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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.

TiddlyZomZomZombie Fri 12-Oct-12 12:52:28

How would you feel about helping out and giving your parents respite if she was living with them? How far from you do they live?
From all your posts I don't think it's at all practical for her to stay in her own home, or for you to travel for short visits to care for her in her home.
What would make sense is for her to move in with your parents, and for you and your sister to regularly give them a break and pop over to help out.

You're over-explaining your responses to your dad tbh, keep it short, otherwise it'll just confuse the issue.

JammySplodger Fri 12-Oct-12 12:57:59

I think you should be assertive and put to your parents / sister an option that you think would be in the best interests of your grandma and sustainable long term - bearing in mind she might live several more years and will only need more and more help as time goes on. She'd probably have a much better quality of life with a proper set-up too.

My 96 year old lives with my parents, downstairs in the converted dining room, which now has it's own en-suite, sky connection, sofa for visitors, etc. Family all take turns in giving mum & dad a break. Works well there and Grandma's ever so happy with the set up too.

gettingeasier Fri 12-Oct-12 12:59:39

YANBU and I would send Quints email

You are some distance away with your own family to care for and have quality time with

I doubt this is reasonable but I might see it differently if it were your parents as opposed to a grandparent

CheeseandPickledOnion Fri 12-Oct-12 12:59:49

It's really not fair for your parents to be asking this of you. You have your own family to look after.

I think you have to put your foot down and get the authorities involved. If your parents are not willing to budge on her staying in her own home, then outside assistance and care must be sought not only for your Grandmothers benefit, but for the whole family. It is too much to ask of everyone that they take this on.

I thank god my mother has already made it clear she would hate to be a hindrance to her children and would prefer to go into a home.

oldraver Fri 12-Oct-12 13:04:48

I think your parents are being very very selfish. They have had your Uncle do the caring for many many years then try and palm it off onto you when he passed. They are putting way too much pressure on you when your first priority should be your own family. Help out by all means but it seems they are putting the main caring onto you and your sister.

I think it may be time to call in outside agencies or even think about more permanent care for your Grandmother.

Is there any reason they dont want to pay foe care for your Grandmother?

marbleslost Fri 12-Oct-12 13:06:02

If I were 100, living in the lounge, needing a bit of help I would do what several of my elderly relatives did. Move into sheltered housing, have a carer come in when I needed them to and enjoy my family's company as and when it's possible.

It's ridiculous of your family to expect this of you.

Lotkinsgonecurly Fri 12-Oct-12 13:10:26

Suggest she goes and live with your parents and then if they want to go away for a few days you / your sister can help in your parents home. This means it'll be more comfortable for your kids?

Also, your parents could then get support /carers near to them.

DowntonTrout Fri 12-Oct-12 13:12:49

I'm sorry but this is a ridiculous situation.

Your parents and sister are actually preventing your gran getting the help she needs and the services she is entitled to by doing what they are doing. After your uncle died would have been the ideal opportunity to get your gran the care she deserves.

She obviously has some funds, if she owns her own home. These would be better used to fund proper, full time care. It would take the stress off your parents. It sounds like she would be better off in a residential home- where she would be safe, cared for, have proper washing facilities etc. if she were near your parents they could still visit every day, take her out, be fully involved, but could also go away for a few days in the safe knowledge that grandma was being looked after.

You cannot commit to the amount of time/ care being requested of you. It would be better all round to be very clear about that now. It is not your responsibility and they are being unfair to demand it of you.

FWIW my mum has had to be moved into a home a few months ago. My brother and sister didn't like the idea of it and clearly expected me to have mum live with me. DB lives abroad and DS lives locally, but has no room. Neither are married or have children. I have both. I had dad here in the last few months before he died and it was very very hard. I could not do it again. So mum is in a home. But she is content, safe, well fed, has company and I visit 3 or 4 times a week. And that time is precious and lovely, because I am not stressed out . It was the best option for everyone.

Please be strong and tell your parents that your children need you, you have other commitments and so will not be able to be part of the "care package" they have drawn up. However you will continue to visit as often as possible, just not every weekend.

HeadlessForHalloween Fri 12-Oct-12 13:13:29

I would say that I couldn't commit to a weekly arrangement because of the dc, but I would offer to help with respite care.

I personally feel she should move in with your parents, the house doesn't sound suitable for her or the people staying over with her. She may be a little confused at first but would get used to it.

MerylStrop Fri 12-Oct-12 13:13:45

Your parents and your sister are being unrealistic. Unrealistic about what they can and should do, IMO, let alone what you should.

The expectations placed on you should be in no way related to what your sister is prepared and able to offer.

Put a stop to it now. Call a family meeting with your grandmother there and discuss a range of options. Take the family dynamics out of it. And be prepared, if you sister is still prepared to give up a substantial amount of her time to do this, to say well done, that's brilliant I wish I were in a position to do that BUT I AM NOT.

