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To want to do SOMETHING to help my lovely mum?

(23 Posts)
BitofSparklingPerry Thu 20-Dec-12 00:37:20

She has a massively stressful job, where she is the focus of all the stress of a very high dependancy and often violent facility for very vulnerable people, with extreme staff shortages making the place unsafe. Unions have been involved, bosses have made promises which have not been kept and more and more staff are going off sick with stress. She is middle management, at exactly the point where she is still 'part of' the daily oife of the facility but is also responsible for a lot of it.

My Dad is in and out of work all the time - his trade is having a massive downturn anyway, but he is also nearly 60 with bad joints and bad lungs so isn't cut out for physical work any more.

My nana lves with them, she doesn't actually need physical care and gets out and about but is very emotionally needy. She is getting more and more forgetful/confused/deaf/self absorbed (nobody can work out what proportions, but it is a bit of everything) and worries about everything so needs someone to sit and listen to her and keep her company. My dad never goes into her rooms (she has her own living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom) and she doesn't talk to him much - my mum has been known to take a phone call from nana and have to phne dad to turn the heating down, while my mum is at work.

My dad does most of the cooking, but is messy and takes pride in not knowing how much the mortgage or anything even is. My mum has a brother who can chuck money at prolems, but my mum won't ask for help, and he really doesn't understand the issues in caring for his mum. His wife is more neurotic than nana and has her own family problems.

One of my sisters has a career and life 400 or so miles away. The other is a 19 year old student who also lives miles away. I live 200 miles away but I oly do casual work, study with the ou and my kids are home educated, so I am much more able to help. I can't drive for medical reasons, and it is 3.5 hours on the train (and money that I struggle to get) to get to mums house, but I can do it.

The house is now far too big for just the three people who now live there, (it was bought by mum, dad, uncle, auntie and grandparents as a care solution for both grandparents when grandad was alive and younger sister was at home still with middle sister at uni and back for holidays) so there is room for me and the kids to stay. Dh doesn't come very often because he works in a call centre, so daft hours that don't leave enough time for the trip. He also isn't as close to my family as I am (obviously) so feels more like a visitor as opposed to me who keeps clothes etc here as a second home.

My mum is taking anti depressants, her blood pressure is dangerously high and the gp has signed her off work but she went back early. She told me tonight she is now scratching her arms, pouring disinfectant (that she is allergic to) into wounds where patients attack her and plotting throwing herself down stairs just to get a break.

Short of going in and slapping her bosses, is there anything I can do to help? I am planning to come and stay as much as I can, despite 19yo sister making it quite clear that she thinks I am just here to scrounge (I spend more money on food for everyone here than I do at home, not to cover more people as my dad still does most shopping and cooking, but because they are so fussy)

My mum has been so amazingly helpful when I have been seriously mentally ill, I need to help her now :-(

Bogeyface Thu 20-Dec-12 00:47:56

For a start I would be having words with your sisters and your uncle. Your mum needs help and it should be just down to you. They dont have to be there all the time but just a phone call, an offer to spend the weekend to give her a break etc would help.

Your dad needs to be told that he is an adult and as such needs to take responsibilty. He can tidy up after his cooking, make sure he knows about the bills etc and helps her out. Does he look after her or make out that doing the cooking is a massive favour? Does he do any other house work? He needs to support her by doing the "at home" jobs which include the laundry, cleaning etc.

Then, would you be able to go and stay for a longer period and get your mum signed off work? She sounds like she wouldnt do it as people need her, but she needs to be signed off and maybe you could persuade her.

If she is self harming then that goes beyond normal stress and into MH issues. Thats aside from her BP which could be a threat to her life.

Ifyoulike Thu 20-Dec-12 00:47:58

I'm really sorry, it sounds very stressful indeed. sad

It sounds like both your mum and your nana could do with a trip to the GP, your nana to get assessed, as her personality/behaviour changes could indicate something developing that might be treated/managed better, and your mum because she obviously needs more help coping than just her antidepressants.

Can your mum possibly get herself signed off sick for a while to try and get herself in a better place (possibly medication reviewed/altered)?

Does she have an occupational health department at her workplace that could assess her and look at lightening her workload, or even getting her moved to a less stressful post/dept?

In terms of what you can do, I would suggest that mainly you could be as much of an active listening ear to your mum as possible, and as much as you can tolerate without becoming overburdened yourself (ie. let her offload to you on the phone, email, whereever).

Sometimes just having a listening ear and someone to moan/rant to can make all the difference, or at least lighten the load.

Bogeyface Thu 20-Dec-12 00:48:13

it shouldnt just be down to you

MammaTJ Thu 20-Dec-12 00:48:23

Wow, your poor mum has a lot on her plate.

I don't have much advice apart from get SS in to assess Nana maybe? Your mum might not like that though.

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 20-Dec-12 00:57:04

It is made a bit more complex by the fact that my mums job is dealing with the most severe cases of dementia in the wider area (trying not to out her, but I think that is relevant) so she knows a lot about mental health. She just won't apply that knowledge to herself or her mother. She was amazing when I was in mental hospital, and when I was ill having my babies. She is just one of these people that will just run themselves into the ground.

Occupational health made an appointment to see her. The appointment was booked in november, and is for January. Sigh.

Bogeyface Thu 20-Dec-12 01:00:12

The reason I suggested you stay for an extended period is because if your mum is anything like mine, she wont do anything unless you are there with her, talking her through it. She will "make the best of it". But her telling you about her self harming is an obvious scream for help.

My father was diagnosed with steroid induced psychosis yesterday because I had to sit her down and show her the information I found thanks to lovely MNers. Before that she was just accepting his benders, his mania and his abusive behaviour (all completely out of character for him, she had never been scared of him in 42 years until he took those tablets). As it was, I persuaded her to get him to the doctors and I went with them.

