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To be not entirely keen to look after my Grandma

(489 Posts)
StWinifred Fri 12-Oct-12 02:19:07

My Grandma is 100 years old and rather debilitated, although fully compos mentis.

She was being looked after her by her son, who had lived with her for decades. He had a heart attack in the 1980s and I think the strain of looking after his Mum did for him, and he suffered a fatal heart attack in July.

Since then my parents has been looking after her, in her home, which is a largely original 1930s house.

She went to stay with my parents in their own home (an hour or so away) for a few days a month or so ago. She found this a bit disorienting but they were grateful to get home; this was curtailed when she had to go back home for medical appointment.

A few weeks ago my parents wanted to go away so they asked if I could help, I said she can stay here (in our hours for a week), but there's no way I can go there because of various prearranged commitments locally, school, etc. They didn't think this was a good idea.

My sister proposes early on that she should stay in her home as she has been in the area since birth. My sister has been with her partner (she doesn't believe in marriage I think) for a decade and has no children (doesn't believe in this either). Her idea was that we (my parents, my sister, and I), should look after her a couple of days per week each.

Due to work/childcare I can only do this over the weekend. Last weekend I headed there at 6pm (takes about 1hr 45 to get there) on Saturday and got back home at 5:30pm on Monday to pick up the kids from school. My sister was there from 6pm Monday till 8am Wednesday, working from home Tuesday, and I think planning to on Wednesday also in future, though she had a meeting on Wednesday so left early - in future she might be there until afternoon/evening though.

My father said he thinks I shouldn't go every week on Saturday as it would be disruptive to our family. I haven't made any commitments.

Anyway he called on Tuesday to ask what time I was coming on Sunday, and I said I didn't know I will let you know at the end of the week. He called me today at 11:30pm to ask the same, sorry I don't know, does it make any difference? Well we were thinking of going away for a couple of days, he said. Oh really?

He then sent me a rather nagging email saying they would appreciate a routine, and also could you come round and stay with the kids during half term to balance your sister's 'input'? (My DH has work to go to, locally, so it would be me + kids.)

I replied saying sorry I can't give you a routine after only one visit there, it ain't routine yet, and I'm not about to promise to match my sister, what she does is what she can do, and she's got her circumstances and she mine, and actually I didn't really feel the house was suitable for kids when I was there.

Grandma can't make it up the stairs, so she sleeps in the living room, and there's no toilet down stairs, so there's a commode there. She's got severe incontinence so lots of pads to dispose of, plus the commode to empty. She tends to fall over and she can't be left alone at home for more than about 2 hours. She needs her breakfast, lunch, dinner prepared, plus tea, drinks, etc.

They've been in this house for nearly 3 months now and they have no bed, just two very old 'small single' mattresses on the floor. Apparently they ordered a bed from Homebase but it takes 3 weeks or something? Anyway, I thought this was ridiculous, so when I was there on Saturday I went to a local shop and they said they could deliver a bed on Wednesday. Passed this information on to my father and apparently he couldn't get through to them on the phone, so er, still no bed for me to sleep on this weekend.

There's another empty bedroom for the kids (but no bed) but the window frame is rotten and there's a hole in the window.

My DH doesn't like this arrangement at all, and thinks Grandma should go live with my parents, and that it's their responsibility to look after their mother.

My father OTOH seems to think that its our collective responsibility (the four of us being her only direct descendants), and on that basis I should tell him what I'm doing and when, and not only that but try and 'make up' days that I haven't done (when compared with my sister) because childcare in the week is not practical.

I have told him several times that my DH is not really happy about the situation/disruption to family life (e.g., last Monday and foreseeably all future Mondays was disrupted because I had to get up at 7am to give Grandma her breakfast, after she was up till 00:45 watching TV the night before, and then I had to cycle 12 miles to get to the station to get home, and was way too knackered to cook a meal for the family, or to work with my DS on his 11+ preparation), but rather than taking the attitude that 'you are helping out, thank you very much', it seems to be more a case of 'why aren't you doing more'.

I am not really sure if IABU to be resentful of this attitude.

My parents have never told me what they are doing in advance, they will just do it on the day, and I have followed their lead, so if they want to know for instance what we are doing in half-term, I will tell them the day before, because that's when I will know myself. If they want to go away or something, then give me the dates and I will try and help, but it seems like they just want to go and do some gardening at home, ok well you don't need two weeks notice for that do you, and actually perhaps you can get a bloody bed in before I come round again.

Acky123 Fri 21-Dec-12 10:43:50

Totally agree with SpecialAgentKat, Horsemad and Welsh Maenad.

It's just not acceptable. It's neglect.

