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Would you 'interfere' in this matter?

(49 Posts)
OrmIrian Mon 09-Nov-09 14:07:45

My parents are 78, so far reasonably fit and healthy. But last week dad had an angina attack and is feeling very ill and sorry for himself atm. Mum also has extremely severe arthritis in her hips.

They live in house with a very large garden - 3 acres with woodlands, orchard, ponds and a very large veg garden. They have managed to keep on top of it but as dad can't do much and mum is struggling, I can see it getting out of hand. I have no time to help (and am useless gardener anyway blush. The other factor is that it on a steep hillside and walking down the greenhouse or up to the gate is hard work in itself.

Sooner or later they are going to have to consider moving. DB and I both think it should be sooner rather than later - at least now they are still together. I think it would be very sad if one of them had to move out alone. Dad has mentioned it before - he fancies buying a little place in Wells (they do voluntary work there). Mum thinks it would be 'defeatist'.

Is it our business? I worry about them so much. I have a terror of getting a call saying mum has fallen going down the garden and done some major damage, or that dad has has another serious attack. Or they will watch their beautiful garden fade away which will be so so sad.

What can I do?

Chickenshavenolips Mon 09-Nov-09 14:14:41

Could you sit down with them and ask them what they think about all the maintenance needed in the garden? (I am envy at your description btw!) Would it be possible to employ someone to help?

juicy12 Mon 09-Nov-09 14:19:20

Hello. Sounds like a v similar situation to mine. My parents are in their late 70s and although not in a massive house, it's one that's too big for them to manage now. They are both fairly immobile through various health issues and live about 1.5hrs away. Everytime we visit, DH does loads of gardening/DIY/house jobs for them, which he is more than happy to do, but it just highlights how they can't keep on top of it themselves sad. We'd love them to move nearer to us, but they wouldn't consider it - too traumatic at their age/where would all their "stuff" go/why should they "trade down" after years of working hard etc. I don't have any siblings, which is now hitting me hard. DH wants me to "have the conversation" with my parents, but I'm too scared of what it'll bring up. also part of me thinks, leave them to it, they've earned the right certainly to do what they want. IT's terribly hard though. So, no advice really, just empathy.

OrmIrian Mon 09-Nov-09 14:19:27

I have tried chicken - but it's a so hard. Dad gets tearful atm and mum gets cross. And yes, it's beautiful. I don't want them to leave really as they've been there for 34yrs so it's my childhood home - all my children have loved it there, I got married from there.... but I don't want it to become a millstone. Oh it so sad....

OrmIrian Mon 09-Nov-09 14:21:20

Thanks juicy. I am lucky in that I am only 30 mins away but DB is about 4 hrs away. So it falls on me mostly.

Chickenshavenolips Mon 09-Nov-09 14:21:37

I understand where you're coming from. Maybe the fact that it has been discussed will sow the seed, and given time they may become more receptive to a move. There are no easy, pain free answers, are there?

NancyBotwin Mon 09-Nov-09 14:23:55

Gosh, 3 acres would be a challenge for anyone, let alone an elderly person with health problems! At least is is heading for winter when the garden will be pretty dormant so it gives you time to come up with a plan... getting someone in to help would be good if they are not ready to give up the house yet - but it isn't cheap. Whereabouts do they live? In the SE it would cost several hundreds a month to get someone in for one day a week... (which is probably the minimum they would need, at least in summer)

My parents garden is big but a lot smaller than that and tbh a good portion of it is overgrown already as it is really too much for them... I think they have plans to move at some stage but seem to be oblivious to the amount of work that would be required even to put their house on the market as "needing renovating" hmm

I can absolutely appreciate your concerns about interfering - I have had to speak to an elderly relative's GP recently behind her back and felt bad about doing so - but I would feel worse if something happened and I had done nothing...

OrmIrian Mon 09-Nov-09 14:27:02

Thanks nancy. I have looked into getting a gardener but mum reckons they can't afford it - I will have to pay for it I suppose if I can persuade them. We are in the south west so not so expensive.

BlingLoving Mon 09-Nov-09 14:28:27

is there any way to get help in for them. My parents are also getting a bit old and I'd quite like them to move as I don't think the house is good for my mum's health (it's very damp). But they won't. But we're (me and my siblings) are lucky in that they have help at home and in the garden so they're less likely to attempt things that are too much for them. And it make me and my siblings feel a lot better.

itsmeolord Mon 09-Nov-09 14:28:46

For now, if there are funds, I would employ someone to come in and do the gardening, all the big stuff that is too much.
I should think your parents still enjoy doing the lighter things.
You could look at employing a cleaner as well to help lighten the load.

My grandad has a similar property I think. We got him a mobility type scooter for getting to and from the gates so he could get his post every day.
He still drives and is capable of doing so, which means he is ok for shopping etc.
He has a gardener who comes when needed, ie grandad calls him when he wants things done such as heavy pruning of the trees.
There is also a cleaning lady who subtly keeps an eye out for him as well.

