To wonder how the heck I'm going to manage!(24 Posts)
This may be long but I'll try to keep it as short as possible!
My Nan is in her eighties and has advanced cancer. Her overall health is very poor now - she really struggles to walk around her flat (which is small). It takes her nearly 10 minutes to walk from bedroom to kitchen and it really isn't far. She finds dressing difficult although she is mainly in bed now. She is very unsteady on her feet and has severe pain. She uses a stick to help her walk inside but outside the flat, she needs a wheelchair as she literally can't manage to walk a few meters.
If she walks to her kitchen, she struggles to carry anything such as drinks back to her bedroom because she is unsteady and has poor grip due to lymphedema (sp?). She would struggle to cook things but tbh eats very little now anyway.
She has a partner who she has been with for sometime, although he keeps his own flat he stays most nights and helps to care for her. He has had a fall though and is now in hospital awaiting an operation to pin and plate his ankle and will then be in plaster for 6-8 weeks so obviously won't be able to do anything. He is planning to stay at my Nan's when discharged due to her having no stairs.
So, the issue now is caring for my Nan (and her partner as well once he is discharged).
I do (and have always) as much as I can to help them with shopping, picking up prescriptions, taking them to appointments during my holidays (I'm a full time teacher so holidays is the only time I can do appointments). I helped them to organise a wheelchair for Nan and over the last few days I have picked up her pension/paid bills and collected the morphine prescription she needs. I have visited her and made drinks/snacks and left things where she can get them. I also took her partner some things he needed to hospital. She mentioned today that some cleaning would need doing and I said I could help but not until weekend which she was happy with.
I have an Aunt who also helps as much as she can but she has MS and can't drive, so is limited through no fault of her own.
My parents and sister have fallen out with Nan and her partner due to her partner drinking very heavily at times which is not helpful for either of them (he was drunk when he fell this time). As a result they aren't doing any helping. They have always said they'd help Nan but not her partner. However, even now he isn't there, no help is forthcoming despite my hinting.
There is no-one else to help. Nan's partner has no family.
Various people (family and professionals) have suggested carers/cleaners/shopping delivery but both Nan and her partner absolutely refuse outside help, insisting they manage between them and family.
The problem is I don't know how I'm going to cope with limited help from my Aunt and no help from anyone else to support my Nan (and eventually her partner) fully for the next two months and possibly beyond.
I love my Nan dearly and will do as much as I can but with a full time teaching job and a toddler and home of my own, I am very stretched
I don't think carers can be 'forced' on them if they refuse. Any suggestions made by occupational therapy (or anyone else) are refused. My own little boy was ill last week (had to go to hospital although thankfully didn't stay over) so obviously I was looking after him too.
I know people deal with a lot more and I don't mean to moan but I honestly would welcome any suggestions as to how to cope with this.
If she walks to her kitchen, she struggles to carry anything such as drinks back to her bedroom because she is unsteady and has poor grip due to lymphedema
Sorry that this is an answer to such a tiny bit of your post, but it jumped out at me. My grandmother also had this problem and my parents bought her a wheeled walking frame with a shelf/tray on it to be a great help.
For the main issue - if they are refusing professional help this puts you in an impossible position. So hard for you. And some might say a little selfish of them to expect so much from family. You need to clearly outline to them how much you can do, and make it clear that the slack is going to have to be taken up by outside agencies. Don't feel guilty.
I am sorry you are going through this and you sound like you are being a really lovely granddaughter to look after your Nan so much.
A couple of thoughts I have from your OP:
Maybe now is the time to call your family on their statements that they would 'do anything' for nan, rather than just hinting.
Also, it sounds like your Nan is fine in her mind even though her body is weak. Can you discuss the above with her openly. And explain that you want to help but there just aren't enough hours in the day to care for her as she deserves. Think about what you can give without hurting your son or burning out. Your son depends on you too so you shouldn't run yourself into the ground, although it is admirable that you care so much. Perhaps you could 'sell' getting carers in as a temporary measure until Nan's DP is better? She may agree to this and them discover it is not too bad after all. You could ask your Aunt to be present for the conversation and see if you can be a united front as well.
Good luck, it sounds difficult. But also remember you can be a good granddaughter and fab emotional support without taking on ALL the practical support too.
Eponas Thank you for the info regarding the wheeled frame - I hadn't heard one ones with trays - will look into it!
I really feel for you on this one - I've been through this with an elderly aunt. I'm sorry I don't have any real advice other than things usually come to a head due to a crisis and the professionals then take over.
Just be honest with social workers/GP's etc that you aren't around 24/7 and don't volunteer for caring that realistically you can't do.
You can book private help, rather than agency help, ring round and take one to see your nan and explain she here to clean/talk/shop as required, a kind of mothers help for granny, you may know someone who needs a bit of extra pocket money. I think if she knows you know then, shes more likely to accept it. Worth a try.
It's sad, but I'm afraid that it will have to be tough love. Because there ARE other options available, but your nan is refusing to accept any other option bar the one that will leave you a nervous, quivering wreck. You can't do this!
I think you need to chat to the professionals and have the other care on standby. If your nan has an 'emergency' then they can step in.
On sale at the mo. £35 inc delivery by the looks of it.
Good luck! Your poor nan, poor partner and poor you.
You can only do the best you can.
I hope you work things out.
Do you have a Macmillan nurse? They are really good!
You need to contact older people's social work. She might accept paid carers if her social worker tells her it is necessary.
That sounds completely unmanageable to me. Work out what you can do, And want to do. Tell your nan and ask her how she will manage the other tasks. Other people are being unreasonable, not you.
My Grandpa refused help for a while but he did allow an assessment and things such as a wheeled tray etc were provided.
Her GP is the person to contact for registering her needs and putting her/you contact with the services you are ENTITLED to.
