AIBU to expect children to care for parents at some point

(248 Posts)
ruthyroo Fri 05-Apr-13 10:54:21

Had an interesting discussion with my parents recently.

They were talking about an aged relative - my aunt's MIL - who is 90 and in failing health, and slipping into dementia. She has recently been in hospital, and is not keen to go home. She has asked to go to stay with my aunt and uncle 'until she's back on her feet'. My parents were talking about it as if she was scheming and conniving to somehow get her foot in the door at my Aunt's and sneakily live there forever instead. Since she is 90 and feels very vulnerable I said that surely it was totally natural for her to want to be with people she knows and trusts, and wasn't that what families did for each other.

Their reaction was very much that parents sacrifice themselves for children and help them out, not the other way round. And that if I expected my dc to look after me when I was old, well I'd better not rely on that. I pointed out that DH and I moved back to the UK from Aus, partly because they and my PIL are not getting any younger and that we fully expect to have to help them out more in the future. But they were not to be budged: parents help children out (financially, childcare, lodgings, support etc) - not the other way round.

In my aunt's case there are other factors that would not have made it a great idea for her to take her MIL in - she's not in great health herself, my uncle is in a wheelchair and she doesn't have children nearby to help her out. But my parents applied the same rule to themselves and said that they had no expectation of my sister and I helping them out or - God forbid - offering a place to live if they needed it when they are older.

AIBU and totally niave to expect that children help parents as well as the other way round?

SirBoobAlot Fri 05-Apr-13 10:59:46

No, YANBU in theory. But life isn't always that straight forward, is it.

Hope she is okay.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Fri 05-Apr-13 10:59:54

YABU to expect it in our culture. I don't think we have the same approach to family life as some cultures do. I live in a very Asian populated area and I admire their approach to family life. Family is a big thing to them, they're surrounded by cousins and elderly relatives. They're in it together.

StickEmUpPunk Fri 05-Apr-13 11:02:57

I do feel sorry for your aunt but the flip side has to ask: What if you can't have children or choose not to like me.

I think we should look after eachother regardless and I feel sorry for the Aunt. I am not sure what I feel in this specific case.

I told a friend recently who was struggling looking after her elderly mother, that people go to college to learn how to look after the elderly, as they do to look after children (nursery, teachers etc) so the expectation that you are equipped if they are family is a bit dangerous I think.

I lived near a lady who lived in a house alone but kept wandering off looking for her children, thinking they were still toddlers and she wondered why she couldnt find the. That lady I think needs and deserves proper care, not to be left alone in her house. Either more visitation or living somewhere like a care home.

Either way, I think YANBU it is a personal matter to be dealt with case by case in each family.

My Grandfather and StepGran are already booked into a care home (when the need arises). I think they did it when they were 50 ish.

TheNebulousBoojum Fri 05-Apr-13 11:07:36

I don't think love and care and help in our family works on a linear basis.

livinginwonderland Fri 05-Apr-13 11:12:47

I think it's unfair to expect it and to expect children to plan their futures around the health of their parents. That's not to say I wouldn't look after my parents if I could, but I wouldn't relocate my life and the lives of my children/family to do so. I wasn't born to be some kind of safety net for when they get old - luckily my parents have no financial worries but if something were to happen tomorrow (say an accident as both are still young and healthy) - I wouldn't really be able to do much for them. I'm not well-off and can hardly support myself. I couldn't afford to give up my job for them and nor would they expect me to.

Madratlady Fri 05-Apr-13 11:15:49

I'm a nurse and have worked in care of the elderly, so I'm looking at it more from a professional point of view.

In theory it would be lovely if we could all look after our elderly parents. If they are of sound mind and able to do some things for themselves it may be doable, especially with the help of carers, but I think people underestimate how demanding caring for an elderly relative is, especially someone physically disabled or with dementia. Often they can't be left alone for more than a few hours at most, which is difficult for families who work. It's also physically and mentally hard wok, and emotionally can be very draining. Some people find it uncomfortable providing intimate care for their parent, or the parents may be embarrassed by their child doing it.

They could be at risk of leaving the cooker on and causing a fire, being burgled by an opportunist going door to door targeting vulnerable elderly people, wander off and get lost. All things that can happen in a very short period of time alone.

Some people are just safer in a care home where they have assistance on hand 24/7 if they need anything, meals provided, safe access to outdoor areas where they can't wander off, and the company of others.

Although my parents are a long ay off old age I have said that I can't promise that they would never have to go into a home as it may be a promise I won't be able to keep, although I will do everything I can to help them in their old age.

Sirzy Fri 05-Apr-13 11:16:33

So your basically saying nobody should make any plans from around the age of 50 and instead make sure your free to care for your parents.

I think you can't judge, different families have different set ups and different problems and they have to do what is best for the majority.

meditrina Fri 05-Apr-13 11:17:02

It's a cultural/familial expectation, and it's neither right nor wrong.

"Be nice to your children, they're the ones who will choose your care home" is also a possibility. You can look after someone without their being in your home. Taking in the elderly in a lovely thing to do; taking on someone with serious dementia who may need full nursing care isn't so easy.

zukiecat Fri 05-Apr-13 11:17:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tee2072 Fri 05-Apr-13 11:20:12

Weird. This is the 3rd thread about this in as many days!

YABU I will not be moving closer to my parent as they get older or my PILs, nor do they expect me to. I have my own life.

I do not expect my son to take care if me, either.

TheRivieraKid Fri 05-Apr-13 11:20:30

This is one of those situations where I don't it's possible to be totally YABU or YANBU, it depends entirely on personal circumstances. As a society we're not set-up to look after the elderly in our homes, and some conditions brought on by age can be hugely difficult to care for if you're not a professional.

For example, I will not be looking after my parents in their dotage based on the relationship I have with them and the hellish childhood I had. Equally I don't expect DD to have to look after me when I get old hoping I will have toddled off long before I get to that stage.

Maybe your parents are simply seeing the case of the aunt as a way to tell you they don't want to burden you themselves in years to come, OP?

Emsmaman Fri 05-Apr-13 11:22:20

Caring 100% for a relative is a massive strain, I think if paid help is feasible that is best with family to supplement. My DM became depressed in the years she was caring for her DM and has said she will make provisions so we don't have to do the same for her, she doesn't want us to go through what she did.

Startail Fri 05-Apr-13 11:26:43

I am my father's daughter, I have inherited his short temper.

We love each other dearly, no way could we live together!

DontmindifIdo Fri 05-Apr-13 11:33:01

Well on the bright side, at least you know they don't expect you to care for them, so it's only your PIL you'll have to worry about.

Seriously though, a lot of our parent's generation don't get that a lot of the 'older age' care plans in this country are being based on the assumption children will pick up a lot of the slack. They might not like it, but unless they are rich enough to pay for staff, they might have no choice but to lean on you to a certain extent as they age.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 11:48:14

With age gaps between generations increasing, and house prices having increased, family set ups are different. One of my IL's has dementia. We have young children and two jobs. Full time care from my DH is not an option. My children have to come first with me.
Fewer people can afford large enough houses either.

ENormaSnob Fri 05-Apr-13 11:54:01


expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 11:57:48

YABU. It's not possible for many children - they have young children themselves and/or have to work full-time just to live. House prices mean they often don't have the space, either.

Also, with people living longer, well, my gran fell ill and frail and her children were already in their 60s with serious health conditions themselves.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 11:59:36

For myself, I have no desire to live so long I get too frail to look after myself and I will take matters into my own hands should that occur. I mean that entirely, especially as I wish to join my child in death at such a point and have no great hold on life.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 11:59:52

YABVU. Obviously in some circumstances you may be a ble to help and care for them. Sometimes this is not possible and you are very unreasonable to expect it.

I cared for my father and had him live with me for the last few months of his life. It was very hard, practically and emotionally. Cleaning him up after his accidents was difficult as he didn't want me to have to do that for him. However he was fully sound of mind and able to do most things for himself. With the help of carers it was just about possible.

My mum has Alzheimer's and is not capable of independent living. There is NO WAY I could have her living with me. I still have children at home, we have to travel a lot and I am barely ever home for more than a few days. Mum needs 24 hour supervision. If I had no life at all I could probably martyr myself and do it, but it would not be fair on DH or the DCs. Being with her for even an hour is incredibly draining and I have health issues myself. Most if all she is safe in a care home, my house would not be safe for her without me resorting to locking her in a room.

Also you are wrong to tell your parents that you have moved back from AUs to help care for them in the future. They don't want or expect that, clearly, so you shouldn't expect their gratitude for something they haven't asked for.

I hope my children never have to make the decisions I have had to. I helped my dad die with grace and dignity within our home, his last few weeks were full of laughter and hold very special memories. Sadly I cannot offer my mum the same- the circumstances are different.

Latara Fri 05-Apr-13 12:00:49

I think what Madratlady says is most sensible.

Personally i know my Mum & Nan could never live together, also me & my sister have offered to help my Nan but she keeps refusing help.

If my Dad was ill i'd get Carers for him because i think it's inappropriate for a opposite-sex relative to carry out Personal Care - and i know he'd agree.

It depends what kind of care & who needs it basically - also every family set up is different.

I know some Asian families where the women are driven mad by the MILs who live with them!!

ruthyroo Fri 05-Apr-13 12:02:14

Oh you are all right - I'm not BU or totally reasonable!! It's very much down to personal circumstances. My parents have helped me out over and over and over again - maybe I feel that there is an obligation to repay that, when they need it and I can help them rather than the other way round (though they are adamant that there is no such obligation)? Plus they live out in the sticks - they love where they live, but at some point they are going to need physical help to chop logs, cut the grass, clear the snow from the drive so they can get out in winter etc. My sister has moved closer and bought a car, partly so that she can be within easy reach of them and help out with this kind of thing.

My aunt is in a horrible situation, and it's not helped by the fact that both her children have recently emigrated, taking her only grandchildren with them AND leaving her without the physical assistance she needs to care for my uncle (one of my cousins used to live with them and help her dad get around and do a lot of jobs around the house). They did what theychose to do becuase they believed it would mean a better life for their own children / themselves - but it has left their parents in a really difficult situation.

Latara Fri 05-Apr-13 12:02:49

expat sad to hear you aren't too happy with life at present.

YABU - you are looking at it from an idealistic point of view and sadly life isn't like that.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 12:06:15

'expat sad to hear you aren't too happy with life at present.'

Eh? I have no desire to get so old and frail I can't look after myself, Latara, I never have. I'd rather take matters into my own hands than live so long I can't look after myself. No, thanks.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 05-Apr-13 12:07:53

YANBU....people are fucking selfish. I could never see my Mother in a home...or my MIl...both have "strong" personalities but I'd NEVER leave them in an institution

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 12:08:28

ruthy if my children had families of their own and truly felt those families and they would have a better life elsewhere, they would have my absolute blessing to go! I have no wish to burden them with myself living on and on. I think living longer is only good if you have your health, tbh.

ghostprotocol Fri 05-Apr-13 12:09:33

Personally I've been thinking about this a lot, as my parents are considering moving further away from me and I worry about how they'll cope when I'm no longer half a mile away. They're perfectly fit and healthy now, but they ask for help with computer/advocate issues sometimes, and they have some health problems already.

I come from quite a tight-knit family and we probably help each other out more than the average family on MN - I always had lots of free babysitting and we cared for my own grandparents at home until they died, even when they were very frail (tube fed and Alzheimers) and there wasn't much room in our house. So it's very much expected in my wider family. I don't think that's a bad thing, I often feel sorry for families on MN who post that they live miles away from parents/siblings and struggle to get help for childcare cover for emergencies, or family to help out with things like DIY jobs.

I only have one child and he has SN, so I don't expect him to be able to care for me when I'm older though. If my health required it, I expect I'd go into a care home and I think I'd probably prefer that myself. I know it's not something my own parents would like though, and it would be down to one of me or my siblings to find room for them to stay if they needed it.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 12:10:04

'I could never see my Mother in a home...or my MIl...both have "strong" personalities but I'd NEVER leave them in an institution'

Then I hope you have means to hire in help if they get dementia. Have you ever cared for a person with advanced dementia? They don't sleep like normal people. Some can get quite violent, too, and are a danger to themselves and others. The care such a person requires is truly 24/7. And it's a slow way to die. Takes years.

meddie Fri 05-Apr-13 12:11:15

Yabu. Not every family even like their relatives. I love my mum, but I don't like her. I happily nursed my dad up until his death and would do so for my mum with assistance if it was a short acute illness. but there is no way I could provide long term care for her if she had chronic problems such as dementia.That is a huge burden to take on.
The assumption that because your parents raised you, you owe them something is wrong and its an unfair burden of guilt that usually falls on the females in a family.
They made that choice to have children and the subsequent sacrifices needed to raise them, same as I did when I had my kids.
I don't expect them to sacrifice their life for me either.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 12:12:16

I agree expat. I never want to end up like my mum. She is in a constant state of terror as she doesn't know where she is or what is going on. Imagine waking up every day and finding yourself in a strange place, then multiply that to every minute of every day- no thanks.

I hope by the time we get to that age there is something in place to be able to choose when we go.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 12:13:58

Did anyone see 24 Hours in the NHS last week? A wife was carrying for her husband with dementia. She could not leave him alone. Ever. He got up at all hours and got up to all kinds. She had to put him in a home because he was a danger to himself and there's no way a single person can care for such a person one and one as again, they do not sleep like normal people.

purrpurr Fri 05-Apr-13 12:14:05

YABU. My parents have spent 6 years caring for their parents, I've hardly seen them. I would never prioritise my own parents over my children. For one thing, I'm not qualified - my parents may need round the clock nursing, someone to assess if they need medication, mobility aids, someone to design a schedule of activities to slow the progression of dementia or alzheimers if applicable. It's also really not very clever to attempt to provide that sort of care one on one. Having been a carer for a wide range of service users, the one thing I learned on one spectacularly horrible shift was the trauma experienced by you and your charge when you drop them. I still go cold now and it was ten years ago.

I also wouldn't want to subject my marriage to becoming a full time primary carer for my parents. What would I say to my husband - you look after the kids and I'll see you in twenty years? No. Hell no.

cantspel Fri 05-Apr-13 12:15:36

My mum would argue grass is blue if it suited her and can moan for england but she is my mum and will always have a home with me.

