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Moving Abroad am I being selfish...?

(79 Posts)

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MrsChristmas123 Wed 31-Aug-16 13:00:03

I am 60 and retired, live alone and financially independent.

My mother is widowed, aged 91 and is reasonably fit. However, she has just been diagnosed with mild dementia. She lives next door to me and I have looked out for her for the past 4 years since my father passed away. I have a brother who lives 80 miles away who visits every few months. My brother and me have looked after mum between us, sorting out her garden, getting her shopping. She copes very well on her own and only asks for help when she absolutely needs to. She is very independent.

My son lives abroad, my daughter lives in London and my youngest has just left her job to travel for 3 months and, at the moment she is living with me until she goes.

I am not in relationship.

I have had a long time urge to live abroad, just for a year or two, when my family grew up and left home. I had planned to do some voluntary work but not sure what though. I had planned to rent my house out for a year and see how it goes. I had planned to move to Spain next July 2017.

However, my plans may not come to fruition. My mother is getting increasingly forgetful and I can see that her memory is getting worse by the month. The problem is that she has refused all care that has been offered to her. My brother and me have tried to talk to her to persuade her to have a home help, cleaner, gardener but she obstinately refuses it. As I live next door she always turns to me for help and support which I am more than happy to give her. I have told my brother my plans and he has said, point blank that he will not move nearer to help. He says that it would be a 'backward step'.

The other problem that I had not considered is my youngest daughter. If she moves back with me when she returns from travelling then I can't rent my house out as I planned. I have mentioned my plans to her but she became extremely critical of me, implying that I should not leave her grandmother (my mum) without someone to look after her. I explained that it would not be for another year and anything could happen in that time and that mum had refused all help. My daughter has now said that she will give up her career plans and look after my mum if I move abroad. Now, my middle daughter has got involved by telling my youngest daughter not to do this because it would wreck her work prospects for the future. My middle daughter supports my plans to travel abroad.

I know I am being selfish but I bought my kids up single handedly since they were very small and I have looked after my mum virtually on my own for the past 4 years. I just feel it is my time now and if I don't do this next year I'll be too old.

I guess it is up to my conscience and I do have to make sure my house is ready to rent by next July, whatever happens because I need to find somewhere smaller. If I stay and continue to be here for mum as and when she needs me, life would seem very empty and I know I will get resentful.

What would you do?

Rosenwyn1985 Wed 31-Aug-16 13:14:06

The way I look at these things is this... If I was your mother and you were my daughter I would tell you to go. I did not give birth to my sons to take care of me. They have one life and should live it. If your mum won't accept help, then that's her decision. It may get to the point she has to by then and it's a moot point. And your daughter? Again, your life, live it. She's a grown up, she can make her own decisions too. Maybe I'm just selfish too though!

adora1 Wed 31-Aug-16 13:15:25

Very much a personal choice but for me I would not go, my father is currently 82 and is very independent but I would hate to be in another country if anything happened to him, again, it's a personal choice.

Your mother is 91 and will keep declining with age, she sounds amazing btw.

adora1 Wed 31-Aug-16 13:16:46

And for me, my parents raised me and took care of me, the least I can do is return that favour when they need help - it's called family and you can't get another, no matter how many friends you aquire.

gleam Wed 31-Aug-16 13:19:39

Rosenwyn has nailed it, imo.
I wouldn't expect my kids to look after me. I tell them to do what they want with their lives and I expect the same courtesy for my life.

I agree with Rosenwyn

I would hate to think my boys would feel they had to stay to look after me.

It will be incredibly difficult for you, you sound a lovely caring person, but we only get one go at life. Live it (as an advert on a local LandRover says!)

Wallywobbles Wed 31-Aug-16 13:22:14

I'd go. It's only really your business. It's only potentially for a short time.

ImperialBlether Wed 31-Aug-16 13:23:25

When you think about it, your mum isn't going to be around for an awful lot longer, OP. Most people don't live beyond 93 or so, do they? Why don't you think of June 2018 as your limit instead? That gives you more time to get your house ready, it gives your daughter some lee-way and by then your mum is very unlikely to be living independently, if at all.

