening and it was good to share and feel less like I’m dealing with it all myself. And this time next week I’ll be getting ready to go away on holiday the next day - hurrah! :laughing:

Enjoy your holiday, you have earned it.

With regard to emergencies, are they really important, or just urgent to mum?
My mum had endless jobs for me, the faster I did them the faster they came. Counselling taught me to manage mum’s expectations.
To leave the answerphone on, so I could listen to the calls IF they were really important, otherwise I’d reply later.
I adopted a “one job at a time” policy, and worked at my chosen pace, not mum’s. I could then say “You asked me to do this, so let’s get it finished before we start another one”.
Counselling made me realise that I would never say “No” to mum, over 60, I was still behaving like a little girl, mum was she who must be obeyed. However, the only power mum had over me was the power she had over me, I didn’t HAVE to do anything.
Once I felt more in control, that I knew I was doing things for mum because I loved her and wanted her to be comfortable, I felt so much better.

I think what increasingly happens is that we become a ‘prosthetic’ for our ageing parents. Things they used to do for themselves they now ‘use us’ to do…we become an ‘able-bodied extension’ of their own body. As Mrs A points out, we have to prevent ourselves remaining in ‘child’ mode, as that turns us into ‘hand-maidens’. (I used to hate hand-washing with my mum as she wanted me to just ‘hover’ while she washed, then I was her ‘handmaiden’ who had to do the rinsing in the bathtub for big jumpers, but at ‘her dictate’…I had no autonomy over the job, and I found that SO irritating! I was simply there to do what she found tricky to do, but wanted ‘done’ (and to HER irritation of course I seldom did it to her exacting standards!)

(Speaking of which, I wonder if your current hatred of housework is because your mum was so meticulous!!! Are you ‘rebelling’ against her standards??!!!)

The other strategy I’d recommend is to decide what is MOST ‘irritating’ for you to do, and then balance that against what the utility of that is to your mum. You have to ‘weight’ everything from both sides of the relationship. It could be, for example, that something that is only ‘mildly irritating’ to you is really ‘valuable’ to her - that’s a good thing - but a bad set up is something that is of little value to her but hugely irritating to you!

As with children, sometimes it’s important to ‘pick your battles’ etc - give in to her on things that cost you little in patience and effort etc, but stand firm on things that really irritate you etc.

Finally, it’s really important that you don’t ‘patronise’ her. When we invert the Parent/Child relationship, it’s very easy to ‘take over’. I know you don’t have children, but imagine what it would be like for a ‘know it all’ teenager to be ‘dictating’ to you. We have to be tactful and sensitive …yet ‘firm’ on things that are essential. Sometimes, though, our parents have to ‘learn for themselves’ (like teens do!)…eg, your mum will probably go on refusing to wear her pendent until ‘somethgn bad’ happens that will ‘teach’ her she just needs it now. (Hopefully not TOO drastic a bad thing!).

It’s great she DOES want to ‘keep going’ but yes, be wary of emotional dependence. That’s why it’s best, if possible, to have a routein - that way you limit her demands by saying ‘Mum, I’ll sort that when I come over on Wed like I do every week, etc etc’.

As for your brothers, they can do online research for things for her as well as you can, so let them do their share of that, even if they are not around to look in on her a great deal.

PS - also remember, that your mum has ‘not much to do with her life now’…so small things will loom large. Just like how shopping trips are ‘big events’ for her, and a waste of our time for us (!), so everything else starts to ‘loom large’.

The lives of the very elderly ARE so often ‘confined’ compared to ours, and their interests shrink. When I had my MIL with me each and every day was exactly the same - ‘pleasant’ but totally limited. I found it insanely boring very quickly…

Hi and thanks again all. I suspect I see emergencies where there aren’t any - it’s not Mum asking me to do things, it’s me thinking “if she can’t get to the shops then she’ll need…”. Maybe I am too concerned about being a perfect daughter, not just in her eyes but my siblings feeling I’m really stepping up to the mark, and also that my late father, whom I adored, would be proud of me. This conversation is really helping me understand what the issues are, and maybe they’re more mine than mum’s!

And yes, her horizons have shrunk a lot over the past few years. She hates the idea of having to go away anywhere overnight - too much bother - but going out for lunch is a nice treat.

