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What can I do to help them?

(13 Posts)
notagiraffe Tue 03-May-16 12:04:50

New to this forum. Only just found it. (Thanks so much to the posters who replied on chat and directed me here.)

I visited my parents yesterday and found them in a pretty awful state - a rat in the conservatory, the kitchen sink was blocked and smelled foul, the chairs that they sit to eat on every day were literally falling apart with legs coming off in your hands if you moved them. They could have fallen and had a really bad break from one of them. Worst of all, my dad had been for a long hospital visit last week without telling anyone or getting anyone to come with him. Afterwards he felt dizzy, collapsed in the hospital toilets and cut his skull. He had four inches of stitches along his head. When it came for him to need someone to collect him, he insisted my mother did it. She has senile dementia and might not have made it to hospital (but did manage to) and also has an incredibly painful hip which they insist is muscle strain (for seven months?) so she can barely walk or leave the house.

My mum is now very withdrawn and spends most of her life in bed. My dad is and always has been an aggressive, combative man. He insists they need no help. he refuses to contemplate moving. I think my mum would love to move in with us, and I'd be happy to have her as she is very gentle and sweet. But I wouldn't expose DC to my father's non-stop rants and rages. Also, he wouldn't want to live with us. He loves their falling apart house.

I made him promise never to attend another hospital appointment without me, and he did agree. But I just wish I knew what to do for the best. they live in inner London and there's no help for the aged at all in their borough. The council website advice is: if you are elderly and live in this borough, we advise you to move. There's no sheltered housing or assisted living here and none planned.

I live 1.5 hours travel away, outside London, the nearest by a long way. It's manageable to get to them (though expensive and time consuming) but my dad refuses to move nearer us. What can I do?

Needmoresleep Tue 03-May-16 13:38:20

Hi, familiar names keep drifting over from education threads. Do join us on the longer thread. I would say, the more the merrier, but its not quite like that.

The short answer is probably not much. I had three years of watching and waiting knowing my mother was not coping on her own. If they won't agree to anything you may well find yourself waiting for a crisis.

That said I would:

1. Write something formal to Social Services with a copy to their GP, expressing your concerns and saying you do not consider them safe. (Lots of good words like "vulnerable" and "at risk". You should ask for your confidence to be kept. The advantages are:

a) their file would be tagged which means that any hospital discharge would be considered in the light of their home circumstance. This might prove important.

b) They would probably ask for a home visit. A home assessment will look at the physical circumstances and perhaps recommend adaptations. Grants might be available. This in theory should allow them to stay in their home for longer. Plus SS will have links with Council ratcatchers etc - seriously if the house is really bad and getting worse the council will probably have someone responsible for private housing who could force the issue.

c) The GP would not be allowed to speak to you without specific permission from your parents. But you can speak to him and alert him to problems. Was your father always this bad tempered. It is a frequent symptom of early dementia.

2. Try to get a POA set up, or at least third party access to the main account.

a) talk to your siblings about the best way forward. Warn your dad that if he becomes incapable and has not done one SS not family will make all the decisions. Not quite true but sorting thngs out via the Court of Protection could take a year or more, with no acess to his bank acounts or the capital in the house, at a time when things might need to move fast. Is there someone he respects like a vicar or an old friend who he might listen to.

b) the earlier you, or one of your siblings, take over the finance/bill paying (and this is something that can be done from afar) the better. It took two years for me to sort out the mess my mum made of my dads neatly organised admin. Also knowing how much money there is helps when you are considering options, for example buying into sheltered housing.

3. Get them used to care coming in.

a) look into attendence and carers allowances. Your mum should be eligible for the former and your dad the latter. This gives them non means tested "extra money". This can work when oldies are unwilling to spend "their own money".

b) If they are willing to have a cleaner this is a start. Once you have achieved this it ought to be easier to add more.

3. A bit of a personal one. Find somewhere that will give you a very discounted rate on out of season holiday accomodation or similar. Yes day trips can be done, but you get a lot more done in an overnight visit. (Though less easy in London, there is a need to look after yourself and do what you can to make any burden easier.)

