Really Long Story

Hi, everyone.

I believe my mum had a breakdown when my dad died in 2012. They were both heavy drinkers but mum became an alcoholic after his death, and this led to her neglecting her home, health and personal hygiene, and she also became a total recluse and never left the house. She refused all offers of help and support from myself, and I was only allowed to visit to get her delivered shopping in. I knew she was having falls as she regularly had injuries, but she denied everything. I tried all avenues for help but as she had mental capacity, I couldn’t do anything.

On October 18th, she called me to say she’d fallen and needed help. I knew it was serious as otherwise she wouldn’t have called. She was taken to hospital with a broken hip and was in for a week with no alcohol. She was covered in sores from not washing and bruises from falls. I told the hospital all of what had been going on and was promised help but got nothing. I actually had 30 minutes notice of her discharge and rushed to her house where I still am 13 weeks later.

She had delirium when she came home but I was told this was normal and it did soon settle. She hasn’t touched alcohol since which is wonderful. She got hearing aids and glasses, and her skin is clear - a miracle! I’ve cleaned her house, everything’s been going ok. But she can’t walk without supervision as her balance is non existent and is very frail - I toilet her, shower her, walk her, cook all meals, do her medication, fetch & carry… I really don’t mind but I’ve told her from the outset that I can’t do it forever as I have a home, a family, a job (currently on furlough).

Initially she was saying she just needed to recover. After we realised she wasn’t going to get to the stage where she could be totally independent, she has tried to persuade me to move in with my family, telling me she’ll pay me to care for her etc. I’ve refused as i don’t want this and we’ve argued repeatedly and badly. She reluctantly agreed to look at carers etc but wasn’t happy, and point blank refused a home.

Then last week she had 24 hrs of feeling unwell, slept until 2pm, didn’t eat, had a headache. She is now confused sometimes. She is getting her words muddled which makes her cross, and sometimes just doesn’t make any sense. When she’s clear headed she knows she’s confused and is worried. She got up early Sunday morning without buzzing me for help because she was confused and fell. A&E gave her the all clear, including a CT scan for a stroke, but I’m convinced she’s had one as she’s aggressive and rude and so confused. She was sent home with carers for 6 weeks but she’s refused them entry and has phoned and cancelled even though I’ve begged her to let someone help us. I’m a ‘bitch’ and ‘nasty’ for wanting to ‘abandon’ her when she just needs time to get better.

All our family and friends, even her sisters, tell me to just go home and that she’s being awful, but I can’t abandon her. I’ve told her though that from now on I will only do what I can and no more, and if she refuses to allow others to help, she will have to accept the consequences. I had an appointment this morning and was out for 2 hours. I went despite my guilt and left her to it, even though she was so angry with me.

I feel so awful and guilty but I don’t see why I should give up my entire life. I will obviously do as much as I can but when I go back to work, I’ve told her it’s up to her to manage herself if she refuses help. I’ve also said that if she deteriorates mentally I will do what’s best to keep her safe (in a home), even if that means she hates me because I care. I’ve refused all her attempts to instigate more arguing and have stuck to my guns. Am I doing the right thing?

I’m 48 with severe arthritis in my hands, feet and knees and mum is 70.

Hi Sally,
yes you are doing the right thing.

Once you go back to work, she will need support from care workers or need to move into residential care.

I suggest you start withdrawing care gradually before you go back to work, so that care arrangements are already in place.