Cleaning - yes, maybe it’s my bit of rebellion but unfortunately I’ve inherited her houseproudness (is that a word?) if not her commitment to doing it myself. I’m lazy. Hence why I pay someone else to do it :laughing: People say we look alike but we’re very different characters. We had our battles in my teens but we get on pretty well now, although she can be exasperating at times - not in her demands on me, but in her “Daily Mail reader” type ill-informed pronouncements on all sorts of issues :unamused: But I guess that’s just her generation.

Beware the “everyone sees me as the capable one” trap. It gives siblings the excuse to back off and do little or nothing. It gives Mum the reason to call you for everything
Ditto the "I’m the one with the time " trap.

You’ve come to the forum early enough to make sure that tasks are a bit more equitably spread/ outsourced. If it’s already feeling a bit much now, it will only increase.

What did you have planned for your retirement?

I think I do fall into the trap of being the capable one. I always was the responsible older sister. However, my brothers are pretty good really. When she fell the other day, I didn’t hear the call from the Scheme Manager so she rang my brother instead, who spoke to Mum to ensure she was ok. That’s also happened once before when he actually left work to come and see her. He pops in to see her at weekends and helps with things too. But it would be ridiculous to expect him to take time off work to take her to hospital appointments if I’m available and have no other commitments. Although he has done, when I was away. And my other brother is 2 hours away, but he has also come down just to take her to a hospital appointment when he was the only one available. But I think she sees me as the most savvy about the NHS (I used to work for them), legal and financial matters so she tends to ask me for that sort of advice. I think I’ve realised just in a couple of days on this forum that my concerns are more about the sense of responsibility I feel rather than having to do a lot of chores.

In terms of retirement, Mum is only a tiny part of my overcommitment :laughing: . The list of projects I wanted to complete once I retired is still pretty big, but that’s because I am involved in a couple of organisations, one of which in particular takes up a lot of time as I’m on the Board. I fitted it round work before but it’s sort of expanded since I retired! I used to think I was lazy (I still am about some things, including cleaning…) but I’ve noticed that if I think something needs doing, I can see how it needs to be done, and no-one else looks like they’re going to do it, I just get on with it. It gives me a sense of satisfaction. I need to cut down on some of that activity actually. And I still have time to get away regularly, and everyone manages perfectly well without me :smiley: .

The problem with Mum is really very sporadic - normally I call in once a week or so and I might do the odd chore or two but mainly it’s social. However, when there’s a problem it can sometimes play havoc with my schedule if I’ve earmarked a day to get on with a particular list of tasks and then it gets hijacked because I have to go to Mum’s. But one way or another I always get it done. I know it looks like the start of a slippery slope but I’ve already picked up some useful tips here and I will have to work out the best way for me - and my brothers and mum - of coping if the situation gets worse.

With regard to your retirement, you must take charge of that too. As a fellow “capable person” I could fill my days four times over with what others would like me to do to help THEM.
Retirement is supposed to be about taking things easy and doing things for YOU!

Treat it more like work, inasmuch as you have a diary and fill in first
Time for what you HAVE to do.
Time for what you WANT to do.
Time for mum - if you set a regular time, say Tuesday afternoons, so on the phone you can say “I’ll deal with that Tuesday”.
Time for absolutely nothing planned at all. To sit in the garden and read, go out for a trip on your own, see friends, etc.
Do NOT spend it working just as hard for absolutely nothing!!!

Very few things are actually ‘urgent’…ie, in terms of playing havoc with your own life projects etc. Make a list of the things that have played havoc, and see if you can id a pattern to them - are they things that your MUM thinks are urgent…but aren’t really. Or are they things that have been postponed till they become urgfent…in which case know better next time. Aspectis of your mum’s life will be opaque to you until she discloses them…and says they need ‘urgent’ attention!

The idea is to ‘take over’ the management of your mum’s life in so far as YOU control what you do, and when…allowing, as I say, for letting her keep her self-esteem, and also that she has some things that are HER responsibility (so as not to encourage her to ‘dump’ on you or overrely etc).

Your brothers seem pretty good you know! (compared with many siblins on this forum!)

Interesting you call yourself ‘lazy’ because you don’t like housework! This is simply because your MUM labelled ‘housework’ as a priority (did she work out sidethe home by the way, or hold down a responsible job AS WELL as keeping a pristine house!!!). Remember that for her generation being a housewife was a full time job and what they prided themselves on…it WAS their’ career’…

But it is not YOUR career, and you have simply outsourced that work to a cleaner, while you get on with OTHER things that are YOUR work.

Don’t be haunted by your MUM’S expectations of what constitutes ‘proper work’ etc etc.