Personally I don't think a fortnightly visit would be an unreasonable commitment, but this should not be bound up with her daily, personal care.

StWinifred Fri 12-Oct-12 13:17:33

" Humming and hawing about whether or not you can visit in two days time because it might be a sunny day isn't fair on anyone."

I am not humming and hawing about it, the thing is I am getting mixed messages from them:

* Originally I said I can come on Sunday and return on Monday, because I have to collect the children from school on a weekday and that would be the only time.
* Then my sister phoned me to nag me and managed to elicit the suggestions that (a) I might be able to go on Saturday evening and return on Monday, and (b) that I might go round with my children during the holidays.
* Last week I went on Saturday and returned on Monday. I was wondering whether I might do this again this weekend.
* they seem to be under the assumption that I will go there each Sunday, rather than on Saturdays in future, and they have now said something about going away for a short break on Sunday
* I think it's a good idea if they go away for a break and have said I would like to enable this where possible, and actually I was thinking to myself either I would go on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, but now that the suggestion that I should aim to 'balance' my sister is polluting my thoughts, and I have to think 'oh fuck, if I don't go this Saturday then that is being counted against me and I'm going to have to "make it up" in the future'
* My Dad has asked 'are you coming over 2pm, 4pm, or what'. Frankly with the 2 hours journey time to get there, if I said 4pm, then we still don't have a Sunday because we tend to wake up late, and go out around 1pm, and go visit National Trust or something and stay till 6pm, so even 4pm doesn't help me any in that we basically are without a Sunday (plus on Sunday the trains/track are often repaired and the journey takes 45 minutes longer, so that eats a further chunk out of the weekend.)
* The only way we would have a weekend to ourselves (and bear in mind here that pretty much every weekend there will be some sort of 'chore' taking up a day, be it kids birthday parties, going to something of my DH's choosing that I am not interested in, or visiting schools (at present) so we do really need both weekend days in order to have a fulfilling family life) is if I go there at about 8-9pm on a Sunday, but then I have to leave 3:30pm on Monday so it's not really worth me going at all, and plus I am being guilted that my sister is doing more, so I have to consider any suggestions that I make in that context.
* My sister works in the charity sector; I don't know how damaging it is for her to be 'working from home' two days per week so I can't really say 'she's only doing two days in the week when she'd be away from her partner all day (at work) anyway', without seeming bitchy.

MTBMummy Fri 12-Oct-12 13:20:35

Im really surprised at the number of people on here agreeing with the OP

Personally I think YAB very U, she's your gran, you're all the family she has, but I speak as someone who has lost her all her grand parents and about to lose my mum and dad as well, and I'm only in my early 30's

You and all of your family need to sit down and sort this out between you like adults, and enjoy what time you have with her, rather than sniping about each others faults.

Groovee Fri 12-Oct-12 13:21:42

My mum was my gran's main carer and looking after her for a week was hard work, while my parents were away. A few days after they returned my gran was rushed to hospital with a massive heart attack. We all agreed she needed a care package as I needed a holiday after looking after her. Sadly she never came home but I hope never to put that strain on my own children as it's not nice for anyone x

cornsconkers Fri 12-Oct-12 13:21:54

I can't believe your parents are expecting you to do this. Is she your dad's mum?

DowntonTrout Fri 12-Oct-12 13:25:50

What your sister chooses to do is up to her.

What you choose to do is up to you.

Your circumstances are different. You can't say whether you will go on Saturday or Sunday. This is not helpful to your parents. Don't be pressurised though. Just tell them, one way or another, what you can and will do. Then they can sort themselves out.

FishfingersAreOK Fri 12-Oct-12 13:27:51

I agree - Quints email. But I would not say "it is not convenient". I would say "it is not possible for me to".

Because it is not.

FishfingersAreOK Fri 12-Oct-12 13:32:01

And do your parents and sister really think it is viable for your DCs to spend each weekend
a) Without their mum?
b) Caring for their Great Grandma in an unsuitable house?

I hate to sound really blunt but if your Granny needs 24 hour care there has to be a bigger discussion and a better plan than divvying up days here/days there. This could last for years. And the level of care is only ever going to get larger, not less.

This is unsustainable for everyone. It is impossible for you.

StWinifred Fri 12-Oct-12 13:34:00

"I think your parents are being very very selfish. They have had your Uncle do the caring for many many years then try and palm it off onto you when he passed."

Well not quite. He was very bad at organising stuff, managing himself and so on, and she looked after him in a way for a long time. As she got into her late 90s he did more things like cooking the dinner and so on, but what happened was in March she had a turn and was taken into hospital with heart failure. Prior to this she was getting herself up and down the stairs to the toilet, bed, but it was this that confined her to the living room and dining room.

