Friday, 30 November 2007

When I get older, losing my hair....

My mother is 78 and extremely fit and healthy (she says, touching wood quickly).
She lives in a small village where a car is a necessity; there is one bus a day into the nearest town and one that comes back at an inopportune time. She has been a widow for over twenty years now but has a strong network of very good friends who support each other, and her social life leaves me breathless.

But recently she had to have a hernia operation and wasn’t able to drive for a month. It nearly drove her bonkers (it tested our relationship when we went up to look after her for a week, too, but the less said about that the better).

So while Mum is able to drive and get around and be independent, all is well. But what about when she can’t drive, or if, God forbid, she should become ill? Should she come and live in Cornwall? My brothers live near London, and both have children and I can’t see her wanting to go and live with them. Or vice versa.

Himself thinks it would be a good idea, if and when the time comes, for my mum to buy somewhere nearby. ‘I’m quite happy to go and make her breakfast,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to worry about me in that respect.’

But she has so many friends in Devon, would she want to leave them? I’m not sure that she would. But what should they all do, when the time comes?

Should she come and live with us? Given that we live in a one bedroom flat, we would have to sell this, she would have to sell her house and perhaps buy something together.

Himself looked after his mum until she died at home and thinks this is only the right to do. ‘We should look after the oldies,’ he said firmly. ‘They’re family.’

Filled with guilt at Himself’s unselfish attitude, I discussed this with several friends. We all agreed, with a certain degree of shame, that having our mothers to live with us would be a disaster. Not because we don’t love them but because we don’t think it would work, and that would be disastrous.

We need our independence, just as they need theirs. The idea of a granny flat has its appeal, but I would hate for my relationship with my mother to break down. We are close but having looked after her for a week when she was unwell, I can see the problems that could arise.

I would hate her to wish she hadn’t made the move, for us to resent her and her needs. I can foresee a Pandora’s Box of complications.

A friend of mine said, “when we get old we should all sell our houses and buy a big place with a big garden. We could turn it into flats or just have a room each and share the kitchen and living room. We could have our privacy yet always know that someone was there. And medical care when we needed it.”

I think that’s a great idea. But what about my mum? What would/will you do with your parents when the time comes?

35 comments:

D said...

Having had both her Mom and her Mom In Law living with them in their dotage my mother has sworn never to come and live with any of her offspring although she would like to live closer for us to just pop in and check on her. I think your idea sounds very sensible and helps all retain their independence when they what/need it.

Flowerpot said...

d - glad to meet you and please call back again. I tend to agree with your mom. But what's she going to do if she's sick?

Fiona said...

I tend to agree with Himself but...not all of our are Florence Nightingales. After my mother has her hip operated in, it was hard for both of us for me to get her dressed etc.

I think the Granny flat idea is great if social services can provide care too - so get your mum to spend any money now :)
My view is that you only have your parents once but I realise this isn't for everyone:)

Rebecca Taunton said...

Having looked after ET's gran on numerous occassions, I can understand where you're coming from but I would tend to agree with Mr FP.

A Granny flat would be ideal, close by so you can make sure she's okay. And, like Fiona says, Social services can provide additional care. I think a care home would be a last resort, not many are nice places to spend the last of your days.

debio said...

My sister, Bless Her, has had our mother to live with her and her family. When staying last Summer, I considered this arrangement seems to have brought out the worst in my mother; she is resentful of her dependency, attention seeking and therefore resentful of the children (her grandchildren!), nad globally resentful of her old age and widowhood.

How my sister is still sane is a mystery; she deserves a medal.

I can offer no general solution to this problem, I'm afraid but admire Himself's approach beyond words.

JJ said...

Oh lord, it's a difficult one. And particularly difficult to contemplate from Thailand.

Both sets of grandparents came to live in the same village as us, but eventually one came and lived next door in a granny flat.

My Mum always swore neither would live in, so hopefully she won't expect it either.

JJx

Flowerpot said...

fiona - the granny flat plus social services is an excellent one. I lost my dad when I was 23 so only have mum now and I'd like her to enjoy the years she has - and keep us both sane as well!

RT - no, care homes aren't a good way to end your days, though having seen James recently he's much more relaxed ad happy than he was at home for the last few years. However I wouldnt like mum to end up in ahome. Smacks of I Dont Care.

Flowerpot said...