Don't think of it as a last resort, there IS a system and it starts with the GP.
She needs carers and a social work assessment. You need to sit down and tell her that you can only manage x, y and z and that she needs more help than that. And then call the Adult Social Care contact centre and ask for their help. They've dealt with thousands of old people who don't want professional carers.
I would also say tell her that accepting carers at home will mean she can stay at home safely and comfortably
You need to ask your mum and sister to help outright. And you need to tell your nan that you can't do it all. You can only do X and Y so she will have to accept outside help. Don't just suffer in silence as no one will take the work off you unless you insist.
show her a picture of the kitchen trolley and then tell her she could get one for free if she would let an OT assess at home and make suggestions re equipment.When her partner is sent home he may need support.There should be a short term team (intermediate Care) or a hospital re-enablement team who could visit for a few weeks whilst he gets back to normal.This might get them used to the idea of help. Would they agree to going out during the day to Age Uk where they woulod get a hot meal and some entertainment.Some also have chiropody/hairdressing/shopping services etc.
I think you just need to be tough love also with her and tell her although you can come around and see her, pick things up, help with food, there's no way you can also clean ontop and provide meals every day etc as you haven't the energy after work.
Would she agree to someone private coming in maybe every other day and bringing groceries, making some meals and cleaning? That way you don't have the bulk of stuff when you arrive.
Can you get one of those instant hotel water machines so she doesn't have to lift kettle?
Maybe a stool in kitchen she can sit on when preparing things or waiting for tea.
Buy pre prepared food more like pre sliced bread, ham, cheese. Means you know she can at least make a sandwich without cutting herself and quicker. You can also buy pre made fresh soups or pre cooked chicken breasts. So it's all eat cold or simply heat and eat
Then if you take around some pre made dishes like cottage pie that can be frozen and just straight in oven that's a few meals sorted
We went through this with my grandparents. They reluctantly accepted help when they realised it would allow them to stay in their own home for longer. Based on your OP it sounds like your nan would potentially be placed in assisted living otherwise. Start with adult social care and make an appointment for an assessment of their needs and make sure you find out what they are entitled to. I would perhaps present it as a done deal but in baby steps, tell your man you are worried you aren't giving her everything she needs especially with working and having your DC to look after too, and social care are coming to do an assessment to make sure she isn't missing out on something. Once the ball is rolling it will be harder for her to resist it.
This is a discussion you need to have with your nan.
If no one else in the family is ready to step up, then she will have to accept outside help.
I would start looking around at what is available and then sit down with her and explain. Even if it's just a short term thing, she needs some help when you aren't there.
I would also look at care for her when her condition will detriorate. Again, she will need a system around her to support her because it migt well be that her partner can't do it (It takes a lot longer to recover from a fracture ankle at that age) and it will be much nicer for her if she gets used to them now than she is really unwell.
I feel sad for her though that her own children don't want to help her even thugh the 'problem' ie her partner isn't there at the moment and she clearly needs more help now than she had before.
Pre DCs I was a home support worker for Age UK. I'd visit a client once or twice a week for an hour or two and do pretty much anything that was required - cleaning, shopping etc. I was working very much for the client, and the support needed was usually arranged between them, any immediate family and Age UK. I know several of the clients I worked for were happy to have help that they felt they had some control over, rather than having it foisted on them, if that makes sense. So 99% of the time it worked well. Maybe this is something your Nan might be happy with?
My heart goes out to you.
I have seen this happen so many times. The root problem is the refusal of outside help. It's not meant to be selfish, but it often is extremely so in its effects. My GFIL was terrible for it, and put his own 'beloved children' under an awful lot of stress by refusing to have carers and cleaners help out.
I think one thing I wanted to say is that it is unreasonable and unfair to expect you to be a full-time carer - because you already have a full-time job in the shape of being a mum. I understand how difficult it is to say no, but I think you have to try to state assertively to your nan that she needs to consider extra help. I understand how difficult this is for you, and what a position it puts you in. But her condition is only going to worsen, and you can't possibly deal with it alone and care for your own family.
Set reasonable limits to what you can do, and speak to social services about other help!!
Thank you to everyone for the support and advice!
Trolley with tray ordered and is being delivered tomorrow!
Thanks for the info on AgeUK airforsharon I'll look into it.
I think, as you have all said, I need to be firm and tell her that I simply can't do everything as I need to keep my job and care for my own son and home. I will start with her GP and go from there. I'm also going to let her partner's nurse in hospital know so that they can organise things for his discharge.
Thank you everyone!
Ok, bit of tough love from me.
Your nan and her alcoholic partner are placing unrealistic expectations upon you and your family.
Your nan is an adult. She is capable of getting the help she, and her partner needs, without overburdening you and your family. But she chooses to put it all on you instead. This is not loving behaviour.
People who expect others to pick up the pieces for them will often use emotional blackmail/expectations to control those around them, even when they have other means of sorting out the problems for themselves (carers etc). They will often make themselves look like the victim to others, and implicitly put you into the role of either being their rescuer, or the person who persecutes them (by not rescuing them). This is called the Drama Triangle. And it's an emotionally manipulative game.
It sounds like they have trained you to be codependent. That you feel that you have to be the one who fixes things for them. But you actually don't. And the best way to get someone to take responsibility for themself, is to let them work through the problems for themselves.
Your parents have broken away from the dysfunction...which is a good thing. Please don't blame or resent them for that. They took the emotionally healthy choice. You can take that choice too. You don't have to be the one to fix this. Your nan and her partner have other options that they are choosing not to take....preferring to take advantage of you instead, at the expense of your well-being.
I'm a social worker for older people such as your gran. Feel free to PM me if you want advice on how to get help/ what help you can expect and charges for that care. There is help out there!
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