dear diary :: the ups and downs of caring

Some hard playing today – both Master Freddie and I are worn out! He has gone home now and after we have had our tea and I have rung my mum I will be unwinding and then an early night. It was a bit of a rush this morning trying to get showered and my hair dried and styled (if you can call it that as it has now grown out of all recognition of a hairstyle) before Master Freddie appeared.

We love watching Toddler Club together but all that singing, twirling, bopping and jumping around does tell on me, but he always likes me to join in and do the actions with him. At least the music covers all the creaking I make!

And who doesn’t love Hey Duggie – it is far too good for just children to watch – it reminds me of the Magic Roundabout that we all watched as a family just before the news and a lot of the humour in that was perhaps aimed at adults.

The utility room progresses…..s l o w l y……but is at least progressing. I have my doubts that DH can get the floor down now in time but it will be what it will be and at least the new washer will be plumbed into new pipework that doesn’t leak.

We had our usual walk today – Master Freddie loves to post a letter in the big red box outside the post office in the village so today we made a card using some of my stamps and inks for his mummy and daddy. It was a master piece (sorry forgot to take a picture) and then put it into an envelope and put it in the post. They will get a nice surprise in a day or two – and maybe Freddie will when it arrives and he recognises it as the one he posted. Of course both Freddie and granny had more ink on them than the card – but it was fun.

We saw the ducks in the tiny garden of one of the houses, counted the dongs on the church clock when it struck two…..

….and found little pockets of daffodils – even in some gloomy corners.

Despite the tiredness looking after Master Freddie is such a joy although not much housework is getting done here – a quick run round with the vacuum cleaner (does anyone else refer to it as the hoover?) to remove the Play-doh bits from the carpet (thanks for the warning Mary – no lasting damage thank goodness) and that was it – everything else will have to wait until the weekend…..well Saturday as we are planning on going up to see my mum on Sunday to give my sister a day off.

Caring for my mum is not proving to be the same kind of joy especially for my sister who lives near to her and sees her on the days the carers don’t go in. We have just had our Covid test which was negative so we like to go when we know we are at our safest and not likely to take anything in to her flat. My sister is struggling and there is little I can do to help ease the burden for her at the moment. Mum is very down with her situation – not just the virus and the lockdown but more because she cannot do anything by herself anymore and is reliant on others and they never do anything in the way she wants it doing. She has got into the habit of sitting all day and this is actually not helping her hip or shoulder as the lack of movement, the consultant told her, is costing her muscle tone and exacerbating the problem. She is not able to look after herself properly but would hate to go into a home and in any case would make the carer’s lives and ours a misery with complaints. At the moment she has a carer going in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4pm and they can never do anything right and one or two have had their rotas changed so they can have a break from her. Many of the other residents just avoid her now wheras at one time would pop in. She is definitely becoming more negative as time goes on and doesn’t have a good word to say about anyone at the moment, not even my sister.

Last week she refused to eatany of the shopping my sister had taken her because she had bought it from Tesco and not Sainsbury’s. Apparently she cannot eat Tesco’s food and the corned beef wasn’t very nice even though she had not even opened it, she could tell it wasn’t very nice just looking at it. She is even convinced that Heinz tomato soup does not taste the same from Tesco – it is inferior to Sainsbury’s so she won’t eat that either. So guess who will be going to Sainsbury’s on Saturday to pick up some food for her. Should I be indulging her? Sister quite rightly is often in tears.

Mum has always been one of life’s complainers – but she is my mum and I want to do the best for her and so does my sister but she is not making it easy to care and look after her.

Life, I think, is about to get much more difficult.

27 thoughts on “dear diary :: the ups and downs of caring

  1. Can you just take the Tesco food and put it in a Sainsbury bag and bring it in the house that way? If the brands are the same. I know it’s not totally honest but maybe everyone would feel better. And it would be easier. Maybe. So sorry if I’m completely wrong.

