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Update on elderly Mum and sister with depression (X posted to Elderly parents)

(10 Posts)
magsbags123 Wed 28-Oct-15 17:59:30

I posted about this issue in Relationships about a month ago and got some good advice. I then asked for the thread to be deleted as I believed my sister might read it. Things have got a great deal worse since then, so I'm back for more advice.

Long story short: my Mum is back at home after a long spell in hospital and in a respite bed. She has a temporary team of carers who come in 3-4 times a day. My sister said a few weeks ago that she plans to take over Mum's care herself by moving in if necessary but with no outside help except a cleaner 3 hours a week and the odd weekend I can come over to give her a break. (I live a 5 hour drive away.)

My sister suffers from depression and anxiety and can barely cope with her own life. She is also not in the best of health physically. She is very angry with me for being Mum's favourite. I never realised just how angry she was about this till recently, but it seems to be colouring our every interaction now. A major conflict has arisen because I expressed the opinion that it would be too much for one person to cope with Mum unaided and that she should think very long and hard before giving up her job to do so.

She also wants me to have Mum for 6 months of the year at my house. I would agree to this in principle but I would need carers in as well to help me. She thinks this is wrong of me as she believes only family can care properly. I run a small business which I would have to give up unless I had some help and I also have my partner to consider.

She has communicated with me less and less over the last few weeks and if I ask how Mum is she tells me to ask Mum directly. Which would be fine but Mum doesn't always know how she is! And of course the less we communicate the more likely there is to be confusion over Mum's needs when I visit to be the respite carer. Mum's short-term memory is a bit iffy now so I can't always find out from her what's happening or what needs to be done.

It has got to the point now where she is refusing to talk to me at all (which quite frankly would be a relief if it weren't for the necessity to keep channels open for Mum's sake) and instead will in her words 'issue instructions and simple orders' when I need to do anything, but will not be explaining to me the reasons why I should do it.

An example of this was an instruction she left me to park Mum's car in a certain place 'to keep the driveway clear' without explaining any details. I assumed it was so the carers can get in and out easily. There are actually two positions it's possible to park a car to keep the driveway completely clear. Mum chose the alternative one so it didn't block her view out of the sitting room window. The next day I get a furious FB message from my sister claiming I'd 'taken advantage of my position as favourite' to get Mum to say I should park it where I wanted because I couldn't be bothered to reverse it into the other space.' My sister insists there is a reason for putting it EXACTLY where she said, but as I'm not the primary carer I don't need to know what the reason is. WTF?

My sister has a history of stubborn and rigid behaviours and in fact lost her last two jobs because of her inability to compromise even on the smallest issues. Until now though she's never really been like this with me.

The irony is that my sister absolutely HATES my Mum and has told her so on numerous occasions. Because of this hatred and bitterness her thinking can be quite skewed. I noticed Mum was very breathless and my sister said 'You realise she puts it on to get attention, don't you?' Two days later she was in hospital with heart failure. I think (hope!) she realised this was a mistake on her part but how can I be sure her rigid agendas won't lead her to misjudge things again.

I understand that she is bitter about me being the favourite and I will have to accept her not talking to me if that's what she wants. I understand that it's probably the depression that makes her act this way.

It is possible that she has reconsidered her original decision to take over Mum's care 24/7 but she won't discuss it with me. Once the temp care team has gone I have no idea what's going to happen. I have asked Mum what she wants to do going forward but to avoid upsetting anyone she just goes along with whatever she thinks the person she's talking to wants to hear. Her heart condition exhausts her and she hasn't got the energy to deal with all this.

I originally posted because I was afraid I'd lose my sister over this. Well the worst has happened and I'm sad but resigned to it now. I know from her past history with other people that she will likely never forgive me and I can't change that. My worry now is more how to take things forward so that my Mum's care is not compromised.

SilenceOfTheSAHMs Wed 28-Oct-15 20:58:48

Adult social services. They are both vulnerable adults. I'm sorry OP I see this type of thing on average once a day with my work in the community sad

mummytime Wed 28-Oct-15 21:11:43

Sorry but your sister could well be being abusive to your mother.
You do need to contact adult social care, and make it clear to them that you are worried about the effect on both of them of your sister taking over care of your mother.
I would follow up with an email or letter, which restates your worries for the safeguarding of your mother by leaving her care in the hands of a daughter who has mental health issues.

BTW it is totally unreasonable for her to expect you to take over care for 6 months an year and give up your business.

Your mother might be far better off in some kind of nursing care home, or at least with outside professional carers.

DontMindMe1 Wed 28-Oct-15 23:09:22

i'd be wondering about your sis's ulterior motives for 'wanting' to move in and 'care' for a mother that she 'hates' who is incidentally also vulnerable and at risk of being abused and exploited financially.

your sis already believes you're the 'favourite' one and after making her intentions clear she's ignoring you - all her words and actions would raise red flags for me.