Maybe not a choice everyone can or would make but it is the only choice for me.

itsblackoveryonderhill Fri 05-Apr-13 12:15:36

It's not yes or no answer I'm afraid. It's dependant on many factors.

My parents have said for along time that I shouldn't worry about them when they need care and I should just put them into a nursing/care home. This is off my back of my Mam being told by her mother that the only reason why my GM had children was so that they could look after her when she got old. My Mam didn't want that for me or my sister.

This has certainly been put to the test in the past 18mths after my Mam had a brain haemorrhage, leaving her severely disabled (she was 59), my Dad left work to become her full time carer. My Dad and I had discussed whether my Mam should go into a nursing home, but he was certain he wanted to look after her. I can't help much because I live 70 miles away and neither can my sister.

I've told my Dad that I do worry for his health due to the exhaustion it creates, both physically and mentally. But he turned round and said to me not to worry about him and my Mam and that I've got my own life and family to live.

Don't get me wrong, when I feel that the time has come that it's just too much for my Dad I'll sit down with him and have stearn words with him to just let somebody else do the work (in a nursing home). He can be a stubborn old sod at the best of times.

I do sit and worry at times over the effect it is having on my Dad, but I've been told not to, so I let it be fleeting.

I'd say, your parents are telling you the same as I've been told from mine, but in a more roundabout way. You were not born to look after them or worry about them in their old age.

itsblackoveryonderhill Fri 05-Apr-13 12:19:53

Oh, I just want to add though that when my Mam was still in hospital and we didn't know what the outcome would be, I did discuss with my Dad about getting a bungalow/house closer to me so that could help more and he just said 'we'll see'

I'm not saying that I would never care of my parents. I do that every time I visit by being my Dads sounding block as well as my Mam's arse wiper. But they've told me that they don't want me to ever think that I should consider doing it full time. So I don't and I won't.

MrsKoala Fri 05-Apr-13 12:21:19

Depends on the parents i think. My parents (whom i love) made it very clear they had their lives to lead from my early childhood. They worked long hours (for extra money, not just to keep a roof over our heads) and spent this going out and on holidays, while i was left at strangers houses or alone from 11yo (pre CM laws so lots of randoms who fancied earning extra cash). They sent me to Saturday school so they could go out and do their own stuff without me 'under their feet', Sunday was spent at the pub. They are very proud of this and laugh at those who adapt their lives for their children. As much as they love me, and they do, they would never have considered changing themselves for me or anyone. Therefore i now have no issue with putting them in a home should the time come.

If they had been different, my attitude would have been different. This is not punishment btw (as i said i love them - we are all going on hols together next week) but exactly what they would expect and want.

StillSeekingSpike Fri 05-Apr-13 12:21:41

We always said that my grandparents would never go into a home- then my grandma got vascular dementia. Their house was actually very dangerous for her- she would try and hit us when we tried to bathe or toilet her, she didn't sleep, and couldn't climb the stairs so was sleeping in the living room which was next to a busy road so made her even more anxious. So the care home actually calmed her and made her life better- tho' it was devastating for the rest of us.
As for the idealisation of Asian families- most if not all of the work falls on the women in the family and it can cause a lot of stress and even DV.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 12:24:32

That NHS programme- the husband was in complete denial and belittled the wife saying she was mad and making it up? Awful. She was crying out for help and he was still quite early on in the disease.

Those who say they would never put their parents in a home- wait until you are in the position of inflicting someone who needs 24 hour care and supervision on your family and the repercussions of that before you glibly announce its not a choice you would make. It would not just be your parents end of life care, it also means the end of your life as you know it. And that "end of life" can go on for 20 years with a dementia sufferer.

I was lucky, in some ways, that my dads condition was life limiting and we knew the end was coming. It made it easier to take on. Gosh how I value that time! But I could not have done it indefinitely.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 12:25:51

There is a middle ground between not seeing your ageing parents and being their full time carer. Most people fall into that middle group. Lots of visiting, doing shopping, arranging carers, doing admin,but not cconstant personal care.

I also see an issue with the fact that caring always seemed to fall to women, by default. Even when it is not her own parent or relative.

DIYapprentice Fri 05-Apr-13 12:28:41

Not as black and white as your DP are making out.

YABU and YANBU - I think our love for our parents should make us WANT to help them and see them. (If they did such a shit job that you don't love them, well then, that takes care of that!)

But it isnt' fair on anyone to give up their life to care for someone. We owe it to them to make sure they are happy, comfortable and safe.

If someone is just a little more frail, having them move into an adjoining granny flat or something like that is a fabulous idea. They are still living independently, but can have a bit of assistance - a few home cooked meals, opening a jar (those buggers are HARD to open!!!), putting some grocery shopping away etc. Some outside assistance can even be brought in, someone to give them a wash several times a week, etc.

But that's different to someone requiring really full on care.

Quite often the idea of a nursing home is left to the last possible moment which makes it harder all round. People don't like change when they are at their most vulnerable - they want things to stay the same.

A retirement village where you can live more independently but have the back up of moving into the more hands on care unit when needed would be less traumatic all round.

Frequent visits by family members and friends who can chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit would be far more enjoyable than seeing your child constantly stressed and unhappy and doing nothing but run around looking after everyone.

TheBigJessie Fri 05-Apr-13 12:30:33

This isn't a black and white issue of saintly adult children doing their duty versus greedy adult children incapable of being unselfish for all of three minutes.

Complex care needs, parents who weren't actually brilliant at parenting in their time (perhaps downright abusive), adult children who have children themselves, adult children who can't just drop their jobs to move in with their parents fro the next 15 years, et cetera.

TheNebulousBoojum Fri 05-Apr-13 12:32:03

Like Tee said 'Weird. This is the 3rd thread about this in as many days!'

cantspel Fri 05-Apr-13 12:34:45

It did mean the end of life as i knew it but still i wouldn't change my life.
I am lucky in that my oh fully supports me, my children are now teens They were alot younger when i first started caring but my oh picked up the slack when i was not able to.
We now live in a 3 generation household. It might not work for others but somehow we have made it work for us. My mum is happy and well cared for, my husband and children are happy and sees alot more of me now then before mum moved in with us.

Latara Fri 05-Apr-13 12:34:46

I just couldn't see my Mum living with my Nan & caring for her - they would probably kill each other!

If my Nan needs more help then i'll offer to help but at present she's refusing all offers & despite her problems is still baking cakes which is more than i can cope with myself!

skratta Fri 05-Apr-13 12:35:10

Tat problem is sorted for me <orphan from childhood> (died when I was four, then when I was sixteen)

Nah, but I think it depends in circumstances, I have a step dad and because he has been in my life since I was seven (my dad died when I was four) I think that I, personally, would feel responsible for making sure he is safe and happy. Not necessarily taking him into my home, but I'd do my best to make sure he'd receive the best care, whether by the way of a care home or having a carer/assistant to help him at home. I feel responsible because he is my step dad.

Equally, if I'd grown up with an abusive parent, well, there'd be no obligation. As a,parents, you shouldn't expect that care to be rewarded when you are vulnerable, however, as an adult person, we all have a responsibility to help the vulnerable in society, and when our parents need our help, I think we SHOULD return their care. If our parents gave us no care, we are under no obligation to give them care either. It's not a duty, but I would think worse of someone if they left their vulnerable, elderly parent with no support- whether by themselves personally or by enabling them to be cared for by another person- if they had been cared for by their parent (however, as I won't ever know the full life story of someone, them, the last bit is hard to know and therefore judging without knowing).

As in, we should ALL help the vulnerable. The vulnerable include health problems which lead to a need for help or understanding, or respect, as well as children, the elderly etc; so we would be wrong not to help the vulnerable, and ultimately if your parents cared for you, then returning that care and love when THEY are at a vulnerable stage in their life,miss great, but as you can't choose to have parents or whatever, you shouldn't HAVE to support them.

Sunnysummer Fri 05-Apr-13 12:35:13

YABU, at least in some situations... caring is by far the hardest work I've ever done, home helpers and care workers are underpaid heroes,and I would never judge anyone who couldn't take it on, even for a beloved parent.

After seeing my mother care for her own mother and her aunt, I have seen unrelenting the slog of care can be and the toll it takes on the carer's own children, relationship, mental health and finances.

Having someone to stay 'while they get on their feet' at 90 is highly likely to become a permanent arrangement. And a sweet confused older lady can still be incredibly hard to manage when she leaves gas burners and candles burning all night, or smears her bedroom in poo after a bathroom accident, or attacks you with her cane during a funny turn, to use some of our recent experiences - or even just when you realise that she is likely to need help every morning to dress and shower, and that every bathroom time is a major issue.

Like your parents, my mum has since said that she would never expect or even want me to care for her - personally I still would always try to, because we are so close and she has always been amazing to our whole family... But if dementia was involved, I'm less sure I could manage, and as for other family members, no matter how lovely they are, I would probably prioritise my DH and kids instead. Your parents sound lovely, perhaps they have seen and heard of their friends' experiences and are just trying to protect you in future.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 12:37:12

What are you thinking Nebulous ?

Latara Fri 05-Apr-13 12:38:07

When i say i'd help my Nan, i'd encourage her to get paid Carers for housework & personal care if possible because i don't think she'd allow me to help her to do those things.

Sometimes parents & grandparents are very proud & would rather have strangers see them 'at their worst' rather than their relatives - i know that my Nan has that attitude.

Wishiwasanheiress Fri 05-Apr-13 12:42:21

I fully agree with u. Parents help kids then eventually kids help parents. I guess u can go one of two ways, next time comes up say hurrah we are off the hook! Or stay quiet and watch.

We both know they will ask for help. They just aren't at that place yet. And if they don't well that's daft, don't cut nose off to spite face do u?

But parents can often be very strange.

Cretaceous Fri 05-Apr-13 12:52:13

I would just like to point out that if you need nursing, you need a nursing home. But it's not just a case of putting your parent in the home. If you don't watch, they are just not cared for, because the staff don't have the time.

My mum has recently gone into a home after a couple of months in hospital following an accident. I go into the home every day to do what I can, such as feed her(!) She needs a pureed diet (choking risk!), but has been given all sorts of food - satsuma and cake yesterday, even toast previously! Also, she's in pain, but had been released from hospital with large paracetamol tablets... Of course, she can't swallow those, and the nurse was telling her off for trying to break them up in her mouth.

Sadly, my mum can't live with us (no space and medical needs), but I do all I can, even though she wasn't the best mother. I just feel sorry for those patients whose relatives don't make the time. I noted this morning that she was wearing hte same (dirty) nightdress she had been wearing yesterday afternoon. The appointment I'd made with the chiropodist through the nurse had in fact not materialised. I only recently discovered that her toe nails hadn't been cut in hospital, because of course her feet were covered by sheets there, and so I hadn't realised. That's three months without foot care! I could go on, but you get the gist!

Finola1step Fri 05-Apr-13 12:57:18

From my experience, you never know what's around the corner and you really don't know if you could care for a parent until faced with the actual reality.

In my case, my dad had a stroke when I was 34. I had just returned to work after having my ds (now 5). In many ways my dad was ok after the stroke and his difficulties developed more gradually than one would expect after a stroke. My mum is also in poor health. We tried our best to support Dad at home. But eventually he went into a care home. It was for respite care at first but it is now a permenant situation. There was simply no way I could look after Dad full time. And he didn't want me too, especially with his personal care.

None of us are overally happy with the situation but we are content with it. He is safe, well looked after and likes the fact that he has a set routine.

I do believe that as a society that is living longer (often with challenging health needs) we have to accept that more and more of our loved ones will live in care homes. We must therefore ensure that care home staff are properly trained and are paid a decent wage.

KansasCityOctopus Fri 05-Apr-13 12:59:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

expatinscotland Fri 05-Apr-13 13:18:56

'the husband was in complete denial and belittled the wife saying she was mad and making it up? Awful. She was crying out for help and he was still quite early on in the disease.'

That man was actually further along in his illness. He had early-onset dementia and progressed more quickly than some, sadly. He was very bewildered and had no short-term memory. He didn't want to go to respite because it was terrifying to him. That's what dementia is like.

Something the wife pointed out was striking and sadly, true of dementia: her husband was dead. Dementia kills the person and leaves a shell. That's what is so awful about it. It makes a walking zombie out of the person. Awful, utterly awful. I would much prefer to end my life than die like that, or have someone end it for me. It is a very, very cruel disease.

I think in the past, people were more able to care for ageing relatives because stuff other than dementia usually took them out. Dementia rates are rising as we live longer and longer.

And tbh, there's really no way one person can provide care for such a person for years and years. Just none.

DrunkenDaisy Fri 05-Apr-13 13:41:19

I'm with expat.

I have plans for when I'm old or very ill. There's no way I want to go through that level of frailty or burden my DD.

Cretaceous Fri 05-Apr-13 13:50:59

Daisy, you are deluding yourself if you think you will be able to carry out your plans. None of us want to end up like that - at Xmas, my (then healthy) mum (who had just scored full marks on a routine memory test) was saying the very same thing. Now, she's disabled and bedridden. It's down to the luck of the draw.

MorrisZapp Fri 05-Apr-13 14:09:28

I think your argument, though clearly well meant, totally patronises older people. People generally hate living with relatives (in our culture). The three day rule applies to visits.

So why, just because somebody is older or in poor health, would they suddenly be a-ok with sharing personal space with relatives?

My gran is old and living in a boring care home two hundred miles away from her family. But she will not be budged. That is the area she knows, and it is her choice to stay there.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 14:21:33

My mother moved into my home when my father died. She is only 65 but physically disabled and I am her carer. I work full time but one of my sisters pops in during the day to check on her, and I leave her with a flask and snacks etc as she cannot carry anything because of her crutches.

I have given up my life to make this work - I cannot have a relationship or children as she comes first. This is the right choice for me as I could never delegate her care to someone else whilst I was capable. Most of my siblings found it very easy to bury their heads in the sand but I suspect that being the youngest it was just a case that I hadn't made my own family before needing to become a carer, whereas they all already had children.

WafflyVersatile Fri 05-Apr-13 14:39:33

they might change their minds when they're older and feeling alone and vulnerable.

It's a hard one. Looking after someone with dementia isn't much fun.

It depends on the family but you can't count on your children helping you out when you're older any more than you can count on your parents helping you out.

SinisterBuggyMonth Fri 05-Apr-13 14:44:33

I remember my next door neighbour who lived with here elderly mother for 20 years, after her mothers death saying that if she ever got ill she had ordered her children to put her in a home and not care for her.e.m. She was the most patient person you could meet.

