I joined a couple of days ago and have been immensely helped already by reading some of the threads. I realise I actually have it quite easy but am still stressed out. I do not want to be a carer but the role has pretty much fallen onto me at least on part time basis.
My mum is nearly 95 and fiercely independent but I have realised over the past couple of weeks that there were some things that she was not managing very well even though she still insists she is. I arranged for a care agency to come in (just while you’re not very well Mum) but on the day they were due mum was up at 5.30, dressed and ready and trying desperately to do everything to prove she could, which actually just proved to me that she couldn’t do one particular thing safely! So the care has been dismissed though she has agreed to them coming in a couple of times a week to do one thing which I said the GP had requested and which could present a safety/ health issue. Also, she doesn’t eat enough to keep a fly alive, unless someone serves it up to her - which me and my siblings try to do but she will not always let us.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I think she needs some help from a health pov but that I need to let her make her own decisions as much as I can even if her health is being compromised (and do as much in the background as I can to ensure it isn’t!). It’s just very hard and I am struggling with guilt at the minute!
As she seems to take on board what the G.P. might have suggested. There is a starting place.
The thing is with food how active is your mum. By the way what a wonderful age. I found with some older people they need very little. But need to be tempted by really tasty and exciting foods. Does she eat many meals on her own?
Thanks both. No she is not active at all so I know she doesn’t need much. She does eat a lot more when a meal is prepared and put on her lap. If she caters for herself, which she can and does do, she will just eat a lot less (sometimes will only have around 700 to 800 calories per day if left to her own devices). And yes, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that if it is not immediately life threatening, then don’t stress - but it is hard
(PS She is not active as she has severe osteo arthritis so struggles to move let alone exercise).
Your Mum will be frightened, of losing her independence, being ‘put’ in a Home, of losing her ability to cope, of losing everything she has always know, been able to do.
Things you must NOT do:-
Do not promise her she will not be ‘put’ in a Home, because one day that might be the only option left and if you make that promise it will add massively to that ‘guilt’ feeling if you have to break it.
Do not move in with her or move her in with you. (I am assuming you don’t live with her?) This decision is nearly always a bad one because it would be life changing for you and the stress and sheer 24/7 hard work will affect your own health and usually ends badly. (Carer gives up work, relationships break down etc).
Do not feel guilty. It is SAD that Mum is declining. It is sad that she can no longer manage as she once did, but that’s a natural result of living a long life. It’s not your fault, so no guilt. Swap that word for concern or sadness.
Things you can do:-
Assure her that you will help her manage in her own home for as long as possible –providing she accepts help other than you, but as well as you.
Play on what she is ‘due’ Like visits from SS, any care that she doesn’t have to pay for, and using any ‘rainy day’ savings. (It’s raining now!)
Suggest people like the Occupational Therapist (free equipment ‘on loan’}, the Continence Nurse (pads etc on prescription).
Is Mum (or was she) religious? Contact the local Church. They might have visits they provide for the elderly.
As for food, Yes the elderly do eat less and less. As has been said, tempt her with ‘tasty’ rather than big (for her) meals. Little and often. Maybe something like a packet of chocolate raisins to nibble on. (My Mum loved those). Make sure she drinks enough or UTI will occur. She might not want to in case she has ‘an accident’. UTIs are really bad news.
There are little stretching arm and leg ‘exercises’ she might do (ask the OT). Obviously a ‘gym’ is hardly suitable.
I could go on, (and on and on), but perhaps that’s enough for now.
Jodie, I would strongly recommend having some counselling, focussed on mum and how best to manage her expectations.
It can really help to have someone concerned on your own wellbeing, and how to preserve that whilst so much is going on that you have no control over.
At 95, mum is nearing the end of her life and therefore it’s not surprising that she will need more and more help and support, but that doesn’t have to be provided by you.
When my own mum was very ill, I googled “Signs of Dying”. I found some really interesting articles written by people who worked in hospices, which explained how the body slowly shuts down, and why someone doesn’t feel like eating or drinking as much as they used to. It’s because the organs don’t work as well, the body knows what it can cope with and sends out or reduces hungry or thirsty messages as a result. I would urge you to look at some of the information I found, as it will help in the months or years to come to support mum to have the best possible quality of life. I just wish I’d found it years before, when my lovely mum in law was ill, so I could have supported her better.