If his health remains fairly stable he will probably be able to stay there for a long time yet.

diddl Mon 09-Nov-09 14:31:04

I wonder if there is anyone who look after the garden in return for being allowed a vegetable patch in it or some such arrangement?

frostyfingers Mon 09-Nov-09 14:31:33

It is so hard to know what to do. My mum has had two strokes and lives in a wildly unsuitable place where you have to have a car to get around - she has to rely on taxis. The house is too big, the grounds are too much for her (and she hates gardening so spends a fortune on upkeep) BUT it is the only home she has shared with my Dad who died 28 years ago, they spent a year there together, doing it up before he died. He was in army so it was their first non army home.

It is so sad as she loves it so much, and so do we. She is slowly coming round to the idea of moving, initially it was "no way, never" and now it's "I suppose I ought to". Sis and I are both more than 2 hours away and she doesn't want to move here - and neither Sis nor I want to force her out, however unsuitable others think it is. Doctor last week lectured me on it - very inappropriate, far too isolated, most unsuitable were her words. To which I replied that there was no way we were going to force her to do anything.

I think the only way to approach it is keep fairly quiet - the more you suggest it, I suspect the more opposition you will have. Could you find out how much a gardener and home help would cost - if it were a financial decision it may make it easier for them.

I know my mum is really waiting for another illness to force her hand - to have the decision taken away from her really. It breaks my heart, both to see her struggling at home and to think of losing our family home, and the only place we all lived together. Life is shit sometimes....

OrmIrian Mon 09-Nov-09 14:32:11

Hmm that's an idea diddl. There are no allotments in the village. Maybe.

tinkerbellesmuse Mon 09-Nov-09 14:32:36

Similar situation with my grandparents.

Their house and garden (which is also beautiful) has been "getting too much for them" for the past twenty years - my grandmother is now in her mid 90's and my grandfather died 10 years ago in his mid 90's.

Their heads told them they ought to move due to practical issues but their hearts were not in it - it is my fathers childhood home and a lot of memories are there.

Fortunately my father and his three brothers were in a position to pay for the upkeep with gardeners etc and that is what they have done. Could you do the same.

As time has passed the garden has faded - no one could put the effort in that my grandmother did but so has her eyesight and she no longer notices. To her it is as beautiful as it ever was and I now know it gives her great comfort that she will eventually die in her home with her memories as did my grandfather.

edam Mon 09-Nov-09 14:34:16

When my Mum was ill and out of work (been made redundant and then an op went wrong and left her out of action for quite a while) she discovered a local scheme where the 'bad lads' will come round and do your garden for free. Think they were on community service. May be worth finding out if your local council does something similar? Or any courses locally where they train gardeners?

gonnabehappy Mon 09-Nov-09 15:18:48

Where I am one of the mental Health support groups at a local clinic gets together people )usually those with depression) and organizes a rota to regularly care for an elderly person's garden. Sounds like a win win situation all round. I will see if I can find out more in case they have contacts elsewhere in the country.

OrmIrian Mon 09-Nov-09 15:36:36

Thanks gonna.

DB and I were talking about this last night and we reckon it's so hard for them to let go because they are the post-war generation that did everything for themselves - carpentry, DIY, car fixing, gardening, dress making, decorating, baking, preserving. Dad even made me dolls' houses and stables, mum made all our clothes. She even spun, dyed and wove/knitted wool from their sheep or collected from the hedges. They are the most capable people I know. I clearly remember coming home from university once and be shocked to see Hellmans mayo in the fridge! It was a sign that they were feeling a bit better off with us out of school.

gonnabehappy Mon 09-Nov-09 15:51:38

My parents are the same...they now reluctantly employ a cleaner and take taxis but it is a real blow to them. Unfortunately we are getting very close to them not being safe alone in ther bungalow. Not good at all.

I have suggested they move now, while they have control over a move, rather then wait until overtaken by ill health etc. It is not going down well. sad

gonnabehappy Mon 09-Nov-09 15:53:09

Hey that was my first 'face' on mumsnet! You are all soooo lucky to share this experince with me!!! Heee hee hee (can you tell it is that manic children home and trying to do housework phase of the day!)

igivein Mon 09-Nov-09 16:16:29

What about Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall's Landshare thing? He's set up an organisation where you can offer land for cultivation in return for some of the crop. I'm useless at links, but if you google him there's a link to it on his website. There might even be people who'd love the chance to do a spot of 'flower' gardening (as opposed to growing veg), but don't have space.

OrmIrian Mon 09-Nov-09 16:19:49

Ok thanks igivein. I'll have a look.

gonna - congrats btw grin

edam Mon 09-Nov-09 16:21:11

orm, do investigate the 'bad lads' - they are carefully supervised and with three acres you could keep them away from the house if you are at all worried.

OrmIrian Mon 09-Nov-09 16:22:32

I will edam. How though? Perhaps I will look for local community service stuff. Thanks

BratleyBansBaubles Mon 09-Nov-09 16:30:57

I was going to suggest something along the lines of diddl and igivein.

I bet there are people out there who would love the chance to maintain a 'garden' like that but could never dream of owning it!

Also, like the idea of 'bad lads' or MH support groups, people giving them the chance to do something, always a good thing to do!

Landscaping students, even?

edam Mon 09-Nov-09 16:30:58

Actually afraid I don't know - my sister sorted it. Or possibly someone through the community health team who were looking after my Mum.

Maybe Age Concern or Help the Aged or whatever they call themselves would know about local schemes?

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