My dad has a progressive neuro disease that is slowly robbing him of everthing but life. He is a shell, and is refusing any care. He is luckily in sheltered accomodation. But there is no way I could have him live with me, not while he refuses to wash and has bowel problems that leave literally a trail off shit on the floor. Not while he is fine one minute and sqwealing the next, pushing me and being aggresive when he doesn't get his own way. I have a 3yo DS a 11yo DSS and a DP who would probably leave me. And I wouldnt blame them it would be a horrible way to live, not to mention dangerous.
As I am also at risk of going them same way, I am with expat on this, I'd rather not spend 25 years fading to nothing, I'd rather take action myself while I have the means. I hope it doesn't come to this but I have to be prepare do for it. or got into a home. The last thing I wants is for my family to care for me.

RatPants Fri 05-Apr-13 14:47:15

I'd take my parents in when the time comes if they wanted to come to us and were well enough. Agree that for people with more difficulties, care homes can be safer though.

WandaDoff Fri 05-Apr-13 15:02:40

I spent the best part of the last 10 years looking after my MIL. She was very frail & pretty much helpless.

I would never never expect my children to do that for me & will be putting plans in place to make sure they don't have to.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I agreed to look after MIL, & I don't wish that for my children. I want them to enjoy their lives not be burdened by me.

CrapBag Fri 05-Apr-13 15:19:56


In an ideal world maybe but I don't see it as something that younger people in the family should have to do. Homes are there for a reason. DHs nan is in a lovely one, wouldn't bother me going in one like that.

Plus there are the practical issues like helping them to the toilet etc. I don't really want to be doing that, plus my own health is poor and I don't have the energy to run around after other family members. My job is to do that for my children and thats it, not spend my life bringing up my children, then taking in elderly relatives.

CrapBag Fri 05-Apr-13 15:21:08

Oh and the 90 year old is probably well aware that she won't be in a position to suddenly move out one day and take care of herself, she will be with your aunt until she dies.

Helpexcel Fri 05-Apr-13 15:27:09

My grandfather lived with us when I was a child. He wasn't a burden in anyway shape or form. He didn't move in to be cared for, it was due to circumstance.
As he got older, he obviously became frailer and spent periods in hospital.

Now fast forward 30 years, my dm is a widower and is ill and on her own. My df passed away after a period of dm and myself caring for him.
I am trying to juggle, 3 dc, dh and marriage, my mothers care, 2 households, errands, shopping, 2 part time jobs. All while trying to smile and keep positive for my mum and dc. It's bloody hard work.
So I will not be expecting my own dc to look after me.
And I certainly cannot take on the responsibility of either Pil when the time comes. No way.

CMOTDibbler Fri 05-Apr-13 15:27:36

I love my parents, and I do everything I can to support them. But my mum will need to go into residential care in the nearish future.

You might have a cozy vision of your parents living with you, maybe a bit dotty, but able to talk with the kids about the old days, do their reading with them. But thats far from the truth - my mums dementia means she has no social graces or inhibitions, finds it hard to communicate about anything, flicks and spits food and is agressive and shouty at times. DS hasn't spent more than 10 minutes on his own with her for 6 years, and now she can't name him reliably and can't interact.

Dad I could possibly cope with (my hope is that when mum needs to go into care they'll sell the house, move up here, and he'll get a sheltered flat though), but even so, he likes to sleep most of the time, is grumpy with pain, and finds ds exhausting.

But until you are facing the reality of it all, you can't judge anyone

shoesandwine Fri 05-Apr-13 15:33:32

Their reaction was very much that parents sacrifice themselves for children and help them out, not the other way round

I was brought up to believe that yes, parents make immense sacrifices for their children, but ultimately, that is a CHOICE that people make when they decide to become parents. Children don't ask to be brought into the world and I personally think that they have the right to their own lifes, to realise their own dreams and not to feel that they have anything to "pay back". There is something odd, in my mind, about creating human life and expecting that life to "owe you" something, but I appreciate this varies immensely from culture to culture, and from family to family.

I also think, however, that people are incredibly naive when they imagine what the role of a "carer" actually involves. It's not just about cooking granny a nice meal or two and helping her to the loo. Some people are bedridden and have to be lifted into baths, into chairs, etc. (not physically possible for most people, especially given that many of us are already in our 50s when our parents need care) or have mental health issues that mean that they require supervision 24/7. Assuming you don't have the money to employ full-time nursing help and, in fact, assuming you have any sort of job/family of your own to look after at the same time (remember that some of us have the combination of teenage kids at home - who need our help and support in crucial years of their development - and elderly parents), it's just not possible.

PlasticLentilWeaver Fri 05-Apr-13 15:34:52

I don't think it is unreasonable if your aunt has the space, time and money, and is able to help.
I have known since before I married that my disabled MIL will probably end up living with us once her DH dies, as she cannot live on her own.
We already financially support 2 other older relatives.

PlasticLentilWeaver Fri 05-Apr-13 15:38:03

Reading it again, I see that your aunt is not in a position to help, so fair enough.
I thonk children should be willing to look after their parents as they age, as you are, but if your parents don't want you to do it, you have a 'get out of jail free card'.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 15:47:32

I have never and would never consider that it isn't my job to care for my mother. I'm 32 now and she can reasonably expect to live at least another 20 years. She needs me and I have to fulfill that need.

tiggytape Fri 05-Apr-13 15:48:38

YABU - In many circumstances it is just not possible to care for a relative at home.
In cases of 'just' physical frailty the lifting aspects alone can be too much. If someone needs lifting in and out of beds and baths, the physical job is too much for one person especially if they are not reliably continent and need lots of bed changes and baths / washes each day.

In cases of dementia, it is often downright dangerous for the relative and for any other members of the household - especially children. Not everyone with dementia is just a bit forgetful about where they've put their glasses. It is a horrid, cruel disease that leaves previously considerate and intelligent people reduced to tantrums, violence and a lack of inhinition which would have horrified the 'real' them.

fabulousathome Fri 05-Apr-13 17:34:07

DH's Mum is a v difficult person who, sadly, gets on with no one. I told DH a long time ago that if he ever wanted his Mum to live with us that would be fine but that I would leave and live somewhere else! Fortunately he wouldn't live with her either.

Now she has Alzehimers and still lives in her unsuitable house with carers twice a day. Some years ago she was too stuborn to move even though we took her to see lots of flats and offered to (temporarily) put up the money so that she could move into a lovely new sheltered flat at her own pace before selling old house.

DH and I plan to move to a more suitable place to grow old in before we need to.

BasilBabyEater Fri 05-Apr-13 17:45:38

Just to throw into the mix when people say "people" should look after their parents, they generally mean women should.

Or at least, if they don't mean that, it's generally what happens - it's the women in the family who end up being the carers for elderly relatives, not the men and women. Obviously there are exceptions, but that's the overall picture.

I think people who have children expecting them to look after them, are extraordinarily narcissistic and selfish tbh. We choose to be parents. They don't choose to be our children.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 18:08:27

I made that point earlier too Basil. It is very relevant imo. Especially as most women work, and especially when it comes to inlaws rather than her own family.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 05-Apr-13 18:13:14

Another side of the coin.

My friend is mid to late 20s she is the eldest of three.

Her sisters have systematically flown the coop (with the parents blessing). My friend however has been groomed to be the one that looks after her parents in to their old age.

She will never have a life outside of her parents as she hasn't got the confidence to move or change.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 18:15:06

Boney, that isn't always bad though. I'm the youngest of 5 and I do all the caring for my mother. No doubt my siblings would feel fine with palming her off but she's my mother, I could never do that.

LookingForwardToMarch Fri 05-Apr-13 18:22:57

Absolutely :D Already have my mums room sorted for in a few years and looking forward to it!

She gave birth to and cared for me and my brothers and sisters. Why wouldn't I want to be as close to her as possible when she its her turn to be vulnerable.

Plus it will get my child (hopefully by then children ) extra time with granny. And set a good example that in this family we love and care for each other especially when it matters most, even if its difficult/not an ideal situation smile

BooCanary Fri 05-Apr-13 18:23:59

I expect to have to care for DM, and it fills me with dread tbh.

DM is disabled and although she can manage her own personal needs, she relies heavily on my DF re housework. She is a lovely mum, very generous in every way, and normally very self sacrificing. However, after spending several longish spells in hospital and receiving very poor standards of care on more than one stay, she is seriously frightend about how she, and her very specific needs, would be catered for in a care home.

She has mentioned numerous times about coming to live with us in the future, if my df goes before her. My dsis is likely to be very little help. I want to help but my lovely DM is set in her ways and we are too similar for it to be an easy ride.

Laquitar Fri 05-Apr-13 18:25:29

OP i don't know what is rightand what is wrong but i can only tell you that it is very very hard. I have mine living with us and it is extremely hard honestly. I had 3 dcs in 4 years and that looks easy peasy comparing to looking after elderly ill parents. To me anyway.

The thing is it is very rare in these situations to not have the unfairness factor in too. Sorry, i feel a bit bitter right now but db and sil had all the help when my parents were fit but now they want nothing to do with them. So i can not help it, i feel a bit resentful about this. I suppose it is better if all the children take it in turns to help but i dont know any family like this. It is usually one fool.

stopgap Fri 05-Apr-13 18:26:29

We plan to build an annex on the side of our home for my mother-in-law. He's Jewish, and the emphasis on family--even in non-religious families, such as my husband's--is very strong.

I'm 3000 miles away from my parents, and I do worry about not being there for them when they become infirm, as we are close.

BasilBabyEater Fri 05-Apr-13 18:28:38

Sorry SL, missed that.

Another thing, a very significant number of people grow up in abusive families. Someone else mentioned this and said there is no obligation in that case, but fact is, people don't want to disclose painful things about their childhoods and shouldn't have to, to get a social dispensation.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 05-Apr-13 18:30:02


It wouldn't be bad if it were her choice.
Everytime she starts to build confidence her parents take it away.

You may have chosen to look after your mother, she however hasn't.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 18:31:05

I suppose if it proves one thing, this thread proves that we are all different and all have different priorities.

BooCanary Fri 05-Apr-13 18:31:15

Yy in that it usually gets left to one child. That will be me in my family. Luckily it will be Dh's Dsis in his family I would presume.

My parents didn't have any of their parents living with them in old age. Maternal GPS lived with my aunt and paternasl GPS lived a long way away.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 18:33:08

I'm just glad you agree Basil. Lots of peoplw just seem to accept it as women's work or duty. Fine if you choose it, but not fone as default.

badguider Fri 05-Apr-13 18:34:49

My mum worked as a care home manager until she retired and now volunteers with the elderly and dementia patients. She has always said we should hand her and my father over to the professionals when the time comes. Obviously she'd like us to visit, but she doesn't want us to try to look after them while also looking after our children and trying to hold down a job. She feels it's too much for anybody.

I don't see it as 'palming them off' as others have said and think that wording is quite offensive for what is often a caring and considered decision to do the right thing for everybody.

Viviennemary Fri 05-Apr-13 18:35:47

I think a ninety year old with failing health and the start of dementia would need quite a lot of care that your aunt and uncle might well not manage to do. Often quite frail elderly people end up looking after another relative to the detriment of their own health.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 18:38:27

Well, as I said badguider, we are all different. I would see it as palming my mum off and she would, I have no doubt, kill herself if placed in a care home. Having seen first hand some of the attempts at 'care' in some of these places, I wouldn't blame her.

I see my family as my responsibility - you do what you can. If you choose a partner and children, then you probably aren't going to be able to provide the care an elderly parent needs, so you will need access to professionals. I made a different choice and I'm not sure why that should be looked down on?

badguider Fri 05-Apr-13 18:41:25

poppy I am not looking down on your decision in the slightest. It is absolutely fine for you. No business of mine.
I'm bristling a bit that you're using language that really quite strongly condemns my (and others') different decision.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 05-Apr-13 18:43:34

"... she would, I have no doubt, kill herself if placed in a care home."

Is this your summation or has she said as much?

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 18:44:47

I said that my siblings would be happy to 'palm off' my mother. I think it is totally okay to condemn that decision, as I'm pretty sure it would be a case of 'out of sight, out of mind'. One of them even bought a car that she would be unable to get in, on purpose, so that they never had to give her a lift or take her to appointments. How is that not palming off the mother who often went without food to ensure you were fed and clothed as a child?

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 18:45:23

She has said as much, Boney. I have no doubt that she would, we are a family of depressives.

exoticfruits Fri 05-Apr-13 18:59:45

I have spoken to all my DCs separately and I have told them that they are not responsible for me when I am old and I will not live with them, I have said that should I forget that later they are to remember our conversation.
I am deadly serious about it.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Fri 05-Apr-13 19:01:37

I said Mum would live with us until she was diagnose with Moderate Mixed Dementia recently. I know now there is no way I will be able to care for her long term as she deteriorates. She was never easy but this is a whole new ball game. My brother hasn't seen her for 4 years (though hopefully coming soon), she's estranged from her sister and has no friends. There's just me.

It's been totally horrendous getting as far as diagnosis and a care package. My children have suffered in the process. I have learned quickly that I have to protect myself for my family's sake. When Mum was diagnosed 3 weeks ago the Consultant said he would be honest, that it would be very stressful and he often has to prescribe Anti Depressants for people in my situation.

When the time comes that Mum needs 24 hour care for her own safety then she will be going into a home. I've read the Alzheimer's Carers boards and know I can't do what's require. I wouldn't want my children to do it for me.

whitecloud Fri 05-Apr-13 19:06:03

So many good points on this thread. I would say, you may feel differently when the time comes. Apart from the dreadful problems of dementia, old people can change in personality and become uncooperative with age. I think we should all be realistic. If a relationship in a family is difficult and the parties don't get on, illness is going to make it worse and it would be very unwise to live in the same house. It just wouldn't work out and everyone would be miserable. As many have said, it's the wrong relationship and parents might feel very embarrassed if children undertook their personal care.

Equally, if someone won't see the doctor or accept any outside help, caring becomes emotionally fraught and almost impossible. I speak with feeling because my parents were like that - it was agonising watching them going downhill. No way could I have had them to live with me if I was expected to do absolutely everything without help or cooperation. Totally unfair and completely impossible. My brothers were wonderful, but two of us were adamant that my brother (who lived nearest) should not move back in with my dm if she wasn't going to help herself or us.

