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Only child - how do you cope?

(14 Posts)
AhAgain Tue 24-Oct-17 23:37:57

If you have a elderly parent (last remaining) who is in hospital or nursing home fairly long term?

I am struggling, both physically and emotionally. It seems to be getting harder, not easier.

We should be going away in about 9 weeks (to visit other family) and my Mum is really not happy that I am abandoning her (obviously she wouldn’t be abandoned or left alone).

Feeling very strained and very spread thin (just started a new job too when Mum got admitted to hospital - 5 weeks ago). sad

Whywonttheyletmeusemyusername Tue 24-Oct-17 23:46:27

I didn't want to read and run. My cousin was in this situation - last remaining parent seriously ill, in and out of hospital for a year. She had very young DC at the time. It was hard...very hard. But she got thru it - as you will. Do you have other family members that can visit, whilst you're away?

CMOTDibbler Wed 25-Oct-17 09:41:19

I'm not an only child, but my brother doesn't do anything for our parents. I take a pragmatic approach that I prioritise my son first, and me and dh next, and then my parents - as long as their health is managed and I know them to be safe and getting care they don't need me all the time (much as dad would like it, mum doesn't know who I am).
I've already had 7 years of this, and who knows how long it will go on, so I treat it as a marathon - we need time as a family, we need to do things, and I work FT, so the 3 hour round trip to see them for a maximum of 2 hours (as much as they can cope with) is a big impact on our very limited time.
So, park the guilt, go on holiday, and don't burn yourself out.

Needmoresleep Wed 25-Oct-17 16:35:47

I'm with CMOT. Again not an only child, but DB wont help, and indeed wont be helpful. Its now been going on for almost a decade.

You get tougher. At times I have had to give my parents priority, whilst trying to do everything, and have got quite ill as a result. (My user name dates back about 8 years!) But I now pace myself so I do enough to ensure my mother is well and cared form, but the rest of my life gets priority - at least until the next crisis. I deal with the guilt by thinking that my mother never made plans for herself and always favoured my brother, so she is lucky I do as much as I do. (Actually quite a lot!)

I look back and we did miss a lot as a family when DC were teenagers. They coped, and indeed I think a level of neglect - as in me not over engaging in their schooling so them having to take responsibility for getting homework done, them having to find their own way to sports fixtures etc, did them no harm. I would not, though liked to have missed more, or have compromised on family holidays. I regret not keeping up with friends. Between work, parents and children there was no time, so I am careful not to make the same mistake now.

I still get very stressed and tired. I find the 5/6 hour round trips to where my mother chose to retire, exhausting. I dread the next five years or more as it will only get harder and less rewarding (my mother has dementia - but not real physical problems yet). I hate the conflict with my brother, or rather his continuing lack of any appreciation of what I do.

But by and large I have become quite selfish. I can only do what I do because I have balance in my life.

Time40 Wed 25-Oct-17 16:56:46

It's absolute, utter hell. I'm an only, and I've been caring for my parents for 13 years. I am four months in to the fourteenth year. There is only one of them left now, but the end is nowhere in sight. I think the most important thing is not totally to sacrifice yourself and your own life - but that said, even if you try to keep caring in its place, it still has a tremendous life-wrecking impact. I don't think I'm going to be in the least bit sad when my last parent dies - I think it will just be a tremendous relief. I can't wait, to be honest.

Needmoresleep Wed 25-Oct-17 17:25:25

i also wonder if I will ever get a retirement of my own. DM is 88 and may well live till her mid 90s. The ILs are slightly younger but starting to crumble. I suspect the journeys may simply switch from the M3 to the M1.

ILs naturally want to stay in their own home (some way from any shops and only really feasible if you drive) and avoid being a burden. They "think" they have made out a POA but DH does not remember signing anything. I listen quietly with a wry smile and a shudder.

AhAgain Wed 25-Oct-17 23:12:10

Thanks so much for your replies and my very best wishes to all of you.

It is all a bit depressing from so many respects. Fortunately my in-laws Live half way around the world and I really cannot ever see them moving here: they have a very very good set-up in their own country - they wouldn’t get the healthcare or other help they enjoy there here.

It is tough and - although I don’t think she has dementia - Mum isreallly quite confused, forgetful and keeps asking me the same things. It feels like a uphill battle. I am lucky that I don’t “care” for her (one-to-one), but visiting, trying to ensure her welfare and her other expectations are prettty draining. Especially when combined with family and work.

