Organising elderly mum to move house . Tips?(8 Posts)
I'm looking for any tips or advice to make life easier. My 82 year old mum is moving to a bungalow round the corner from me . It's taken 18 months from getting her house ready to finding somewhere suitable nearby
. I have a very very young family . My youngest is just 3 and potting training . I work 4 days a week. My husband is supportive but overwhelmed with work . I'm only one - there are no extended family ( just one sister now living abroad for extended periods ) and when my father died of heart attack ( I was 34 weeks pregnant ) it exposed how frail mum has become . Her mobility is not great now , she suffers greatly with arthritis , is extremely depressed and self medicates with strong prescribed painkillers & alcohol. The last 3 years have been a massive sticking plaster exercise in crisis management . I had to take mum to her elder sisters funeral 500 miles away recently ( a massive logistical exercise in organising childcare and work commitments ) my other aunt could see finally my mum is in decline and was extremely volatile blowing up at me after misunderstanding something I said late at night.
My mum has capacity , refuses to organise poa etc . She has always been difficult , but this is very heightened old age . She will ring me on my day off to ring and moan and on a really low day will say she was dead etc . She is very hard to take sometimes . For example She's insisting she takes her car in the move ( the removals people are doing it ) she hasn't driven in 7 years since a stroke . I've finally got her to sorn it in the last 6 months ! This is progress , when we tried to point out it was time to let it go she refused and became hysterical. It is symbolic of her loss of independence and control . We will make sure it's undriveable when it arrives here.
Meanwhile the toddler rampages in the background and I'm talking to one on the phone who is toddler like too now in lots of ways .
Now we are close to moving and exchanging contracts she is fretting about the little details that are major to her ( a linen cupboard ) whilst I try to make her understand she needs to send me a cheque to start the searches with the solicitor . I've tried to outline to her how she won't actually be in her home on moving day but living in my home whilst my husband is supervising the movers who have already visited mum with us , quoted and agreed the full packing service . I'm organising another emergency pendant , I've decided that I will not clean myself the new bungalow but pay for a cleaning company myself both ends ( mums complains and frets over cash , says she needs it for the care home ) . I will move her in gradually , sleep there at first with her . Mum wants to know and control every detail but with her short term memory shot , the nightly phone calls that last an hour and when I try to explain that when I'm closer to actual dates I'll write it all down and make it clear what is happening when . This is met with " I'm not daft you know " etc etc
I'm exhausted emotionally and she is a frightened confused lonely old lady . The enormity of her living finally round the corner is dawning on me . I was desperate to leave home at 18 ! I do love her but I don't know what will happen next .. Thanks for listening.
I am not surprised you are exhausted, she sounds like very hard work! I imagine that as the time to move gets closer she will get more and more anxious and throw more curveballs at you.
Frankly from reading what you've written you have gone way above and beyond the call of duty, and seem to work extra hard to do things on her terms, even if the cost to you is high/ the logic is questionable.
My advice for what it's worth is that once she's moved in, take some steps back and carve out some protected time for yourself (easier said than done with a toddler, I realise).
My experience with my Dad made me realise that it's often those who have the least to feel guilty about, who feel the most guilty when not jumping to deal with every last demand their parent throws at them. Do not feel bad for doing less and sorting things out top suit you, not to suit her every time. Keep posting on this site because there are many here with experience of sorting out the practical challenges that come with an ageing and dependent parent.
Hello. Sounds like you are doing an amazing job. We supported my DM to move round the corner from us when she was 80 and she us now 91. It has been chalkenging but the key thing is about boundaries and managing expectations. And getting regular non you support in. I regret not making sure my mum could use the bus independently- for many years she only leaves the house with me of a rare visit from one of my 3 brothers who do v little.
She now has careers who help her shower, Gardner, hairdresser, and massage lady who visit at home. Establish with your dh what the boundaries are. And time for you is crucial. Keep posting- loads of wisdom here! Good luck.
Thank you, you are both very kind . I did not respond earlier as life seems to get in the way . Feeling very despondent tonight as bang on cue at 7.10 pm as I just given my two little boys their 5 minute bed and bath time warning mum rang confused and upset with me . The cheques had not arrived and she ranted at me for 25 mins that I had instructed her that the sum to be written in the figures box should have 3 "0's" after the decimal point , she had realised this after seeing prize money displayed on tipping point , the chequer will be stolen . We sat myself and dh on speaker phone ( dh was silent) trying to placate her gently that all will be fine as she had written the sum in words but No I had to admit that I was wrong and I had informed her the sum was to be written this way.
