When a Family Carer wants to do something else…

Last week, I was having a catch up with my mum, she cares for my gran who lives next door to her. My gran is 97, and although she is still able to wash and dress herself, she needs help and support every day. Mum is going to get married soon, and wants live 6 months of the year in France with her husband-to-be. This leaves a dilemma, who will take care of gran.

Mum has supported my gran for many years now. She is the youngest sibling of 5 and the local family help out regularly. Gran, although cheery, worries a lot about small things – she always was a worrier but with age, there are things like memory, and health issues that create further worry for her. Mum spends time ensuring medication is taken, taking her shopping, to medical appointments, keeping her company and generally reassuring her each day.

So, the conversation I had with mum, was that she was letting me know she wants to live in France for six months each year, which I think is great. Mum had conversations with her siblings – they were all in agreement to have a family meeting – I got the feeling that my mum was feeling a bit guilty. I brought this up and advised that there is no need to feel guilty, living life for yourself is nothing to be ashamed about, and there are other family members who can help, and share responsibility between them. I know my mum wouldn’t want to stop me from living my life, so I am pretty sure that her mum would feel the same.

After reassuring my Mum, she then mentioned that gran would probably have to go into a care home. I was pretty horrified at this – gran loves pottering about at home, she loves her surroundings and community – she has been there all her life and I feel that a residential home would see her deteriorating. I talked to my mum about home care, and how this is a better alternative, and that way,  gran is at home. Moving and getting used to such a different environment would be a massive stress to her  – moving is a huge life stress for anyone, let alone a 97 year old. Although mum knew about home care because of me, she didn’t really know how it worked. I explained to her, and advised that everything she does for gran, home care workers can do. This way, family can either just visit to keep gran company, or they can cover some days each week; make gran a meal and take her out.

I volunteered the job of visiting to talk with gran and fully explain the situation, what we can do, and reassure her that the support she has been getting from mum will still be there, just not by her for six months each year. Mum will still visit in that time. She had already tried talking with gran but she dismissed the conversation – probably due to fear. I’m going to attend the family meeting to ensure that it’s a positive one, I can imagine it being a bit emotional, and I would like to ensure everyone gets a fair hearing.

Many families reach this point, and perhaps having a person other than immediate parent and children to intervene can help. A family meeting is always the best way to go about this kind of thing – then ensuring your relative really does understand what is happening. I know that gran will love having home care workers to see her, it may even be a bit less frictious than it will have been with my mum at times – it can be difficult having your child care for you.

If you are not able to arrange for another family member, or person to help and be impartial – and explain home care during family times such as this, then you can arrange help with MyLife – they will be more than happy to help at a time like this.

Tracy Steel

Tracy aspires to live a healthy life and achieves it most days with yoga, running and local organic food - except for those chocolate or cupcake emergencies. Passionate about how the food we eat can enhance our beauty, and help our physical and mental health, she also has a keen interest in psychology and self-development, as well as baking cupcakes. Cats, chocolate and coffee keep her smiling.