All the points about dementia are so true. You can't care for someone 24/7 with no break or holiday, especially if they do dangerous things like leave stoves on etc. In the end you would break your own health and then what good would you be to them, yourself, or anyone else? It takes a special saintly person to cope with that and I know that I couldn't and dread the thought of being that much of a burden or making someone else give up their life for me. I am going to make my own arrangements so as not to be a burden on my dd. But, each to his own, as so many have said and every case is different.

hazeyjane Fri 05-Apr-13 19:17:13

I suppose if it proves one thing, this thread proves that we are all different and all have different priorities.

No, poppypebble, not different priorities, just different lives.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 19:19:59

I think it is different priorities, hazey. If you choose to have children yourself, then of course they have to become your priority. If you don't, a parent needing care can be your priority.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 19:23:23

My children will absolutely be my priority. My lovely parents would be horrified by anything else. My parents are relatively young at the moment, so chances are, my DC will be grown when they need me. My IL's are needing care now. My dc come first.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 19:24:06

As it should be, Sprinkle. I've made the decision not to have children, so it will not be an issue for me.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 19:27:37

My children will absolutely be my priority. My lovely parents would be horrified by anything else. My parents are relatively young at the moment, so chances are, my DC will be grown when they need me. My IL's are needing care now. My dc come first.

hazeyjane Fri 05-Apr-13 19:35:50

However, Poppy, there are all sorts of circumstances at play in people's lives, and I don't think it should just be the default that it should fall to the sibling without children to care for their parents.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 19:38:50

There is no perfect solution to this conundrum. You do what you can, and what you can live with. That is different for all of us. I think we all have different expectations for our lives, and that obviously plays a part too.

dreamingofsun Fri 05-Apr-13 19:45:52

many of you are talking about looking after your parents - in theory. the reality may be quite different. my mother stayed with us for a month or so - LT it wouldn't have been viable for me to carry on working - i work from home, but looking after a semi continent person and trying to work/attend conference calls was very stressful and not fair on anyone LT. Despite numerous requests my mother could never indicate the urgency or her i never knew if i had to crash out of chairing a call immediately - due to urgent toilet request, or just the TV channel needed changing.

I felt like a prisoner in my house, as she couldn't be left for much more than an hour without organising someone else to look after her.

a bedroom had to be allocated to her, so people had to sleep on the sofa.

she woke people during the night, which made it hard for me the next day at work and for the kids at school who had crucial exams which determined their futures.

she hadn't bothered keeping in touch with our family that well when her grandkids were growing up they didn't feel close to her and were embarrassed to bring friends home - so went out the whole time.

we watch totally different things on TV...and i mean totally different.

so yes in theory this might sound OK, but the reality could be screwing up your families finances both now and when you retire, and being held a virtual prisoner in your own home.

MummytoKatie Fri 05-Apr-13 19:53:46

poppy Are you not having children because you genuinely don't want them or because your mother's care needs make it not possible for you to have them?

It would break my heart if dd didn't have a relationship or children because of me. I am raising her in the hope that she will have a wonderful, happy, fulfilling life. My dh and dd (and the soon to be ds who keeps kicking me!) make my life very happy so I would never want to deny her the opportunity of the same experience. If she has other plans in mind to make her happy that is fine by me. But not caring for me or dh. We will make our own arrangements.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 19:55:35

MummytoKatie I'm not having children because I have my mother to care for - as others have clearly said, you can't do both. I made a decision to prioritise my mother. It isn't the right decision for everyone, but it is for me.

ByTheWay1 Fri 05-Apr-13 20:16:48

It is also not the "easy" thing to take the care home option - if you do not have the money available to pay for a decent one, the choices are usually limited to the one the last government-funded-patient died in... (sorry to be blunt - but care home places do not grow on trees - some places have waiting lists - usually dead man's shoes for the good ones)

Do not think it is easy to get a place, do not think it is easy to get funding.... the care home has the right to refuse if someone is violent or abusive (one of the common reasons given for putting folks in a home)

IF this IS your plan for the future of your parents make sure there is going to be money available! And if it is what you want for your future you need to be saving double your pension provision from your 20s in order to be able to pay for it... Care homes can cost thousands a month

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 21:18:15

Having just returned from a few hours calming mum down in her care home- she had convinced herself my brother was coming to take her to Spain, I can tell you that my head is done in and I am emotionally battered and drained. Just from a few hours.

I am very sad that the words "palming off" have been used to describe sending someone to a care home. It is just this sort of thoughtless comment that adds to the guilt of knowing you are unable to provide for the needs of your elderly relative. It is never an easy decision and is certainly not just a case of packing them off and being able to get on with your lives.

My mother died a long time ago- the person left who resides in the care home is not my mother. You cannot begin to comprehend how dementia steals the soul from someone and leaves a shell that is unrecognisable until you witness it.

I would be doing my mother, and everyone else around me a disservice by bringing her into my home now. I could not keep her safe, I wouldn't be able to leave her for 5 minutes, to pop to the shop, to take a bath. My dogs would have to go, everyone would be woken during the night, many times, every night. There would have to be a whole team of people coming and going from the house, at all hours. It's not like having a slightly dotty, forgetful grandma having a few meals cooked and all sitting round the fireside with the DCs hearing stories from the past. Mum is on a 3 minute loop with her questions, they never stop and are repeated over and over. Never mind the rest of the care she needs. If there was ever a description of purgatory, dementia is it. Stuck in a moment somewhere between life and death in a state of total confusion. Being in my care would not change any if this for her, yet it would destroy our lives. No parent would want to burden their child with that.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 05-Apr-13 21:31:01

In theory, and on principle, I agree with you ruthyroo, and tbh am surprised that the majority of post on here are YABUS.
Obvs, a parent with Alzheimers is a different kettle of fish-my Granny had it, and was totally doolally, and needed 24 hour care, but in general, yes, I do consider it my duty to care for my parents when they are old,(although my dad is dead) and as I am the only sibling living near my mum, I know that it will come down to me.
We don't even get on that well, but I have seen care homes, and I wouldn't stick her in one of them.
What I am hoping is that I will be in a financial position to pay for a carer, as well as doing shopping and caring myself, and that she will be able to live in her own home with that support.
But if that is not possible, I expect she will be living with me, until she is genuinely a danger to herself or us.
Maybe it is a cultural thing (I am not really English) I dunno, but I do have a sense of duty (there's that highly unfashionable word again) and I would do my damnedest to honour it. She's my mum.

Toasttoppers Fri 05-Apr-13 21:38:19

If you have a partner then you have to consider how they also feel.

I would end up being the carer regardless of whose parent lived with us because DH earns about 3 times as much as me.

DowntonTrout Fri 05-Apr-13 21:51:01

Oh I feel a sense of duty and I do my damnedest to honour it.

But I would be failing my mum to put my sense of duty before her needs, and she needs more than I am able to give.

Cretaceous Fri 05-Apr-13 22:04:24

It's not a clearly defined choice, though, between either looking after your parents yourself, or putting them in a care home. My mum needs a lot of nursing and has been in a care home for a fortnight, after coming out of hospital. I haven't just left her there, though. I'm in every day, often twice a day, for hours at a time, feeding her and entertaining her.

It isn't really a case of just putting them in there and leaving the staff to get on with it. I am my mother's advocate, and without me her care would be pretty dire, from what I've seen!

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 22:10:52

That's it, IfNotNowThenWhen, a sense of duty. To me it is doing what is right for my mother. Others don't have to feel the same, but to go on about how you don't plan to be a burden to your children - maybe your children won't consider you a burden? I could never think of my own mum as a burden.

I've thought about this more and I really think it is down to expectations for your life. My parents were disabled when I was born, although not as seriously as later in life. I've been a sort of carer for them all of my life, so it came as no surprise to find myself stepping up when my dad died. Why wouldn't I? I was 26 then and had no children of my own. It was easy to make the decision that if mum needed me, that was that, my path was sorted.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 22:20:18

The thing is though, we have no way of knowing what sort of an old age our parents will have. It would not make sense to have no children in case my parents develop dementia. They may remain fit and well, or not. In the meantime, they want to enjoy life, and their grandchildren are part of that.

I can see your circumstances are somewhat different Poppy, as you have known for a long time that your parent will require care.

ThisIsMummyPig Fri 05-Apr-13 22:20:59

My DB and I both have a 20 year plan. Then he will be 60, and I will be 55. He is single.

The idea is that we then move back to where my mother is. She will be 84. He has a property nearby, and I will actually move into my mothers house, so that she can be cared for as long as possible.

It is a 20 year plan so that hopefully my children will be at university, or working, and my DH will have retired. We are allowing these 20 years to save up enough money. Hopefully I will have a job where I can work from home.

We are doing it together so that it doesn't fall to one person - there will in fact be three of us, me, him, my DH.

We are under no illusions that if my mother is seriously ill she will go into a home.

If she needs that sort of care while my children are still in full time education there is no way I'm going. If he has his own family, the plan goes. My mother has no idea, so we won't be letting her down if it fails. When we are all living in the area, we will be able to support each other as we get older. We know we are lucky.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 22:26:51

My mum has 12 grandchildren, Sprinkle, so she doesn't miss out. I'm the youngest by a large margin - when she needed the care my siblings had already started their families. I hadn't. It therefore fell to me to provide the care my mum needs and I am happy to do that. That has meant having a different life to most people, but it isn't a lesser one.

MerylStrop Fri 05-Apr-13 22:26:58

My mum has made it absolutely clear from my early adulthood that she INSISTS that she wants to be "sent off to a home" if and when she becomes too frail or (her words) bonkers to live unsupported.

I am grateful to her for this. But it will be very very tough to have to do.

I think she would concur with your parents OP. She cannot bear the thought of being a burden and has always been very unselfish.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 22:41:57

I wasn't suggesting she missed out Poppy. Just musing that things are perhaps different if you have early knowledge that parents will definitely need care. She sounds very lucky to have you.

poppypebble Fri 05-Apr-13 22:46:18

I'm very lucky to have her, Sprinkle!

That's all I want to get across, really. All this talk of burdens - it really isn't like that for me. It just feels so completely natural.

apostropheuse Fri 05-Apr-13 22:52:40

I left work to look after my terminally ill parents. who died pretty young (62 and65).

I have told my children that under no circumstances are they to try to look after me at home. I really mean that. I would much rather go into a home.

I do hope they listen to me.

SprinkleLiberally Fri 05-Apr-13 22:53:22

I'm glad. That sounds nice, and a great relationship to have.

HoppinMad Sat 06-Apr-13 00:09:15

YANBU my DUncle and his wife cared for Dgf in his old age, their lives were on hold.during this period (i'm talking years) it was pretty hard, my uncle looked haggard as my dgf would creep to the bathroom at night in fear of waking him and risked falling, so he could never rest at night. It was hellish just watching. But my uncle/aunt have absolutely no regrets, what they did was so rewarding and I have nothing but admiration for people who look after their parents in old age, with patience and compassion.
In many cultures its the expected thing. And many world religions also give the parents a high status, therefore their needs shouldn't become secondary etc.

A close relative of mine has no children and now in her fifties worries about her future. I would never let her die alone, and would treat her as a parent. Bloody tough but couldnt live with myself if she asked for help and I refused.

LadyBeagleEyes Sat 06-Apr-13 00:18:11

It's the hardest thing in the world to see your elderly parent fade before your eyes.
My mum had dementia, was doubly incontinent and couldn't even walk on her zimmer before she died.
I'd have done anything to have had her with me, but sometimes it's just not realistic, and she spent the last month of her life in a nursing home.
It should never be about obligation, it should just be what you feel is best for them.

ruthyroo Sat 06-Apr-13 07:00:23

I think you've nailed it at the end of your post ladybeagleeyes. It's not about obligation, it's about doing your best for your parents at that point in time. Because you choose to, not because you are obliged to.

I certainly feel a huge amount of gratitude to my parents. Maybe I am seeing strings attached to their gifts that don't actually exist. They both jokingly say 'a wee peel in thir tea' will be the best option when they are too old to live independently . Certainly the stories and experiences of the posters above who are coping with demented and ill relatives are not something they would want to wish on me, nor me on my children. I totally agree that many older people need more care than a child can give. I guess I was thinking of the stages before that - when they can live with some independence with a certain amount of care and assistance from others. This thread has opened my eyes to the often grim reality of l

ruthyroo Sat 06-Apr-13 07:03:41

I think you've nailed it at the end of your post ladybeagleeyes. It's not about obligation, it's about doing your best for your parents at that point in time. Because you choose to, not because you are obliged to.

I certainly feel a huge amount of gratitude to my parents. Maybe I am seeing strings attached to their gifts that don't actually exist. They both jokingly say 'a wee peel in thir tea' will be the best option when they are too old to live independently . Certainly the stories and experiences of the posters above who are coping with demented and ill relatives are not something they would want to wish on me, nor me on my children. I totally agree that many older people need more care than a child can give. I guess I was thinking of the stages before that - when they can live with some independence with a certain amount of care and assistance from others. This thread has opened my eyes to the often grim reality of looking after granny. I'm going to make the absolute most of my wonderful parents / grandparents to my dc while they are with us in every sense - that's the real reason we came to live closer to them.

colleysmill Sat 06-Apr-13 07:33:19

Life often never pans out the way you think despite the best laid plans.

Both my grannies have dementia - one moderate, one severe end stage - both are in care homes for different reasons due to their specific care needs which can't be met without 24 hour care.

Both have outlived my mother by 7 years. You can't always foresee what might happen.

SprinkleLiberally Sat 06-Apr-13 07:51:43

Can I just say what a good thread this has been. Thought provoking for me, but no nastiness around such a difficult and emotive issue. Thanks all.

Sirzy Sat 06-Apr-13 08:13:22

I think sometimes the kindest thing you can do for someone is find them a nursing home where they will be safe and cared for.

My grandpa had cancer and between the family we cared for him at home for 3 weeks round the clock - it was exhausting (physically and emotionally) but it was what he wanted so we did it.

My grandmother had dementia, she wasn't safe to be left alone none of the family where in a position to be able to become her full time carer which is what she would have needed. We hunted high and low for the perfect care home for her where she spent a very happy 18 months until she died.

