A conversation I will have tomorrow

nursing homes, sheltered accommodation

Tomorrow will see hard thoughts expressed through soft words. I’m seeing my mum and it’s become obvious, due to her poor health, that the quality of her life and those around her would be dramatically improved by her moving into either a care home or some form of sheltered housing.

She was an alcoholic for many years and two years ago she had a heart attack and a stroke. The consultant at the time told me that it couldn’t have been the first stroke she’d had as some “sections of her brain are mush.”

For the past few years she’s been relying heavily on the support of my aunt and, recently, some carers. My aunt is independent, outgoing, works full-time, has lots of friends and regularly travels overseas. Her son is in Australia and I know that she wants to move over there to spend more time with them and see her grandson grow up. My aunt recently when to Australia and carers were put in place to help my mother cope with her absence. Despite being on so much medication she rattles when she walks my mum got pissed and fell, breaking her wrist and sustaining other injuries.

Some people never learn.

The carers were good for my mum but as soon as my aunt returned from Australia my mum cancelled them. She sees this as my aunt’s role. My aunt is the one who should support her and drive her to the shops, provide her with a social life. My aunt is the one who should do all this and shr receives no thanks.

My aunt wants to move to Australia but my mum’s reliance upon her is stopping her from making this decision.

It’s a terrible thing to say this but I’ll say it anyway. My mum’s quality of life and her health is so poor that she would be better off if she died, and so might others. I don’t mean this in a mean way, although we don’t get on at times, I mean it in a purely practical way. My mum is being kept going by weekly or twice-weekly trips to her GP, the support of others, and medication. She is miserable and alone, but those are her choices. She once told me ‘a friend in need is a pain in the arse’ so she has none. My aunt on the other hand is on the phone 3 or 4 times a night, purely because friends call her for a natter.

The NHS are keeping her going and keeping her alive. Expensive treatment for someone who smoked and drank a lot for many years and still does. This will keep her going until her body gives up once again and she’ll have another stroke, or her health will deteriorate even more. She’s dishonest about her health and the treatment she receives, and while I know she does get confused she’s not as confused as that. At this rate the NHS will keep propping her up until she’s 80 and driven my aunt mad or to the grave with exhaustion. In 18 years time.

They row when they’re together, and this relationship can only improve if something else happens. If someone else takes the strain.

And so I’m going to try to persuade my mum that this option, sheltered housing or a care home, would not just improve her quality of life, increase her social outlets and relieve the pressure on my aunt, but it would be better for everyone. This situation is becoming impossible and it is no longer viable for my mum to live on her own. She will hate this. She will hate the idea that this choice will be taken away from her but it is the only remaining viable alternative, and the only one that will keep her safe and the rest of us sane. But it’s gonna be hard.

Tomorrow I will talk to my mum about this and it’s only because I care. I want her to be around to spend time with her grandchildren when she can. I don’t want her to shut herself off or become so aggressive that she alienates everyone around her to the extent that they refuse to do any more and it is getting to that stage. This situation is exhausting my aunt, who has so much more in life to look forward to. My mum has made her choices in life and she runs the risk of wringing people dry. I understand her reluctance do make this change, but I have to try to convince her it’s for the best. And I have to do this tomorrow.

No decisions will be made tomorrow but we must start this process now. Before rifts and rows break this tiny family apart. Right now we all need to stick together and support each other and we must look to the future.

Thanks for reading.


31 responses to “A conversation I will have tomorrow

  1. Hi Spencer – have either you or your Aunt researched the opportunities locally? Many care homes would find her alcohol dependence a blocker and sheltered housing can become a nightmare for someone who relies on alcohol and then distresses other tenants. I am not saying don’t do this but offering you caution so that you can accomplish the impossible with as little stress all round as possible. I can offer more detail if you want but don’t want to bamboozle you straight off.


    • We’re looking into them now and know a full service history, for want of a better word, would be needed which might mean it’s harder for them to accept her. Not sure yet but the subject does need to approached so we can move forward with her consent.
      Thanks for the comment, it is truly appreciated.

      • You’re welcome. In my last job I came across some very distressed families when they found the care venue they wanted wouldn’t accept their loved one or asked them to remove the person at a later date. It is a difficult enough decision to be involved in without it being made harder. Hugs to you all tomorrow.