So from March till his death he was looking after her which meant things like acquiring incontinence products, emptying her commode, etc. He was a bit of a nutty professor type, not really looking after himself properly, and with his heart problems and the complex needs of a 100-year old (deafness and incontinence mainly), he couldn't cope.

Anyway, he died and my parents moved in and I think my Mum's reaction was 'fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck' when she realised she would have to get up at 7am every morning (my Mum is accustomed to getting up at 11am), arrange home adaptations, clean the house (it was filthy), work out the best combination of incontinence products and ensure that they are on hand so she doesn't fall over trying to get them, cook her breakfast, lunch, dinner, and basically do more than she had ever realised.

My uncle was not assertive or aware of help, etc., they are much more with it, but yeah the thing is that it was his home where had lived for decades, so not unreasonable for him to be care-provider there, since my parents have their own home and life and have raised a family, albeit that they obviously didn't consider that it was too much for him until it was too late.

So not quite as you describe, he and my Grandma had a deal of synchronicity in terms of their waking, eating patterns, etc., so it did make sense to a large degree.

StWinifred Fri 12-Oct-12 13:36:17

"I can't believe your parents are expecting you to do this. Is she your dad's mum?"

No she is my mum's mum, but my dad is the more organised/capable one, he gets home from a day's work and cleans the house, cooks the dinner, does the washing up, etc.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 12-Oct-12 13:42:06


I would not take on this kind of caring while I had young children. They are your responsibility.

Your parents have been getting the easy end of things thus far, because your uncle has been doing all the caring. Now it is their turn, which they should be taking with the help of social services - rather than looking to their own daughters to help to the detriment of their own lives.

Now if your sister is wanting to do all of this, then that is up to her, but it doesn't mean you have to do the same. You have young children.

I would be very, very angry in your position. Very angry.

FryOneGhoulishGhostlyManic Fri 12-Oct-12 13:43:05

My parents (who are late 60s now) had my grandad living with them from when they were about early 40s until he died aged 100. Was Mum's dad, she was a late baby.

It was sheer hard work for them. My Bro and I did what we could but I lost it one day when yet again my mum's 4 other brothers and sisters had failed to help. They did help a bit more after that, but I felt that it was my grandad's immediate children, ie mum and her siblings, that should have been doing the primary care, with the grandchildren helping sometimes.

SS should have been involved much earlier, especially as my parents health was suffering, as during this time Dad ended up having a quadruple bypass (and other issues) and mum was trying to cope alone.

Grandad had been refusing to move out (rented house) and had even told SS that he paid the rent, whereas mum and dad did (they are the tenants), so SS had told mum Grandad couldn't be moved.

Finally, in order to get Grandad the proper care he needed, they took the drastic step of declaring him homeless and not to return to the house after he had gone into hospital for yet another urine infection. He needed to be in a home and my parents could no longer cope, definitely not physically cope.

They had to call an ambulance when he fell because they couldn't lift him due to their own ill health.

You need to get the professionals in to make a proper assessment. Don't try stumbling along cos it won't wor. Don't feel guilty about having to take the needs of your children into account too.

HeathRobinson Fri 12-Oct-12 13:45:04

I keep coming back to the idea that it's unfair on Granny. Why shouldn't she either have a good care package in place or a place in a good care home?

Washing in a bucket at 100 is a bit sad.

FryOneGhoulishGhostlyManic Fri 12-Oct-12 13:46:01

The Gran needs proper care and trying to fudge it as a family isn't going to work.

DontmindifIdo Fri 12-Oct-12 13:48:59

Hmm, it does sound more like your Mum is trying to push her responsibilty for care on her DDs, really, she is not work, has no children at home and in good health, so what if she doesn't want get up at 7am (like everyone else). Your Gran might prefer not to move in with your parents, but if that's the best option, then that's what should happen.

It doesn't sound like she should be living alone. Realistically, it's unreasonable of your Gran to expect everyone else to give up their homes to move into to care for her, even if on a rota system. She should move in either with your parents or if your Sister is keen to be a martyr, your sister. Or a home if noone wants that. But if you can't leave her overnight (which it does sound like you can't) then it's maddness to expect a long term solution involves you stay away from your family at least one night a week.

I would say you ca'nt do it, it might force their hands to arrange something more suitable for your Gran. This won't work long term. So what if your Sister does more, you are an independent adult, you need to do what you can that fits with your responsibilities to your DCs and DH, not compete with your sister.

DontmindifIdo Fri 12-Oct-12 13:51:20

Yes, and washing in a bucket is not a long term plan for the poor woman! If your family does decide to go with the maddness of keeping he rin the house, a builder needs contacting this week about putting a downstairs wetroom in. If the house can't be adapted, she needs to move. It doesn't actually matter that she doesn't want to, if a house can't be made to fit her needs it's negletful to keep her there.

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