I can't do this!

I brought my mother back to the UK in March this year. She had lived abroad for 25 years. She agreed to come home - financially she could no longer afford to live abroad - there was no access to social funding. Plus she is 87 years old and frail - deaf++ and her mobility is poor - she walks with a rollator.
It has been a disaster. She hates living here. She has made no effort to integrate or engage with anything. I have tried to get some care for her - to give me a break and for some socialisation but she has declined it all. I have got a Social Worker involved but my mother does not like her. I tried a befriending service but again my mother did not want to know. I am SO stressed with it all - I am signed off work and have been for the last 6 weeks. I don’t like leaving her on her own as she does not know anyone but doesn’t want to know anyone. I spend the majority of the day with her and take her out every afternoon to get her out of the house. She has no money and we are waiting for suitable social housing for her - but it is taking forever for something to become available.
Tonight was the worst time ever. All she wants to do is return to living abroad and she says if she can’t she will kill herself and it will be on my head. (I have 2 siblings but they do not want to be involved with any of this). I have had enough and I cannot see how this situation will eventually work out - she has viewed supported living accommodation but flatly refuses to go anywhere like that. She needs support with shopping and laundry but can manage her personal care and dressing. She is still fiercely independent despite having physical limitations. Does anyone have any knowledge of what would happen if I said to the Social Worker that I can’t do this anymore and hand her over to them - it feels alien for me to do this but for my own sanity I need to do something.

Contact age UK for advice …


Hi Suzanne,
welcome to the forum.

what a difficult situation, Not uncommon for elderly people to be in denial re the help they need.

You are right, you can’t be forced to care for your Mum. The complication will be that she currently lives with you and probably isn’t a priority re social housing.

I think you need to accept that you can’t be responsible for her happiness. Granted, you brought her back to the Uk, but she agreed to come. If she doesn’t want to engage with the befriending service etc that is not your fault. Go back to work, and keep a semblance of order in your life (plus get a break from her.) If you are worried re leaving her, then employ a cleaner/ gardener etc to pop in and do jobs (and check on her.) It’s your home, so you can give a key to who you like.

Others will be along with direct experience of care of the elderly.


You are doing too much for her, for all the right reasons, but it is enabling her to stay isolated and blaming you because you do everything.
Even if Social services do house her and arrange care, that would be her in a room somewhere with carers coming in 3 times a day for a few minutes just to feed her. She’d have no social interaction, no entertainment. Sadly there are thousands of isolated elderly in exactly these circumstances . Some ‘choose’ to live like this because they don’t want to leave there homes, others are desperate to get into residential care but there are not enough spaces.
Some are bedridden and stuck in one room or in one chair 23 hours out of every 24.

In comparison your mum is lucky to have you but her age and stubbornness will never let her admit it, so YOU have to believe it for yourself. Step back a bit, go back to work.
If you think she is unsafe while you are out you arrange some kind of outside help, but she doesn’t get a say in it. Sadly, because of her age, her money situation, she has no choice. It’s not your fault. You now have to be the parent and rule the roost. You have to look after your well being as your life will go on longer than hers. Just a truth of life, no guilt involved.

Sorry if this sounds blunt, but you need to see that she not be happy, wouldn’t have been where she lived either. Old age sucks.

Mrs. A is right, my mum also preferred to stay in her own room. Your job is NOT to make mum happy. We are all responsible for our own happiness, your mum, and you. How much happiness is there in your life right now, not a lot I suspect. Concentrate of yourself a bit more.
Mum has a choice, to stay in her room or move into residential care, although even that could be problematic as she has only moved back to the UK recently. Where was she living previously?


Thanks for all your replies. My mum was previously living in France. I understand she has had a massive upheaval in her life plus she has left her partner of 18 years behind and she misses him. She was living in a beautiful village in rural France now she is living on a busy main road in a town. She doesn’t comprehend that there is no money available for her to continue living in France - she has always been provided for and just expects us (her children) to finance her life. My dad died 18 months ago (they had been divorced for 30 years but he had to financially maintain her as part of the divorce settlement).
This morning she is not speaking to me. I have just spoken to the social worker and she is coming round this afternoon to talk to mum - I cannot continue to offer the level of support that I have been giving for the last 4 months so alternatives need to be discussed. My brother thinks I have a problem with my relationship with mum - I feel overly responsible for her - he has urged me to get some counseling for this. Wish I could see a solution to all this.