  2. I don’t envy you! It is so difficult when you have parents that becomes dependent on you or those close by. My FIL drank himself into an early grave and it is not nice for anyone involved. Sometimes we have to make the decision that is best for everyone and this may mean hurting someone’s feelings in the process. In the long term, you’re suggestion is beneficial to everyone – I hope you managed to get your Mum to see this too. Good luck x

  3. Yuck. I would have your aunt available to support you and I would have options at the ready so your mom can see the kind of places she might go. Perhaps they will appeal instead of the nursing home/elder care our imagination conjures up. Be prepared. Good luck. x

    • My aunt will help as much as she can but I’m my mum’s son so it will be and should be my responsibilty to do the talk and the gentle persuasion. I know my aunt will help if she can. 🙂

  4. What A difficult situation for you, I’m sure it will go ok and like you say your doing it because you care. I do hope it goes ok

  5. I don’t envy the position you are in, we were in a similar one with my nana and dad a few years back, and I get where you’re coming from about quality of life and death being the kinder option, sometimes it just is.
    I hate to say it, but sometimes you have to force the situation, if your aunt stops going to your mother and providing care for her, explaining to social services that she is moving and will no longer be able to carry on as she was, social services will / should be forced to take action with your mother. It may piss her off for a while, but I honestly think whatever action you take she will get narky.
    Whatever the outcome I hope it doesn’t cause you too much stress.

    • Thanks very much. I think we should go down that route if we can. I did the same for my ex-mother in law so I kind of know the process but I know each place is different.
      Thanks for reading and for your comment. It’s much appreciated.

  6. I understand your comment about her being better off if she died, not being a cruel one. My aunt-in-law (if that is a term) is 96, nearly deaf, nearly blind and can’t get out and about without help. She lives in a retirement flat (where you are independent but there is a warden on call) and says she is just sitting there waiting to die. She has no quality of life; she can’t read or watch TV or chat with other residents or her family as she can’t hear or see them. She’s happy that she’s done with her life and can’t wait for it to end.

    • Thanks for your comment. Dunno if I feel sad thinking that or not but sometimes it does feel a bit cruel to be kept hanging on with very little quality of life.

  7. Good luck, my mother and I have tried and failed to get my 94 year old Nan to agree to go into a home, she has no quality of life, carers to get her up, wash her, feed her, get her to bed, shop and clean for her. The problem we have come up against is that because she is still of sound mind (sort of) the decision has to be hers for the services to accept her. She refuses.
    I hope that you can find some solution and that your Aunt can emigrate. x

    • Thanks. I know we can’t be seen to be bullying my mum into anything as that will backfire on us and turn her against me. Not sure how it will happen but it has to.
      Thanks for reading.

  8. I have worked within the care sector and I would have to agree with Amanda when she says you have to force the situation. Get together as much information as possible before bringing it up and make sure that when you do, there is someone to support you too. Your Mum will get nasty and make you feel terrible I suspect, but it is her choices in life which are affecting others living theirs now. That is not fair!
    Stay strong and I hope it all goes well.

    • Thanks. I worked for a care agency, sorting them out a bit so they could pass their CQC so I have some experience and kind of know what I’m after but I’ve been researching a bit too. I just need to get her to agree in principle to viewing some places and from there we can move forward. Slowly.
      Thanks for your comment.

  9. You are doing what’s best for everyone including your mum. It’s such a massive step to take, lots of people put it off, so I think you are very brave. My Nan looked after her twin while she was spiralling into dimensia. It put huge strain on her, we couldn’t stop her but it made us resentful that her twin’s family didn’t do more (they eventually did). So from that experience, I think you are doing the right thing at the right time.

  10. Can’t help with the conversation except to say good luck. However, if you do get her in a home make sure someone’s checking on her care regularly. My dad lives abroad so when my Granddad went in a home we were the main visitors. His home got taken over and his care standards went down hill rapidly as the new owners cut costs. We moved him to a lovely place so obviously most homes are fine but there are some cowboys out there.

    • Thanks for the advice. I worked with a care company a few years back and know all about that, and some of the bad stories behind some companies, so I think I know what to look for, CQC reports etc, but your advice is appreciated.
      And thanks for reading.

  11. What a difficult conversation. Is it possible to focus on the positives – being around to see her grandchildren grow up, rather than the negatives… Sorry not to have more or better words of advice. Will be thinking of you & sending you strength x

    • Thank you. She doesn’t interact with her grandchildren when she’s with them but she will, I hope, learn that being around for them is better than not being. Dunno. Thanks for your comment.

  12. My father spent his last six months living with us, dying from liver cancer, most surely brought on from the years & years of drink. It was hard on my children watching their grandfather deteriorate in front of their eyes. It did get to the point where my father’s quality of life was horrid and when he entered the hospital for the last time, he just wanted his death to be quick and painless and thankfully with the help of his doctors, it was. Having grown up with alcoholic parents, I know how difficult this is for you, Hugs.

  13. What a hard conversation. I had to have the same one with my own mother, and I tried to approach it through the safety aspect first, as well as the social one. Eventually she as placed in a home, but she refused at first to take advantage of the social arena, the trips and social gatherings were skipped in lieu of calling and demanding I take her someplace instead. You and your Aunt may need to prepare for this possibility as well. Best of luck to you.

  14. Its a tough situation, a tough conversation and likely to be a really tough day for you both. Hope it goes as well as possible and sounds like you are thinking of whats best for all.
    Hope it goes well mate.

    • Thanks. We had the conversation and she’s not against the idea so now more hard work starts as we must sell and find somewhere else for her. Was a tough day but thanks for your support.

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