You can't say how you will respond until you are in the situation and even then it depends on the specifics of that situation

WynkenBlynkenandNod Sat 06-Apr-13 08:55:15

I posted about my Mum and Dementia earlier on th thread. In the middle of getting her diagnosed my FIL is gettjng more and more frail overseas. He has Parkinson's which seems to be progressing. In the last month he has got stuck in a chair for three hours plus fallen in a shop knocking his two front teeth out. SIL rings every morning, DH after work every night, my other two BIL's just bury their heads in the sand. He is also diabetic, had a triple bypass 10 years ago and hard of hearing.

We're trying to get him to accept help. Obviously we want him to come back. But he won't . Everyone else says well he'll have to come back won't he. Bu the reality is we can't make him. Guess we'll muddle through until there is a crisis. He is showing signs of weakening on the having help front. Having been through the whole Mum thing we know that 'yes I've had my medicine and drinks today' means 'yes I think I have had them today' but the reality is likely to be different.

Thank goodness my Dad's COPD and Macular Degeneration are both pretty mild, that his cancer is in remission and he has a partner as he lives 100 miles away and I couldn't cope with having to deal with medical problems with him.

And somewhere along the line I needs focus on my Year 9 DD and her GCSE's and DS's transfer to Middle school in September, take care of my health that is suffering badly from all this, try to maintain a relationship with my fantastic DH as it looks like it will be just the two of us as at this rate children leaving home and no ill parents anymore look quite likely to happen at much the same time .

I always thought we'd be able to look after our parents but never anticipated being in the situation we're currently in, being pulled in all directions at once and feeling that I'm not doing very well by anyone.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 06-Apr-13 10:23:54

I know how you feel Wynken. I helped nurse my Dad when he was dying of cancer, and had a 2 year old at the time, and a job, and it was utterly draining, physically and emotionally.
Part of the reason I felt I had to be there, at the hospital, so much was because of the very patchy care there, and we couldn't trust them to make sure he got fluids etc, or was clean.
Nothing is worse than watching a parent deteriorate, and tbh, the fact that my Dads demise was relatively quick was a mercy.
I think I, like OP, am thinking more about old people who are somewhat mobile and well enough mentally and physically to have some independence.
I do think that sometimes families really don't want to take them on, partly because they can't face the thought of any extra work, on top of kids/jobs etc.
I just think that, as far as you can , you should make an effort to keep families together, and I actually do feel an obligation to that end, same as I feel an obligation to care for my son.

Sometimes doing your best for your elderly parents is accepting that they need outside help.

I think many people who blatantly disregard care homes, or the help from nursers, saying "I could never do this to mum/dad" are more concerned with themselves than their parents. It is a very selfish attitude to put what you are comfortable with ahead of the needs of an elderly mum or dad, grandparent or aunt.

The best place for a frail 90 year old might actually be a carehome, not at home responsible for bills, shopping, heating, cooking, cleaning, an elderly care-needing spouse/dependent.

Due to budget cuts and the horrible state care for the elderly, more and more elderly people stay home, or in sheltered living, until they are very old and vulnerable, so are really quite unwell when they first enter an institution.

In an ideal world, there would be retirement condos for couples, with nurses, doctors and home helps on call, and with no stigma attached to living in a place like this.

infamouspoo Sat 06-Apr-13 14:07:21

I wonder where you put them and how you survive on carers allowance of £55 a week after you give up work to care 24/7. You do know Carers dont get armies of respite help and jolly holidays right?
And no-one hands you you're job back later on.
My mother is gone 80 and I'm petrified.

People dont just die these days. I fear we have shot ourselves in the foot with medical science and this longevity malarkey. People live well into their 90s, get old and frail, cling on to live for dear life, with medicines and what not. Nobody wants to die. Too scared, and tied to this planet and this life. And what quality of life??

expatinscotland Sat 06-Apr-13 14:53:53

I completely agree, Quint.

poppypebble Sat 06-Apr-13 15:32:26

I think people get to determine their own quality of life, though. Saying 'I wouldn't want to live like that' is fine. Adding on 'therefore noone should' is not.

shankaron Sat 06-Apr-13 15:44:53

OP, I don't think YABU. Of course children should be expected and obliged to look after their elderly parents, after all the parents raised them and cared for them and taught them to be civilized and sacrificed so much for them.

marriedinwhiteagain Sat 06-Apr-13 15:49:07

Every case and set of circumstances is different. My mother and grandad looked after my grandma who had alzheimers at home until it became too much for both of them. Then she went into a nursing home, a specialist mental health unit for the elderly or those with early on-set dementia. She was there first of all for two weeks every five - and then after a few years she had to live there permanently and they had to fight tooth and nail for it. They simply could not cope any longer, grandad was in his 80s and it was making him ill and my mother ill. Grandma went into full time care in 1994 and died in 1999. During those five years my mother and grandad visited her daily, fed her, did her washing so her clothes stayed bright, arranged for her to have a special bed in the last year due to the bed sores. My gran had no underlying medical conditions so the alzheimers ran its full course; probably over 15 years - she was also incredibly well looked after and lived much longer than usual. For the last seven years she recognised no family member; for the last two she had forgotten how to feed herself and to drink and was fed like a baby with puree and a sippy cup. She also became doubly incontinent, suffered a series of tia's, and when she died was four and a half stone.

I'm not sure to what extent the level of care my mother insisted on was a kindness in the end. I know I certainly resented the fact she had no time for me or her infant grandchildren during those years and we had no-one else to help and remembered her not being there for us.

However, my mum did it for her mum, her mum did it for my mum's grandma and I shall have to do it, to some extent (I don't think to the extent my mum went to) for my mum. It will be my duty. I will make sure my dd doesn't have to do it for me by making my own care arrangements well in advance or accepting only palliative care at some stage.

infamouspoo Sat 06-Apr-13 16:14:33

'Of course children should be expected and obliged to look after their elderly parents, after all the parents raised them and cared for them and taught them to be civilized and sacrificed so much for them.'

You've not met my mother shankaron who made it clear we were a burden and the worst mistake she ever made and put every single boyfriend before us and let them abuse us.
Still think my children and life should be put aside to care for her? Lose my job and care 24/7? I dont fucking think so.

shankaron Sat 06-Apr-13 16:25:19

infamouspoo I think that regardless of what your parents might've done in the past you have a duty towards your mother and you must treat her with great kindness. Two wrongs don't make a right!!

That is the stupidest thing I have read in a long while Shankaron. You cant be serious. A parent cannot expect any kindness and "duty" from a child they have not extended the same courtesy to. "two wrongs does not make a right " is a silly platitude.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 06-Apr-13 16:34:46


I think that should be the same for looking after parents.


"I think that regardless of what your parents might've done in the past you have a duty towards your mother and you must treat her with great kindness."

I can't agree with that at all.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 16:40:13

OP, I don't think YABU. Of course children should be expected and obliged to look after their elderly parents, after all the parents raised them and cared for them and taught them to be civilized and sacrificed so much for them

It was purely selfish-I wanted to have children-loved raising them and caring for them-had a great time doing it. Love their company now and I haven't sacrificed anything-my life is much richer for them. I am now having a nice period of freedom to do as I wish to do-I want the same for them.
They do not owe me anything and I have told them quite plainly they are not responsible.
We had my mother for a while when she wasn't well. It was hard. Firstly she had to have DSs bedroom-the only one suitable, secondly she couldn't be left for more than 2 hours, thirdly she had to be bathed, hair washed etc and she couldn't even make a cup of tea for herself. And she was perfectly OK in her mind-imagine that with dementia and not even being able to leave for 2 hours. She went on to my brother who thought 'it would be easy'-in reality he found it anything but. It was my SIL doing the caring and when she said if it was long term would he give up his job and she would go to work-there was a pause...... a very, very long pause .... before he said that 'he supposed so'.
Luckily she made a full recovery ,and although still quite disabled, lives independently with a 24 hour warden. She is a different person, isolated with family she became quite depressed and found it difficult to mix-now she has lots of friends, goes out and socialises and is very bright.
I don't mind giving support, visiting, shopping, cleaning etc-who would? But not living with us.
From my age, now, my mother had 30 years of freedom, she had holidays, some long haul, she had lots of friends, hobbies, time to visit and spend time with grandchildren -to come and go as she pleased. I want the same-I don't want my life to close in until I am too old to want, or enjoy it.
Above all I want my children to have it-I don't want them to be left looking after me-especially if my mind goes. I am not having my DSs bathing me and taking me to the toilet and I don't see why any future DIL should get it!! I will pay strangers.
My friend has had her mother living with her-it worked for years because she had space but eventually she wasn't safe-couldn't be left alone -she had to go into care. My friend has a DH, DCs and a life too.
I get fed up with being told how other cultures look after their old-any books I have read they may well be looked after, but often not very kindly and very often quite isolated-they may well be better off in care in many cases.
For this reason I have told my children now-and I have never been more serious about anything-they are not doing it.
I know one couple who would think they were 'owed'-their DD has emigrated to Canada while in her 20's-with a view to future problems I would imagine.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 16:45:52

You've not met my mother shankaron who made it clear we were a burden and the worst mistake she ever made and put every single boyfriend before us and let them abuse us.
Still think my children and life should be put aside to care for her? Lose my job and care 24/7? I dont fucking think so.

I am appalled that anyone should think she should-much less say so.
Of course you shouldn't ,infamouspoo anyone can give birth-it takes a lot more to be a mother.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 16:46:55

I think that regardless of what your parents might've done in the past you have a duty towards your mother and you must treat her with great kindness."
Absolutely disagree.

poppypebble Sat 06-Apr-13 16:59:26

I have said several times that different things work for different circumstances. I just don't accept that my life is a lesser one because I have to care for my mother instead of having a partner and family of my own.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 17:03:14

I think that in the extended family set up, people are raised around different generations, so are more aware, from a young age what is required to look after them. For example I remember when I used to visit family and I looked at old people and just saw old and wrinkly and eugh! When I went back recently I was kind of shocked how natural my nieces and nephews in their teens and early twenties were with grandparents, sharing bed and stuff, that at that age I would have cringed at.

When my dad was sick the whole family all mu cousins etc got involved in looking after him, every day at visiting time he had 5-10 visitors! My 19 year old niece cared for him in his last weeks, she slept next to him, bathed him and so on, and for her it wasnt weird. even for me that would have been weird and he is my dad. It is easier because they know what is involved, they have seen others do it.

Where as us in this country we live in our individual family units, and prioritise that above everything else. This naturalness with old people leaves us.

LadyBeagleEyes Sat 06-Apr-13 17:04:29

There is no way I'd ever make my son feel obliged to look after me in my old age, it's not what I brought him into the world to do.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 06-Apr-13 17:09:37


I have never said that your choice was the lesser one.

It takes guts determination and a huge amount of love to be the main carer for someone in their old age.

Its just that from my experience alot of the people that do take the road that you are on don't make that decision for themselves.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:09:40

We have lots of elderly in the family-it isn't a problem relating to them-DCs grew up with regular contact with over 80yr olds up to 103 yrs. Visiting, chatting, playing games, taking out, shopping, cleaning etc are all absolutely fine. Having 24 hour care, which includes never leaving alone unless a sitter is available, wiping bottoms etc is completely different.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 17:16:10

but in an extended family it wont be one person providing the care, i gave the example of my dad, all my cousins and their kids who are teens were involved in caring for him. It wasn't a big deal that he never had to be left alone as there was always someone available. Even if they lived in different cities and stuff, they would often come down and stay the weekend or the week and be involved in caring.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 06-Apr-13 17:18:44


But there will be one main carer that does the "grunt" work and the others are really just guests unless the main carer gets to go away for those weekends.

AfricanExport Sat 06-Apr-13 17:19:02

wow... how sad.. YANBU

My OH granny stayed with them growing up. My grandparents moved in with us when they needed looking after. MIL stays with us for 6 months each year and SIL for the other 6 months. My mum stays with my brother.

I think it is our responsibility to look after our parents and think extended families are important. It is what makes families strong, knowing that we will always be there for each other.

Granted ... there are cases when I could not cope with looking after them but, until such time that we cannot I do believe it is our duty.

My children understand that as part of lifes duties, possibily because they are used to granny living here so for them it is the norm.

AnyoneforTurps Sat 06-Apr-13 17:19:36

As a GP, I see a lot of families running themselves ragged, trying to care for an elderly relative at home. Multi-generational households can be wonderful if the older members just need a helping hand with shopping etc but caring for a sick and dependent relative, especially with dementia can be a huge burden and it distorts family relationships. Often, if the relative finally goes into a nursing home - provided it's a good one - it is an enormous relief to all concerned, including the elderly person (who has often been all too aware of being a burden) and family relationships improve.

It's easy to romanticise the good old days when everyone supposedly looked after their elderly parents but the truth is that UK life expectancy in 1950 was only 65, whereas it is now 81 (for women), so - where elderly parents are frail and dependent - families may be faced with caring for them for decades. I cared for my dying father for a year and it was an enormous strain, though I'm very pleased I did it. I simply could not have done it for 20 years, though.

Kendodd Sat 06-Apr-13 17:26:13

YABU, no I don't think their should be an expectation, it's just not possible these days, for a start we don't live just around the corner from family anymore. I also think children shouldn't expect to inherit parents house, they need the money to pay for the best care that it will buy.

Kendodd Sat 06-Apr-13 17:26:42

Sorry 'there'

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:29:19

Able bodied elderly sharing houses is very different from needing 24 hour care.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:34:45

We also have children later so you get sandwiched. When my FIL was 90 yrs I had a 10 yr old, a 2 yr old and a baby. No way could I have done it. His mind was fine-we saw him a lot and he loved seeing the DCs grow up. He also liked his peace and quiet-most 90yr olds would find day to day life with babies and toddlers a bit much -a couple of hours was enough! He was in a very nice care home. The other residents loved seeing the DCs too. It took most of his money, but you would expect that. It paid for him to have a good quality of life-that was what mattered.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 17:37:36

boney that is the whole point, it is the attitude of being guests, family are not seen as guests and do not feel like guests. My Dad lived between two houses depending on his fancy. There was not one main carer, only in last 2 weeks my cousins daughter, decided she didnt want to leave him alone and slept next to him and everything, but in daytime she went to see boyfriend, went to facials and to uni, and there were other people to look after him. In her house were her 2 brothers in twenties and her mum and dad as well. Where ever they have lived, they have always included my dad in their plans, when looking at rooms etc, even at times when he has lived somewhere else.

