Work or caring - or both?

Hi - I’m new here, hello :slight_smile:

Has anyone given up work to care for an elderly parent? I am 52 and have a busy job which I love, but am considering whether to give it up to care for my 90yo mum, who has vascular dementia.

I need the money i earn from my job to support myself and my two sons at college / uni and save for my retirement (if I ever get there!). And while I am happy to garden, shop, clean, cook and do endless practical stuff for my mum, after work and at weekends I dont allow myself to get too close to her for too long emotionally as unfortunately she has a controlling, manipulative and confrontational personality towards me which dementia is only accentuating.

I have no siblings so its all on me, although she has great care and support from carers in her own home x4 per day, plus two visits from an Age UK supporter per week. She claims she gets no help at all and does everything herself but I know this is her dementia talking.

My partner who is in his early 60s and working too, is also immensely kind and supportive to us both, although his patience does wear thin at times, especially when my mother tries repeatedly to get into our bedroom in the early morning while we trying to sleep (we have to lock our door to keep her out).

We are staying with her temporarily but will soon be relocating to be nearer to my work and our adult and late teen children and my partner’s grandchildren some 50 miles away from my mum.

She knows this and is intensifying the guilt-tripping in my direction in particular, and it is wearing me out. Hence my enquiry about giving up work - even though to do so would be at considerable cost to my life and needs. So how do deal with this?

It happens all too often, and rarely without regret.

You can deal with it safe in the knowledge that you will never be able do enough for someone displaying the very common dementia behaviour that your Mum is.

I can remember my Grandad, (died in 1968 - he didn’t have dementia) we visited every other Saturday, my Uncle and his family did the other weekends, but he always claimed that he’d seen no-one all week, we know for a fact that three different neighbours looked in on him every day, did odds and ends of shopping for him most days, took him in cooked dinners more or less every other day, but he hadn’t seen anyone.

You have to do your best to supply them what they need, not what they want.

Hi Sarah and welcome. Do not give up your job! Keeping your full time job brings you lots of good things that can be easily taken for granted such as socialising with others, learning new skills, having a purpose in life and much more. As a full time carer you are stuck with that one person every day (or most days) and it can be extremely boring and repetitive. Plus you get no income and you get little time off.
Sorry for sounding so negative but sadly that is how it is. Also as your mum ages her dementia and her health will sadly deteriorate further.
Put you, your husband and your sons first.

Hi Sarah,

your Mum has a great care package and is lucky to have two social visits a week. I wouldn’t advise giving up your job, getting back into the job market after caring is difficult and as you say, you need the money. Also, it sounds like Mum is a difficult person; spending too much time with her would strain the relationship further.

If you need a compromise, or get too exhausted checking up on her along with everything else, then you could consider requesting a reduction of your work hours so that you are less stretched.


Hi Sarah, another option is a sabbatical from work - my employers have given me a year (unpaid of course) but you keep your job security that way and it gives you time to work out what will happen long term.

However, with only a couple of months of full time care under my belt, I would say it’s all too easy to underestimate the impact of caring on your health (mental and physical) and I agree with Melly, spending more time with your mum would definitely increase the emotional and mental strain on you.

You do have a good care package in place, and it sounds like you have a great partner (I’m very much on my own) - so it might work for you as you do have emotional support from your family. What a decision, hey? I agonised over it but really in the end it’s a no-brainer for me, I’ve always intended to support mum and if she needed care, to care for her too.

If she cannot manage with the existing care arrangements, the only remaining option is residential care.
You can’t stop her downhill slide, your children and husband have to take priority.

Welcome to the forum
There is no right answer and you have to weigh up the pros and cons carefully.
Your mother already has a good care package, are you funded or is it self pay?
I think giving up work is a drastic decision
As there will be lots on the loss side
I hope you might feel better for sharing this with others who may be in a similar dilemma

Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this. I’ve thought it through and am not going to give up my job.

It was a big mistake moving in with her, albeit temporarily. Get out asap to your new place.
Mum has become an “elderly toddler”, expect tantrums when you go, feigned illness etc. etc.
The sad truth is that if she cannot care at home with all that support, she needs residential care.

Hi Sarah

My 92 year old mum lives with us, has alzeimers and cannot stand unaided.
I was working full time in a pressured role and it all got too much. I, too, have a very supportive husband and I handed in my notice to care for mum.
2 weeks into the 3 month notice work asked if I’d consider part time. Considering my role has no back up, I hadn’t considered this.
Funny how things can be made to happen…I now work 3 days a week and do not squeeze 4 days into that and I cannot describe the difference.
I’d be upfront with work and you could be surprised what can be sorted.
Good luck, but I agree with other post, in current climate, I’d not hand your notice in.
All the best in whatever you decide