She isn’t ill at the moment, but recovering from a fall (5 weeks ago) - doing very well, but it’s still a difficult recovery that requires extra help. We are two months out from wanting to go visit the in-laws (just after Xmas).

I have always encouraged her to grow her social/support network - especially since my dad died 13 years ago - but she has always resisted (“I am happy with my own company!”).

devilinme Wed 25-Oct-17 23:44:53

With difficulty because I loathe it - it's like a prison sentence with no get out date.
My mother is in my house, but, it wouldn't matter if it was a care home because I still have to deal with all her affairs.

Time40 Thu 26-Oct-17 12:18:11

OP, could you consider doing what I did? When my father started to find it a struggle to manage during the times when I wasn't there, I advertised locally and found a care worker to go in every day and be a "second me". At first, this lady just went in every day to lighten the household load by making a lunch, but really, the point of her was to be moral support for my father, and to help him with things as they came up. Of course, my father gradually declined and needed more and more help, and this first care lady took this on. Then when he really did actively need someone there every day, I found a second person. Now there are three ladies, and they are going three times a day and doing everything - absolutely everything - for him. We are even thinking about getting a fourth person, to cover the times when someone is off ill or on holiday, because it really does need three people now. I visit every month and stay for a week, and do a lot of caring duties myself while I'm here, and I do all the extra jobs that have built up over the month, like dealing with the paperwork, deep cleaning and house repairs and maintenance. I had such a lot of trouble with carers from agencies when my mother was alive that I would never go back to using agency care. I honestly think that finding carers privately is far, far better than going through an agency.
Of course, you can only do it this way if you can afford to do so, but if you can, I can recommend it as the best way I have come up with for dealing with the problem.

cosmiccat Thu 26-Oct-17 18:54:27

I am in similar position with my mother living a distance and ferry crossing away from me. My brother lives even further away and is not really engaged but I have to keep him in the loop which takes time. My mother was fine until about 2 months ago. So far the best things I have done is get a daily carer visit (via an agency but small and very good) that gives me huge peace of mind as I know she is checked daily and they are helping motivating her. The second best thing is being able to order online groceries for her when she isn't able to get out and about. Finally have got myself jointly set up on her bank account which means I can pay her bills, keep an eye on her finances at a distance via online banking. I am hoping she will move closer soon but as previous posters have said it is important to prioritise your own life/family when you can as it can easily become too much.

ZaZathecat Fri 27-Oct-17 11:42:57

When my DM was alive I used to visit almost every day (we were local), but if I couldn't one day or if I was going away I paid a lovely lady from Age UK's 'help at home' service (even though dm was in a care home) to go in for an hour every day to chat with her and do crosswords. DM didn't know she was paid, we just said my 'friend' was going to pop in to see her while I was away. She still missed me obviously, but she very much enjoyed seeing the lady and it did give her a daily distraction.

AhAgain Sat 28-Oct-17 10:15:17

Thanks ladies

Very glad to know what I feeling is fairly natural. All of your advice is very welcome.

She is currently in hospital (and will be for a few more weeks), Plan is then to move her onto to a private nursing home, then assisted living (run may a charitable trust with very good reputation). Plan to get care from the Trust, but will monitor how it goes and consider private if that doesn’t work.

The Age UK “help at home” is interesting. Will look into that from a companion point of view too (especially when we go away).

Thanks smile

mrsmalcolmreynolds Sat 04-Nov-17 23:00:43

I find it absolutely crucial to compartmentalise a bit and not try to manage absolutely everything. DM is divorced from DF and I am an only child following the death of my DSis in her 20s. DM has Alzheimer's with somewhat early onset (diagnosed age 66) and DH and I have DC aged 8 and 4. I feel scraped thin sometimes and to be honest being a bit selfish and taking time for the DC and us as a family is the only way to keep going - I know there is probably a long way to go.

Little and often is best for us - I was trying to help DM whilst she was living 150 miles away on her own and it was extremely hard because I simply couldn't help with the everyday stuff like the TV remote not working. She is now in assisted accommodation 15 mins from us and it is an enormous help.

GraceLeeper Mon 04-Dec-17 06:26:22

Help support from your friends or colleague so that you'll have the strength that your parent need. So sorry that you have to go through with this alone sad sad

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