Not a good record on relationships then?!
It’s probably too late, unfortunately, for mum to change her attitude about money, so you must protect your own.
Does mum have any right to a pension of any sort either here in the UK, or France?
Can she claim Income Support here?

Hi Bowlingbun she has a UK pension and Attendance Allowance plus she gets housing benefit here in the UK. I am applying for pension credit for her - they are phoning me tomorrow about her application - she is financially better off in the UK - I was unable to get any financial help for her in France.

That’s a relief. So if she can get Housing Benefit etc. she can have her OWN place?!

Her choice then becomes her own place, with Social Services support for what she NEEDS (can be very different from WANTS) or residential care.

Now there is a problem for you, letting go. Try to think of your new role as Care Arranger/Manager rather than Provider.
The longer she is with you the more dependent she will become. Unless you do something you have given yourself a life sentence I’m afraid. I have a friend whose mum died at 104. Is that really what you want for yourself. Of course not.

I think you and your brother should sit down and agree a plan of action, and HE should be the one to be very firm with mum, mainly because he is less emotionally involved, but also because mum’s generation might take more notice of a man, rather than a good daughter who should be sacrificing everything.

As far as mum is concerned she is fine, whilst you are doing things for her!!

Welcome to the forum.

It was a big turning point realising (with forum help) that I am not responsible for my parents happiness or physical health. I gave up work as I couldn’t juggle their needs with a young family and a job. No matter how much time I gave, it was never enough to make them better or happy. The sad reality was they had got old and sick. This made them unhappy. Making myself and my family miserable giving all the care never made them any happier. And inevitably I reached breaking point. Just like you.

Your Mum has had a nice life in France and I can understand why she doesn’t want to come home and why it is horribly hard for her. But it is what NEEDS to happen as she can’t afford to live there anymore. Now she NEEDS some help to help to live an as independent life here as possible. You sort of have to disregard what she wants, and look at what she needs to keep her safe and looked after. My Mum HATED having carers in, but it was a necessity as myself and my sister just couldn’t go in every day. You have to adopt the carer’s Teflon coat and just let the negative comments slide off it!

You may have a period of pain to get through. But it can get better. I hope the social worker is helpful today.

Maybe your brother is right about the councelling? It might really help?

Best of luck, it isn’t easy.

I found counselling hugely helpful, when everything got too much for me.
It made me realise that as far as mum was concerned, I was still behaving like a child, being a good girl, doing what mum wanted, never saying “No” although I was 60, have travelled the world and studied for a degree when I had a family to care for, including a brain damaged child.
I was given “permission” to think differently, to be proud of what I could do for mum, but not always guilty about what I couldn’t. Mum was something of a job creation scheme for me, the faster I did the jobs, the faster they came at me. The counsellor taught me how to slow them down!

I have been reading a lot lately about this illness. Overwhelmed at times but mostly tremendously helped. One thing, I said to myself is, “I can’t stand this anymore” then I read, well you are standing it… so I have to change, another (“oh really”) and when I read “the gifts of Alzheimer’s “ I must admit I had another incredulous “ oh really” so in the course of this journey,I expect to repeat that phrase… life is life, I dunno where my brain has been all this time, but I am in the middle of a firestorm and I must remain calm (?) good luck to me and all the other wayfarers…peace,try to breath the best you can, some seconds will be ok,some won’t but , I know I won’t be bored and if I am, Hurrah! Wishing you well so very very welll.