It was upsetting and frustrating . I could hear her genuine distress and anger at me. I even used the words " I am trying to help mum doing my best . She dissolved in tears and " wish I was dead" talk . Only when she could hear my dh trying to usher the kids up to bed she rang off with words " well off you go and I'm just here on my own". It is all very emotionally charged . A year ago I would have tried to reason with her but I realise this is useless over the phone . My hands are tied until the move .
I will try to take better care of myself but I've failed miserably tonight heading for the local shop afterwards ( once I'd cleared the tea debris , sorted uniform etc , put toddler to sleep whilst dh sorted my eldest ) oh dear ..
I will try and join you guys on the main thread. I'm so fed up . all the friends I made when ds2 was born have mum in their late fifties who help and support them even from afar . No one really wants to hear or listen . Mum is not too far gone but these bizarre outbursts of late are really hard to handle.
This sounds so hard. It always sounds worse on the phone. I know in the past after calls like that I have worried the called back to find DM has been watching telly and completely moved on. It is really tough. Could you give her a time when you will call? Puts you in control a bit. Is there anyone near her who could help? Could you get a carer in on the pretext of helping her get ready to move? But please rant away - lots of listening ears. Take care.
Isolde it sounds a bit like my Dad was when the dementia was progressing, he was losing abilities and ringing me sometimes up to 20 times a day, always quite frantic, trying to get things under control and of course never succeeding. Demanding help, information for every little situation in life, then we had the phase when he started boarding trains and getting lost around the SE. Now sadly the dementia has progressed and he is in a care home, and incapable of using a phone. But at least he is a lot more peaceful. I think that phase between having enough ability to manage one's affairs , and losing abilities more or less completely is very hard both on the person and those around them. It often goes with having little insight and empathy for others. With retrospect all I can advise is a certain amount of stoicism, and combat the guilt as much as you can, there's nothing wrong with taking a break form answering the phone for a couple of days.
Isolde - really relate to what you are going through. I too am engaged in a massive sticking plaster exercise long distance and have been doing so since my first son was born (he's now nearly 17) and when my parents, then in their late 60s and early 70s, started to be regularly unwell. My mum is now 85 and lives 80 miles away from me in the home she shared with Dad for almost 60 years. He died 2 years ago and she has soldiered on there alone since then - her choice. I am her only child and do my best to support her - daily phone calls, weekly round trips of 160 miles etc - but she is becoming more and more anxious and lonely, despite wonderful neighbours who pop in to see her most days, take her to GP etc (she does not drive and refuses to use community transport or taxis even for short trips). I have two sons, 16 and 12, who love her dearly, as she does them, and we are all keen for her to move closer to us so we can support her better - and spend some quality time with each other. She has just viewed a perfect house opposite my own, but this has now left her even more panicky saying 'I just wish I could lay down and die'. I feel it is as if she wants me to make the decision for her, yet when I do offer any and every sort of help possible, she just digs her heels in and says there's no other way but for her to carry on alone 80 miles away from me. I feel as if she is emotionally barricading herself in and waiting for death. She has osteoporosis in her spine and is becoming more and more frail, deaf and I think even now mildly incontinent. It breaks my heart to see this as she has always been such a smart lady and living so far from her i can't support her as i wish to to overcome these problems, do her washing, make sure she takes her meds etc. After Dad died i bought her a pendant alarm, but she refuses to wear it and she now tells me she's had two near-falls due to 'a woozy head' in the garden. I work 4 days a week from home and could easily care for her on a daily basis if she lived closer to me but instead she seems to want me to uproot and move in with her, which would mean me leaving my sons (at work and at school) behind and most probably my partner too who works where we live and so would have a huge daily commute were he to move in with her too. I am so torn and feel so guilty so much of the time. I love my mum dearly, and we all show her and tell her we love her company, but we cannot seem to break through her mantra that she is 'a nuisance'.
Oh dear. My DM went through this with my grandmother who recently passed away. She was the only child living nearby and ended up at her beck and call for two years, really impacting on her relationship with her partner. Things got so bad she was on anti-depressants and blood pressure medication near the end (my mum not my grandma!)
I would advise start as you mean to go on. Outsource all help, cleaners, gardeners, hospital transport, carers etc etc. Do not input help you will not be willing to continue long term. Ignore moans about cost, many older people can afford help but simply do not want to pay for it. Make sure she has a lifeline. Do not always answer the phone to her (my DM resorted to this), do not be guilt tripped into anything.
It sounds harsh but your mental health and that of your family are most important.The relief my DM felt was my grandma went into a care home was overwhelming and she would willingly have given up every penny of her inheritance for it to have happened sooner. Sadly, the years of trying to please and placate her mother have rather soured the memories of their relationship, which is a shame.
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