If she was 70 then obviously my advice would be different, but as it is, I'd stay put.

Why does your brother only visit every few months if he's only 80 miles away?

ImperialBlether Wed 31-Aug-16 13:24:55

It's all very well thinking you don't want to hold back your children but if your daughter lives next door and you're 91 and in that scary period of early dementia, then it's very unlikely that anyone would think, "Oh yes, I'd like you to go off and leave me alone."

Fiddle1964 Wed 31-Aug-16 13:30:01

Why not 'time limit' a trip to start, say for 3 months, thus keeping your home available for your daughter and set up care arrangements for your mum ? and see how it goes. You may like the idea of travelling backwards and forwards for a short while ?

My mother in law totally fought having help come in but it was needed, being a full time carer to anyone is very hard work

ImperialBlether Wed 31-Aug-16 13:37:02

My parents resisted having any help (cleaning and gardening) until one of my sisters said, "Oh so you just want Other Sister to do it, do you? Don't you think she's got enough to do?" That really shocked them and they agreed to have help "until they were better." Of course once they got help they bloody loved it and wouldn't have dreamed of stopping it.

The problem with your mum is that if she's in the early stages of dementia, she might find it scary to have strangers in the house. Would she agree to come to your house for a couple of hours while someone cleaned her house?

Have you looked into benefits she can get now? She should be entitled to an Attendance Allowance and you should be entitled to a Carer's Allowance.

rainbowstardrops Wed 31-Aug-16 13:39:51

I think I'd postpone it for another year. That gives plenty of time to see what's happening with your mum, gives your daughter plenty of time to accept it and sort herself out and you'd still be young enough to enjoy the adventure.
I know you've been there for your mum but it's fairly likely that she won't be around for years and years to come and I'd hate you to miss out on spending precious time with her while you can.
Each to their own though

headinhands Wed 31-Aug-16 13:40:55

Hm. People with dementia can deteriorate v quickly. Putting it as gently as I can time is precious right now. I would be inclined to hold off for a couple of years.

loveyoutothemoon Wed 31-Aug-16 16:05:48

If that was me, I'd be staying around my mother for her last few years. Just saying....

headinhands Wed 31-Aug-16 16:59:25

I know every case is different. My Nan went downhill so fast in the last 18 months. While she knows who you are I'd want to make the most of that before you lose that.

GemmaB78 Wed 31-Aug-16 17:03:59

I think I'd be inclined to put plans on hold for another year. As PP have said, dementia can deteriorate so quickly.

tribpot Wed 31-Aug-16 17:20:35

Ultimately it is hard to see when the caring responsibilities and demands on your time might end. You've had it for 30 years already (guessing slightly at the age of your oldest child) and even if your mum doesn't go on much longer, you're still apparently responsible for housing the youngest child whilst presumably grandchildren could be happening soon-ish and then are you being selfish if you go abroad whilst they are tiny, etc etc, ad infinitum.

My take on this is coloured by the fact that my mum (aged 68) has had to deal with her parents (aged 93) over the last ten years whilst their health has been declining severely (my grandmother more than my grandfather, she has now sadly died) and they have refused to accept that they needed to move into a nursing home. I might say my grandmother's quality of life improved markedly every time she did go to the nursing home after a hospital stay, and it gave my mum some semi-decent respite as well. But it took years before she (and my grandfather) would agree to her staying there. During this whole period my mum's brother continued to work out of the country for most of the year, how convenient.

I know what my mum's answer would be: go to Spain. No-one knows what the future holds, but I think you can be reasonably sure your mum isn't going to accept any outside help whilst there are alternatives. There are always going to be demands on your time and energy (noting that your brother seems to feel perfectly at liberty to reject those on his) and you have one life to live. Your dd's words are very obviously tainted by self-interest in that she wants somewhere rent-free to live whilst it suits her and she knows this is a better way of trying to guilt you into it.

That said, I share the view of other posters that maybe holding off for an additional year would be a good idea (or might be worse, i.e. she might be in good health in 2017 but very poor health in 2018). However, I would be taking some more immediate steps to shake things up and lay the groundwork for a departure. So for example, I would think about getting your house rented out whilst you move into a smaller place to give you more flexibility about when you go. I would certainly plan on spending some time in Spain over the winter months and getting a feel for what you want to do. Your dd can apparently leave her job to go travelling, well so can you. Why not do a bit of a tour of Spain and suss it out?

gleam Wed 31-Aug-16 17:52:24

Imperial - I've told my kids that I don't want them to sacrifice their wishes for me. And by 91, surely you've given some thought as to where and how you might live out the rest of your life?

Dozer Wed 31-Aug-16 17:57:42

Why are you assuming you won't be fit to travel if you leave it for a year or two?

Your travelling DD's wishes are not a high priority here: she is an adult and can support herself.

Your DB

Dozer Wed 31-Aug-16 17:58:58

Sounds like whatever you decide, it'd be good to talk to your DB about the different amount of care you have respectively been providing, the extent/limitations of what you will do in future, and what this means for your DM's care options.

adora1 Wed 31-Aug-16 18:00:10

I don't see looking after your 91 year old with dementia as a sacrifice, ok, it's not a pleasure but I would want to if I am able.

She has dementia gleam so not sure she's even able to function to the point of having plans in place, I don't think some people even without dementia plan that far in advance, perhaps ensure inheritance and funeral costs are covered but how do you know you are going to end up ill or without a partner?

Nobody seems to have mentioned the word love, and taking care of your parent is showing love, we all need love.

DoinItFine Wed 31-Aug-16 18:10:27


You are 60 and fit and you are under no obligation to put your life on hold to be a carer.

Your mum is fit and has mild dementia. She could live another decade like that.

It is not at all true that people with dementia die soon after diagnosis.

Unless you have been told she is dying, presume that she is not.

You only get one life.

You have devoted 4 years to looking after your mother already.

My parents spent their 50s looking after their parents. Now my Dad is a couole of years older than you and has inoperable cancer and one of the parents will outlive him.

Your mother will need professional care.

It is not fair to put the entire burden on you because she doesn't fancy it.

Please don't be guilted into this.

Your brother is right.

It's a backward step.

gleam Wed 31-Aug-16 18:14:03

I'm not suggesting that a 91 yo with dementia makes plans now. hmm

I'm saying that surely people think about what may happen to them and have already made plans by the time they get to 91? You can't just expect your kids to look after you.

adora1 Wed 31-Aug-16 18:25:24

You can't just expect your kids to look after you.

Why not, why is that so hard to actually believe or want?

No I don't mean now either, I mean how are we all meant to make plans for what state we will be in, we wont know will we?

Having strangers look after you is pretty horrid, there's no love, no history, nothing, they are just doing a job, how awful.

My conscience just would not allow me to go to another country with my mum still here on her own, I'd not enjoy it.

In fact, I think the current state where old people are pretty much left on their own is horrible, folk nowadays are so self entitled, they lose sight of what is actually important, family and love, in fact the elderly population here are pretty much despised and seen as an inconvenience, so bloody sad, we all started out young.

DoinItFine Wed 31-Aug-16 18:43:52

Having strangers look after you is pretty horrid, there's no love, no history, nothing, they are just doing a job, how awful.

What a cruel and stupid thing to say.

People who work as carers usually look after the infirm a lot better than people who love them.

There is expertise, experience, compassion, comoetence, training, breaks, time off, emotional distance.

Being looked after by somebody who is paid and trained to do it properly is far preferable to running one of your daughters into the ground emotionally and mentally as she is guilted into dealung with 24/7/365 demands that go on for years.

Thankfully it is getting kess acceptabke to dump that burden on women.

The elderly are living longer in very poor health. Today's aged did not normally provude decades of full time care for their own parents.

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