Timetoask Sat 06-Apr-13 17:40:49

I think it also depends very much on where in the world you live.
Here in the uk, I would find it very difficult to be personally responsible for my parents or in-laws at home.
People tend to move very far away due to jobs. Also, it seems to be frowned upon and very expensive to have home help (a house keeper that will do the daily mundane cleaning, washing, cooking), in other parts of the world this type,of help is accessible to the "normal" family allowing more time and energy to help family.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 17:43:39

anyone I am not talking about good old days or 65 year olds, neither is africanexport

I wouldn't call it duty, for my family they did it out of love, not out of duty, they could have easily sent him to UK for me and my bro to deal with, but they argued with us they wanted him there, with them, in the country he loved, there was more of them to cope etc. They just did it as it is normal you help and care for someone you love, to them.

My dad would have hated being a care home. He liked to wake up in middle of night and talk to people, or watch tv, at home he could do that, he liked to go for drives random hours, he would have felt in prison in a care home.

infamouspoo Sat 06-Apr-13 17:44:14

And where are you meant to put them? Not everyone has money for a large house/extension.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:47:05

You have to know your limits. Having a new baby,sleepless nights, a lively toddler and a 10yr old, a DH out 7am to 7pm and a 90yr old in a 4 bedroomed house would have been too much for me! Better to say so-not that it was ever put forward as a suggestion FIL would have been horrified. He lived 3 miles away, with carers came to visit a lot and we visited him-much the best for all. I doubt the 10 yr old would have got much attention if I was trying to fill the needs of 90 yrs and 9 months.

SprinkleLiberally Sat 06-Apr-13 17:49:10

Did your dad have dementia Nailak? If so that is amazing.
All thos boils down to relationships doesn't it. I could give up a great deal for my parents or grandparents, but would find being the default carer for in laws much more difficult.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:51:10

And 65yrs isn't elderly!! (unless they have dementia or disability). 65 yr olds I know are running marathons, out riding horses all day etc. They can certainly live alone. FIL was 87yrs when he went into care and that was only so he could live close -200 miles was too far to look after him in his own home.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 17:55:32

my dad had a brain tumor which caused him to sometimes be confused. he used to see things and not be sure what country he was in, confuse people for other people and so on.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 17:58:43

I know many women who look after family and elderly relatives. As it is the norm in some cultures. Personally I don't know if I could do it. They manage with help of extended family to run businesses, raise kids, do charity work and look after relatives.

There are women who will tell me my fil or mil doesnt appreciate, shouts at me, blames me for everything, yet they still look after them, and then a few months later the same woman will say my mil/fil died and the family came to me and apologised and said how good i was, and how much they appreciated, or that my fil was in hospital and he was asking only for me saying he wanted his daughter, even though before that there was no sign of being appreciative.

AnyoneforTurps Sat 06-Apr-13 18:14:10

nailak and exotic Of course 65 isn't old - that's exactly the point. But in 1950, it was the average age of death. People died (on average) at an age we now consider relatively young, so most families weren't faced with the prospect of caring for elderly, increasingly frail relatives for decades.

I never suggested that a care home was right for everyone. But I have seen nursing homes save the sanity, health and marriages of families who were at breaking point after years of trying to care for an increasingly unwell relative. With respect, caring for someone with a brain tumour, as challenging as it is (my DF died from a similar condition), is very different in timescale from caring for someone living for dementia for a decade or more. I do however have the greatest respect for families who care for elderly relatives, whether for a short terminal illness or in the long-term.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 18:29:33

I have the greatest respect-I just don't think that having a 65 yr old to live with you is anything like having a 95yr old living with you. My FIL was living alone aged 85yrs-even cooked us a full roast dinner with Yorkshire pudding-my mother took herself off to Australia with a friend aged 82yrs. Looking after someone who is able bodied and sound in mind is very different from being main (only carer) for 10-15 yrs.
I also note that it is always the woman doing the caring-why is that? I don't see any mention of the man giving up work to be full time carer. Certainly in the cultures that look after the elderly it is generally the woman-and usually the DIL-they tend to go to the man's family and the DD is looking after her ILs.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 18:52:18

yes it is usually the women. women traditionally fulfill caring roles. I also agree no one should be judged for their choices.

poppypebble Sat 06-Apr-13 18:54:35

My mother is 65. She cannot move without assistance. She will probably live another 20 years. Deciding to devote your life to looking after a relative does not make that person a burden.

SprinkleLiberally Sat 06-Apr-13 18:57:38

That's it. I could do much more for my own parents but would be much harder for anyone else. Should not fall tp women only, unless they choose it.

My father is 85 and my mother is 79. She has lived in a care home for just over 2 years. She has levi body dementia. My dad has been paralyzed after a stroke 10 years ago and my mum was his carer. When we realized my mum was developing dementia we uprooted our family from London and settled at the far North of Norway to help them. We stayed just over 3 years, left when mum was in care and dad had a wrap around care package in the home.
Life in Norway did not work out for us, for various reasons. Happy to help, but not possible for us to live here full time. For now my parents are fine the way they are.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 19:13:30

but why would you assume they don't choose it? and then there is always the internalization of patriarchy argument to belittle women's choices and intelligence.

I guess some women just think it is easier for them to stay home and do it, rather then their husbands. One woman told me that she knows it is her husbands responsibility not hers, she looks after her husbands mother so her husband is able to fulfil his responsibilities. She also runs a charity together with her husband and has children.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 19:20:49

Men are just as good at it-my cousin looked after his mother for years.
I am just rather cross with my brother who can turn his hand to anything in the home, and does, and yet expected looking after the elderly to be 'women's work'.

Laquitar Sat 06-Apr-13 19:29:12

Can i just say regarding to other cultures: yes, it is very common to look after the elderly but you also have an army of extended family to support you.
If i was in my town in Spain i would have 20 aunts, 50 cousins, and all the neighbours visiting and offering help. I could go shopping, maybe even to work (well, if there were any jobs in Spain).

Even in UK the cultures who consider this as the norm i.e. Asians, tend to live close to relatives and everybody helps.

It is much harder when you are doing it on your own. So, like i always say you cant just pick one thing from another culture and copy it if the other factors are different. I don't know if i express this well.

Laquitar Sat 06-Apr-13 19:36:19

Oops, sorry nailak, just seen your post. You have said this before.

poppypebble Sat 06-Apr-13 19:42:44

I have four siblings, 3 sisters and a brother. My brother has schizophrenia, and cannot have any stress in his life or his condition deteriorates. I expect if he didn't have this he would step up as he has always been very close to my mum. One of my sisters has BPD and is also physically disabled with the same condition mum has, although not yet as severely as mum. The other two sisters don't bother because I do it. They bothered with my mum when she provided childcare for them, but now they like to pretend she doesn't exist apart from the odd condescending visit with expensive flowers on Mother's Day/Birthday/Christmas.

In our case it didn't come down to gender, it came down to who didn't have their own life.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 20:25:52

laquitar So is the extended family set up good or bad? should we prioritise individual family units above the needs of the larger family, or should we see ourselves as interdependent?

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 06-Apr-13 20:57:11

I have to disagree about care homes not being so bad. My granny was in one for years, and it wasn't a good place. All her jewellery was stolen. She has alzheimers, so God knows if she was abused-we wouldn't have known. The old people sat in front of the telly all day. The smell was apalling.
My Nan on the other hand, who was older -she was quite old when she had my dad, lived in her own flat, and helped care for my cousins. She was always part of daily life, and had all her marbles right til she died aged 89.
I don't think anyone can care for a relative with alzheimers in thier home-it's too dangerous, but I do wish that so called "care" was better-much better.
Of course, as others have said, if you do have a large extended family, all of this is easier. In the last 40 years or so families have tended to move away from each other, and that network is not there.
I made a concious decision to be near my family after I had ds-partly for us to have an extended family network, and also so that I could be there for my parents.
As far as I am concerned, I don't particularly want ds to have to care for me, sowhen I start to go in my mind I intend to go out with a shedload of class A drugs and a bottle of Jack Daniels, with some good music on the stereo, in my own home.
No care homes for me.

LadyBeagleEyes Sat 06-Apr-13 21:00:55

Of course there's bad care homes IfNot, but you can't say they're all like that.
My mum spent the last month in her life in one, and the staff were wonderful and caring.

Sirzy Sat 06-Apr-13 21:02:08

I have to disagree about care homes not being so bad. My granny was in one for years, and it wasn't a good place. All her jewellery was stolen. She has alzheimers, so God knows if she was abused-we wouldn't have known. The old people sat in front of the telly all day. The smell was apalling.

So what did you and your family do to protect her then?

Their are plenty of fantastic care home out there, and families need to pick carefully to find the one that is right for their loved one.

Laquitar Sat 06-Apr-13 21:29:32

Hi nailak, oh i don't know..There are some plus points but on the other hand that set ups seem to create victims. I know countless cases where one couple has been used financialy by extended family, women who have been used, it is very difficult imo to have fairness in those set ups. Always one person takes more, one person gives more, it is too complicated. I prefer a more intependent set up where at least things are fair square.

CleopatrasAsp Sat 06-Apr-13 23:51:26

People tend to talk a lot of smug shite about all this until they actually have to care for someone with dementia. Until they have actually done this I tend to listen to their saintly opinions with a wry smile.

nailak Sat 06-Apr-13 23:59:58

well yes one person cannot look after someone with dementia, you need a team of people.

It is a bit like your friends without babies trying to tell you about baby care, and sore nipples. grin They just dont have a clue!

"My granny was in one for years, and it wasn't a good place. All her jewellery was stolen. She has alzheimers, "

Why did you not have her moved?

Would you let your child stay in a horrendous nursery?

Actually, jewellery in a care home is a very bad idea.

We were told that mum should not bring any valuables, and rightly so.

We bought her a set of "gold" plastic rings from H&M, she does not know the difference. But she misplaces them all the time. Wraps them in tissues, throws them in the bin.
Other "housemates" take them, thinking they are theirs, etc. We bought many sets so it does not matter.

When her rings are gone, we bring new ones, saying "oh look, here they are!" And she goes "Oh, great!" and puts them in the nearest flower pot for later.....

It is silly and thoughtless to not take precautions when moving an old person into a care setting. And far too easy to blame Theft, rather than see it as an unfortunate effect of the illness affecting most of the inhabitants.

Sirzy Sun 07-Apr-13 09:30:27

The rings wrapped in tissue made me laugh, my grandma lost her Teeth and they were found wrapped in tissue in her handbag.

Her handbag went with her everywhere and if someone's property went missing it was normally in her bag. She was attracted to shiny things!

IfNotNowThenWhen Sun 07-Apr-13 10:26:35

Quintessential. I didn't do anything about it. I was a child.
And I have said at least twice upthread that dementia/alzsheimers is a different matter that can't he handled in the home.
so maybe save your patronising nastiness for something that warrants it.

KansasCityOctopus Sun 07-Apr-13 12:14:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

trixymalixy Sun 07-Apr-13 12:16:11

My MIL is a carer for my GranIL. She has dementia and it is a huge burden on my MIL. MIL has asked us not to put ourselves through that with her, she wants to go into a home.

Same with my Mum, caring for my gran was making her ill, my Gran was up in the night every night. She is now in hospital as even the care home couldn't meet her needs after she kept getting up in the night and breaking her leg. She now has someone sitting in her room all night making sure her and a few other elderly patients don't get out of bed. That level of care is far too much of a burden for a family. My Mum wants to go into a home too, she doesn't want us having to go through what she did.

RubyGates Sun 07-Apr-13 12:32:49

My DP's are divorced, they live in separate counties having both moved to different parts of the country after they retired. I still live in London. I can't afford a house with a spare room, and in fact DS2 still sleeps in our roomas the 2nd bedroom is too damp to sleep in and we have no money for repairs.

I am an only child as is OH

OH's parents are also divorced and live in different parts of the country .

How are we supposed to look after them? Especially how do we chose which of them to look after at the expense of the others? It's a nightmare and a minefield.

infamouspoo Sun 07-Apr-13 13:04:48

what we need is decent safe care homes with well paid carers and high standards of care. And decent palliative care for those who decide not to go the 'curing' route for various diseases.
But we have poorly paid unmotivated carers. And not just in old people's homes. Remember Winterbourne view? Its on my mind as a friend has just had to put her 12 yo into residential care. He is aggressive, big and strong. Doubly incontinent and a threat to the other kids. Its an impossible situation with no help.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sun 07-Apr-13 13:16:04

Exactly infamous. I have been a carer, for old people, and in the main the standard of care expected is very low.
Caring is a very undervalued and low paid profession, and is not an easy job. The entire care industry needs to be sorted, and quickly, because we have an ageing population.
Kansas, I think that most people on here with the view that families should try to keep elderly members with them have said "but you cant do this with dementia".
Dementia runs in my family, and I have seen it A LOT in various family members.
Once you get into the sort of care that requires 24/7 vigilance, then of course you need outside agencies.
If you read the original OP, this was not the case with the OPS relative.
There is taking in an elderly relative who is relatively well and has nowhere to go, and caring for a seriously ill person (of any age).
The two are very different.

Coffeenowplease Sun 07-Apr-13 13:25:33

I have no intention of caring for either of my parents. They let me down far too much as a child and we are not close as a result. I still love them and will do my best to ensure they are looked after but I will not be doing any of it myself.

Or relationship only works because we all tactfully ignore certain subjects such as my childhood/mental illness and their role in it.

That said My mum went through such a lot of stress trying to get my nan into a home and swore she would make it easy for me when the time came as she didnt want me to have to worry like that so I guess it goes both ways.

This is not even taking into account I am the only child , live a 100 miles away and may well have children of my own by they time they need this sort of care - they are 70s now so I expect it within 10 years or so.

BegoniaBampot Sun 07-Apr-13 15:01:54

It is difficult and no one can really say what they will do one way or another. My 80 yr old dad is in the early stages of dementia and still lives on his own at home. i live far away with a young family but my brother and sister who live nearby to him are having to take on the care (and still relatively low key) own their own. Popping in each day to see him, bring food, do his shopping, help him with all his admin/ hospital affairs and it's all ramping up. It's taking it's toll on them already but none of us will have him to stay as he is a very difficult person and not really any love for him.

I feel bad they are having to deal with him and I have a get out of jail free card living so far away and having young children.

