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To be not entirely keen to look after my Grandma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TakeMyEyesButNotTheGoat Mon 03-Dec-12 09:00:37

I'm saddened by this thread.

Not because of what you are doing OP, I think you are doing what you can in difficult circumstances. I'm sickened by your parents attitude.

They are not doing what is right by your Grandmother, your father 'counting the pennies' and not wanting any impact on their inheritance is disgusting.

It's true that no one can force your Grandmother into a home if she has mental capacity, but she should be having carers going in to help her or your bloody parents should be doing it. They are fit enough.

So many elderly people are admitted to hospital for not being able to cope at home. She could seriously injure herself. If she is found to be living in squalor and her next of kin (your mother) knew and did nothing about this, I hope to god SS and the Nursing staff put a POVA on them. Your Grandmother will be protected from their bloody selfishness and money grabbing.

They wouldn't see a penny of that inheritance then.

stifnstav Mon 03-Dec-12 09:26:56

Is she still shitting in a bag?! Its all very well having carnations, but the priorities of your parents are not going to change. Its been two months since you first posted, nothing has changed.

You need to ring Social Services and get them to assess your GM. Her inability to toilet and cook for herself, wash herself, nowhere to wash clothes, her falls. FFS, its heartbreaking.

PessaryPam Mon 03-Dec-12 09:48:54

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

merrymouse Mon 03-Dec-12 10:33:39

Coming late to thread. You already have two dependents. Perhaps while you look after your grandmother, your parents and sister could stay at your house and help look after them?

I think your grandmother is your mother's responsibility, and she should decide how your grandmother's money should be spent. The financial side of things doesn't have much to do with her son in law, unless he is being asked to use his own money to support her, which doesn't seem to be the case here. If your parents feel that all generations should pull together to support each other, they need to consider all the dependents in the family, not just the ones they are directly responsible for.

Neither your children's nor your grandmother's needs are being met currently, and the situation will only get worse. I would make a list with deadlines of changes that need to be made in the next week and month, (e.g. find more support, make house repairs), and if your parents don't seem capable of doing this, follow other's advice and go over their heads or refuse to help at all (which might at least force them into action). At the moment your parents are trying to pretend that 2+2=5 and your children and grandmother are bearing the consequences.

Re: your sister, what she does or doesn't do is irrelevant. If she willingly wants to meet all your grandmother's needs, that's great, problem solved. However, if this isn't the case, her actions can't erase the fact that you already have two dependents (to whom you have a legal as well as moral responsibility).

WelshMaenad Mon 03-Dec-12 10:49:35

Martyrdom, pam? How sad and telling that you see it that way.

However, I don't recall 'martyrdom' being mentioned as one if the potential contributing factors of pre eclampsia. I'm far more willing to blame my diabetes, my weight, and my genetic predilection, given that I had it with my son too, by which point my grandad had been dead for three and a half years.

Not to mention the fact that it's spectacularly vile to suggest that my difficult pregnancy and my daughters subsequent medical problems were all of my own making. Really, who does that?

PessaryPam Mon 03-Dec-12 11:06:42

I do, you are pretty fast to judge others Welsh.

WelshMaenad Mon 03-Dec-12 11:11:32

Au contraire, I suffered through quite a few lengthily self absorbed 'updates' and some ill conceived statements about paid carers before passing judgement. This thread has been going a while, if you look.

BiddyPop Mon 03-Dec-12 11:12:29

St Winifred, you are still in a very difficult situation, and well done for doing all you can to help Granma in a physical way.

Is there any way though, and I know you mentioned that you raised it but DDad fudged his answer, to have a frank discussion with your Dad about having more paid help into the house - a carer calling every day (even if only an hour to make sure Gran is up, has a hot meal/decent brekkie and cup of tea, and is clean) and a cleaner coming once or twice a week for a couple of hours to do proper cleaning (including mainly the room she lives in and the continence aspects). Either buying a washing machine and dryer (cleaners/carers could put on a wash every couple of days at worst), or organising a laundry service to collect dirty and drop back clean clothes. Getting decent sofa, or getting current sofa cleaned and recovered (I see the progress on the bed, that's good).

And when you are there, if you can make nice dinners for Gran and put extra portions into freezer (like stews, soups etc), carers could then just thaw and heat those rather than having to cook from scratch.

Can you get on to SS yourself to talk through what exactly they can provide, and what other options are available locally? And find out how much different options cost, so that you can present your dad with details and great options for gran versus good options that will give everyone a decent break but not take all the money, and perhaps (although not necessarily with the intention of using it, as Gran wants to stay at home and sounds like it's feasible with proper support) the actual cost of sheltered accomodation locally.

