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Venting re: resident mother

(12 Posts)
alto1 Wed 23-Oct-13 14:39:06

Posted in the current thread about Jeremy Hunt's exhortations, then realised it's In the News, not the place for a heartfelt rant really.

So putting it here, just to get it properly off my chest:-

My DM went on for years about keeping her independence and not being a burden to anyone.

She then decided she wanted to move in with us and I let her, thinking it would be good for DD to have a relationship with her. Wrong.

I was horrified when I realised she had no intention of contributing financially but now I think it's just as well we have no financial ties with her.

We cope most of the time but four years on I still regret allowing her to come. The relentless fault-finding grinds me down. I can never get away from the dynamics that made a misery of my childhood and adolescence. Living with her seems to have killed the last of my residual affection for her and the resentment is damaging my relationship with my sisters, which used to be close.

And she is horrible to DD fairly often, repeating every mistake she made with me.

I only wish there was some prospect of moving her into a home but she's now given most of her money to my sister, so I would end up paying for it.

That's it really. Rod for my own back etc.

Beamur Wed 23-Oct-13 14:43:12

That sounds awful. Can you rearrange your house so that she is there, but has seperate sitting/dining area so you can be apart? Granny flat rather than together in the same space.

alto1 Wed 23-Oct-13 15:28:35

Afraid not. She seriously expected us to buy a place big enough for her to have a separate flat but we couldn't possibly afford it.

She has the best bedroom. She refuses to have a TV in it and is always watching some witless quiz in the sitting room when I get home from work.

She eats with us every night, lunchtimes as well at weekends. Recently she was persuaded to cook one night a week but instead she just buys crap and heats it up. The rest of the time she sits waiting to be called to the table when it's all ready.

She expects us to drive her around everywhere, fix her computer, etc. She does less and less for herself. She recently announced that she doesn't want to go to my sister for Christmas or New Year (usually we expect some respite then).

Trying to think of the positives but they escape me just now.

pudcat Wed 23-Oct-13 15:53:04

How old is she? I think you need to have a family conference with your sisters. They need to be told what is happening and to accept no more money from your Mum. You need her pension to be given to you to cover all her costs. If she was in a home she would be able to keep £21 - the rest going to the home. About Christmas put your foot down and tell her that you have made other plans (lie through your teeth) and she has to to your sister.
Impertinent question but how much money has she given away? Did she sell her house?
Also do you have a partner that can back you up?
If she is being aggressive get an assessment done by GP and SS.

whataboutbob Wed 23-Oct-13 20:06:19

Hi Alto i also found Mr Hunt's pronouncements irritating. The thing about other cultures being so much better than us at caring for the elderly. True in some respects, but what he didn t say is it depends on having a large, un/ underemployed female population, who have been raised to expect to look after elderly parents/ in laws. When these populations emigrate for example and get their daughters educated they don t want to do the stay at home caring. Hence the importation of daughters in law/ poorer women to do the caring in certain populations. Plus the Chinese are facing a massive demographic explosion and already many elderly people there are facing unsupported old age. And finally, I wonder whether he has/ would put his life on hold to be a full time carer.
My Dad has Alzheimers and I have supported him for the last 3 years at some cost to my physical and mental health. We are approaching the time when he probably needs residential care. Counselling has helped me not feel overly guilty about it.
As concerns your mother, if she has gifted money to your sister and dies less than 7 years from making the gift, the state can recoup that money/ part of it to pay for residential care. They cannot take money from you to pay for it ( unless your mother also gifted you). Sorry if you know this already.

alto1 Wed 23-Oct-13 23:20:13

Whatabout, I have wondered about that. Mum hasn't given us money or contributed to the house purchase. Should I be getting her to sign a legal deed to that effect, to prevent our home from being counted as one of her assets if she needs residential care?

She does pay a small amount, about a quarter of basic groceries, gas and elec and 10-15% towards some of the other bills. She would be happy to give us more but I am not willing to be in her debt.

Hadn't thought about sister having to repay the money. Will suggest she gets advice from CAB or similar.

My husband is fantastically supportive. He does a huge amount for her without complaint. She still feels free to criticise him and suggest he should do more, no matter how often I tell her I don't want to hear it.

whataboutbob Thu 24-Oct-13 09:22:53

Hi alto, I wouldn't be able to advise on what you should do to ensure your home is not counted as one of her assets. Although if she did not contribute to mortgage/ deposit etc I don't see how it could be. I would advise .you visit the CAB just t o make sure what the legal position is. But my understanding is that in the UK, children cannot be forced to contribute to their parents' care if they go into residential care. Unlike in certain European countries, where they can. Good luck.

Needmoresleep Thu 24-Oct-13 12:22:03

This sounds intolerable. You must be a saint.

