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Elderly Nan in law, sick Father, Christmas, argh :(

(12 Posts)
SometimesSlummy Thu 11-Dec-14 15:24:02

After some advice really - it's a long one, sorry.

DH is an only child and his parents have both passed away, he is the only grandson to his Nan who is 91 and lives an hour and a half from us. She is still in her own home and fiercely independent, she has a friend come round and do the cleaning and until recently has been managing. However she has had a few small falls and it has frightened here. She has lost weight, and I don't think she is eating - the same friend buys her food, but called today to say she is worried that Nan isn't eating, fridge is full of rotting food she won't let her touch, and she isn't showering (she has an adapted shower but is scared to fall). DH & I call regularly and went round a fortnight ago and cooked lunch for her and I did think she was looking thin but she won't hear of home help or meals or anything. Gets really angry.
The worrying thing though is that she is also getting confused about reality and saying some awful things, accusing people of wanting to put her in a home, or saying they have been calling us and telling us lies and now we never speak to her. I have called the local council and they were very nice but say they cannot do anything unless she initiates it. DH had a session going through all her finances with her the other month and tried to get her to agree POA in case we need it in the future but she hasn't signed the forms sad

On top of all this my dad has just had a cancer op and is not well and loves the other end of the country. My parents are desperate for us to go to them for Xmas with our toddler and DH's Nan (what we have done before) and my brother as my Dad can't travel and my DB may be emigrating. Lots of "this could be our last Xmas together). But DH's Nan is not really well enough and is really stressed about the journey and how she will manage at my parents - it's a largish house with no adaptations and my parents don't smoke so she has to go outside plus the travel etc is too much. My folks are being all "we understand but of course we will be so upset not to see you and DD" but I don't feel we can leave Nan on her own.

Not to mention DD is having a sleep regression & I've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and work full time. Spent last weekend at my parents on my own as they needed pre Christmas help but didn't want the stress of my DD and DH there, looks like this weekend will be another round of going the opposite away to upset Nan by trying to get her to accept some help sad

Any advice on how to persuade her?

CMOTDibbler Thu 11-Dec-14 15:49:24

Oof, it sounds like you have a huge amount on your plate atm, without pressure from anyone else tbh.

I got my parents to accept help (well, buy it in) by being very firm. As in, if social services come round with the house like this they will think you can't cope at home. And even then, dad very grudgingly accepted that they needed a cleaner once a week, carer twice, and they eat out 4 days a week (and have a freezer of ready meals)

But I think it sounds like your nan in law has dementia - the anger, paranoia etc, and so reason may not work. The best step would be for dh to ring her GP and say he knows GP can't discuss her with him, but she's not self caring, shes paranoid, confused, has fallen, and you are concerned about her wellbeing as she won't accept more help. Hopefully they will then assess her mental state, and then involve ss for an assessment of her needs.

TBH, for christmas, I'd wake up at home, have lunch there, then go and see nan in the afternoon if you can drive in dds nap. Then go and see your parents New years day or something. You have to look after yourself first as caring at a distance takes a massive toll on you, and people will always want you there

fanjobiscuits Thu 11-Dec-14 15:57:56

Yes I would try to do a Christmas Day on a different day visit to parents - turkey, presents etc but doesn't need to be 25th December.

SometimesSlummy Thu 11-Dec-14 16:15:43

Thank you. CMOT I also think she has dementia - she is 91 and has always been very sharp,so this seems out of character. She told DH I was a crap mum and didn't do anything for my DD, she can be quite vicious! 3 of my 4 grandparents went the same way and my DGP also refused help, he ended up,in hospital with pneumonia,,discharged himself and fell down the stairs that night with my aunt staying with him last year so I am so worried about similar happening. DH has never seen dementia really and tends to,out it down to age but the fact she isn't looking after herself worries me.
I've suggested he goes on an unannounced visit too as I think she puts on a good face for us if you know what I mean? I will also ring her GP - he came out to her after her last fall so I hope it won't be out the blue for him.

My parents are military and no way in hell would they have Xmas on another day, everything has to be just so and they won't go anywhere else either. To be fair my Dad couldn't at the moment. dM is already panicking that if we don't go there her meat order will be too much! It saddens me but I think we may end up with DH at his Nan's and me and DD at my parents this year. It's crap.

CMOTDibbler Thu 11-Dec-14 16:28:38

Oh, you def get the best face on - my mum used to manage to pull it together for friends who would then question how bad she was.

Though I appreciate your mum and dad have been through the mill recently, they don't get to have everything their own way just because they like things 'just so'. Your responsibility is to you, dh and dd first, and the most important thing is that you three are together on christmas day. You mum can freeze some meat after all.

SometimesSlummy Thu 11-Dec-14 16:44:14

I'm finding it really hard CMOT. My parents are very demanding for people in their 60s, they have very set ideas about how families should be and what they should do, and had difficult relationships with their own parents for various reasons. When me & DH had problems a few years ago and nearly divorced (all fine now), My DF shouted at me that "he couldn't believe I'd amanged to bugger things up so spectacularly" and they treated it as if it was some great shame.

My grand parents were ill for some time but both passed away last year, it was awful and I was dealing with PND and got not support from my DM as she was grieving, then 3 months ago my DF got the cancer diagnosis ... It's not a surprise that they want us all there for a "normal family Christmas" but it just doesn't seem possible!