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    1. With the non-Tesco brand sister is going to start doing that, but the corned beef and other sliced meat was Tesco own brand. We did not know it was an issue before as she has eaten Tesco in the past – even shopped there herself! This is the problem at the moment you cannot second guess what the next complaint might be and you cannot reason with her or she starts shouting which is not good for her blood pressure. Thanks for your help though.

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  2. I wish I could offer a magic solution for you and your sister . . . I have no family so I cannot imagine what it must be like for you to have to look after your mum when she is not making it easy for anyone. Thinking of you. xx

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    1. It cannot be easy having no family either – ours started to dwindle when my grandparents all died but now we are growing again at the younger end. My dad died in 2006 and my mum has hated being left on her own – my sister became her better half and until recently did everything together but mum is too housebound now and with the virus restrictions on top (which she does not understand fully) it has been very hard on my sister. Ideally mum would like someone to sit with her all day so she could talk about the past all the time and mainly about all the bad things everyone has done to her (she did not get on with her mother at all and would never do anything for her willingly). It is not easy listening to this broken record all the time. She will end up with no friends soon as they can just walk away and are doing now. I think now we are at that point where this is just how she is and how it will carry on because she will never be wrong – she even argued with my sister over when her birthday was this week! Thank you for your concern it does help to have support and ideas from readers to get through difficult times.

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      1. In a past life I had some experience of someone a bit like your mother and I quickly learnt that to argue was a direct route to more stress.

        So I did not – I just smiled quietly and agreed with everything that was being said. I knew that 95% of the conversation would be forgotten, and in my head I was thinking “you ***** idiot” which calmed me!

        My mental health and sanity were more important than being right, and if you stop arguing the point with someone who is being stupid and immediately agree with them, it’s amazing how quickly you take the wind out of their sails 🤪.

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  3. It must be so difficult for you, Viv. Having supported many people in your mother’s situation over the years, I understand what a strain it can be on family members. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions and, although you are not able to ease your sister’s burden, one thing I will suggest (and you might even be doing this already) is to perhaps just treat her to a favourite bar of chocolate occasionally, a bunch of flowers. It’s very easy to feel ‘forgotten’ when the focus is always on the person needing to be cared for. Xx

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  4. Oh dear, this is so hard for you all, especially when you’re doing so much to help. I try to look ahead to old age (if I’m spared, I always add to myself, as my Mum died when she was 2 years older than I am now), and vow that I won’t be cranky, will keep moving, will keep interested in others. But it must be so difficult when you feel your life has crumbled. We were lucky with my Dad mentally. Although he did get very depressed he was very seldom cross with my husband or me (I’m an only child) and always apologised. The fact that we lived 170 miles away and could really only visit during school holidays may have helped. He really liked most of his carers, who under the Scottish system were free and came in 4 times a day. However there were a couple he took an instant dislike to and they had to be replaced for everyone’s wellbeing. The carers who made the cut came to his funeral and were in tears. But physically he did nothing to help himself stay active after breaking both hip replacements in a bad fall, and inactivity led to all sorts of other physical problems piling up which in turn made his depression worse. I think about my next door neighbour, who is 94 and still going for long daily walks, digging her garden, doing all her own housework and shopping and baking her own bread. I suppose it comes down to accepting that nothing you can do will change a person’s personality at this stage, and trying to protect yourselves from the criticism and negativity. It means putting up a barrier, which is unfortunate, but you are doing all you can to help, and have the right to a happy life.

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    1. Mum is just one of those people who take instant dislikes to others and especially if she feels someone has more than she does. She always maintains that she has the best apartment in the block and tells everyone so. In fact her apartment is identical to the one above and below and the ones on the other wing of the building but she tells us hers is bigger! She is quite an attention seeker at times but her friends there have got fed up of it now and backed off – only one lady still pops her head round the door and takes her the paper. If only she were a bit nicer to them her life now could be so different.

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  5. Funnily enough,, my husband who does the shopping at Tesco, doesn’t like their corned beef either and will always get a couple of packets from Sainsburys when he’s in the area.

    I can understand how your Mum feels, but feeling frustrated because of her disability is no excuse for being awkward and hard to please especially for your sister who is doing her best.