Kendodd Sun 07-Apr-13 16:35:12

Reading this thread has just made me think that we all just live too long. I don't know what the solution to that is though, we can't make judgements about the value of other peoples life's and we can't withhold medical treatment because people are 'too' old.

poppypebble Sun 07-Apr-13 16:51:19

Can I just say again that not all of us see caring for a relative as a burden? Some of us see it as our purpose in life, and to have it reduced to the level of a 'burden' to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible is distressing.

BegoniaBampot Sun 07-Apr-13 17:10:57

Poppy, how does you mum feel that you have decided at the age of 32 to forgo having a partner or children to put her first? I hope you remain happy in your choice.

poppypebble Sun 07-Apr-13 17:21:52

Of course I will remain happy in my choice. She's my family - the ones already here come before any hypothetical family I might have had, surely? I was 26 when I made the decision, and I have never wavered, why would I? It is the right thing to do. As to how my mum feels, why would I ask her? It wasn't her decision, it was mine.

You can all make the decisions you need to make for yourselves, just please don't think that gives you the right to call my mum a burden.

hairtearing Sun 07-Apr-13 17:32:10

Am I correct assuming that its the uncles mother and he is in a wheelchair? And is she his carer?

If so then YABU she has enough on her plate already, I'm not saying she sould offer no support, but if she is not her mother I don't see why she should burdened with the task of possibly intimate care for someone who is not her mother.

HesterShaw Sun 07-Apr-13 17:32:45

This thread is scaring me. My dad has just been diagnosed with dementia at only 69. My mum is looking after him - I am 300 miles away and my sister is miles away as well. My brother is unable to help due to his own mental illness. I just don't know what is going to happen. I looked after him for a weekend a couple of weeks ago and it was a full time job, even during the night.

Kendodd Sun 07-Apr-13 17:33:53

The last thing in the world I would want is for my children to make sacrifices like that to look after me, in fact I absolutely would not let it happen. I know you don't see it as a sacrifice though Poppy, maybe that's what makes you happy in life.

Sirzy Sun 07-Apr-13 17:35:16

Hester, don't let it scare you just do what is right for your family. Make sure your mum knows that you are all their to support them even if its just being at the end of the phone.

When (if) your mum thinks it is time she needs more help then you can help her find it be that carers coming into the home or finding a good care home in the area.

poppypebble Sun 07-Apr-13 17:36:16

What if your children wanted to look after you though, Kendodd? What if they were the ones who wouldn't be able to live with themselves if you were put into a care home?

expatinscotland Sun 07-Apr-13 17:37:12

'What if your children wanted to look after you though, Kendodd? What if they were the ones who wouldn't be able to live with themselves if you were put into a care home?'

I wouldn't allow them to. Full stop.

HesterShaw Sun 07-Apr-13 17:38:05

You can't help wishing, once the prognosis is in, that it would be over quickly and no one, least of all the person in question, has to suffer the indignity of it all.

My DH's gran is nearly 100. She is completely unable to do anything. She doesn't know who anyone is. I marvel at the force which keeps making her eyes open each morning.

poppypebble Sun 07-Apr-13 17:38:12

Then I would think that selfish of you expat.

Sirzy Sun 07-Apr-13 17:46:11

How is it selfish to not want others to have to give up their lives for you poppy? I would say that is the least selfish thing you can do.

Hester I agree. Dementia is a horrible illness for the person with it and even more so for their loved ones.

poppypebble Sun 07-Apr-13 17:47:44

It is selfish if that person wants to be the one to care for you?

Does my life not count as a life then? Because I care for my mum rather than having children of my own?

LadyBeagleEyes Sun 07-Apr-13 17:52:25

What expat says.
We don't bring our children into this world as some sort of insurance policy so they look after us in our old age.
And I hope he never has to see me in the state my mum was when she died, I hope I go long before that happens.

BegoniaBampot Sun 07-Apr-13 17:55:02

But Poppy, you could then say that the children are being selfish thinking of their wants before the wants of their parent who might be happier in a home and actually better looked after depending on the circumstances. You look are you mum just now but what if that becomes impossible?

5eggstremelychocaletymadeggs Sun 07-Apr-13 17:58:47

I think that the person needing care should be able to say to their chilkd if they don't want them to do it and their child should respect that!

Equally as an adult I would rather my children got on with their own lives and I would never expect them to care for me. If they could care for me and still have their own life and we were both happy then fine but otherwise no.

poppypebble Sun 07-Apr-13 17:58:59

Obviously some of you are unwilling to accept that it is possible to have a fulfilling life that doesn't involve a partner and children.

I think it is very different when you have been a carer since childhood, and people need to understand that it becomes a part of you that you enjoy.

I've said before that you do what you can do and you can't do any more than that. I'm not sure why some of you seem unable to accept that not all of us see caring for someone as a burden.

BegoniaBampot Sun 07-Apr-13 17:59:41

My mum died of cancer a few years ago. It was all incredibly quick, we had the help of professionals and there were several of us in good health who for a short period of time were able to nurse her at home in her last weeks. We wouldn't have had it any other way and it was what she wanted. The thought of people having to endure that stress mentally and physically for a prolonged period of time (year after year) is just hard to imagine, especially if they are on their own.

5eggstremelychocaletymadeggs Sun 07-Apr-13 18:01:57

I wouldn't want my children to give up their life/jobs etc to care for me. If I did what would they do once I died? Getting a job after years being a carer would be almost impossible.

LadyBeagleEyes Sun 07-Apr-13 18:03:50

I don't think many are saying it's a burden poppy, I think a lot of are saying that it can get to a stage when we can't do enough any more, and it's time to leave it to the professionals who can offer a better quality of life, which sadly, in my mum's final months still wasn't enough.
I think your mum is very lucky to have you, you sound like an amazing and loving daughter.

expatinscotland Sun 07-Apr-13 18:28:19

'Then I would think that selfish of you expat.'

And I would die happy, knowing I had no visited this on my daughter. I have only one left to me. If I had a sound enough mind, and she was going to do this to her life for my sake, I would end my life rather than see her do it. I really would.

expatinscotland Sun 07-Apr-13 18:32:01

'Obviously some of you are unwilling to accept that it is possible to have a fulfilling life that doesn't involve a partner and children.'

Of course it is. I've done it myself. But I would rather die than see my daughter do this for me because, as pointed out, once I died. Well, I've been a carer like that, 24/7. It was only for nearly 8 months, she died fast. I can't tell you how awful it is after they do and the emotions that go with it. I would not willingly visit this on my children, ever.

poppypebble Sun 07-Apr-13 18:49:58

I'm sorry for your loss, expat.

I have a job. I'm fortunate enough to buy in care for when I'm at work and one of my sisters does lunchtime. I have provision in place so that if I am required to give up work, I will be able to do so. I own the house we live in.

I don't doubt that some of you feel strongly that I'm stupid to do this with my life. My point is that what is right for you is not right for me, but I still believe my choice to be a valid one.

I cared for my nan when she was dying from cancer of the vulva, I packed my dad's stumps with honey and gauze to prevent infection, I changed his catheter when the district nurses couldn't come. I was brought up in these circumstances. My earliest memory is going on a train to London to see my dad after he had a heart bypass when they were a rare operation, only performed down there. I can see very well how if it came upon you suddenly it would be too much, but for me this has been my life and it is a life - just one some of you wouldn't choose.

I expect my mum will probably need me for another 15 or 20 years. When she dies I will still have my brother and sister to look out for. I've experienced the people I care for dying, the fact that there are others that need me keeps me going.

I'm off to do bath time now, so I'm not ignoring anyone if I don't reply.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Sun 07-Apr-13 18:56:27

I think we do get that it is possible to have a fulfilling life without partner and children Poppy and it sounds like you and your Mum have a great relationship and are lucky to have each other.

A lot of the time ill health comes at a time children already have their own family. If they are lucky it doesn't happen until their children have grown up but as this thread shows, there's a lot of us juggling raising children and caring for parents without extended family to pitch in. It sucks and I do not want my children to do it for me. If I am lucky and don't get dementia and they really want to then I would look at an annexe with helpers coming in maybe. But if I get dementia then it's a home for me. Though I'm currently thinking I will finish myself off before I get too far gone.

Hester, it is a horrible shock when the diagnosis first happens especially when you read on the net stories of what happens in some families. You can't change the diagnosis but you can get as clued up and prepared as possible. There is support available for your Mum and it's important for her to know that and access it when needed. What's available seems to depend on the areas. Look up Admiral Nurses, Memory Advisory Service, day care etc in your parent's area. Their local branch of the Alzheimer's society will hopefully be able to point you in the right direction. Totally get what you are saying about wanting to it to be over then it hits me what it means. The whole thing sucks big time.

'What if your children wanted to look after you though, Kendodd? What if they were the ones who wouldn't be able to live with themselves if you were put into a care home?'

I would think they had either lost their perspective, or that I had somehow brought them up wrong, to be honest. It is the last thing I would want for my children. I would feel very selfish indeed, that I ruined their lives, if they decided they wanted to care for me rather than have their own lives and fulfill their dreams. I would have failed as a parent, if my child decided they should lock them selves away from the world and and care for me.

And Poppypebble, that is my view on me and my children, and no slight on you and your choices. I dont think anybody are particularly talking about you, but about how they would react.

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

exoticfruits Sun 07-Apr-13 22:03:58

That is precisely why I have told my children now that they are not to look after me. I would be very annoyed if they 'couldn't live with themselves' and went against my precise wishes. This sort if thread makes me think that I ought to write it down so they can't have any misunderstandings. They are NOT doing it.

expatinscotland Sun 07-Apr-13 23:05:35

'This sort if thread makes me think that I ought to write it down so they can't have any misunderstandings. They are NOT doing it.'

My parents have. They have medical POA on each other, too.

Laquitar Sun 07-Apr-13 23:25:02

poppy i honestly dont want you to feel that we all disagree with you or having a go at you, you sound a nice person, but what i noticed is the bit about your mother telling you that she would commit suicide if she was put into care. I think this is unfair on you.

Also, what expat said about your emotions after the peson goes.

And this from someone who is also a carer right now (but not for ever and i dont see it as 'my purpose in life' because i believe that we have many purposes in life), i do understand how difficult it is.

apostropheuse Sun 07-Apr-13 23:38:19

expatinscotland I completely agree with you, which is why I have told my (adult) children this too. I absolutely do NOT want my children to look after me. I seriously WANT to go into a home when/if the time comes that I am unable to live independently. They can visit me as often as they like, it's not that I don't want to see them or anything like that.

Surely the person who needs care has a right to choose the kind of care they want if possible?

exoticfruits Mon 08-Apr-13 07:24:02

Thank you for the thread- it has made me decide that merely telling them is not enough- I need something more formal.
I agree entirely with apostropheuse.
I would never imagine that they would abandon me, but should I ever get to the point where I can't live independently I will pay for care- it is my choice - I have had a good life and I am not going to spoil my DCs's lives and take away their freedom.

MummytoKatie Mon 08-Apr-13 07:40:10

Agree with expat, * exotic* and apostroph.

I would never tell dd that I would kill myself if put in a home so I can't imagine why she would feel that she couldn't live with herself if she didn't sacrifice a partner and children for me. If her (or her brother's) true life long aim is to care for people then she could be a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a care assistant, a nursery nurse or just have 6 children of her own.

You can't predict the future but if something did happen so that one of me or dh needed care during their childhood then I would do whatever it takes to ensure that she doesn't have to be a career during her childhood. It is a time when I want her to be a child.

poppy - you sound like a lovely person who obviously really loves your mum. But your responsibilities and the sacrifices you have made from them are large and, as someone who has got a lot of joy out of my dh and dd, I would not want to deny my dd the opportunity of that same joy if she wishes it.

Mimishimi Mon 08-Apr-13 08:29:01

YANBU. I love how families in my area, mainly South Asian, look after their elderly. Yes, sometimes things can get strained but that can be te case anyway, whether they live with you or not. It's not all one way either. They also help out a lot when it comes to childcare etc.

BasilBabyEater Mon 08-Apr-13 09:24:16

If my daughter or son really want to care for dying people, I'll tell them to go and work in a hospice or in a caring role where their instincts for caring and gentleness can be channeled healthily but also regulated and supervised - and also paid for properly by society. I don't want my children to be martyrs for me, I feel horrified by the idea of doing that to my little boy and little girl.

People get very alarmed about abuse that happens in institutional settings, but I think we need to remember that we're only just beginning to understand how widespread it is within families - far more so than we would like to think or acknowledge - and it is easier to hide it in family settings, than in institutions which are inspected and where there is the possibility of whistle-blowers.

People caring for their elders out of duty or out of some emotional need of their own which may be contrary to the welfare of the elderly person concerned, is not an easy, automatic solution. There are some horrible cases of very low-level abuse, not necessarily physical, but emotional neglect. I used to work with old people and I remember one case where this woman lived with her family, but they never took any notice of her - they went out on family outings without her, she ate alone not with the family, they often left her in her bedroom while they watched TV etc. Social Services were aware of the family, but the neglect wasn't so serious and she wasn't so vulnerable, that it warranted intervention. Frankly she would have been much better off in a home where she would have had society and been encouraged to participate and they could have visited her regularly and actually interacted properly with her during visits.

cory Mon 08-Apr-13 09:45:49

Have you ever cared for someone with dementia, OP? Have you any idea of the kind of constant vigilance it needs, the adaptions you need to make to the house, the fear that some ghastly accident will happen despite your best endeavours, the emotional strain of watching someone you love become confuse and quite possibly hostile, the fact that you cannot treat an adult with SN like a disabled child, because however confused they still have their adult dignity which you need to respect? I did this for a very short period for my grandmother and it was a big strain.

We had a somewhat similar situation a few years ago when we were struggling to find a suitable home from MIL who had become paralysed from the waist downwards and could no longer safely be alone. It wasn't that we didn't love her or didn't want her with us. It wasn't even just the fact that I would have had to give up work and be unable to leave her even for things like keeping hospital appointments for my children or doing the school run. It was the fact that there was no way I could have kept her safe and happy: she needed a level of care that one person and an ordinary house could not supply. The house was too small for a hospital hoist, I couldn't have lifted her onto the commode, even dh and I came to close to dropping her on several occasions and MIL was understandably terrified. If she fell out of the chair or out of bed, we couldn't have got her up on our own.

But we all- dh and I, BIL and SIL- all felt horribly guilty about voicing all this.

