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Care for elderly, sick MIL...(13 Posts)
DH's mother lives 200 miles away. She has secondary bone cancer, diagnosed a couple of months ago. She had breast cancer about 8 years ago and had a mastectomy.
She has also been suffering with a recurring stomach complaint that no one has ever been able to diagnose over the past 2-3 years and this has flared up again recently. She is violently sick every morning and can't leave the house before lunchtime - not that she does leave the house really.
Now, the thing is FIL is 81 and is caring for her alone. They live quite remotely. We are worried that MIL - and for that matter FIL - are not getting all the support they need and being 200 miles away we feel a bit helpless as to how to help them. FIL can't cook, they live on microwave meals and cheese on toast. The house is getting dirty but they won't have a cleaner. MIL is also VERY reluctant to leave their home, though being on a hill in the middle of nowhere isn't much good in their situation...
MIL is scared to death with what is going to happen to her. She is also getting very depressed, refusing to eat, drinking very little and not getting up.
Who can we ask for help? I think she has a Macmillan nurse. The doctor doesn't seem to help much. But who cares for the elderly in this situation???
I worked for a care agency last year. A couple of the clients were really remote and did have to pay a supplement.
Agencies aren't just for care. The one I worked for did domestic help too.
Care for elderly parents isn't someone else's responsibility, it is the responsibility of their next of kin, if they unable to care for themselves.
I say this because so many people seem to think that someone else should care for the elderly. Its as if there is a culture of thinking that the elderly are the responsibility of the state. The state can help but ultimately they are not responsible for people who are old and frail just because they are old and frail. I dont know if others will disagree with me on this, and I am not saying that is the way you think, I am just putting forward a point of view which has helped me to look after my own parents and get together services for them without abdicating responsibility for them.
That said, your GP and social services are the best ports of call, though you will need your parents' permission to contact them.
If your parents want, and are agreeable to the financial implications, social services can help put together a care package. This doesn't always include cooking and cleaning which usually costs extra. It can include carers coming upto 4 times a day to help with washing, dressing, toiletting and getting people in and out of bed.
If your parents get a state pension and attendance allowance they should be able to afford a cleaner and home help and this is a good option as then they can choose someone they get on with. A cleaner isn't a luxury it is a necessity otherwise they will end up with septicemia from neglect and filth. The elderly find it hard to see dirt and also find hoovers and loading washing machines difficult and heavy so a cleaner is a really good idea. Age UK can also help with advice and sometimes with finding volunteers.
Hope this helps.
funnyperson I think that's a bit harsh- the op is trying to find out what to do to help care for them - she lives 200 miles away, what is she to do?
Op, I am in similar situation with my parents. They have resolutely refused all help other than a cleaner they already had.
I too live that distance away. I have offered a temporary stay with us (problematic as DM chain smokes and they are, ahem, difficult) or a move to a more manageable house near us. All refused.
If things get worse, social services are only real option, I think. It s sad, but there comes a point where something needs to be done to ensure your in-laws safety.
I find it all very difficult, tho I know it is really up to them what to do, unless they lack capacity, but would really like to help. Sounds like you would too. Good luck!
I don't mean to be harsh - this time of life when one has set up an independent family and career and parents become frail is a very difficult one- I don't think there are any easy options- I only meant to say what has helped me steer through thats all.
Funnyperson - we live 200 miles away it is a fact we can't get around, it's not always possible to live on your parents' doorstep! My brother in law lives near them but we are feeling guilty that he is being put in a position where it is only him caring for them and we want to help. We visit regularly and do our best but it has really only been recently that their situation has become 'difficult' so we are new to care issues.
I could offer them a stay here but MIL is not in a fit state to travel and needs to be near her doctors.
Ripsishere, what sort of agency did you work for?
I'm glad to say that I entirely agree with with what Funny has said . Some of society today certainly looks to outside agencies in the first instance to look after their aged parents because they think it will be too much of a drag/ will impinge on their own lives to much to look after someone who is old/ill. Of course it will - but what are families for ????? Mention has been made of a temporary stay or a move to a house nearby. I know there are many people who do look after their parents but how many of us would now ACTUALLY look after our parents when they need our help. ? Before anyone replies to say that they think this is harsh, I write this as a child from the 60's whose mother looked after her MIL and then her own mother ( the latter whilst my mother was widowed and still looking after 4 children ) I remember it as hard and shitty and lonely but there was also a lot of love and laughter and it has left all of us ( my mother is now long dead ) as tough and resiliant women who love and look out for each other
So, Clare, what should I do with my chain smoking, heavy drinking mother, taking large amounts of morphine, and my intransigent and difficult father who refuse to stay with us/move?
I also have a young family, one of whom is my niece whom we have cared for since a baby due to my DSis' difficulties? My parents are pretty horrible, and there is a long and difficult history.
I just don't recognise that the scenario you describe is for every situation. I wish it were.
The op, like many of us,is trying her best, and to take responsibility for helping with care. What are we to do?
Am sorry to hijack, btw, just touched a nerve.
Actually funnyperson that's where you are wrong. The Liable Family Rule was abolished in this country in 1948 by the Government in power at the time - I have that on good authority from a leading lawyer in the field of social care!
The fact that most of us take our moral responsibilities seriously and choose to help care for our ageing families is a different matter all together. However, it is not always possible for family members to do so for a wide variety of reasons.
It is a difficult situation. My own Mum was very ill last year and when she came home from hospital her care needs were quite high and she was housebound. My father took on the role of her carer as well as managing the house. They refused any outside help and told the health agencies that they were managing fine and didn't need any help. DF was 84 and DM was 82!
The reality is they don't want strangers in their home and I think this is something that many of their generation struggle with.
OP, I think it is a very difficult situation. If they won't accept outside help then you can't force it on them. I even suggested my parents moved near to us, so I could help them out (and they could find a more suitable property to live in) but they have lived where they are for 48 years and don't want to move now! They are 75 miles away and I have a disabled daughter, so I cannot help out very often. My brothers live elsewhere in the country too.
You can try organisations such as Age UK or Carers Contact and see if they can offer any advice, but it is difficult if they won't accept help pr move to a more suitable location. I feel your pain.
Morally responsible yes, legally no. I care for my DMIL and the SS said I should get all the help I can as it is not my responsibility but the states.
Having strangers in the home is difficult and stressful and not necessarily the easier option as they dont always arrive at the time arranged, they may change due to annual leave or sickness, and it takes a while for parets and the carers to establish a routine within the home. Care agencies do employ people who are police checked but even so it is hard for older people not to feel very vulnerable- and they are vulnerable. That said, there are advantages to having carers visit because they are trained, police checked, and the agency who employs them keeps a record of their visits and who they are. My parents are frail, my father recovering from a very serious illness, so the carers are essential and valued even though it has taken a while to accept the strangers. They have helped my parents to stay in their home.
Years ago we chose to live near them as they helped out with childcare while we were at work, so I can now drop in to help out especially when the carers first started coming into the home, which we all, and especially my parents, found a bit-well, frightening really, and my parents were reassured that a family member was present when they first came and now we know who they are and so are a bit more relaxed.
Thats interesting that the state is legally responsible. Seems an old law though.
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