Debio - this is precisely what I'm worried about. Resentfulness and over dependency which can happen so easily. Yes I admire Himself's approach as well. Makes me feel terrible for not being a better daughter.

Flowerpot said...

jj - yes very difficult to contemplate from Thailand. Neither of our grandparents came to live wtih us - they both ended up in care homes. Mind you, one was very ill at the end and the other one hada great time!

Ellee Seymour said...

I would want my mum to live with me. She is not in the best of health now and cannot drive distances. My sister lives next to her and has the lion's share of caring,but she has no children. I live 45 mins drive away.Although we love mum dearly, she would probably drive us bonkers if we lived together. A granny annexe is the best option for all.
I admire your partner for being such a caring son, I hope my sons will look after me too in my dotage.

Akelamalu said...

It's a dilemma for sure. My mum always said if she grew old (which she didn't) she would never want to live with any of her children she'd rather go in a home. Not because she didn't love us but because it just wouldn't work and she didn't want to spoil our relationships. I've told my boys the same.

Flowerpot said...

ellee - I think most of us would like a granny flat - the trouble is finding one! I don't have children so I don't like to think about getting old. Mind you, a friend of ours does have children and they've shoved him into a home.

Flowerpot said...

Ak - this is the point isnt it? Not spoiling the relationship. Oh me, what a dilemma...

Mopsa said...

I've already done it and my Mother is in a nursing home. Living together would have made both of us completely bonkers, in under a week I should think, one or both of us would have been committed for murder (possibly posthumously). It depends absolutely on your relationship, so there is no rule for all. You should never feel in the slightest bit guilty if you know you can't /won't do it and retain any life at all.
And not to be sexist and all, but in my experience the woman in the relationship does far more of the caring, even if the person being cared for is Mother-in-law and not Mother. And no, I refuse to be called selfish - just rational.

Philipa said...

"it tested our relationship when we went up to look after her for a week, too, but the less said about that the better"

Oh thank God someone somewhere knows that when a person is sick they are not necessarily the easiest company and allowances should be made.

When I was sick I went through a very difficult time which made me poor company. I would hate anyone to judge me just on that time.

You know your Mum and you know your relationship with her - if it was toxic/difficult before then illness will not transform it into the Waltons. If distance makes the relationship work then I think you have to balance that with how you will feel if you don't help her. How does your mother make you react and how will that impact on your relationship with your man? You have some thinking to do which I don't envy but you have time yet and other siblings? Perhaps a family chat? It's always standard advice to take the emotion out of the equation and decide what you can practically afford to offer, but.. it's your life Flowerpot, ultimately you know that emotions play a part.

If it's any help to you I used to do some work in Social services old peoples homes and they were dreadful - I wouldn't keep a dog in there. A granny flat sounds ideal obviously but what about warden controlled accomodation near to you? Do they still have that sort of thing now?

Hope you can sort something out to suit all parties :-)

Pardon me if this comment makes no sense - my daughter never shuts up!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Find a good home. Those are my mum's words, not mine. I'm not sure I could have her living with me as she is already quite hard work - she's only 64. I love her of course and would do anything for her in one respect but living in the same house would only lead to disaster and a unnecessary break down in our friendship.

Crystal xx

Lane said...

Oh gawd this is a hard one. I'm heartened by the variety of comments here. It depends entirely on your relationship with your mother and what type of person you are.
An independant flat nearby sounds the best option if finances allow.
I must admit this whole subject is one I try not to think about but I know there will come a time:-(

HelenMH said...

This is a very difficult one. My mother, bless her, died relatively young so the issue never arose. Although actually I think I would have been fine having her live with me as she was a very gentle, easy person. After she died I did my head in worrying about my (considerably older) father. Should I have him to live with me? Should I sell my house and buy one with him? What would happen to my mentally ill brother in all these scenarios? As it turned out, my father died two years after my mother and I never had to face these decisions for real. I think this shows that you should try not to get too far ahead of yourself and worry about things when you have no idea how they will turn out. I know that's hard though. Hence all my sleepless nights.

Graham, Prince & Tilly said...

Personally, I was thinking of greasing the front step when my mother gets old....

Only joking - I love her dearly!!

Sweet Irene said...

Sadly, both my parents have died and so have Eduard's. I would like to think that I would have cared for all of them, but I know that is not realistic, knowing how much I like my alone time and my privacy. I think a granny flat sounds like a good solution, it's a great alternative to her moving in with you. You can help her, but still have your independence.