Thinking of you, I think our situations are similar, although mine is nowhere near as bad as yours x

Ifyoulike Thu 20-Dec-12 01:03:45

Occupational health needs to know its an urgent situation, and that she needs an appointment asap, it sounds like they're possibly thinking of it as just something routine.

She might not be applying it to herself or her mother because you do tend to compartmentalise (especially when your work is stressful), and so the part of her brain that thinks and deals with MH issues might literally be switched off at home.

If occupational health really can't see her sooner (and to be honest, even if they can), I would do everything I could to get her to the GP, properly assessed, signed off sick, and a medication review.

Nana should really be assessed too. There are lots of explanations for her changing behaviour (not all involving dementia), and she should be checked out.

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 20-Dec-12 01:06:01

I'm thinking of framing it to my mum that the bosses aren't paying attention to her ward, but if she is off sick they will have to come and do her job and see how bad it is, and that will be good for her staff and patients. Kind of hoping that way she doesn't see it as selfish (not that it is)

Bogeyface Thu 20-Dec-12 01:07:40

She sounds a lot like my mum!

Sometimes she tells me things that are actually her saying "is this ok? Should I just be coping?" and works out from my reaction whether its ok or not. Or she tells me about her reaction to show me that she isnt coping, she isnt good at asking for help.

Sometimes you need to take control so that they feel that they have no choice but to be looked after, even though thats what they want just cant ask for.

Ifyoulike Thu 20-Dec-12 01:10:01

If it were me (and I don't know if this would work for you and your family, so just a suggestion), I would say to her " I am worried about you and I want you to get checked out by the GP, and take some time off work."

This can kind of get people off the hook who are worried about being selfish, because its not 'them' doing it for themselves, they're doing it for someone they love asking them to.

But as I said, that comes purely from experience with my own family dynamics, and you'll know best how likely that is to be of any help. smile

Ifyoulike Thu 20-Dec-12 01:11:29

And if she kept denying it or fobbing it off with 'Oh no, I'm ok," or "I'll cope," I'd just keep saying the same thing:

"I want you to do this. Do this for me please. I care about you and I don't like seeing you like this." etc etc

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 20-Dec-12 01:13:30

I know my uncle would put in any money needed to help, but I can't think of anything that would help, as nobody will accept carers for nana (what would they even do, apart from listen to the life stories if everyone she knows for the millionth time?). He isn't Richard Branson, but he is one of the people who is happy to help by buying things but awkward with actual practical support.

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 20-Dec-12 01:14:31

Ifyoulike - I'm just worried that would stop her confiding in me at all :-(

Ifyoulike Thu 20-Dec-12 01:18:56

You definitely know best BitofSparklingPerry, so don't say what I suggest if you think it would be harmful.

Maybe just asking her directly to do it for you, and that you want her to... without adding that you're worried etc?

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 20-Dec-12 01:21:49

I was very very seriously mentally ill a couple of years ago, I know she worries if I so much as start a new hobby.

I'm actually starting to think of moving back over here, although that doesn't help in the short term. DHs parents need us ver there quite a lot, but for totally different reasons, and this from my mum just over rides everything imo.

Ifyoulike Thu 20-Dec-12 01:31:26

Can you get your dad on board with getting your mum and nana to the GP? Could your dad go with her?

If she can at least get to the GP and the GP hears the full picture, they will probably help persuade her to take some time off too.

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 20-Dec-12 01:33:58

Apparently the GP, when he gave her the anti depressants, told her to stay off work for a while. She doesn't really think much of doctors though - she tends to tell them what to prescribe, especially the young ones who turn up on her ward. She deals with all the local GPs too, when discharging people to the community, so I think it feels weird for her.

Bogeyface Thu 20-Dec-12 01:41:47

Is there really no way you can go and stay for a few weeks? She really does sound like she is shouting out to you for help.

izzyizin Thu 20-Dec-12 01:53:12

It will be difficult for your dm to act on her GP's advice, Perry, and it seems she's also conflicted by not wishing to 'let the side down' at work.

If she's having a few days off over Christmas perhaps she'll relax a bit and there'll be opportunity for you to raise some of your fears and concerns about your dgm's health, but I would advise you to tread lightly where your dm's state of mind is concerned as she sounds perilously close to the edge.

Off topic but I''m immensely relieved to read that your pa has got a diagnosis so quickly Bogey. Well done you!

Bogeyface Thu 20-Dec-12 02:22:55

I am still slightly surprised that mum was so accepting izzy but then I do wonder if she was hoping that someone would tell her "this is wrong, we need to sort this", in the same way that I think that the OPs mum is asking for help. They got him an appointment the same day and the GP was right on it, even though he said that the last case he had seen was 15 years ago!

It is now on his notes and although Dad was quite down after hearing it, he is ok now and is talking about getting a medic alert bracelet, just in case smile

I really had no idea how serious it was until I posted, and it just goes to show that although some people slag off online communities or "virtual" friends, they really can make a huge difference.

Bogeyface Thu 20-Dec-12 02:24:53

Sorry izzy, I forgot to say thank you smile

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 20-Dec-12 08:37:56

She has to work chrismas night and possibly christmas eve as there are no staff, even bank or agency, available. It is chaos.

I'm here till the 9th, then back again at the end of January. I could miss the uni tutorial on the 9th but I need to work on the 25th. I really dont like the kids missng their clubs, being HE means it is extra important to get o regular social things, but obviously if need be I'll do it.

Another option is nananapping, taking nana back acoss and putting her in my spare room for a week or so. Doesnt help mums work situation, but gives her a nana break. My nana loves viaiting, but she does get anxious and tired away from home.

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