I really hope OP's Grandma has a more comfortable Christmas, wherever she spends it, but I think that ship has sailed now and it's too late to get anything sorted out. It's been more than two months now sad

Jux Fri 21-Dec-12 10:56:00

If youcan get a stairlift installed then you would make an immwdiate and profound difference (for the better) to her life

Please at least cobsider itand talk to her positively about it, please?

Oh, and call ss.

Hope you all jave a good Xmas.wink

StWinithread Sat 29-Dec-12 14:33:36

Some change, but not for the better.

G'ma had a fall in the morning after waking up a week before Christmas. GP came round and said G'ma was fine.

We went round on Christmas Eve and stayed till Boxing Day. My Mum was looking after her. She needed a lot more care than before, and spent nearly all the day in the same chair and couldn't walk. She came in for dinner but was clearly in pain, also quite heavily drugged up on co-codamol, so asleep nearly all the day.

Anyway, my parents took her to hospital yesterday in view of the continued pain and they said that she has a broken pelvis, so the GP was talking bollocks obviously, as anyone could see.

We are going away tomorrow (back on Jan 3rd), so we are going to visit her today.

I get the impression that the ward she in is pretty much God's waiting room, about 20 people in there, one woman calling out 'help' every five minutes apparently.

Obv. she's going to be there till after New Year now; my Dad has said that they won't be able to continue as before as Grandma needs too much care, e.g., to go to the toilet. Not really sure what will happen, I don't know what the procedure is for discharge in terms of home support, etc.

Having broken something, in theory she could recover, but experiences of the past few months suggest that that is unlikely.

My parents were still living in squalor there prior to this hospital admission, I called them up a few days before Christmas to ask about presents and my Dad said 'can you call back, I'm boiling kettles for your Mum's bath', followed by 'she's scalded herself'; this because the hot water boiler only produces about 6 pints of hot water. We spent Boxing Day hefting a stupidly heavy old wardrobe down the stairs. I said to him 'you know this is very dangerous you could get crushed to death, please get someone in next time'.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 14:38:42

I'm no medic but from memory the chances of recovery from a broken pelvis at her age is not great, I'd get your arse up there to visit sooner rather than later.

StWinithread Sat 29-Dec-12 14:54:06

She broke her pelvis over a week ago.

We saw her over Christmas, with her undiagnosed broken pelvis.

I doubt she is better off in the hospital than at home, but obviously she is going to be there for a few days until the consultants get back after Christmas.

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 14:57:46

Are they not planning to operate then ? She will be in agony

StWinithread Sat 29-Dec-12 15:13:22

Wikipedia says

"In lieu of surgery, some pelvic fractures are treated with only bed rest. Pelvic fractures may involve months of recovery and months or years of rehabilitation."

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 15:17:53

Is it a fracture or a break ? 1/3 people don't get through the next 12 months following a pelvic break and many of them are healthy 20 year olds. Not meaning to be insensible but this is a huge trauma for somebody her age.

Clarabell78 Sat 29-Dec-12 15:18:38

I'm reading this thread for the first time and frankly am appalled! Shitting in bags and washing in a bucket!? What has the world come to and this has been going on for 2 MONTHS! I have dog that I treat better. Poor poor old lady - what an undignified end to a l

Jux Sat 29-Dec-12 15:19:07

This just gets sadder and sadder. She could afford to go private.

Clarabell78 Sat 29-Dec-12 15:19:43

I'm reading this thread for the first time and frankly am appalled! Shitting in bags and washing in a bucket!? What has the world come to and this has been going on for 2 MONTHS! I have dogs that I treat better. Poor poor old lady - what an undignified end to a long life

StWinithread Sat 29-Dec-12 15:26:29

Yes I wondering that Jux. I am leaving right now, and will be there in a little over an hour so will find out more this p.m.

It sound rather unpleasant, but if she is going to be discharged on Wednesday I wonder if it's a good idea to move her, I suspect not.

Not sure if I will be able to find much out today.

She gave me £5k for Christmas (I suspect this was suggested as inheritance tax planning by my Dad, as he had mentioned it before, presumably sister got same). I would happily give it back if she can get better care.

Bobyan Sat 29-Dec-12 15:34:56

You first posted in October, from what I can tell you did nothing with regard to other posters suggesting you contact SS or her GP.
There is now a chance that she might be discharged back to a run down house.
So what are YOU going to do about it?

Mosman Sat 29-Dec-12 15:35:47

I cannot believe the hospital will discharge this lady back into your parents care once you've told them what I'd going on OP, you will be doing that I assume. This as bad as any child abuse, if a vulnerable child was living like this SS would be rightly all over it.

WelshMaenad Sat 29-Dec-12 15:36:15

Discharged where exactly, with her broken pelvis? Of course she's not going to be discharged. This is bollocks.