As I said previously, I know what you are going through (not exactly the same but pretty darn similar with DGran who died this past August and a high functioning ASD DC, FT job - oh, and a DH who spends 50% of his time abroad for work) and it's tricky as a grandchild, but there are still things you can do to prompt discussions and try to help prolong her time at home in comfort and dignity. And still be able to enjoy her company.

Mayisout Mon 03-Dec-12 11:51:06

If Grandma is compos mentis then you should be able to sit down with her, OP, and tell her you are sorry you cannot come round more but, as you are sure she will understand, your own DCs come first and from today you will only see her x times a month on such and such days. You hope she isn't too disappointed, and, as you love her very much, you would love to do more, but from now on that is when you will be there.

If she is the kindly soul you describe she will not want to be a burden or to put her care before that of your children's.

Then inform the rest of you pita family of what you have decided.
And if they don't like it -GOOD.

StWinithread Tue 11-Dec-12 00:14:03

My family are being a major pain to be honest.

My Dad called yesterday. I had emailed my Mum asking about Christmas, but for some reason she NEVER talks to me on the phone (despite being home all day) and got my Dad to do it.

Anyway, basically he said they were going to stay in squalor at Grandma's for Christmas. I asked why and he started talking BS about snow and bad weather and not being able to get to their house. Which was ridiculous since they live 25 miles away, and it's very unlikely to be a problem.

I said that there was no way we could possibly stay there with them, and we weren't keen on squeezing into the house on Christmas Day because it's so cramped and squalid, and why didn't they go round to their house, and that I had assumed we would spend Christmas together, but not in the circumstances, and that we would spend Christmas at home, or with friends who have invited us, but not at Grandma's house.

He then basically admitted that it's all down to my Mum and she wasn't 'comfortable' looking after her at their house, for reasons unspecified. I said that when I had taken her out in the car (20 miles+) for lunch (several hours), she had been fine, and I had had no problems with her, that she's bright and alert and I had had no problems with her. He said something about having more support networks to look after her at my Grandma's own house, which is a bit absurd considering we are just talking about a week or less at Christmas, with my Dad and myself + my family there as well.

Eventually he conceded that there wasn't really any sensible reason for Grandma to stay at her house and essentially it was down to my Mum being neurotic, no more, no less than that, and he would talk about it to her again.

He then moved on to the usual subject of when I can provide care, he said my sister has already 'provided a list of dates'. I said we were busy on the weekends, so he then asked about next week, kids on school holidays, I said it's possible, I'm not saying yes, I will have to discuss it with DH.

Anyway, I haven't spoken to him again since yesterday, but this evening my sister has emailed me asking:

'I understand you are coming over on Wednesday, I might need to go to a dentists appointment, what time will you be here?'

which made me angry, considering that I very clearly told my Dad that I hadn't promised anything in terms of this and needed to discuss this, and he had no business telling this to my sister at all, because as I understand it she is there each Monday and Tuesday and then leaves Wednesday early morning to go to work, so it's really not her concern anyway.

Followed by:

'Are you available at all over the weekend of Jan 5-6? I know this is your anniversary, I am not sure whether you had any plans? Are you available for any part of the weekend eg the Sunday if not the Saturday? I know this seems some way off but I need to make plans, especially if I need to change the days I will be working from home. '

which made me angry again, because she has been there Monday and Tuesday and a couple of times Thursday and Friday 'working from home', so it appears to me that she is essentially pushing me on behalf of my parents, who would otherwise be there on the weekends. She did this before before this arrangement started, she called me and said basically that my promise to do Sunday each week was unreasonable for my parents and that if I did Saturday/Sunday and she did Monday/Tuesday then my parents would have half the week to themselves, and that would be a bit more of a balance in their life than just 3 days a week.

So I'm sitting here fuming basically, composing an email to my Dad.

'Hello, I don’t think I have been direct enough with previous discussion on this subject.

Firstly we spoke yesterday and I did not make any commitment to come next week, I said I would speak to my husband, so I'm not clear why you have told my sister that I was coming, as if I didn't have the right to say no?

Secondly, you are not being reasonable or realistic about Grandma’s care requirements. She needs someone there 7 days a week, and we all have our lives to lead and I don't think that, even if I were able to be there every weekend away from my family, that would yet leave you with a reasonable work-life balance, so what you seem to be aiming for is, even in ideal circumstances, far from ideal.

I don't believe you have made any effort to address the issue of professional care, but it is clear to me that it is required. Grandma told me last weekend that she has now got money but nothing to spend it on, but the reality is that she does, because she needs paid care, she and nobody else. I understand that this comes at a cost, but so does you spending most of your time away from your home. Clearly Mum is not determined to be with Grandma at all times, otherwise you would be renting your home out, or having Grandma move in with you, so I am confused. given that you want to be away from there as much as possible, why you are not addressing this issue professionally.

