I am after some advice about my mum’s situation. She cares for my grandparents and I am attempting to help her in whatever way I can. I am finding it difficult to approach the subject of their care without emotions flaring and I am coming to the conclusion she may not even want my help. I wanted to ask those in similar situations if they could give me some insight so that I may be more understanding of her point of view. I am also contemplating showing this thread to my mum once I have some replies and it might be a good way for us to talk though the situation.
My gran (93) and grandad (88) both live on their own in a 2 storey semidetached house My gran is legally blind with very limited physical movement and is solely dependent on others for care. She has also suffered from anxiety from a number of years and she is showing signs of dementia which is getting worse all the time. My grandad has recently had issues with his back which left him bed bound but now he is only house bound. He has improved but has not been the same since. He has most of his faculties but can get muddled. Unfortunately he completely panders to my gran even though a decision might cause him or her harm (e.g. lifting her into bed or not giving her medication).
My mum has been the sole carer for my grandparents for a number of years. They currently have carers but this is limited to a handful of hours in the morning for house cleaning, preparing lunch , etc… My mum is also acting as their carer 3 days a week for the majority of the day or attends when necessary outside of this. They have not left the house for an extended period of time for 2 years (except for doctors appointments etc…). My gran must use a wheelchair outside.
My mum has had a string of bad luck with her health in recent years including breast cancer, 2 heart attacks, as well as others. I am always worried I am going to get a call and find out my mum has had a third heart attack and I’ve got to try and prevent that. Her partner died from cancer a couple of years ago as well and she was his sole carer too. This resulted in her 2nd heart attack a few months after he passed. My mum has always leaned towards caring for other family members and I do believe it’s in her blood and she enjoys it to an extend, but she isn’t getting younger and I want my mum around for a bit longer. It is a concern of mine that when my gran passes the need for her tyo care for someone will reduce like with her partner and then she will suffer a 3rd heart attack from all of the additional stress and mourning.
Another contributary factor is that my mum has not had a “holiday” in over 2 years (e.g. a week of to do what she wants to do). I want her to have a continuous ½ weeks off and have the ability to do it multiple times a year. She does have days off or days away from her parents but she considers her work days as days off. I don’t believe this to be healthy and she must allow herself rest and recuperation. She will always say “she has to look after her grandparents” and I just don’t understand why it must be herself who provides the care when we can get others to do it for her, even if its only temporary. I do believe she finds it difficult to detach herself from her parents and doesn’t like the idea of others caring for them, perhaps she thinks that no one else can provide the level of care she does. This is probably right but it cannot mean that she is never allowed the break.
I live a few hours away and I feel helpless to the situation so I want to provide some help however I can. However, it is really stressful when this help is not accepted and every suggestion, I make is shot down instantly. I don’t want to make this about me but it makes me absolutely miserable seeing my mum like this. My number 1 priority is making sure my mum is ok, like hers is her parents wellbeing, and I cannot let her continue to run herself into the ground when its unnecessary. I am sure my mum takes these suggestions personally as if I am saying she is not making the correct decisions.
The subject of my mum’s parent’s caring needs is a taboo subject but is the elephant in the room. My mum will always turn it around on me and take my suggestions as criticism of what she has put in place for them already. This couldn’t be further from the truth; I think its wonderful what she has managed to put in place but I am concerned she doesn’t have capacity to sit down and properly think about their long-term care.
My mum will also only provide reasons why we shouldn’t do something and will never look at the reasons why we should do something. For instance, a common reason is that something will be “too difficult”, “they will never agree to it”, or “she (my mum) will be the one who deals with the fallout”. All valid but just because these are likely doesn’t mean we should never look into improving the care services my grandparents use. She will also focus on anecdotal evidence for why we shouldn’t investigate other care services further, such as hearing poor reports on how some may operate and apparently this means they all operate in a similar way and offer dreadful services.
I cannot be mad at my mum for reacting in such ways as she is constantly in in firefighting mode, completely stressed out, and unable to properly review the situation without becoming overwhelmed. I am probably not helping the situation either and I will be the first to admit I probably cause some of the friction but everything I am trying to do is coming from a good place with positive intentions. I would be interested to know how I could approach this in a more positive way in the future.
I have asked my mum if she would list all of the task she does for my grandparents. I have said write all activities down, even those that she knows cant be done by a carer or the more private/personal caring activities she has had to do. We can then review this together and logically think about how we can offload what she does. I am not asking her to remove herself as their carer, just reduce it and give her some breathing space to be their daughter and concentrate on the really important stuff and maybe the emotional and mental health care they need.
I have also proposed we should be looking at putting in place the following:
• New care activities that are currently not covered by anyone (help out of bed/going to bed)
• Existing care activities which could be delegated to carers (e.g. clothes washing)
• Extend the activities undertaken by the existing carers (more hours, very limited currently)
• Survey local private care providers
• What the upper limit for monthly charges could be
• A phased approach to the above
• How we can approach mums parents with this and get them on board
• Capacity for mum to have holidays (minimum one week plus)
I have also asked my mum for permission to go to all care providers in the area to find out what services they can offer considering my grandparents situation. We can then build knowledge of what’s possible and how much it will cost. We can then use this to make a decision on our next choices. My mum has been severely resistant to me doing this but has conceded recently. This has made me feel a lot better as I will no longer be at the side line watching on but actively providing help.
I know the above is just an incoherent brain dump of the situation but I would appreciate to know if what I am doing is the right thing. If I should be backing off from my mum I would be happy to be told I should or if I could be doing anything differently I would listen. Please call me out if i am doing anything incorrectly. I am sorry if i have used some overly strong words to describe my mums reactions, i acknowledge some are probably overt the top but due to the emotions involved it does make it difficult to be impartial I love my mum more than anything and i just want her to have a happy life.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you very much for reading my post.