Becoming the grown-up

My relationship with my mum

Becoming the grown-up

As we get older, for many of us the relationships with our parents change. At some point along the way, we stop being the child and become the grown-up instead.

I’m not sure at what point this happened with my mum, but I am definitely the grown-up in this relationship now.

It’s 3 months now since she moved to a care home. This was never part of her plan, but it became the obvious option – probably the only viable option – a few months ago.

Recap of mum’s story

Mum had a ‘funny turn*’ just before Easter, leaving her bed-ridden.  She was very disoriented and over time lost the capacity (and hope) of walking again. Walking had already been challenging for many years, but she was still mobile before this time.

 Having spent 3 months in bed and being attended to by carers multiple times a day, we moved her to a care home to ensure she would get the care she needs.

* still undiagnosed

Not part of the plan

Mum had always been dead against going into care. It was something that had been discussed before, but even sheltered accommodation hadn’t really appealed. She wanted to stay in her own home in her own town and have carers in to support her, on her terms.

Mum was fiercely independent, despite her physical challenges, and had been able to engage various local helpers, as well as doing online shopping for groceries and many other things too.

I believe her resistance around care homes may have also been tied up with memories of people that she’s loved that had died shortly after going into care.

Most viable option

We were, however, left with little choice, especially with the COVID situation. Mum had no family living close by and relied on carer (and other local people) to support her. Whilst the carers did their best, the support was at best patchy and not really enough for her in her new capacity.

We since learned that she had also become pretty malnourished at this point. Her weight had plummeted to just 37kg (less than 6 stone). She’s not very tall, but this is a low figure. And she used to be quite a robust lady.

A better place

Three months on, I can’t exactly claim that mum is a happy bunny, but she is in a much better place.

From Mum’s perspective, she realises that this will be her home now forever. Initially she’d hoped that this would be a short-term respite, but it soon became obvious to us all that she wouldn’t be going home.

The staff are (mostly) kind and she’s got to know the ones she likes best. She knows she needs to be polite and respectful, and she manages this most of the time.

She wants to make her own decisions about when she mixes with others v spends time in her room. The carers understand this more and try to respect this, but will also encourage her to take part in some of the activities.

She’s even made a few friends. She’s generally a social person that had been living a very insular life for the last few years.

Things I’m grateful for right now

I’m happy that mum is being looked after and that she’s safe, cleaned, fed and having greater levels of interaction. She can also call for assistance as and when needed.

We reviewed her care plan last week to ensure that she’s getting suitable levels of care. From the family’s perspective, we feel much better that she is safe – there is hopefully much less risk that she might burn the house down as she almost did on occasions when she was bed-ridden.

Although visits are tricky (due to proximity and ever changing COVID rules) I’m happy that we’re able to speak via her mobile and have periodic zoom calls with her. Residents are also granted 2 visits per month to the home – they have a socially-distanced “lodge” that allows this. We’ve shared these between family members and friends so far.

I’m very grateful that Mum had the foresight to update her will and put LPAs in place last year. The paperwork was finalised in January this year, so this really couldn’t have been timed any better. This has allowed me to step in and take charge of mum’s finances – on her request – something that she otherwise might not have been able to do. We also may have struggled to put the LPA in place due to COVID restrictions and Mum’s lack of cognitive coherence at times.

I’m grateful that my mum had enough money to be able to have options. We looked at a number of different homes, to find one suitable for her. We also considered having a live-in carer although we decided for various reasons, this wouldn’t be viable. It’s also very costly!!

And last but not least, I’m very grateful that I’m not alone. My Dad (her ex-husband) and my brother are all working to support mum, although fortunately her day to day needs are been attended to, so she’s far less reliant on us than she was a few months back. My dad is also lucky enough (!) to live in the village where the care home is based…sorry Dad. I also have a very tolerant and supportive husband.

All is all there is a lot to be grateful for. Most importantly, she is safe and being looked after.

Wrap-up

We often trade places and become the grown-up as our parents get older. I cannot remember exactly when I became the grown-up in my relationship with my mum, but our roles have never been clearer.

Although she is safe and being looked after, her current situation this isn’t ideal. This is not the way that she’d planned things to pan out. She’d love to see family and friends more often.

For now, we’ll try to make things as pleasant as possible for her and be at the end of the phone when she needs us.

 

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