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Elderly parents - what to do? Advice please.

(10 Posts)
TopBirder14 Mon 20-Jan-14 22:36:22

I'm new to this so I would be grateful for any advice. Here's my story.

I'm a middle-aged only child with parents in their 80s living 70 miles away (approx 2.5 to 3 hour round trip). Dad is confined to a wheelchair after a stroke several years ago and has ongoing health problems - chest/urine infections, up-and-down blood pressure and depression. Mum looks after him at home with carers going in three times a day. They live in a village with help from lots of friends and my dad's family nearby. I visit for a full day once a week.

My mum doesn't really cope well emotionally and as soon as there is any sort of problem with my dad, rings me straight away wanting reassurance - often almost as soon as I have got back home. Latest problem today was a home visit from GP after a reoccurrence of a chest infection but often it's something comparatively minor. Nothing I can do except worry about them - I can't visit until Friday because of work.

I feel so isolated. I live on my own and don't have a partner or children or anyone I can talk things through with. I am thinking "Should I consider trying to find a job near them and perhaps renting a place? Then I could visit more often. Or am I making a rod for my own back?" Thanks.

MillyMollyMama Tue 21-Jan-14 00:12:37

Do you have a life outside work? Would you be leaving friends behind? Do you like where you live and are you happy there? Are you happy with your job and how easy would it be to get another job you like?. I truly feel for you because everyone likes to do the best for their parents, but you also need a life of your own too. You need to work, wherever you live , so I assume you would pop in to see your parents after work but still not be available during the day. You would not actually be available for much more time would you? You would probably find that helpful friends visit less too so how much time will you be able to devote to your parents in their place?

Your Mum probably does not have a great time though. Can your Dad be looked after by someone else to give your Mum a break? Perhaps the two of you could spend some time together to talk things through. Take a short holiday with her? Unfortunately the "rod" will come eventually because you are on your own with decisions to be made. Are you ready to commit so much more time to your parents? This appears to be what your Mum wants because she obviously needs to speak to you quite often. We have found that elderly relatives have little idea of what holding down a full-on job actually means! I would draw up a list of the pros of moving and the cons of moving. Having phone calls from your Mum will be less of a bother than having to drop by whenever there is a problem. Remember though that you have a life too.

fluffygal Tue 21-Jan-14 00:29:59

If they are having care, speak to their care manager. See if there is any respite that your mum can have- we have Crossroads here that offer a few hours respite each week there is a waiting list.

Sounds like your mum has a lot of support around, do you think moving closer will make a difference to your mums anxiety? Will you stop worrying if you can visit more? its a big decision that only you can decide is right for you.

twentyten Tue 21-Jan-14 14:14:54

Think really hard about this. Read some of the threads about elderly parents- what do you want for your life? Choose.

miggygreene Wed 26-Mar-14 03:10:21

As I read this I can feel that you have this kind of worry and stress. Yes you can move and live near them if you want to stop worrying and so that you can watch over them daily specially after work. But the thing is you have to find a job there. It is more healthy to settle without worrying anything so I do suggest you watch over them and lastly you should go out with your friends and have some fun even once a week or twice a month to recover from stress.

royguts Mon 31-Mar-14 06:45:40

There's a very helpful site, myageingparent.com, with lots of useful information, which might help you

TopBirder14 Wed 02-Apr-14 20:58:25

I really appreciate your replies. It's been a difficult couple of months since my original post. I did explore the possibility of moving back to the area and even applied for a couple of jobs near them - but nothing came of it. My mum then told me that she didn't want me to work full-time, even if I was nearby, as they wouldn't see any more of me than they do now. Part-time is not an option as it wouldn't cover the cost of accommodation and there is no way I could live with them. So that idea has been shelved for the moment.

My dad has become increasingly depressed/angry/frustrated and is just awful to both mum and me most of the time. She insists that this is due to the antibiotics that he takes for his chest and urine infections but the GP has reassured her that it isn't. She however refuses to allow dad to take a stronger dose with the inevitable result that the infections keep reoccurring. On my last but one visit, I said that I would come and stay for a few days when dad next needed antibiotics, so he could take the stronger ones and I would help her cope with a possible worsening of his behaviour. On my last visit a few days ago, I found out from the carers while mum was out, that dad had again been prescribed antibiotics a couple of days previously and she had refused the higher dosage. Not only that, but she had been abusive to the carers when they suggested that he needed to take the stronger tablets.

Dad was unreasonable and manipulative all weekend on my last visit, despite the weather being good enough for a couple of trips out around the village and time spent in the garden. He complained of being in pain but then spat out medication when he was given it. Five minutes later, the pain appeared to have gone of its own accord. He demanded constant attention and berated us if we didn't respond immediately. He knew exactly what he was doing and obviously felt well enough to devote considerable energy to developing strategies to make our lives hell. I have been so worried about him over the last few months and have sympathised with him when he was feeling poorly and unable to get out of the house in the bad weather. But I have now lost a lot of respect for him.

Mum flatly refuses to consider respite. She has sitters coming in three days a week in addition to my visit, so she does have the opportunity to get out. Just the day before the latest GP's visit (and subsequent rant at the carers), she had had a lovely afternoon out with my aunt and appeared relaxed and happy when I rang her. But the very next day, she was back to her unreasonable and controlling self.

I am at my wits' end with both of them.

ProfessorDent Thu 03-Apr-14 16:49:37

My sympathies, as for respite, can only say that this was an option back in the day when spending £800 a week for the service would have been a ludicrous joke to my Dad, since then he's blown, oh I can't even type it, a small fortune on nursing home care for my Mum because he didn't really consider it, added to which after a hospital spell they gave us to believe Mum was on the way out so we thought, no expense spared. That was two years ago.

Respite is easy street, believe me, and your Dad might even be a bit more pliable after a week there, of course it can go the other way, you never know.

ProfessorDent Thu 03-Apr-14 16:49:59

Guess, I should add, so I don't know why your Mum flatly refuses it.

Floralnomad Thu 03-Apr-14 16:58:18

Why does your mum think its the antibiotics that affect his mood ,because it's very likely not and TBH its very unfair of your mum to choose what treatment your dad gets . Could you perhaps speak to the GP and get an idea about what he thinks the issues are ,and is there perhaps a touch of early dementia setting in with either one or both of them ? You have my sympathy its difficult enough with parents when you have a partner/ sibling to share the burden with ,must be a thankless task on your own .

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