Miss Understood said...

I told my Mum that she could come and live with me if the time ever arose when she couldn't cope on her own. She said she wouldn't do it in a zillion years, and would rather be in a home.

Fortunately, she's in a warden controlled bungalow and although she can't go anywhere alone because of her health, my step-dad is there to look after her. Should he go first, I know she'd be fine for a while with daily visits from the warden. But if she was unable to cook or wash herself...I guess i'd have to have a rethink.

I'd think about trying to keep your Mum in Devon in a smaller, private property, with a warden - as long as her friends were still fit enough to visit her. If the time came where she was feeling lonely there, or she needed a greater level of care, I think that would be the time to move her to Cornwall.

Flowerpot said...

Mopsa - I think you're quite right; it does depend on the individual relationship. And yes, the women do tend to do more of the caring. Thankfully Himself is very good at looking after sick people, but we'll see..

Philipa - what about your parents? Are they of that age yet? I agree some council homes are terrible but an elderly friend of ours has recently gone into a private one and he's transformed. Gothis sense of humour back, made friends, relaxed and is well fed. So they're not all bad.

Flowerpot said...

Crystal - glad to hear your thoughts about your mum. Not always a good idea to have family living with you is it?!

Lane - I know, I'd rather not think about it but there are times when I do....

Helen - I bet you did your head in over that situation. You poor thing. Still, at least your dad didnt have long by himself. What about your brother? You're qutie right though - no point in worrying about things that might never happen.

Graham - at last - a spark of humour in a very depressing subject! Hope your mum is well.

Sweet Irene - yes I think a granny flat sounds ideal. Sorry to hear that you have both lost your parents.

MissU - glad your mum is looked after well. That's good advice about my mum.

Mid-lifer said...

Flowerpot - going through this myself right now with my 77 year old mum. She's looking to move a bit nearer us (my husband would leave me if she came to live here), but she's got a good network in Bristol and she just can't decide...it's a very tricky one.

Frances said...

mine lives with us, when she isn't off doing voluntary work or whatever. It is great to have another pair of hands around the place and lovely to know she is near now and settled in while she is still active and lively. One or two of my friends left it until their mothers were really ill and a bit confused and this caused terrible upset and disorientation.
It does depend on whether you are happy to share your space. A new place where you don't rub up against each other too much might be the solution. Who would move though?

Flowerpot said...

mid-lifer - yes it is tricky isn't it? One of my sisters-in-law's parents came to live near them and it was a disaster. Oh God....

frances - good to meet you and please call back again. I'm so glad that this has worked out for you. You have made some very valid points.

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

At the moment I'm at the stage where I would say no way, we'd drive each other insane within days. Like you, I love my mum dearly, but...!!

We're also in a difficult situation where we have tied accomodation that is very small with just about enough room for us let alone another person.

So my real answer is, I haven't got a clue what I would do if the need arose.

Flowerpot said...

aoj - it's just so difficult isn't it? Thanks for your side of it anyway.

Akelamalu said...

Don't forget to pop across and check your answers in the carols quiz Flowerpot. x

Flowerpot said...

Ak - yes will do!

Philipa said...

FP - yes, all the homes I saw were council ones which is why, if finances dwindle, I recommended a warden controlled scheme - relatives of mine maintained a 'home of their own' whilst remianing safe and cared for. My parents are old but mobile and if their health declined any more we would look at all options but I doubt they would want to lose their privacy and independance and would want to keep their own home. Good news about your elderly friend.

Philipa said...

PS: Panorama tonight confirms your opinion of private care homes being able to offer some better care. Though I suppose there is still a range of care available the private care home featured offers particular training, in this case for dementia.

Details on BBC website and there is an actionline if anyone is interested: 0800 077 077.

Flowerpot said...

Philipa - thanks for that, very interesting.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Have you spoken to your mom? What does she think?

(Sorry, I'm very late and this has probably already been addressed).

Not an easy answer either way. You go one way and feel guilty or the other way and lose your mind. What a choice.

Fiona said...

Flowerpot, reading this late, but you have just voiced all my fears that I have been afraid to. Reading yours and others comments although difficult has been so honest and refreshing. My mum has cancer at the moment and is 72, no idea what will happen in the future, but sure that she wouldn't want to live with us, but no idea what options she would have. Brave girl for bringing up the subject. Thanks