I found a long list of home care providers here:


and 178 providers within 5 miles here:




I enjoy spending time with my Grandma, but I deeply resent being railroaded into doing so, as is happening here, again and again.

If you are determined not to pay for a carer, that's your decision, but the continued insistence that I'm the only one who can provide you with respite, with the responsibility that that places on me, flies in the fact of the reality that you have not contacted any providers at all who can remove the needless martyrdom from this situation.

Just so it's clear, I particularly resent being asked what I'm doing on my wedding anniversary, and am not really clear what business it is of my sister's, and what relevance it has to her working days when we are talking about a weekend.

Anyway, I need to draw a line under this as otherwise it will just get dragged out with more situations like this, endless procrastination and so on, so I think it's best if I say now that I will not be doing this in 2013, although as I said I do look forward to seeing Grandma on a social basis.

I hope that this clarity will provide you with the impetus to make more sustainable arrangements for Grandma, and yourselves, as the present ones are clearly not. '

StWinithread Tue 11-Dec-12 00:25:42

Oh, crossed emails, I haven't sent that one yet, but my Dad has just emailed me saying they are staying at G'mas over Christmas, but my sister might be able to stay with Gma from 28-31 dec, perhaps they could visit during that time.

Followed by 'can you please confirm you can come over on 19th/20th as discussed'

andapartridgeinaRowantree Tue 11-Dec-12 00:26:15

st Wini that's an excellently worded email. It is such a shame your family can't sit down all four of you with Grandma and talk about this properly though.

Or maybe start with you, parents and sister then discuss with Grandma afterwards.

andapartridgeinaRowantree Tue 11-Dec-12 00:29:45

Your mums behaviour is really bizarre. Is she worried your DH will have a taste for living in their house or something. Weird.

StWinithread Tue 11-Dec-12 00:40:07

I'm slightly annoyed that my Dad has asked me to confirm I will come over next week, because it makes my self-righteousness about my sister's email towards him, look a little misplaced, as it seems like she is the pushy one, not him.

Which is I suppose no surprise, because both my Dad and I were of the opinion originally that Grandma would go stay with my parents.

But it looks slightly silly me sending the reply to my sister's pushy email, to my Dad. No point sending it to her though, I don't think she is particularly interested in my opinions on any subject.

I can send the reply to my sister's email to him as-is, or just reply to his email saying 'yes I will come next week, but want to draw a line under this and say that will be the last time' and say that I'm unhappy about the emotional blackmail from sister and then tack on the bit at the end about professional care.

andapartridgeinaRowantree Tue 11-Dec-12 00:44:36

That sounds like a good plan. I Think the important. It to emphasise is that you won't bed ontinung into the New Ayer.

However, I do think it wouldn't harm to emphasise the having Granny socially thing and invite her to your house for Christmas eve night and day as her house is so clearly unsuitable for a nice day!

StWinithread Tue 11-Dec-12 00:53:33

"Your mums behaviour is really bizarre. Is she worried your DH will have a taste for living in their house or something. Weird."

Sorry I don't follow?

I live with DH + DCs in our own house. My parents have their house, an hour from us, and an hour from Grandma's. My mum is happy to look after Grandma in Grandma's house, but not in her own house, for reasons unclear but I guess due to my mum's general lack of mental 'strength' about dealing with even mild stresses in life.But then my mum doesn't want to spend 7 days a week at Grandma's house, in fact she'd probably prefer not to spend any days a week there, and have my mum staying in our own home and just visit Grandma for medical appointments or similar, so my dad is tasked with getting me and my sister to relieve them as much as possible, so my parents can go back to their own home.

My DH doesn't particularly enter into the equation in terms of my parents' thinking.

FWIW, my daily duties are:

7:30am, wake up, make tea, serve to Grandma, empty commode and sanitary pad bin
7:45am give Grandma bucket of warm water + flannel
8:20am cook breakfast, poached egg and toast, glass of orange juice
8:30am serve breakfast
9am clear away, then Grandma reads newspaper
10amish make another mug of tea, serve to Grandma in living room/bedroom
10amish -12:30 Grandma sleeping
12:30 make hot chocolate, serve in living room/bedroom, empty commode, sanitary pad bin
1:30pm prepare lunch, cheese sandwich, etc., serve, eat,
2pm coffee, chat she reads newspaper, does crossword
empty commode
6pm cook dinner, meat + two veg plus dessert preferred
7:30pm serve dinner
8:30pm she goes and watches TV till 11pm-1am depending if there's something on
11pm-1am provide her two glasses of water, water for false teeth, she goes to bed.

StWinithread Tue 11-Dec-12 01:04:02

I don't think they would contemplate having her round for Christmas eve overnight.

