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To tell father he can't dump care of my mother on me like this and to demand more help.

(48 Posts)
quesadilla Tue 12-Jul-11 13:56:14

Have name-changed as its all a bit close to home and this is long, sorry. I have a mother with dementia and a father who is both selfish and also in denial about the seriousness of her condition. He has arranged a trip to the other side of the world for 10 days in a couple of months to do research for a book he's writing and has asked me to look after her for the time he is away. I've tentatively agreed. (Until quite recently he was arranging trips like this without any warning and originally planned to leave her on her own with just a carer and neighbours popping in until it was pointed out to him that this was a recipe for disaster.) I have a 5 month-old baby and don't drive, my DH works full time and won't be able to help me for most of this. They live in a fairly remote place. I go there fairly regularly and my mother becomes much worse when her routine is disturbed or when he's not there. I'm basically happy to look after her in principle but a) I'm resentful of the fact that he thinks its OK to just head off just like that, leaving his very sick wife, basically indulge his desire to do a project and just assumes that his family will take up the slack. He doesn't really need the money from this book, just wants to do it to feel that he's still in the game. I'm also b) worried that I won't be able to cope, that something will happen which will make her condition worse or that his being away will tip her into a bad situation and I think he needs to come to terms with the fact that his days of jetting across the world at the drop of a hat are over. I'm considering telling him the deal is off and he needs to cancel the trip.
On the other hand, my father is finding it very stressful caring for my mother and quite lonely. I'm sympathetic to his situation and would really like for him to have a break from her. I just don't understand why it has to involve a long-haul flight and me having to drop everything to care for her for that long. AIBU?

Glitterknickaz Tue 12-Jul-11 13:57:43

You need to tell him to make appropriate care provision in a specialised nursing home for her whilst he is away.
Dom't take this on yourself, that's just not fair.

cestlavielife Tue 12-Jul-11 13:57:44

you need to ask whoever organises her carers to sort something out - social services? is there a respite type place she could go to?

giddly Tue 12-Jul-11 14:02:58

I understand why you must be finding your mother's illness stressful, but he's given several months notice - he's not going at the "drop of a hat". If you don't feel you can cope, then maybe discuss other options with him - as someone has said maybe a care home would take her, or you could go and have support from paid carers. He could be having to care for your mother for years, so I really don't think it's unreasonable for him to have a break, whatever he chooses to do with it. And in his mind he's only asking you to do what he's doing every day - he may not realise how much more difficult this gets in his absence.

quesadilla Tue 12-Jul-11 14:03:36

cestlavie thing is her "carer" is just a woman from social services who drops in one time per week. There are a few concerned neighbours and friends around too but its all pretty informal. She needs much more care than she is getting but the problem is that my dad is in so much denial that he's not facing up to this. So in practice he's her carer, although he's actually incapable of looking after himself, let alone her. I don't know if he would agree to her going into respite care for 10 days -- I think he would kick up a huge fuss about it. I'm considering going over his head and ringing local social services. Whether or not I do it before this trip is another question.

giddly Tue 12-Jul-11 14:07:05

Do you feel your father is unable to provide the care your mother needs? If so this is a very different issue.

itsraining Tue 12-Jul-11 14:10:26

If you don't feel you can cope with your mother and a young baby that's your call.

Would you feel able to go and stay with her if you had paid carers coming in twice a day to help her get up and dressed and do the putting to bed. You would need to speak to ss as I think this is usually means tested and if too well off then your father would need to stump up the cash which he may or may not be willing to do.

Another issue is whether your mother is aggressive at all, if so, then I don't think that you should be going to stay with a baby, a visit would be fine but not to stay with no other adult to supervise / calm your mother if she is agitated.

caramelwaffle Tue 12-Jul-11 14:11:26

I think you need to contact Adult Social Services and get some professional advice.
Sorry you are all going through this; it must not be easy.

TheOriginalFAB Tue 12-Jul-11 14:14:07

Would you be expected to live in with your mother and your baby?