What made me able to think straight was the thought that looking after MIL would mean neglecting my own disabled child and not letting her access the medical treatment she needed. At that point it was easy to see that other solutions could be found for MIL, but I was the only feasible solution for dd.

Also, the fact that MIL had once told me quite frankly that she had given up on nursing her own MIL when she realised that living with her was affecting my future BIL, making him a nervous and anxious little boy; she decided this was where her loyalties lay and a professional nurse was found who did the job very well without being emotionally involved.

MIL is not one who would want to die the day her body gives out on her. She is happy in the home we finally found her. If she'd stayed with us, I doubt she'd even be alive.

The scenario of an elderly person helping out with the childcare is lovely. But with a person severely disabled or slipping into dementia, that's not going to happen.

infamouspoo Mon 08-Apr-13 10:06:13

How can an elderly relative who requires care provide childcare mimishimi? confused? My 80 yo mother, while currently living in her own council bungalow, wouldnt be able to watch any child. She's mostly deaf, walks with a frame and is prone to leaving the gas on as well as believing any scammer who knocks on the door. A child would be in danger. Yet she lives 'independantly'. When she gets worse no way could she provide childcare. She is in the early stage of dementia as well as many other serious health issues.

dreamingofsun Mon 08-Apr-13 10:20:10

agree infamous - they might be able to help when they are younger - though my mother was keener to go abroad travelling at that stage - but they would be useless once they need care themselves.

how would somone who couldn't change channels on the TV/get themselves up/or take themselves to the toilet be able to look after a child?

even my fairly fit IL's spend most of the day falling asleep.

poppypebble Mon 08-Apr-13 10:21:06

Just a quick reply as it is break time and I need to get the next lesson set up.

Re: the killing herself thing, we talk about this sort of stuff all the time in my family as there are lots of mental health issues and many people in my family have died as a result of suicide. We don't see it as a big deal to say things like this, so sorry if that came across flippantly or like emotional blackmail.

Everyone's family set up is different. I think we can all agree that there are things we would and things we wouldn't do for family members. I just don't think that any one way is superior to others - you do what you need to do for your particular set up. In my family my way is correct. I enjoy caring and get an enormous sense of satisfaction from knowing that my mother is happy and well cared for. I imagine others can get that same sense of satisfaction from knowing a relative is well cared for in a different setting.

Different strokes for different folks!

Kendodd Mon 08-Apr-13 11:48:29

'What if your children wanted to look after you though, Kendodd? What if they were the ones who wouldn't be able to live with themselves if you were put into a care home?'

I wouldn't let them. I have a house I can sell to pay for care.

I wouldn't mind them helping a bit, but not becoming a daily thing or involving them making any changes to their lives.

BiddyPop Mon 08-Apr-13 12:50:02

I will admit I have skimmed the thread rather than reading every post. But I have close, although not direct, experience of this.

MIL cared for her DM at home for many years - which also included taking on her own disabled DBro. Her own MIL did assist a lot with this (retired district nurse), but it was expected at the time that she would just take it on. GMIL died when DH was in his early 20s, but his uncle still lives in the granny annex and is a drain on PIL at times, but they manage (UncleIL is a double leg amputee but has prosthetics and is still, just, getting around on those with walking sticks but will be in a wheelchair shortly, he also has some mild intellectual disability - but will celebrate his 70th birthday this summer and graduated with his degree from Uni last winter).

My maternal GD had a series of strokes which started 10 years before he died, and my GM kept him at home (apart from a couple of week's respite care per year and the odd stint of necessary hospitalisation) for all except the last 6 weeks or so of his life. She was 78 when he died. But she was able to manage most of what was needed herself, and she had supports locally.

She herself stayed at home, mostly alone, until very late in 2011. I lived with her for a year when I moved to this city (it suited us both and she knew it wouldn't be permenant - that was always her worry) before our own house was built and I got married. But DH and I kept very close contact with her since, doing practical things like the garden and a proportion of the DIY, getting shopping in when we visited. And plenty of regular company. She was great, relatively physically fit and able, right into her mid-90s. But she then got some memory problems, and eventually mobility problems, that meant she needed daily visits (which local health services were able to provide) and then increasing levels of these visits (when she'd forget she'd turned on the gas and burn through another pot, for example) - and then with her reduced mobility, she went into hospital for treatment of her legs and then it was agreed she'd move to the long care centre attached when she couldn't go home. None of her 3 DCs was in a position to care for her at that point (between work and family committments, and none of them living physically that close, nor their own houses being suitable).

With my paternal GPs, both were physically fit (for their age) and healthy until their 90s also. Well, GM had ongoing health issues since her 60s, but well managed. And they were also lucky that 1 DD had never married so still lived at home, while 4 other DCs lived within a few miles (with their own families in 3 cases) and only 1 far away. So plenty of support there. My GD was at home until he had the first of a series of strokes, which hospitalised him for the 10 weeks until he died. But up to then, he had been GMs daily carer and companion, with a teacher DC coming in after school a few afternoons a week and live-in DC home mornings and nights mostly.

GM started to get physically frail at that stage, and slowly lost her short term memory. But 1 DC took early retirement, and then the live in DC also, and they still care for her at home. 1 DC is now overseas, but home regularly (and stays in family home). The others all do their bit in different ways - some the physical care, others being the shoulder to cry on or the baker of buns for GM to eat. And they are also incredibly lucky to have the resources to get the necessary equipment (from stannah stairlift a few years back, to renting wheelchair, to having hospital bed for GM now), and also to have some private carers coming in a few hours a week to give them all some physical help (so showers etc are done those times out of preference) and time to get out of the house too. They know how systems work in terms of getting medical care needed, and have brought the hospice on board too, so she can be supported in staying at home in comfort. But this is a large, caring and supportive family who are also in physical proximity to each other.

One of my work colleagues has it in a different way. Their DF is terminally ill at his own house, with their DM having serious health issues. WC has gone PT at work on a temp basis to look after them, as wc lives in the same town and can do it. WC also has all the support services involved and is also able to make their voice heard to get the supports, but only public supports. WC only has 1 sibling, who lives about 90 minutes away, and who is refusing to face up to the diagnosis or their parents needs - so it all falls on WC to arrange diaries and appointments, do a lot of physical caring, and be the shoulder to cry on While their own spouse had lifethreatening illness to deal with last year too (sudden acute issue but ongoing underlying aspect to be managed was discovered). WC is doing all they can to support parent's wishes to stay at home, and can generally accomodate DF until the latter stages (when hospice may be needed), but is having to consider longer term support for DM at the moment and that sheltered living or similar may be needed sooner than otherwise wanted - but WC also cannot continue to only work PT as has own family to support (including 2 DCs).

It is a matter of juggling what is best at any one time.

And as far as I can see, while it is admirable if a family can care for parents in either parent's or a DCs' home, it is not always possible. Either because of the physical/mental realities of the parent's condition, or because of the reality of modern living on the DC and their family (the need to be at work etc).

And, for example, while I did all I could for my GM at home while she was still at home, it was a lot of added stress on me (without much recognition from my DM). And visits to her at home were always tricky and took time. Whereas when she was in hospital, I was able to slip in for a few minutes at visiting time (boss let me take late lunch for early afternoon visiting) and head off again - but much more frequently. And there was a lot less in terms of expectations (no DM or DAunt issuing instructions on checking her meds etc) and physical needs (I had NO problem helping her get places or do things if needed - but there was still a lot of independence to conquer and everything took a long time as her mobility dropped) - whereas in hospital setting, I could just visit and be with her to enjoy her company and give her my time to sit and listen. Rather than NOT visiting during the day in case I couldn't get back to work on time, and then not being able to visit at nights due to DH away and needing to be home with DD.

I certainly don't see having someone in an institutional setting as abandoning them - you still have to look out for their welfare there, but there are people who are trained in the physical and medical care looking after that aspect, leaving you to go back to being the relative rather than the carer. And still giving your relative as much of you as possible.

BiddyPop Mon 08-Apr-13 12:51:30

Sorry, I think I muust have hit a nerve when I started to let that all out - it wasn't meant to be such a brain dump

HesterShaw Mon 08-Apr-13 16:43:50

Thanks for sharing, Biddy. It's interesting reading of people's experiences and hearing of the possibilities smile

nailak Mon 08-Apr-13 17:07:22

biddy pop it is this bit " because of the reality of modern living on the DC and their family (the need to be at work etc). " that i want to examine. Is this a product of capitalism, that every individual is out for themselves and it has caused break down of traditional support structures? I don't mean that in a bad way, just as in in the west we don't have that idea of responsibility to family that other cultures have, like we don't tend to share resources, contribute regularly to other family members incomes etc.

Should services take over the role of the extended family? Is it desirable to try and recreate the extended family set up with neighbours and friends, or ensure our own children have this closeness with extended family?

HesterShaw Mon 08-Apr-13 17:27:45

I don't think we can go back. Things have gone too far the other way.

But also I can see this government cutting even more services for the elderly, citing their concern for the extended family unit, and not appearing to notice that at the same time they think everyone should be in work on less than the minimum wage of course.

CleopatrasAsp Mon 08-Apr-13 18:19:16

The problem with the idea of extended families all pitching in together is that it is ok if you have a decent family, but you only have to look at these boards to realise that many people's families are hugely dysfunctional. I would hate to be at the mercy of some of my family members if I was ill and vulnerable.

SprinkleLiberally Mon 08-Apr-13 18:22:22

Extended families are just not as large either. If there are six siblings to take the stress it's more manageable. Today, more likely to be two.

Crinkle77 Mon 08-Apr-13 18:26:22

In an ideal children would look after their parents but it all depends on your personal circumstances. What do you do if your parent needs constant care but you cannot afford to give up work to look after them? Or if you still have children living at home? My MIL had her mother living with them and they always said that they would not put her in to a home. My MIL had no siblings so it was down to her to do all the caring. She did not mind as she had lived with them for 30 years and had helped raise the grand children. They had carers who came in the morning and evening to help get her washed and dressed. Yet it got to the point where her mother was needing care in the night as she kept waking up needing attention and this was happening every hour or 2. My MIL was exhausted and had to admit in the end that she could no longer cope anymore as she was a pensioner herself. So it's not always a cut and dry decision.

exoticfruits Mon 08-Apr-13 19:10:21

It isn't my ideal that my DCs look after me- it is my worst scenario.

dreamingofsun Tue 09-Apr-13 11:16:32

nailak - by looking after my family (husband/children) rather than my mother i don't think I'm being capitalistic. I am working to ensure my family has a decent standard of living - ie house, food, pension, education - not luxuries. My mother has her own money and can therefore fund her own care. I am doing all those things you mention - sharing resources and contributing to other family members incomes - its just that its for my husband and children rather than my mother - the latter is relatively well off, so why make my other family members live in poverty?

BiddyPop Tue 09-Apr-13 11:43:54

Well, GM was a SAHM (marriage ban in the civil service even before she had DCs meant giving up her career) but she looked after her own DM in her house for over 20 years with small DCs underfoot (I was a baby before she died). She had older DCs and then adults to help with it, district nurse calling, and her own sisters and SILs came to help out too.

In that family, there were 6 surviving DCs, 1 unmarried living at home who was able to take early retirement, another living close by with no DCs themselves also taking early retirement, another living close by with no DCs but teacher meaning afternoon care company and maker of tea was also on hand, with another DC also living close by with own DCs but able to bake the buns for my GM to eat and do lots of other visits too. and they know the system enough to get the public support (public health nurse, hospice etc) involved and also pay for some private care on a regular basis and pay for any practical supports needed (like a stannah lift or wheelchair or getting hospital bed hired). So a mix of family and "outsourcing".

Whereas on the other side, smaller and much more geographically spread family meant complete reliance on outside supports (good neighbours and public health system). Even my aunt and myself live almost an hour from her house in the same city, so no one physically close for day to day support (weekly yes, but not few times per day).

In my own immediate (DM, DF and DSibs) family, only 1 lives at home (and probably not for much longer), 1 lives 40 mins away, 1 lives 3 hours away, 2 are overseas in UK and 1 overseas in Canada. So not a lot in terms of practical care options should it be necessary. But DPs are also away from their family (Sibs and now deceased parents) so I don't think they see it as necessary (DM has already told us put her into a home if necessary but given a few small requests for ongoing visiting). I cannot see myself having either of them in my house (not practical and I work FT with an internationally travelling DH and SN DC) - but if there was a need and I saw a way to do it, I would do my best.

But there are also a lot more options for care here now than 20 years ago - the sheltered housing and homes are more prevalent and better run, there are private companies offering various levels of care packages in the home (for a fee, but there) and the hospice network is a lot better known too. And there are also better practical supports available to nurse someone at home (hoists, beds, all sorts) than would be available to private individuals in the past.

Cleopatrasp, that's the situation (more dysfuntional family - 1 caring local DD and 1 less involved and less local DD) for my work colleague. Whereas my GM's family are mostly based locally and even those not local have their roles to play. (Sorry, 1 GM - the other, another small dysfunctional family).

I know lots of people who have reduced work committments or taken FT time out for a period, but it's not practical for all. It depends on the personas involved, the medical/physical and mental aspects of the condition of the caree, the physical and mental ability of the carers to manage, and what other burdens they have going on as well. So its not cut and dried but I certainly don't see families where all DCs and their DPs are working and raising the GCs as abdicating their responsibility to their parents care needs if they use professional (either public or private) options to do that caring - either in its entirity or as part of a way to provide a proportion themselves.

cory Tue 09-Apr-13 13:08:47

In my case, it's not a question of a dysfunctional family (nobody could be less dysfunctional than MIL, bless her!), but simply about the fact that living in an ordinary home, with no specialist equipment or medically trained staff, would be a nightmare for somebody in her condition.

To insist that I had to nurse her at home- and keep her in a permanent state of terror- just to demonstrate my credentials as a DIL would be beyond selfish.

cory Tue 09-Apr-13 13:14:36

I think if I am ever in a situation where I need specialist care and my children insist they can't live with themselves if I go into a home, I might just tell them to stop being selfish and think about me.

My MIL is very happy in her home, visited several times a week day by her son and DIL who are well rested and happy because some of the heavy chores have been taken off their hands, speaking to her other son every day, very close to her grandchildren who happily put up with travelling long distances to see her.

Not everybody who was looked after in the old extended families was happy or well cared for or not made to feel a burden.

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