Writing it all down now I am actually in tears as I just feel very stressed and helpless but whenever I say no to someone they end up telling me how upset and disappointed they are. Except DH who is brilliant but runs his own business and is a bit blindsided with all of this.

SometimesSlummy Thu 11-Dec-14 16:44:39

Urgh, hate typing on the iPad, sorry for typos!

CMOTDibbler Thu 11-Dec-14 20:41:56

Well, you could go with the view that your parents may find fault with whatever you do, and just think about what you and dh want to do. Have a cuppa and a sit down tonight and have an honest conversation about it.
Then take it from there - if you don't usually go against your parents wishes it'll be hard, but theres ways to cope. For instance when DHs parents were vile to us we played bingo in our heads (now I'd do it via our phones) to mark off all the things we knew they'd say. Strangely therapeutic. Or just mentally writing a MN thread.
But taking control is def a first step to feeling better about things.

Needmoresleep Fri 12-Dec-14 08:25:14

I agree with CMOT. The aggression particularly sounds like dementia.

I would:

1. Tell your parents that this Christmas priority has to be given to your husband's side of the family. You have spent every Christmas so far with them. If there are concerns about the meat order say you are more than happy to eat it cold, etc. I personally think it is really important that you support your husband at this point. Not least because he may then adopt a partnership approach when you need help with your parents. But also because it is really difficult and it is great having someone supporting you.

2. Speak to the friend and talk about the way forward. Not least let the friend know how much she is appreciated. Especially if she too is the brunt of bursts of aggression.

Consider:
1. A request to the GP that he calls her in for a "routine health check" and gives her a memory test. If you can, go with her. If she has dementia the next step will be a referral to the memory clinic, and a longer test. It is really valuable to be there for that as it is a chance to quiz health professionals. If someone is there it is a chance for the GP to ask if she is happy having her details shared, which is very valuable.

2. Really push on the POA. Your husband should make that an aim this Christmas. Get the friend there to encourage her. (Work on the setting. Nice visit perhaps bring a Christmas present or take her out somewhere nice for coffee, so she is relaxed and not stressed or tired. Then talk her through rationally and calmly, explaining the advantages in a way she will understand.) I cant remember who needs to witness. If it is the friend all well and good. Do early, not least because a very early sign of dementia is the inability to manage personal finance.

3. Think about a request to Social Services for a home assessment. They can do a physical one to look at the problem with falls etc. But also a more general one, especially if the memory test results are poor. It is very useful to have a SS tag on her file is she ends up in hospital as this may help ensure she is not discharged too early.

4. Start applying for Attendance Allowance and Council tax exemption. The second follows the first, and ask someone like Age UK to help with the first. There is a skill to it. This gives a bit more money to pay for carers, or pay the friend.

Also, but difficult. Think about where you want to go from here. She clearly wants to stay at home. You can do all you can to prop her up, including upping the care arrangements, but accept that one day she might fall badly. You then look back and know you did your best in line with her wishes. Or do you accept that she is not safe and needs to move. If there is enough money you could try a short stay in an upmarket care home and bill it as a holiday. It can be a good way of building someone up as people can eat more with regular meals. My mother found she enjoyed the company and activities. Managing on her own had been really stressful and her flat had become a bit of a prison.

SometimesSlummy Fri 12-Dec-14 20:36:28

Thanks NMS or CMOT.
I had found out about Attendance Allowance but not the council tax exemption, I will look into them both.
I had a long chat with DH last night and he also spoke to his Dad's cousins who still see a lot of his Nan, they share our concerns.,I also spoke to the Adult Social Care Team who were very helpful in terms of what they could provide but they did say with no POA in place she would need to initiate assessment, however at least we know what will be an option.
We tried to get hold of her GP but he's in holiday. DH is going over to,or row unannounced as well so hopefully we will get a more accurate picture of how things are and he'll be able to have a more honest conversation.

We spoke to her about her wishes last year and she really does not want to leave her house - she's said "I'm only leaving here in a box"" and I think moving her would be the last straw for her. We need to get her to understand that if she can't look after herself and won't have help ultimately she probably won't be able to stay. She has lived in the house since the war so really doesn't want to leave and is very scathing about friends who have gone into sheltered housing.

Re: my parents I have sorted it -if DH's Nan can't travel we will see her Xmas day and my folks on Boxing Day. If it's ok,we will go,there as planned and I have just told them we cannot be any more certain than that and that I'm not prepared to have DH apart from me and DD on the day itself. He needs us!

PingPongBat Fri 12-Dec-14 22:03:13

Sometimes – if she can get Attendance Allowance then this may also (depending on her savings / other pensions / housing status) passport her to increased Pension Credit, Housing Benefit if she rents, as well as possible Council Tax Reduction (the latter two depend on the what her local authority scheme is). The entitledto website looks really useful for getting all benefit info in one place and it directs you to local authority schemes.

So glad the Christmas arrangements seem to be settled, that must be a relief.

fridayfreedom Fri 12-Dec-14 22:13:26

Get the GP to check her out physically first . Falls and confusion can be an indication of something like a urine infection or other illness.

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