The Cycle of Life Experience

Mums just passed so would like to pass on my experience of the last couple of years. (Long post!) I have been a carer for my mum for two years after she had two nasty falls in the last two years. She previously had a major stroke thirteen years ago which affected her significantly but she still managed to cope ok. The last fall, a year ago, resulted in a fractured hip, she spent a month in hospital and, after being discharged, relied on a walking frame at home. She was no longer able to come with me on shopping trips around the supermarket and I noticed a significant decline in her general health. She became almost housebound, just shuffling from room to room with her walker. I managed to apply for attendance allowance, she had a needs assessment and had one carer a day to help her get washed and dressed. I would then go to her at lunchtime to give her a dinner, plus a various list of other things, spending around a couple of hours each day there. This went on for a year with me transporting my mum to my house on a Sunday for a couple of hours for dinner and a change of scenery, the rest of the time she stayed at home. At the start of the pandemic I suspended her carers and would go up in the morning to help get her washed and dressed and then go up again at lunchtime to sort her out for the rest of the day. The time was spent with me trying not to get too anxious when I heard her coughing whilst eating, which happened a lot), watching the news, loose women and quiz shows on tv. It got really hard watching her decline, she got so frail and weak physically. She didn’t have the energy to walk anywhere (with a walker) so I tried so hard to make her life at home as comfortable and enjoyable as I could. I felt so bad that she wasn’t able to enjoy life as she had previously) I bought her a portable DVD player and countless dvds (she didn’t have internet, didn’t particularly want it and wouldn’t have understood how to use it). I would show her up to date photos of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I bought her books to read and artificial hanging baskets to enjoy from her lounge which is where she spent her day. Her life consisted of having a carer once a day, me to do lunch, and the company of the tv. I must admit that I began to feel stressed, feeling helpless that she didn’t have the energy or physical ability to enjoy any trips out. It was like watching someone slowly die in front of you on a daily basis, being kept alive by a cocktail of medication. Fast forward to a few days ago…I phoned mum up to see if she would like to come for dinner, albeit a huge effort on all of our parts due to her frailty and my anxiety around that, no answer, I tried not to panic (she had a lifeline). Drove round there, was confronted with an ambulance outside her house (immediately panicked) front door was open, I stood in the hallway but could hear nothing, peered down the hallway to be confronted by the sight of my mum laying in the hallway with a sheet partially covering her. I immediately backed out outside traumatised by what I had just saw. Ambulance man came outside and told me that mum had passed away. So that is where I am at, sorting out what I can, good support around me fortunately, but hard, so hard, nothing prepares you, no matter how hard you try to prepare, which I did, a lot, as I knew that she was so weak physically, almost expecting the inevitable any day and dreading it, she was eighty three so I knew her time was up after the stroke and the falls, but on the other hand, so stressful not knowing if I had to watch this decline continue for the next ten years or so. God bless to all of you carers out there, stay strong, it’s not easy. :two_hearts:

My sincere condolences on the loss of your mum Sue.

The last 12 years for my mum (more than 11 since the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease) have been very difficult. I can understand what it feels like watching someone you love decline more and more. It seems like the anxiety can never end, but of course you are only too well aware that it must.

I think you’ve done tremendously well. Having you there, showing her pictures of her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren will have given your mum great joy.

Take care, David

Sorry for the loss of your mum.
I watched my husband, my rock, decline with dementia and other health issues. A very long goodbye. I’m now adjusting with memories of happier times, which I thought would never happen. Outweigh the very sad and even angry times thank goodness.

Hi Sue, my mum was housebound and disabled for about 30 years. I supported her all I could, she was 6 miles away, widowed about 20 years ago. Mum was in and out of hospital for years, but spent the last year in a nursing home after developing sepsis and never recovering properly.
My husband died of a massive heart attack in his sleep at the age of 58, 14 years ago.

You are now going to go through all sorts of feelings and emotions, and it will be a long time before your brain has gone over everything and laid your thoughts to rest. They will, in time, the day you finally realised there is nothing more to think is a relief.

In time, you will be glad that mum died at home, not in a nursing home or hospital. I’m sure she knew and appreciated what a great daughter you were, and how lucky she was to have you near enough to be able to help.

Until after the funeral, do as little as possible, there is no rush, no urgency, any more. Just concentrate on things that are absolutely essential before the service.

As soon as you can afterwards, go away for a few days, just get away from everything. There are lots of special offers for self catering in the next few months. I went away two months after my husband died, I couldn’t rest or concentrate at home. It really helped just being me with no pressure at all.

I’ve lost a holiday because of the virus, and my grandson has been here a lot in the last few months, I know I need a breadk now.

I’ve just booked a self catering cottage in East Devon during the winter, an area I know well.

I love making my own clothes for sunny holidays in Greece, so I will take a sewing machine, a basic sewing kit, some patterns, and some fabric. I always choose somewhere with a large sturdy dining table for my machine, and a long piece of kitchen worktop for cutting out (the perfect height as I’m tall).

I’ll get up when I want, read when I want, sleep when I want. I will go on some of my favourite walks If the weather is good, and visit all my favourite dress fabric shops, and mooch round charity shops.
I know that after a week, I will feel calm and refreshed.

For years, you have been juggling mum’s needs, your own, and life in general. You deserve a break too.

Hi Sue, Thank you for sharing your experience as a carer and daughter. It was so refreshing to read all the positive things you did for your mum during the last few years of her life. You were very kind and loving . It sounds like you did everything you possibly could to make life comfortable and pleasant for her.
Your mum is at peace now. Your mum passed away in the comfort of her own home.
Please look after yourself.
From Karen D x

Thank you to you all for your kind replies, much appreciated :butterfly: