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Ageing mother vs young children - I'm torn.

(17 Posts)
sandyballs Thu 30-Oct-08 21:13:14

Seems harsh to word it that way but that's how I feel.

My mother is 82 and has been a widow for 20 years. She still lives in her own home but is getting increasingly muddled and confused and finding it hard to cope with things like paying bills and keeping the house clean.

I work 3 days a week, with a long commute, and also have twin 7 year old daughters. I visit mum at least once a week and help her out, sometimes twice, but i feel that my DDs should come first. It was somehow easier when they were younger, they seem to have constant play dates and clubs now which makes it harder to fit mum in, particularly after school. I don't want them to stop these because of mum's needs. DH is great but can't really help because of his work hours.

Mum doesn't seem to understand this. She moans that she doesn't see me enough, doesn't see the children, but is very reluctant to sell her home and move into sheltered accommodation or a home. At least there she would have company and her basic needs would be taken care of. And her meals, she barely eats unless I take her out.

I feel so guilty and torn between my daughters and my mum.

Prufrock Thu 30-Oct-08 21:20:51

Is there anyway your mum could afford to pay for a carer to come in for an hour a day or so to do the essential stuff, so that you could then keep your visits to enjoying each other's company?
Or could you/she cope with her staying with you one night a week - you could make it cover one of the days you work, so that you don't have to spend all day with her when you need to get things done, and she would also be there to spend time with the kids after school

CicatrickOrTreat Thu 30-Oct-08 21:21:58

Its very hard. I tend to view my DS as my primary responsiblity. I do think that old people can be a bit removed from what it is like working and having a family.

But it is better to move before she has to. When it becomes imperative for her to move she will be least able to cope with it, or to benefit from the move.

Bride1 Thu 30-Oct-08 21:24:36

She either needs to move into sheltered housing or you get a carer.

Otherwise YOU are going to crack up with the stress and where will you all be then?

RustyBear Thu 30-Oct-08 21:32:08

My Dad is 98 & still lives on his own 200 miles from me. I have been a lot happier about his eating since he discovered this company - they deliver frozen ready meals, which can be put straight from the freezer into the oven or microwave -the driver is great & if he doesn't get an answer from Dad (who's a bit deaf) he always goes to the neighbour to check.

Playtimetalks Thu 30-Oct-08 21:42:57

I'm not sure how but my parents moved both their mothers (who are stubborn) to the same area they live in.Probably down to no jobs for my dad in their areas so this proved a good discussion point!

My dhs parents moved to be closer to their parents so there was no move for them involved but when their children are teachers it is much easier to set up else where in the UK.

Even with my mums mum in a sheltered housing she refused a carer pt in the last few mths of life, they can be so stubborn and pile on guilt can't they?!, yet they both adapted once they had moved.

kiwibella Thu 30-Oct-08 21:44:39

it's an awful / awkward predicament which I can sympathise with but I can't offer you any solutions. My father suffers from Parkinsons however before he was diagnosed he moved to Australia for work, met a lady, and has chosen to remain there. Dad's ailing health is a huge burden on his partner... and they both think that my sister and I should be there to help out. I'm caught between wanting to be there for my dad and the reality of work and my own family.

I hope that your mum is able to make the best decision for her before it is made for her.

sandyballs Thu 30-Oct-08 22:15:51

Thanks for all your replies. She is very awkward at times and is very resistant to moving out of her house. I've suggested meal deliveries/cleaners etc and her response was "I wouldn't bloody let them in, so don't bother". I'm glad she's still feisty and difficult in some ways because that is her! the times when she has been easy and compliant in the past has been when she is pretty sick so in some ways stroppiness is good, but it would be easier if she listened.

Bride1 Thu 30-Oct-08 22:27:10

Just make sure you put your health and welfare on as high a priority rating as everyone else's.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 31-Oct-08 09:35:14


You are part of what is known as the sandwich generation (elderly parents at one end, children at the other and the adult stuck in the middle) and this scenario is becoming increasingly common.

I would speak to your own GP re your Mum as a starting point. Age Concern and or Help the Aged may also be beneficial to talk to.

I was going to ask if you yourself have siblings. If you have siblings it is unfair for them to expect you to be her sole carer.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 31-Oct-08 09:36:40

There is also a "Carers" forum on this website (under the section entitled other stuff). You may want to post there as well because you should get other replies that way.

RustyBear Fri 31-Oct-08 11:13:33

You may be able to get attendance allowance for your mum to pay for someone to come in - or if she won't let you in & you are giving the care, she can give you the money - maybe to pay for someone to take your DD's to clubs & pick them up (I know that's not ideal, because you want the time to spend with them, but it might be a practical help)

sandyballs Sat 01-Nov-08 19:25:20

Thanks for all your replies. I do have a brother but he is reluctant to get too involved and mum thinks he has 'enough on his plate' (her words!), with a second marriage and seeing his two kids every other weekend hmm. She doesn't seem to realise that living 24/7 with mine means a lot more hard work than a couple of days at a theme park twice a month. Not that I would want that, obviously.

Anyway, I will look into all your suggestions and ideas and hopefully sort something out that suits both myself and mum.

izyboy Sat 01-Nov-08 19:42:23

sandyballs someone might have already mentioned this - but meals on wheels maybe? Does she need a social worker do you think? Maybe get an assessment of need done and see what they can get for her. Also contact Help the Aged or Age Concern/Good Neighbours perhaps someone can pop in on Mum to keep her company one a week.

ACL Sat 01-Nov-08 22:38:47

My elderly mother is settled in a sheltered housing flat where she has restaurant meals and can meet others when she chooses, and has the option to have in house home care as and when (useful at times eg for eye drops). There are different schemes around so it may be worth your while to look at what is available in your area. I strongly recommend something near to your home or children's schools to help you in your management of your day. It is great fun to see my mother with my children after school with a drink and biscuit etc, and occasionally leave one with her so I can take the other to an after school activity, and importantly she feels that she is helping.

My mother's move was helped by feeling that it was ME who needed help as I was getting exhausted from helping her at home and it was really MY fault that she needed to leave her home ie a sort of blame the tools (or daughter really!).

It is such a big thing to realise that you can no longer cope at home and this can make everything seem depressing or end of the road say, and hence the fight to stay in your own home. You have to sell the positives about moving into a sheltered flat. How would you feel when your children recommend that you need to move? Not something we really want to hear but need to. If you find something really fab, then you can present the idea and do a visit together and then this may take time for the facts to sink in and to accept that this is needed.

Our parents in their 80s tend to be very resourceful and inspirational I hasten to add - I guess something to do with surviving WW2 - so they need lots of reassurance that all will be OK - they are not to think they are a failure.

Moving into a flat (downsizing was a good phrase for my mother to hear) is quite a task - be prepared for months of sorting out "stuff" in the house - charities, auctions, relatives, etc - all take time to sort - at least 3 mths. You will need even more time and physical and mental energy for this so work out which time of year may suit you all. It is traumatic to say goodbye to some family treasures and to go through odds and ends. Again a lot of TLC is needed and you, too, may find it quite emotional eg losing the family home, going thro childhood things in the loft.

Once your mother is somewhere where you know she is safe etc, you will feel heaps better.

Can thoroughly recommend Lloyds Pharmacy dosset box re medication (weekly delivered box with days of week etc). This may help her and you now? One less trip eg no more trips to pharmacy/gp.


2rebecca Mon 03-Nov-08 13:16:20

I agree with ACL. Also you have to be as strong minded about what you need (time with your husband and kids and time to yourself) as your mum is about what she needs (you running round after her). Sometimes you have to set a clear amount of time that you will spend as a carer and let her decide how she manages the rest of the time. Old folk with no children manage. Some elderly parents can be very selfish, particularly regarding their daughters. Making sure she claims allowances she's entitled to so she can spend money on carers is important. You can't force her to move into sheltered accommodation, but likewise your mum can't force you to run around after her because she refuses to do so.
Your 7 year olds need you, no-one else can be their mum. Other people can help care for your mum. She just wants you, rather than needs you.

sandyballs Tue 04-Nov-08 09:59:54

Thanks everyone, you all talk a lot of sense. I'm going to mull this over and decide what to do in the next few days.

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