I can’t believe this went through, I just joined and don’t have the slightest idea what I am doing! I don’t know how to navigate to the topic page . My first two replies are off in space somewhere. And I actually posted to some sweet person in England!! Hope that helps because for the most part I haven’t a clue in dealing with Alzheimer’s! Just whatever seems to be the case for me, sometimes I think I am the person with the disease, so there you are…

Thank you for all your replies. I woke up at 5am with the now familiar heart sink feeling that I’ve had since my mum moved back here. Her coming back has thrown up huge psychological issues for me. I have suffered from chronic anxiety for most of my life. It has been helpful to read from the comments posted that I am not responsible for my mother’s happiness and that I can’t make everything better for her which is what I have done for years.When she was living in France I phoned her daily - there was always some problem that needed sorting out which involved me spending hours on the phone talking to people in my limited French. I think my role as a problem solver has become so ingrained now that I find it hard to step back from her. I feel like I am the dutiful daughter who can’t say no rather than an adult who has her own life - it feels like my mother’s happiness is more important than my own. I am seeing a counselor next Tuesday.
Yesterday eventually worked out to be a better day. After her outburst on Monday she wasn’t talking to me. I went to see her in the morning to make sure she had enough food etc then left. I went home and had a sleep, went for a bike ride and had a massage. When I went back to see her in the evening she was fine with me.

Yes, I am prone to those 5am sinking feeling wake ups! But less so now. I find it helps to embrace it, get up. Use the time! try not to lie and dwell.

It definitley sounds like the councelling is a good idea for you. Me and my sister had also “learned” that Mum and Dad’s happiness and wishes came above all else. But that can be unlearned - I promise. Dad died back in Feb, it wasn’t a great last 18 months of life, he was unhappy in the care home, but he was also unhappy at home. Just at home he was grinding Mum into the ground, and my sister and I were on constant call to deal with the almost daily emergencies that occurred.

Mum now lives at home alone with Alzheimer’s with some help in. My sister and I worked out between us what we could do. The rest of the stuff has to fall to outside help. I reached a point of really hating them both. Not really fairly, but I was so ground down by the situation that I dreaded any time spent with them. I feel I have a much better relationship with Mum now as we sit down and chat and go out from lunch rather tnan contantly “doing” and lurchign from emergency crisis to emergency crisis. Which makes me happier in the precious time I have left with her.

Glad yesterday was better. I hope each day can get increasingly better for you.

Thanks for sharing your experience Sally. It’s good to know other people share the same feelings and have experienced similar situations. I saw the social worker this morning - my mother was on her best behaviour - having said she didn’t want to see the SW ever again she now thinks she is ‘lovely’. They both felt I have a problem with over worrying and being overprotective about my mother. My mother came across as the most sane and sensible woman and I am slightly barking! Went to see the GP afterwards to get some Propanalol to help calm my morning anxiety - he said that the current situation is unusual in that most parents would appreciate and understand why they could no longer live abroad on their own, with no access to any support and no funds to support themselves. That has made me feel slightly better about myself. The only glimmer of hope on the horizon is that my mum has agreed to move into some new flats - assisted living - but they will not be ready for another 2 months. She says she will live there as a temporary measure until she can move back to France - hey ho!

Good, once she is in the flat you must really step back. In the meantime, make an “Exit Plan” for mum, does she have furniture etc.?

Hi Suzanne, really sorry to hear that you’re having a difficult time with your mum. I’m glad to hear that you found the other forum member’s suggestions beneficial and you were able to take a break for yourself. This is really important as carers too often put themselves last. You mentioned you have chronic anxiety, have you been in touch with mental health organisations such MIND and Rethink about this? Also, you might find it helpful receiving local support. You can use our directory on our website to search for your nearest carers centre:

Hi Bowlingbun - yes she does have furniture - she still hasn’t unpacked her belongings from when she moved back to the UK in March - everything is sitting in our garage. I’m sure it would help her to feel more settled if she can start to rebuild a home here. If she does go into this assisted living place it will be a huge relief for me as there will be other people on hand to help - I have felt pretty alone for the last 4 months dealing with everything and hugely resentful that my sister has not even been in contact even though she has known how desperate I have felt at times. My brother lives abroad and is supportive over the phone but it has been me doing all the day to day graft.