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    1. That made me smile – however, I presumed he did taste it whereas mum didn’t even open the packet – though perhaps she was right but that still wouldn’t excuse her not eating the Heinz soup!
      I think part of the problem is she has always liked and got her own way – my dad especially let her do things her way – if we dare to cross her she ‘gets’ an illness so we then feel sorry for her and give in to her. There is no solution now – we can only aim to do our best in these difficult circumstances. I am more worried about her upsetting the carers as they don’t deserve the backlash.

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  6. I’m sorry that you’re having difficulty dealing with your mum. I sympathise completely. My dad died 26 years ago. My mum was the same age that I am now; 56. She has no friends, and just me where family is concerned, as she has alienated everyone else. Unfortunately, I got sucked back in. I understand about having to protect yourself from criticism and negativity, and only this week spent time researching to see if there was something out there that I hadn’t seen before, in terms of dealing with her. Most of the time I’m good at it, because I have put up a barrier, but every now and again it affects me. It won’t even end when she dies, as she has not done a will, and thinks that if I don’t tell my siblings she’s dead, that’s enough to prevent them inheriting, which is what she supposedly wants. It’s just going to be a protracted mess. I wouldn’t care if she left everything to charity, as long as there was a will. I’ve explained until I’m blue in the face, and earlier this year, I shouted at her for the first time about it. People tell me that I’m lucky to still have my mum. I’d feel that way if she had ever been a good one, but she hasn’t.

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    1. I know from your blog Scarlet that you have difficulty with your mum it is not easy is it? And some people who have different mothers cannot understand. My mum has never told me she loves me and I am 66 now – she has never been able to say those words not even to my dad – but I don’t hold that against her as for some people it can be a difficult thing to say. I am sure she has loved all of us in her own way. Her big failing is that she is manipulative to the extreme to get her own way and none of us were able to stand up to her not even dad – so little is going to change. As the bible says you reap what you sow and my mum has never sown very much – she calls anyone who is charitable ‘them do-gooders’ and would never put anything in a food bank as she says poor people are not really poor or deserving they smoke it all away!
      Your mum would only be able to disinherit your siblings if she made a will – as the law stands the estate would be divided equally between you all. If she does not make a will then exactly what she doesn’t want will happen. My thoughts will be with you as you try and cope with her. x

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  7. Life is swings and roundabouts isn’t it? I am glad you are enjoying time with Freddie (despite feeling tired) and sorry for all the trouble you are having regards your Mum. As an outsider it is difficult to know how I would react to your Mum but if she were my Mum I would probably say that you and your sister were doing the best you can and if she was being particularly unpleasant I would ask her what has she done to make the world a better place today. From my experience, unhappy people are very much inward looking rather than looking at things from other peoples perspective.

    By the way, I do call the vacuum cleaner the Hoover despite having a Dyson! x

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    1. I always hoover up. My mum’s world has certainly become much smaller and she is very much centered on herself – it would be nice if she did take an interest in other people and asked them how they are or what they are doing.

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  8. Gosh having such negativity must be exhausting and your Mum nit-picking at all your sisters efforts must be so demoralising.

    I know my Mum can be very negative but she’s not quite to that stage yet!! After years of moaning during my every weekly visit about the guy that lived in the bungalow opposite hers in the retirement complex she lives in, and never having a good word to say about him, when he died she was organising herself for going to his funeral. When I asked why she was going as she hated him so much, she said ‘I don’t hate him, he’s been a good neighbour’. So she was only ever telling me the negative things, I was beyond speechless but I realised that she must do that about everyone.

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  9. I am sorry for your sister because no matter how hard she tries, your Mom will find fault as she is feeling unhappy and probably scared. We had to move my Mom and Dad into Assisted Living and my Mom was furious with us at the time and complained bitterly. But as she adjusted and found friends to have meals with and activities she enjoyed doing, she was much better. I tried so hard to take care of her every need but from time to time she would slip into unhappiness and complaining and I would feel unappreciated. Now that my parents are gone and I am the one getting older, I can see both sides of the situation. My Mom always knew that we loved her and I knew she loved me back.