There seem to be three issues:

1. Your mother's attitude towards you and your family. This has to change. Approaches you could not argue with as a child cannot be maintained now. There is quite a lot on the internet either the management related Eric Berne's transactional analysis around adult/parent/child or a lot on adult child. To be blunt the balance of power has shifted. You now have the power. You are looking after your mother. That does not mean that you should not be sensible and sensitive, but she is living in your hose. In many ways you need to be the adult, and she the child.

How to communicate this is a whole other question, but it is not untrodden territory. My mother does not live with me and is worried that I might abandon her as she feels my brother has done. So I have been able to point out that aspects of her behaviour (continuous criticism) is not acceptable.

Is there anyone she will listen to who might be able to explain to her that you are at breaking point and need some respect and privacy. Age UK, Carers Ass or Alzheimers Soc might be able to suggest approaches, mediation, or perhaps counselling for you to help you gain the assertiveness you need?

2. Money. First are you getting all you can. Carers allowance for you. Attendance allowance for her. I would try Age UK or a very anonymous but detailed post on Talking Point (dont worry that your mum does not have Alzheimers - they operate a broad church) or Citizens advice. As a general principle your mother should be paying you full whack for food and board things. You can then choose whether to put some or all aside for future care care needs, eg to top up Local Authority provision. If it is in her bank account SS could spend it on basic rather than top up, so it is better under your control, especially if you are subsidising her now. I would be wary of claiming any Council Tax exemption as you want to keep any money she gives you, separate from your house.

3. Housing. It does not sound as if your mother has any major impairment. However she may well in the future. The ideal might be some form of sheltered provision near you, so you could visit easily and oversee any growing care needs.

I think you probably need to sit down with your sister and agree a united front. Your sister ought to be supportive as you are carrying a big burden and are not proposing to land it on her - simply manage the burden and ensure it is sustainable into the longer term.

You should discuss:

Your mothers assets and income. Where is it held, who has access.

What are the alternatives in terms of housing, either now or later on. Abbeyfields, Almshouses, sheltered. Somewhere where she has a community but where care could be ramped up. What can she afford. Can your sister and you chip in a bit to buy a sheltered property (note be very careful with Churchill/McCarthy and Stone type retirement properties which can be very restrictive in terms of ramping up care - the GP or Vicar/priest will probably know local options.)

If you would need local authority/housing assn provision ask for a SS assessment and emphasise the damage to family life and the unsustainability. (And perhaps a way of getting across to your mother that she needs to modify her behaviour to help ensure the burden is reduced.)

You and you sister need to ensure that the Will is in order and that POAs are set up. If you can agree a common approach with your sister I think you may be better off having some form of joint POA given how entangled your current finances are. Or agreeing with the solicitor who draws up the POA, what you can reasonably seek in terms of compensation for room, board and time, so all is transparent and there is clear room between your and your mums finance - and no question that she has any rights to your house.

Once you have agreed the approach, or possible alternative approaches with your sister, you should both approach your mother in a well rehearsed way. (Sounds easy...) You are being reasonable. You dont plan to abandon her. However you cannot carry on subsidising her without POA or a Will or a clear understanding of her finance, and access should she have a health crisis. The past four years have been difficult and it is the time to look at alternatives which will guarantee her safety and care into the future.

The very fact of undertaking research and talking to local health professionals and organisations should help crystallize what you want to happen. You should also form a Plan B in case she refuses point blank. Harsh but she does not have the right to completely ignore your wants and needs whilst pursuing hers at your expense.

You should start by saying that she will be going to your sisters at Christmas. You need some family time together. She may rant and rage a bit but this should kick start a process whereby relationships shift.

It really does sound awful. Good luck.

Mystuff Thu 24-Oct-13 12:31:50

Hi alto1, I feel really sorry for you, this sounds like a horrible situation.
I don't have a great relationship with my parents and my FIL is an abusive b&&&&&&d so I have a pretty dispassionate view on this...

You do not have to spoil yours, your dh's and, most importantly as she didn't choose it and is just a child, your dd's lives for this woman.

You do not have to let her live with you. You can make choices here. Tell her it isn't working and she has to move out. Give her a deadline and if she hasn't moved out take her round your sisters house and change the locks.....

I know it sounds harsh but age doesn't give people the right to have their abusive way. You deserve to live your life. If she wasn't a nasty piece of work you would be fine living with her, she is making this choice.

Good luck...

alto1 Thu 24-Oct-13 18:18:22

Wow, thanks for the time and care you have put into your answers, I really appreciate it (especially needmoresleep, you've almost written a book). I'll go through all the advice in detail.

Needmoresleep Thu 24-Oct-13 21:39:01

Sorry, I did go on a bit....

Mystuff Fri 25-Oct-13 09:33:07

All the best alto1. Btw you may benefit from posting specifics regarding your mothers behaviour toward yourself and your dd on the relationships board.
Personally I feel I've learnt so much from that board re what is abusive behaviour and you may get useful insight into how to manage your relationship with her.
So much of what we may just take for granted as being "just them" is actually predictable abusive behaviour.

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