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Anyone else 'look after' an elderly relative?

(7 Posts)
Gameboy Fri 19-Aug-05 13:21:44

Looks like I am about to officially become one of the 'sandwich generation' - it refers to those people (often in their 30s & 40s) who get 'sandwiched' inbetween having to care for their own young children, and their elderly relative(s).

I can feel the future stress already ...

My Dad is talking about moving to be closer to us (mostly at my behest, I might add) since he lives over 300 miles away, and since my Mum died a couple of years ago he's been left on his own without many friends/family around.

He's been to stay recently (just left again today) to look for flats near us, so has been staying with us (DH & kids).

Thing is, it's like having another child. He's still in good health, active, reasonably sound mind (I think!) but is hopeless about things like personal hygiene. I have to 'steal' his clothes for the wash, he doesn't use deodrant, lets his hair get greasy etc etc. Our spare room now has a really stale 'old person' smell to it.... yuk.. yuk...

What can you say (kindly) to your own father?

Thing is, I can see how this thing will go, and before I know it I'll be working full time, looking after a DH, 2 kids and an elderly father and running two households - laundry/ shopping etc..

CarolinaMoon Fri 19-Aug-05 13:31:09

Sorry to hear about your mum Gamboy .

Will your dad be able to afford a cleaner etc when he moves?

I would really avoid getting sucked into doing his chores if he is fit and healthy - it's really up to him how often he washes, but maybe that's more to do with his reaction to losing your mum? It might improve when he moves, as it will be a fresh start for him iyswim.

Hattie05 Fri 19-Aug-05 13:35:33

Hi,
Have a look \link{http://www.carers.org/home/here}

As well as useful info the website can find you your local carers support centre. These vary from borough to borough, but are genuinely very helpful with making sure you and your father are in receipt of all the services you require (often there is a lot going on that can help, people don't realise until you find yourself in the situation). They often run support groups where you can meet others in similar situations. And they would be able to help claim for any benefits your dad may be entitled to such as Attendance Allowance?
Even if some of this isn't relevant now, you are obviously thinking ahead and can be prepared for things you may need to do in the future.

Something people don't realise is that 'carers' like yourself are saving the government an awful lot of money! If you weren't there to ensure he stays healthy and looks after himself, who would be doing it? This is why people really should claim things like AA. Carers have a right to a carers assessment by social services - even if there is no outcome from this, most importantly you will be included in the government figures of carers as so many are hidden numbers at the moment. Just agreeing to an assessment can help give the government a realistic figure of just how much money carers are saving them! Lastly it is important that you as a carer realise you have a right not to care. This doesn't mean you don't love your Dad and won't be there for him, but it does mean you have a right to put your own family first and ask for help if and when the time comes for you dad.

Sorry about the waffle there, but you can see its a subject close to my heart!

puff Fri 19-Aug-05 13:36:32

Has he always had personal hygiene issues, or is it since your Mum died? It can be a very obvious sign of depression - if so, he might need to see his doctor, although I know an elderly man might be v resistant to admitting that they may have depression.

Sounds tough for you gameboy - can you have a gentle talk about how he's taking less care about his appearance etc since your Mum died? Tricky I know.

Gameboy Fri 19-Aug-05 13:47:43

Thanks everyone!
Puff - to be honest, I think he's always had some of the 'personal hygiene' issues, it's just that since Mum died there's been no one to nag him about it, or to insist upon it.

Mum was always saying things like "you can give me that shirt for the wash - you're not wearing THAT again today".... [ - remembering her... ]

I just despair... as an e.g. last time he came to stay, I took him out and we bought about half a dozen new 'polo shirts' for him. He turns up to stay last week (for a week!) wearing one, with just one spare..... result is I've been washing one every day (grrrrr....)

DH says I need to confront it, but how?
Pretty sure he's not depressed - and he's quite capable of looking after himself, just deosn't seem to consider the frequency important...

Thanks for all the info Hattie. I don't think we /he would qualify for support - probably earn too much, but it will be worth a look.
I'll probably end up paying for a cleaner for him just to be sure

Hattie05 Fri 19-Aug-05 15:24:49

I'm not talking only financial support!! emotional and just help with getting the right services.

Attendance Allowance is not means tested and would be paid to your Father. He may well not be needing it now, but for the future, if you find yourself having to do more and more for him. It is a benefit to pay to people if they are either have difficulties with mobility or personal care- including preparing their meals and keeping themselves clean incl. washing clothes! They do consider depression to be a reason why someone needs help with personal care.
Frankly i think anyone who can claim it should, regardless of whether they need the money or not, as i said earlier, the government would be having to pay a whole lot more towards there care if people like you weren't around.

A lot of my clients through work are similar to your dad in having less and less interest in their personal care. I feel it is good to build a relationship where you can say, come on lets get a clean shirt on you before having to go out shopping or to meet someone. Day-to-day, if he's not going anywhere then leave him to it, but get to the point where you feel you can tell him to wash when it is necessary.

Smurfgirl Fri 19-Aug-05 16:42:59

I would definately contact social services for some info on being a carer for our father.

In general people of your fathers generation do wash less, and they don't use deoderant. Its not pleasant I know, but this may be part of who he is. As long as he is having a few washes a week, and does not appear to have irritated/broken skin he should be ok. Its not very nice, but its up to him. Unless his lack of personal care is due to depression.

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