If you father can't look after your mother now then that needs addressing immediately and is more of a concern than him going away for 10 days.

suburbophobe Tue 12-Jul-11 14:14:43

Can you speak to their GP or SS for care to come in every day?

I presume you will be staying with her during that time? (as you don't drive).

If you have a 5 month old, looking after a parent with dementia at the same time is almost impossible.... (I don't have a 5-month old but do have a mum with dementia).

quesadilla Tue 12-Jul-11 14:25:34

giddly there are several things going on and its hard for me to separate them. First off I am concerned that he's not really able to care for her -- he doesn't seem to be able to grasp the fact that she can't remember things so he routinely loses his temper with her. He will do things like buy food for a meal and ask her to cook it and then get irritable when she forgets about it half way through. Obviously there are risks associated with this that I don't need to spell out. Things like this worry me in general. With regard to this trip I think its firstly that I'm concerned his not being there will really upset her and set her back and secondly I just sort of feel -- and maybe I am being unreasonable -- that a man in his mid 70s with a wife with dementia should realise that he can't really keep doing longhaul "work" trips twice a year and that he needs to make his peace with that and start planning things which are a bit less challenging. I don't have a problem with him having a break now and then, in fact I encourage it. But this seems to me more about his trying to prove something to himself and I think its a bit unhealthy. But I take your point about his having given me notice etc.

PaisleyLeaf Tue 12-Jul-11 14:36:48

Yes I think yabu about him not doing long-haul work.
What you all need is proper care in place for your mum.

bubblesincoffee Tue 12-Jul-11 14:37:06

I think if you have agreed to this trip, it would be very unfair of you to back out now.

I understand that you feel you can't cope with your Mum and such a tiny baby, but maybe this could be a chance to enlist some help that could then continue to help your Dad when he gets back.

I think the bigget issue here is the denial that your Dad is in. But unless you are in his position, I don't think you can really know what this would feel like for him. The person that he has spent his life loving is going to change beyond all recognition, I think I'd be in denial too if it were my dh. Not only that, but you are now expecting him to besically put a stop to his own life, and if care can be provided for your Mum, there is no reason why he shouldn't still travel. Why should both lives be damaged so much?

I think you should have your Mum to stay, and use that time to get as much help and information as you can to pass on to your Dad when he gets back. It could be a horrible shock for him, but sadly he probably needs it. Maybe someone from Age UK or a GP could talk to him about what your Mum's needs really are and how he can put those plans into place while still getting plenty of respite for himself.

Butterbur Tue 12-Jul-11 14:37:58

I am in my mid fifties, and my seventies feel less far away than my thirties (which feel like yesterday). So I can understand how your father wants to feel that he is still in the game, and can do something worthwhile just for himself. I don't think it is reasonable for you to effectively tell him he is an old man now, and has to give up the rest of his life to caring for his wife.If you take away the bits he gets pleasure from, what is left for him?

However, I don't think you should have to pick up the slack for his excursions. You need to tell your father that he or you need to organise residential respite care while he is away. You are no longer available to help look after your mother now you have your own family, and you need to assist him in getting his head out of the sand about this.

Then you need to address the problem of every day care.

lunar1 Tue 12-Jul-11 15:08:03

You need to keep the 2 issues separate. Im sure you know you should have never agreed to look after your mum without thinking it through and it will be hard to take it back now. you will have to look at getting care into place or arranging respite if it is too much for you.

I really dont think it is any of your business to dictate what he does with his private life though. Your poor dad is caring for his wife, having to come to terms with loosing her slowly and the thought of carers invading their lives is horrendous.

You sound very selfish and controlling thinking you can decide what he is allowed to do in his life, unless of course you allow him to decide where you go on holiday, what car you drive how many children you have etc...

quesadilla Tue 12-Jul-11 15:23:01

lunar1 I don't think its selfish or controlling for me to feel that he should take me and our mother into account when he's making plans. I do understand people saying that he needs his own life and I can't dictate how he spends it. But surely you can see that if he has a break in the UK or in Europe he can be back in a matter of hours, as opposed to going to the other side of the world where, if something happens, I may not be able even to speak to him for hours, let alone for him to get back. But I do take on board the point about him needing to feel that he still has his life etc. Bubblesincoffee I can't have my mum to stay -- I live with my husband and baby in a one-bedroom flat. Its just not possible. In any case she would never agree to it.