Does your mother have a will? A power Of Attorney? I think you should contact the relevant authorities for advice and get these sorted out for your mum asap as her mental capacity to make these decisions (if not already made) will be taken into account. If your sister moves in it will be harder to get her to leave if anything happens to your mum.

badtime Wed 28-Oct-15 23:16:08

Your sister's idea of you having your mother for 6 months of the year is appalling and unworkable.
You have a life that you can't put aside, and your mother would probably be confused and distressed about being moved around without consultation or even any thought given to what she wants. TBH, I wouldn't be surprised if social services became interested at that point anyway.

knackered69 Thu 29-Oct-15 07:24:36

You poor thing! How worrying for you flowers is the package of care an enablement one to help her get back on her feet for a set period? Would this be reviewed by social services at the end?

It certainly sounds like a safeguarding issue and you would maybe need to talk things through with adult social services.

Even if it was workable, your mum probably wouldn't want to move several hours away for 6 months of the year!

I think a discussion with adult social services would be the way forward.

magsbags123 Thu 29-Oct-15 09:58:58

Yes knackered69, she is in the care of and under continuous assessment from an NHS Independent Living Team for a month. When they have rehab'ed her as much as they can, they will assess her again and then refer her to Social Services if they feel she can't manage on her own, so I hope that will be a kind of safety net.

I think I probably haven't handled things with my sister very well on a personal level but I am happy on the level of wanting the best for my Mum that I've done OK so far. The problem is that my sister truly believes that only she and I can care for Mum properly and that her idea IS the best for Mum. She has taken my reluctance to just go along with her 'plan' as me abdicating all responsibility for Mum's care which just isn't true.

I am also very concerned for my sister's mental and physical health. Mum was very ill from January to March and to be fair my sister did her very best to look after her, even moving her into her own house for two months. However at the end of that time she was a total wreck and I ended up taking Mum home with me for 3 weeks. (At that time she needed less care than she does now.) I'm sure trying to care for Mum on a permanent basis would end with my sister having a breakdown.

I don't doubt that her basic motives are good, i.e. trying to keep Mum out of a care home, nor is she motivated by money. I just hope that she will be content to keep an eye on a new team of carers rather than move in herself. I do understand her reservations about carers. We've all seen the horror stories in the news.

magsbags123 Thu 29-Oct-15 10:19:05

And Mum does have a will. My sister and I are joint beneficiaries and joint executors. PoA has been discussed with Mum but not registered. The idea was to have it as jointly and severally but I'm wondering now whether it should be jointly so my sister can't act on her own without discussing it with me. I suppose we need to consider a health and welfare one as well as a finance one now.

Mum is happy for my sister to have the PIN for one of her bank cards as she needs access to Mum's money when she shops for her etc but we plan to keep an eye on the bank statements just in case. (My sister doesn't have enough money to spend her own and have Mum repay her later.) My sister is very badly off money-wise which has put an extra strain on her so I have suggested to Mum that she gives my sister her attendance allowance in return for the errands that she runs and for taking Mum to her appointments etc. Mum is quite well off and won't miss it at all and it might ease the pressure on my sister a tiny bit.

It sounds like I don't trust my sister which is horrible. I suppose it's her depression I don't trust if that makes any sense. She's just not behaving very rationally at the moment.

CarrotVan Thu 29-Oct-15 15:29:11

Call Age UK and ask for advice. Then call Adult Social Care and ask to speak to the duty social worker about a safeguarding issue with a vulnerable adult.

Is the POA drafted and signed but not registered or have you just had a chat about it? If your mother doesn't know how she is on a day to day basis is she legally competent to sign a POA?

If she isn't and you don't have a POA ready to go then it's imperative that you get professional help to assess the situation properly. It sounds as though your sister shouldn't have any POA responsibilities.

Moving your mum every six months is a crazy idea

And don't worry about getting carers in - as long as there are people keeping an eye on things it will be fine and you can change agencies easily if there's a problem

magsbags123 Fri 30-Oct-15 10:19:14

I will talk to Mum next time I see her about the PoA. She is competent to sign. She just has very the beginnings of a short term memory issue since this last illness.

The sixth month idea came about because an aunt and her sisters cared for their widowed father by having him at their houses on a rota basis. The difference being that there were six sisters to share the care, and they all lived within a few miles of each other not several hours travel away.

An update on my sister: we have agreed to put our recent personal squabbling behind us and start again. Hopefully we will be able to talk rationally about my Mum's care now without it turning into an argument every time.

Thanks again to all who have replied. Just having a bit of a rant helped too!

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