NotLongUntilXmas Sat 29-Dec-12 15:56:54

I worked in a retirement home a few years ago and one of the elderly ladies fell and fractured her pelvis. No treatment, just rest, but she was walking around again within weeks so Grandma might be lucky.
Re: discharge. After a fractured pelvis, if the patient is going back to a house where they live alone, physiotherapist will be very involved. She should not be discharged home until lots have checks have been made. As she has been living alone and her mobility has now deteriorated, social services should get involved to help with discharge. Either setting up care packages or suggesting that the family choose a care home.
I strongly suggest that the hospital staff are made aware that there is no permanent carer and that the living arrangements are not suitable (eg no bath, toilet or washing machine).
Good luck

oldraver Sat 29-Dec-12 16:56:18

Well now she is in hospital she will hopefully get the care she needs. She will have to have her home assessed for suitable discharge and hopefully someone will finally see how she has had to live and will actually make sure this old lady gets the care she deserves

Jux Sat 29-Dec-12 18:04:49

StWin, my gm broke her leg in her 80s, a spontaneous fracture. She lived with us, but as a result of the break she lost a lot of confidence in herself, and just being alive became hard for her. She needed all the help she could get and actually, because all adults in the house, including me, were working ft, my aunt took her (but then put her in a home angry). The point is, your gm won't be able to continue living as she has been.

Please tell the staff, doctors, nurses, cleaners, anyone who will listen, the real living conditions she would be discharged to. Let it be known that she could pay for good care. Let it be known that your parents have been resistant to any modifications or outside help for her. Then leave it to the professionals. But please, for your gm's sake, make the true state of her house and life in it known.

Parrish Sat 29-Dec-12 18:29:07

This happened to my granny. She's 92. A prolonged stay in hospital after an illness led to a social services assessment, prompted by a family member. Previously the family member had been doing al the caring and the strain was obvious. Granny recovered, returned home, and after an assessment has carers coming in several times a day to get her up, feed her, help her go to bed. She also attends a day centre twice a week.

The difference is amazing. She has a new zest for life (at 92!) the family member feels supported by the care package and feels like a relative again, not her nurse. Also, very importantly, my granny has her dignity back again. Not to be underestimated with regard to her mental health.

The help is out there and this hospital stay is your opportunity to access it. My best wishes to your family.

thebitchdoctor Sat 29-Dec-12 19:04:46

This pelvic fracture is a blessing in disguise, she is now in a place where she can be assessed properly by physio, OT and a social worker and as long as your family are honest regarding her living situation she wont be discharged to live in squalor, where she has to shit in a bucket and her family are arguing amongst themselves to see how they can provide care without compromising their inheritance.

An absolutely appalling situation and one which could have easily been prevented. I would put money that she probably wouldnt have fallen an sustained the fracture in the first place if she was living in decent and safe conditions.

CaptChaos Sat 29-Dec-12 22:48:03

I sincerely hope that now that your DGM has sadly fractured her pelvis something will finally be done to help her. I have read the whole thread, and I find the level of inertia simply shocking.

Your DGM has had to live in squalor, with inadequate heating, no bathroom facilities (how does she wash her hands after using the commode, changing pads, before eating?), no clothes washing facilities (doubly incontinent? Really?) and carpets and soft furnishings which smell of urine. Would you let a child live in these conditions? A dog?

Yes, your DGM is an adult, and can choose to live in whatever depths of awfulness she chooses, however you and your family, as caregivers, have a responsibility and a duty of care towards her, in which your parents at least have spectacularly failed.

I am not blaming you for any of this by the bye, the main responsibility for this mess lies with your parents. Their lack of adequate response to an obviously failing situation and your DF's quite transparent and mind-boggling sense of entitlement to your DGM's money need to be addressed, and, as a pp has said, when you're visiting, tell everyone you can about your DGM's living conditions and ask for a SW to come and see what can be done, leave your contact details so that you can give a more balanced view of what your DGM's needs are.

myBOYSareBONKERS Tue 01-Jan-13 17:08:17

The hospital should do a full home assessment before they allow discharge.

If they say she can be discharged home as you will all provide care and that they will set up a care package, please be aware that once she is off that ward it is very much "out of sight, out of mind". That care package could takes weeks to materialize.

Do not agree to anything that you are not 100% personally able to do even if the guilt tripping starts

StWinithread Fri 04-Jan-13 01:19:00

Sadly she died of heart failure in the hospital this past morning.

So sorry to hear this StWinithread. sad

ChristmasSpiritEndorphins Fri 04-Jan-13 03:38:12

StWinithread, I am so sorry for your loss. I was very caught up in your struggles to change your grandmothers situation, and I am very sad for you. Please accept my sincere condolences.

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