4. You don't say whether they are in Social or private housing. If social, speak to the landlord. To be honest Housing Associations and Councils are desperate to move elderly out of London so are very likely to make inducements of various sorts. If private they will almost certainly have to fund their own care so you might as well start on that basis. This is good news in that you can then organise it (though with input from a SS assessment) yourself and don't have to wait for the Council.

I am sure others will have more ideas.

notagiraffe Tue 03-May-16 14:14:03

Thank you for that long and thoughtful reply, NeedMoreSleep. Loads of useful stuff in there.

We are trying for POA. But my sister who lives hundreds of miles away, has taken over the paperwork and it never quite seems to get completed for some reason. Will jog her on this.

Finally managed to get them to agree to a cleaner. I've met her. She seems nice, but the state the house was in on the most recent visit, I wonder how much she actually does. (Hard for her, to be fair, as they are both hoarders and refuse to part with broken things or things they no longer need.)

I might well contact their GP. Good idea. And look into carer's allowance etc. That might help. If only to have them in the system for when they become incapable of the basics. Which I think might be soon.

If I invited SS round to assess them, my father would blow his fuse. He's always been very angry and hates authority in all forms. Not ready to do this just yet.

Oh blimey. NeedMore thank you for your lovely PM too. It shouldn't feel better to know someone else is going through this and finds it tough, but it does!

CMOTDibbler Tue 03-May-16 14:22:23

Its incredibly hard to get them to accept care. My parents are rather like yours in that dad is very angry, mum has dementia. Fortunatly (in a terrible way) neither of mine are in good health, and I have managed to get them to accept care when one of them has been in hospital and it can then be sold as 'they won't let mum out without care'.

Does your mum have a diagnosis and go to a memory clinic? The clinic was very helpful in saying stuff I could then present as law

notagiraffe Tue 03-May-16 18:18:07

Yes, she does CMOT. That's a good idea. I might get in touch with the memory clinic.

whataboutbob Tue 03-May-16 18:39:01

Just to say I can't add much to NMS's v good and comprehensive advice, but I've been there with a dementing, hoarding Dad (mine was living with my mentally ill brother, they deteriorated badly at around he same time). The only silver lining of the dementia is Dad got to a point where he was past noticing/ caring that I was carrying out entire bin bags full of rubbish. The solution in terms of care for me was getting a local dementia team involved and then carers (as he had dementia we presented it as social visits) . Of course this sounds very difficult, given your Dad's personality. However I think there could be a safeguarding issue as far as your mum is concerned. Your Dad might be competent and able to make unwise decisions (refuse help/ cleaning etc) but your mum isn't, and his decisions mean she is living in an unsanitary/ potentially dangerous environment. A best interest meeting could conclude she would be better off out of there, and this fact might give you some leverage with your Dad. Good luck.

Needmoresleep Tue 03-May-16 19:19:38

I still think you should brief SS formally but confidentially. It sound awful, and it will probably play out by SS asking to come round and your dad refusing access, bu they should then be on the books and this could be useful. (I was given 48 hours of my mum's discharge on Christmas Eve despite the fact she had a broken hip and rib in part because she was not known to SS and so not flagged.) Bob is right. Stress that your mum is at risk.

Believe me, they won't do any more than they are required by law.

Then get your sister to get a move on. If your dad is OK with a POA, it might be better/quicker to use a solicitor. You don't say whther there is money or not, but I would suggest you are better off with siblings sharing the Health and Welfare POA but only one of you having the financial, with a second as alternate and perhaps with other checks and balances built in (an acountant doing the taxreturn and providing everyone with accounts?) . Again my experience was to come home with a large suitcase full of paper and to sort it out in front of the TV, and then wander into various bank branches armed with the POA and my passport, and then internet banking thereafter. Much easier than if I had had to get a second signature on everything. If there is money and you find yourself doing the lions share make sure there is provision within the POA to recharge expenses and even recharge for your time.

If your dad hates authority this is a very good reason for him to sign a POA. If family cannot take over when he loses cvapacity, perhaps even temporarily, SS will have to!