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    1. You are quite right she is unhappy and being alone does bother her but she would be more unhappy in a care home and neither my sister nor myself could manage to look after her in our homes as she cannot get upstairs or even the front doorstep and then our bathrooms are too small for her to take her zimmer frame into. She goes on a Sunday to my sister’s house for dinner but has to wait until she gets home for the loo.

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  10. Oh dear….I’m so sorry to hear about the difficulties with your mum. It’s so hard to deal with someone who is so willful….I especially feel for your sister, she must feel worn out. Caregiving can be a strain under the best of circumstances but when you’re having to cope with such negativity…well, i can’t even imagine.

    On the other side of the coin….the delights of young Freddie! Ah, the magic of posting a letter….it’s the simple things. 🙂 xo

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    1. When mum says something about someone I try hard to get her to see the good side of people but on one of her really bad days she just won’t have it so I have to give in. I do worry that the care company might withdraw their services if she continues and then it would all fall on my sister to go everyday. I really do not know what the answer is.
      Yes Freddie is adorable and has no demands on us whatsoever he really is very easy going.

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  11. Yes children are hard work and wear us out but they are a joy and make us laugh and smile. Unlike those going through their second child hood. They are hard work and wear us out with out the joy. I have been both a professional carer and cared for lots of family members. Some like my mum were pleasurable and others not so. My husband had a stroke some years ago and it has affected him physically, mentally and emotionally so he is not the same person any more. I just try and remember what he was like and how hard it is for him now. I feel for you all as you deal with your mum.

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    1. So sorry to hear about your husband – caring for someone who has had a stroke is not easy. My mum was main carer for my dad for many years and he kept having minor strokes and also became partially sighted – mum did look after him with help from me and my sister and a little help from a daycare centre – it had just become too much for her when he died. Dad was just the opposite of mum, he was kind, never complained and everyone always said what a lovely man he was who never lost his sense of humour. Like you though I have been caring for many family members one after the other since my mid-thirties and it does take its toll on your own health.

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  12. I’m so sorry to hear about your situation Viv and especially feel for your sister. Even when there’s no complaining involved looking after somebody is still mentally and physically draining especially when there’s no obvious end in sight. For your efforts not to be appreciated is really sad. I’m doing far more for Mum than I thought I would have to but I also want to keep her out of hospital or respite because of the situation of not being able to see her. In effect though I’ve put my life on hold, something she never had to do with her parents, but this can very easily be overlooked.

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    1. You are a treasure Suzanne giving up so much for your mum but from what you say she is far more appreciative. My mum never had to look after her parents as I did a lot for them – cleaning and taking them shopping and to hospital etc as she was always too busy and didn’t want to feel put upon. Now she tells me how she did so much for them – strange how the memory is warped with old age!

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  13. You know, my advice is to be understanding and accommodating, but I know in actuality, I would be strict with my mother. “Don’t like what I bought – tough, go hungry for the week.” I’m not compassionate if it means just giving in. So, don’t be like me. Especially as we don’t have the contributing factor of COVID lockdown.

    My mum won’t walk either – and it is making her physical disability/degeneration worse. But she won’t be told. Not by me, not by the doctor, no one.

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    1. That is exactly my mum – won’t be told by anyone not even the doctors. She thinks they could just give her a steroid injection, like she had once for a frozen shoulder, and all will be better. They keep telling her they cannot and it is lack of movement causing her problems and the exercises will help but when they don’t work after the first day she gives up.
      We pay a lot for the carers to go in £21.90 for 50 minutes 3 times a week, but when they come instead of getting them to cook her a decent meal or do some cleaning, she sends them off to the local convenience store down the road to fetch a paper and 2 pints of milk so they are not in the flat ‘bothering her’ for the whole 50 minutes. The milk then builds up (as she doesn’t need 2 pints a day) and then it is put down the drain – it is an expensive shopping trip to pay for! Then she tells them to leave any jobs as her daughter will do them. You just cannot win!

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