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Caring for elderly relatives? Supercarers can help


I had a fall - made me think

9 replies

FlipFlops4Me · 10/10/2022 10:09

My DH had a serious stroke about 18 months ago. He has cognitive problems (a lot), aphasia that increases with stress, partial blindness and problems with wiping after toileting. Oh, and bathing, and dressing etc.

This morning I had a fall and have tweaked my knee (I heard it crack). The pain lasted quite a while and made me want to vomit but thankfully I didn't as the vessel my DH handed me was the rice cooking pot (!)

He is helping as much as he can but has serious limitations. My DS is coming over after work to walk the dogs, and bring anything I need. But the fall made me think - if I couldn't walk, what would happen? I am DH's registered carer - is there any local authority help available? DH will need to poo a couple of times today and I will need to get up the stairs on my bottom so that I can wipe and clean him.

Also, I'm not too sure I can help him into the shower (or myself come to that), so I suppose it's strip washes at the bathroom sink sitting on the perching stool.

What happens if a carer can't care?

OP posts:
SaltyCrisp · 10/10/2022 21:47

OP - if you ask MNHQ to move your thread to the Elderly Parents topic, someone might be able to help as there are some carers on there.

IthinkIsawahairbrushbackthere · 12/10/2022 21:16

Oh my goodness, how awful. This has only just arrived in Elderly Parents which is probably why there are no replies. How are you feeling today? How are you managing? I would suggest phoning your surgery and social services.

Alfiemoon1 · 12/10/2022 21:20

Could you contact adult social services and arrange additional carers to come and help you and your dh

FlipFlops4Me · 13/10/2022 11:13

My DS is taking me to the Minor Injuries Unit this morning (we have to go there in my area for suspected damage to bones and tendons etc). I have to take DH with me in case he needs the loo. He won't be able to cope alone at home, and he'll get frightened if I leave him for too long.

I think I've broken or chipped a bone in my ankle which is swollen, red and very painful. At the same time I've done something to the knee which is swollen, painful and not that stable. If anything is broken and I need pot on the ankle then I'll phone adult SS. I'm the registered carer for DH and if I can't care then he needs someone.

OP posts:
maxelly · 13/10/2022 13:00

Have experience of this with my mum who needed help due to a neurological condition at a much younger age than 'normal'. There is local authority care available for disabled adults, it is means tested so depending on your income you may have to pay or make a contribution, and the services primarily support the elderly so there can be a tendency where the person has a healthy spouse or other capable adults living with them to assume help isn't needed but I really would encourage you to look into it, even once you are fully recovered from your knee (ouch!). Just because you are the 'registered carer' and receiving carers allowance doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself. It's the adult social care team at the local authority you need to speak to, your/DH's GP may be able to assist with a referral also.

I know it can be hard to accept people coming into the home and doing intimate care, and you might have to be a bit pushy with both the services and DH to get him to accept it, but even a single regular visit a day from a carer for 20 mins or so to make him a cup of tea and help him to the loo would give you a tiny break (seems like you have a lot on your plate) and would give you the flexibility to occasionally go out in the afternoon knowing there's someone coming to see him. I won't pretend it's all rosy, the carers are on minimum wage and very over-stretched so inevitably some are better and more caring/dedicated than others, they're from an agency usually so you can't rely on always having the same person twice and even the very best ones don't have loads of time, they rush in and out doing the minimum to keep people alive and you have to really push the council even to phone that, but it is something...

FlipFlops4Me · 14/10/2022 10:01

Thanks @SaltyCrisp @IthinkIsawahairbrushbackthere and @maxelly . I appreciate the very helpful comments (and the sympathy). I'm going to look up the appropriate phone numbers etc and put them in my phone, just in case I need them one day.

Minor Injuries X-rayed ankle and knee and thankfully I've not broken anything. The doctor said that since resting isn't going to be possible, then I can expect to recover in a month to six weeks but nothing is actually damaged, just painful. That's good to know and I can cope with pain. Today I managed a shower for me first thing and later today I'm going to shower DH. We're having to be very slow and gentle today because he got so stressed yesterday and I don't want to trigger his seizures. I feel so sorry for him - I can't even offer a choice of tea or coffee because he gets stressed by not being able to choose! His face crumples like a little boy and I could weep for him.

But I feel so much better for being properly clean!

OP posts:
SaltyCrisp · 14/10/2022 10:17

Glad to hear you're OK, OP.

How lovely it is to read of your devotion to your DH Flowers

maxelly · 14/10/2022 10:57

Glad to hear you're on the mend and nothing's broken, get well soon Flowers

I do encourage you to have a think about what this's episode's told you though. In the gentlest way possible, having the numbers saved in your phone is not going to do very much for you in a true crisis. One thing I've learnt about the british care system is it does nothing fast - it's not a case of making one or two phone calls and carers turn up (unless you are lucky enough to be able to pay privately), and even if it was possible to put something in place quickly it doesn't sound as though that would really be a very nice solution for your DH, they would be total strangers with very limited information about him and his needs, and for instance they wouldn't know that simple choices like tea or coffee are very stressful for him. And I think in reality what would actually happen in the event of you being incapacitated is either your (young adult?) DS would be left to care for DH at home the best he could or he would end up in hospital on an emergency basis, neither sound ideal at all.

I really do think that if there's even a reasonable chance you might need some external help at some point in the future the very best time to introduce this is actually when you are on an even keel and things are relatively stable, rather than at crisis point. I know this goes totally against your instincts, of course you want to do everything for him yourself if you possibly can, but it doesn't have to be that way. It doesn't have to happen overnight (like I say, with the local authority it absolutely won't!) and you don't have to leap straight to them doing intimate care, they can come just once or twice a week for short visits and be introduced to him as more of a helper and make him drinks and snacks or something equally gentle in the first instance, particularly if you can afford to pay for someone on a private basis (again, I'm sorry if this is wildly beyond your means and a silly suggestion) you could hire a regular person that gets to know him well and vice versa so they are there and ready to step up to more if needed (I don't want to sound doom and gloom and I truly hope all goes really well for you and your DH from now on but I do tend to look at the worst case scenario!).

Just something to think about and maybe have some exploratory conversations maybe. All the very best!

FlipFlops4Me · 14/10/2022 15:00

You're absolutely right @Maxelly. I need to have arrangements made that can more or less slot into place. I do indeed have a DS who would want to help but he's a musician and gigs in the evenings, teaches during the day and has odd times free (he dropped us at the Minor Injuries Unit and reappeared 7 hours later to collect us - he'd had several appointments in that time).

I have a lovely DDil but I couldn't ask her to deal with intimate care for DH although I know she'd happily clean house a little and get meals etc. I'll have to get in touch with the local Carers Association - they send out newsletters etc and keep a register of carers, carees and the carees' needs. I'll ask their advice for emergency care. I'll phone the adult social services people too. DH can't cope alone any more than a 3 year old could and I need to make them aware of this.

I suppose I'd better get hold of the Cinnamon Trust too because the dogs would need foster care until I was able to cope. I can ask them to open a file or whatnot, so that my dogs would be looked after.

God, I never thought of any this before! How blasé am I about life's realities!

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