Attendance allowance is good. It can also open the door to Council tax reductions. Plus it is a formal acknowledgement of disability. The GP will probably need to sign so the more he knows of problems beforehand the better. The form is a bit of a monster as it essentially involves emphasising parents failures and shortcomings. I got away with my mum not reading it as she has demenita but your dad would probably have to sign. I got someone experiencd to read through muy mums and they changed a lot of it. The fact that she does not seem to need anyone at night does not mean that she would be safe somewhere where the doors were not locked at night and where there there was not a 24 hour warden. (She has been spotted wandering abround the corrridors at 3.00am as her time clock is faulty.) But tough if your dad is angry rather than rational.

Good luck. CMOT, Bob, I and others have been on a journey together for some time. Things are pretty stable for me now,. but I went through some rough times. Bob would probably say the same. I suspect it is tougher for CMOT. And like education having money/not havng money will make a difference. However constructive and realistic parents and supportive siblings are more important.

notagiraffe Tue 03-May-16 23:27:56

Thank you so much. There's loads of good advice here I hadn't even considered or didn't know about. I emailed both siblings this morning to describe how things were but neither has replied. Bit frustrating, as I know my DB has seen it as I sent it to his work place too.
Phoned DPs several times today. I've found some sturdy replacement chairs for their dining room, but DF insists on seeing them in person before we get them.
Getting my dad to a stage of agreeing to a POA for my mum was a two year process and it still hasn't been signed. He kept sending DSis the wring pieces of paper, so she had to fly in to sort it out.
Thing is, they own their house, bought very cheaply in London before the boom. So they are sitting on an absolute fortune which could be used for their care, or to buy them a bungalow they could get around in. But my DF refuses to leave London and my DM has always done exactly what he says because he's domineering.

whataboutbob Wed 04-May-16 09:36:30

It's not unusual for siblings to stick their head in the sand especially if they are somewhat removed geographically. Sorry if that sounds unkind.
I think the priority should be to push the POA forward. I would be inclined to send a clear, but polite email to your sister saying it needs to be sent off by (insert date). The POA form can look quite daunting so maybe she keeps putting it off. I managed to do it myself but it did take time, a good hour to read through then another couple of hours to carefully fill in, then you need a certificate provider to sign (someone who knows your Dad well) then you have to cajole your Dad into signing. It's vital he signs on the same day, or before everyone else, not after. If he signs afterwards it'll be sent back.If it's too much for your sister you could entrust it to a solicitor, it will cost a few £100.

rara67 Wed 04-May-16 17:04:08

Just to say thank you to all of you who have taken the time to post here. We have a situation with my mil, who needs help but refuses all the time. It's just so good to know that we are thinking along the right lines even though she won't let us put the plans into place. We have the added challenge of her heavy drinking, which may or may not be the reason she has so many falls. It's so sad, she was so lively and glamorous when I first met her (albeit 30 years ago). Really don't like my boys seeing her with bruised face and black eyes. DH is an only child and she lives 1.5 hours away and we both work. Thanks again, if she ever changes her mind I'll come straight back to this post and start working my way through all the good advice, until then we just have to roll with it.

whataboutbob Wed 04-May-16 19:47:41

You are welcome rara, glad you got some benefit from this thread even if indirectly. Do come back with any questions you may have if needed.

Needmoresleep Sun 08-May-16 20:19:34

Going back to giraffe (though rara welcome too) don't be surprised if siblings cannot rise to the challenge, and brothers are particularly bad. I foudn it helpful to decide that how much I did was my decision and that it would be fruitless to waste emotional energy comparing my efforts to those made by my sibling. If he felt a bi annual visit was enough, so be it. I could only make my own decisions.

We were lucky in that my mother has sufficient assets/income so I am able to ensure that my family are not financially disadvantaged as a result of me taking on the lions share. And in the end I do think a decision is individual. I want my children to see me doing the right thing. Not least because I saw my mum leave it all to her sister, and even as a teenager I thought that was wrong.

So press your sister to get moving with the POA or take over. It is so important to have it in place. If she is detatched you are better off doing it on your own. And then, do what you feel able to do, but be very protective of you and your family.

thesandwich Sun 08-May-16 22:10:03

Hello giraffe and all regulars! And Tara. Brilliant advice from some very wise battle scarred folk! I echo everything- especially the not disadvantage get you and your family. Facilitate, seek advice- and look sfter yourself. There is a club amongst us of the SSC- shit sibling club. 3 db's here who do sweet.......

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