I offered previously to put her up for a week when they went away, and they said no, because she's never been here before, and it's too far to come for the day (an hour and 15 minutes each way, unless at rush hour). They could certainly come here on Christmas Day, but my Mum is basically neurotic, so it won't happen.

One of the excuses before was that even though we have a nearly unused dining room (we eat in the kitchen) she could sleep in, and a downstairs toilet, apparently the half-step up to the toilet would be too much for her. The fact that in her home she doesn't have access to a toilet and just has to use a commode (I'm more than willing to buy a commode for her (about £30), or the they can bring one) is apparently beyond them.

I could certainly offer, but I'm sure now that my mum's got this crazy concept that if she had a heart attack or whatever else in her own home, she'd get better survival chances there because they have her medical notes, or some such ridiculous nonsense. TBH because she doesn't even want to discuss it with me, it's very hard to find out.

So I'm tempted really just to not give them any more procastinating opportunities, and just make our own plans. Although it would honestly be nice to have Grandma round, the nonsense from my parents is difficult to fight through.

Mayisout Tue 11-Dec-12 02:49:19

Your email is great. Explains things clearly without dishing out too much blame.

I would say your DM cannot face living with and caring for Granma in her own home so that isn't going to happen. You could direct emails from DSis into another folder and ignore them, and tell her you are doing that.

And then leave them all to get on with it. I feel DPs are hoping something happens to Granma so they don't have to deal with this. And if Granma is reasonably happy I would just leave them to get on with it and make social calls to her when and if it suits you and DCs. You've tried to help but offers have been rejected so that's their decision.

diddl Tue 11-Dec-12 08:41:33

TBH, I think I´d just say that you will only visit socially & are not prepared to be a carer.

If they are struggling, then they need to get in a paid carer.

Jux Tue 11-Dec-12 09:04:37

As your grandma has money, you could ask her if she'd like to spend a week with you while you get her house cleaned up, call in professional cleaners to do it. While she's with you, you can talk to her about professional carers and so on.

She is compos mentis and should really be involved in plans which have such a direct effect on her. The fact that your mum is being, um, odd, makes it difficult for you to discuss things with your dps, so don't. Go straight to grandma.

Agree that your sister's emails can go straight into a separate folder, though. Is there any chance of a full family meeting?

I don't suppose you've contacted SS Vulnerable Adults? They're not going to ride in all guns blazing and take her off to a home. It's much more in their interests to help you all look after her in her own home. They do know the strain it puts on a family and know that sending in professional carers not only ensures the standard of care she receives is adequate to her needs, but also that family visits are not bound up in cleaning up and so on.

shewhowines Tue 11-Dec-12 09:27:44

Just email that as far as you are concerned it can't go on as before. It's not fair to your DH and DC and it's placing too much stress on you all. From 2013 you will be visiting Gma socially but alternative relief care will need to be sorted as you will not be able to do it. In your opinion say that proper paid care should be the way forward. Gma can afford it and her money should be spent on getting her the help she needs.

That's all you need to say.

Viviennemary Tue 11-Dec-12 09:36:51

I think if you are going to look after her as a family team then you do need a routine. But it is not fair or practical to ask you to be away from your children every weekend if I understand this correctly. Paid care is the only solution for this difficult situation. You have offered to have your Grandma to stay at your house but this does not seem to be accepable as she feels more comfortable in her own house. I think you've been more than fair and something else will need to be thought out.

mindosa Tue 11-Dec-12 09:41:33

I also have young children and I would do this for a parent but not for a grandparent.

Chances are you will be doing something like this for your own parents at some stage but hopefully you wont have young children and will have more free time. I do believe in families caring for older relatives when they can but it doesnt look like your family can do this so you need to get carers.

You can do one of 2 things
1. Provide a list of dates when you can stay - some dates can be without the children
2. Say that you are only willing to help out for social visits, recommend they get carers and leave it at that

DozyDuck Tue 11-Dec-12 10:24:47

I am going to go out on a limb here and say you don't have to do anything you don't want to/ can't do.

I would HATE to be disrupting people's lives like that in my old age.

What your sister is doing is really lovely, but if you can't, then you just can't.

I have a disabled son and his care takes up 100% of my life. But he is my son. I love him to bits and happily give up my life for him. Plus it was my choice to have him. I could not have any more kids as it would not be fair to them to come second to DSs very high care needs, it just wouldn't. It's not fair on your children to come second to someone else's care needs either. You already have 2 people to 'care' for (your children) your sister and parents have 1 between them!

It's your parents responsibility really to look after their parents.

Horsemad Tue 11-Dec-12 10:55:36

OP, you really need to have a Family Conference about this and get it sorted once and for all.

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