If you are a regular follower of my blog, you will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything about my mum in a very long while. Her little funny ways were worsening and rather than finding myself laughing when I told people about her, I was finding myself more and more concerned by her behaviour. I feel now I am at a crisis point and am at a loss what to do for the best.
When we were moving 300 miles away to Machrihanish last year, we asked mum to come with us. She said yes. Then she changed her mind. Since then I’ve only seen mum a handful of times. My own health has deteriorated over the past year and, quite frankly, I’m not fit enough to make such a long journey on my own. Each time I’ve visited I’ve seen a change in her house. Mum has never been house proud, but her wee cottage is filthy now. I refuse to eat or drink anything in it, nor will I use her toilet. I won’t go into any specifics but trust me; her house is minging. It’s so bad that a cleaner I hired went once and said there was too much for her to do and refused to go back. The last time I visited I left early because of the smell.
Before we left Oldmeldrum I spoke to her doctors and the social work department and arranged for a carer to visit three times a day. They were to prompt her to take her meds and to nuke a ready meal or make a sandwich for her. I even bought her a new microwave. She couldn’t use it, but the carers could and that was all that mattered. But mum refuses to wait for them to come and eats when she wants. The trouble is, there is no one to keep an eye on whether or not she is eating. I do her weekly shopping online and when I ask if she needs this or that, she always tells me she has loads left. We know she isn’t taking her meds properly. The carers are legally only allowed to prompt her to take her pills, not to dispense them to her, so they put what she has to take in an eggcup and tell her they are there. They have come back in the evening to find the eggcup full and mum insisting she took them. Even having all her meds delivered in a dosette box makes no difference. And don’t get me started on how she can’t use her puffers properly or co-ordinate using a stick because she is so unsteady on her feet.
Mum often eats her evening meal at 3:00 in the afternoon. It’s not unusual for her to call me at 5:30pm to tell me she’s away to her bed. She tells me the TV in her room isn’t working – it never has. It’s her old living room TV she wanted to keep incase the new TV broke down. She has forgotten how to change the channel on her TV so goes to bed as soon as something comes on she doesn’t want to watch. I have just discovered that several of her lightbulbs had gone. She told no one so probably went to bed sometimes because it was dark. And the batteries on her TV remote were dead. Each week I’d ask her if she needed anything different from what I normally buy. Each week she’s say no.
Then there’s the phone calls. She’s lonely. The other day she rang me eight times. She’s called me at 1:00am before. Of course, when the phone goes at that time you expect the worst. let’s just say I didn’t get much sleep that night.
She has an infection on the outside of her ear. The doctor called me to tell me she had to take antibiotics. I expressed my concern that she would be unable to cope with taking them in the manner prescribed. I asked that she be taken into respite care to make sure she got the drugs she needed when she needed them so she would get better. The doctors and social care staff instead decided that getting a carer to come an extra time to prompt her to take the pill would be enough. I told them it wouldn’t, I told them she would get confused and not be able to do it. But, you know, they know best. This afternoon I got a call from the warden to tell me that when the carer came this morning, mum had taken two antibiotics too many. I’m not at all smug that I was right. I am sad and sickened and worried.
I want her to go into a care home now. I can’t look after her and it’s obvious that she can’t look after herself. Unless, that is, you are on her care team. Mum wants to keep her independence and refuses to go into a care home and that’s the end of it. She has no independence. If I have a bad flare up and ever find myself unable to organise her Tesco delivery, she’s have no shopping. She can’t take her meds properly – the warden today admitted that it might be better to organise the paperwork for the carers to take charge of her meds completely, but that “Nan probably wouldn’t want that because she thinks she can do it herself.” She doesn’t eat properly, she doesn’t eat at reasonable times, she can’t keep her home clean. She has no idea what year it is, what month it is. This year, for the first time ever in my life, mum didn’t call to sing Happy Birthday to me. She forgot all about it. If we speak on the phone in the morning she has forgotten by the afternoon and has no idea what she had for lunch – or whether or not she had anything at all. She lies to me all the time. She gets confused and panics and lies. But the doctors refuse to sign her off as being incapable of making her own decisions so I can’t invoke Power of Attorney.
I am stressed out. Tense doesn’t begin to describe it. I have been looking after her since I was 21. I’m 53 now and still having to look after her as best as I can for 300 miles away. All my adult life she has done nothing, gone nowhere, made no decisions without me. She has suffocated me by her version of “love” and I have had to be her parent. I have never been able to rely on her or to take my problems to her. No matter how ill I am or how upset someone has made me, I’ve had to keep it inside so as not to worry her because she can’t cope with being an adult. Before dad died he told me that I’d have to chivvy her along a bit when he was gone because he knew she wouldn’t cope. Now, as selfish as this sounds, I’ve had enough. My own health is suffering. My husband is understandably concerned at the effect she has on me. For my sake I need to step back and just let events roll on as they will. But I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if I can live with the thought that she is up there, feeling lonely and unloved because I withdraw and try to take some time to concentrate on my own health. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
There is no answer to this situation. It’s just shite and I see no way out of it. I’m writing this in the hope that someone who reads may have gone through a similar experience and might be able to offer advice. But right now, I am too tired, too done to be able to do much about it anyway.
Sorry to have gone on. Thanks you for reading.