MoreBeta Tue 12-Jul-11 15:29:59

quesadilla - there was another thread quite recently almost exactly the same as this with a father sending a mother on a bus with dementia and a daughter being put under pressure to look after her for a week at a time.

Not sure if that thread was you, but the gist of the thread was that the father was in denial and needed to face the issue and get a proper care package in place. This is totally unacceptable by your father and actually an extremely ignorant and sexist attitude.

Has he always been this way? You and DH need to have a serious family meeting with him after his trip is over.

TheSnickeringFox Tue 12-Jul-11 15:32:18

Oh fgs lunar1 what a ridiculous and unsupportive thing to say. If course op is not being selfish and controlling. She is quite reasonably upset that her father is refusing to come to terms with her mother's illness and to get appropriate care in place.

She is being emotionally blackmailed into taking on the (Basically) sole care of her very ill mother when she has a young baby to care for and will be isolated while she does so - no car. It is not U to be upset with this. I am sure that op would be more supportive of her father's trips if he was more realistic about her mother's needs.

lunar1 Tue 12-Jul-11 15:36:50

Maybe you should just put a chain and bolts on the outside of his door just in case he tries to break free.

He has every right to go where ever he wants and you should do what you can to support that. He doesn't sound like an idiot and maybe has realized that it would take him time to get home and is happy with his decision.

I cant believe you would deny him the chance to choose where and how he takes a break while he still can. you sound like you are only bothered about how inconvenient things are for you.

Birdsgottafly Tue 12-Jul-11 15:37:51

It sounds as though they need a reassessment from the EMI team, do they have a Social Worker?

Under the Carers Act the ability of the carer has to be taken into account when assessing what provision to put in place and this includes their right to leisure/holidays.

Some of the 'provision of services' are means tested, you can get advice from the department who deals with the carer they have and through Care Line.

EldritchCleavage Tue 12-Jul-11 15:43:10

Full of the milk of human kindness, aren't you Lunar?

Birdsgottafly Tue 12-Jul-11 15:46:01

You also need to be honest with your DF about what you are willing to do. Then as difficult as it is, you need to step back from the situation, it may be the only way that your DF will face up to your DM's condition. As frustrating as it is, it isn't unusual for the spouse to not face up to reality of their OH needs until there is a 'crisis'.

You are both putting the responsibilty onto each other, which isn't fair as dementia is a tough condition to manage.

bubblesincoffee Tue 12-Jul-11 15:46:56

Sorry if I read that wrong. Does that mean that the plan according to your original agreement is for you to stay at your parents place then? Or were you just supposed to go in every day?

If you are meant to be staying with them, that would be even better, because you will be best placed to source the help your parents need locally.

I think if he is comfortable being on the other side of the world if something happens then that's up to him. Your Mum will probably live for a lot more years yet, and if it's a book thing your Dad's doing, I would presume there is a reason for his choice of destination. When your Dad goes on holiday, he probably feels he is leaving her with adequate care, which is understandable if she is being left with her own daughter, so whether it takes him two days or two hours to get back, it won't really affect the quality of care your Mum recieves.

I realise that your Dad's plans create some pressure on you, but you have to remember that it's your Mum's illness that is causing that pressure, not the fact that your heathy Father still wants to live his life.

lunar1 Tue 12-Jul-11 15:47:12

Ask my grandma, she lives with us and has severe dementia. Glad everyone thinks its OK that this poor man must have his holiday time dictated to him on what suite everyone else.

Glitterknickaz Tue 12-Jul-11 15:47:27

I don't think he could be begrudged a trip away, the caring commitment he must have is hard work, BUT it's not fair to rely on informal help to achieve this. Proper respite care needs to be arranged.

OP you have my every sympathy, you really do

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