Caring for elderly parent – what are our options?

  • This topic has 36 replies, 15 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by  fossy.
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  • Caring for elderly parent – what are our options?
  • The wife’s mother is not in a good way. Up until now she has been living and coping on her own but has gone very frail quickly.

    The village where she is has no sort of care cover – we can’t even pay for it! They all say it’s too remote.

    My wife wants her to come and live with us (which I’m OK about), and my wife wants to leave work to care for her. The only problem is money!

    The mother-in-law has funds so can she pay my wife to look after her rather than some extortionate care package for external services.

    Seems mad to pay hundreds a week for a care home or care package when we can do it ourselves.

    And what would we do with her house? It’s probably worth £300 – £350k. Rent it out or sell it?

    And what happens to the money in either case!?

    My wife and her sister have POA.

    Vader
    Member

    Having been in a similar position my first thought is don’t overlook the strain it will place on you and your wife and your relationship.

    We did discuss giving up work to care for my father on the basis that he effectively employed one of us siblings to do so. In the end we made a different arrangement but it was all a tough call.

    Are there any siblings on your wife’s side? I know this sounds mercenary but don’t overlook the ‘I did all the caring so I should get more of the inheritance’ issue. Its ghastly but it does come up, or variants of. In other words make sure all are on board

    She has two sisters – one who her mother (and the family) has cut all communication with 10+ years ago. The other is local and helps with care (but when it suits!). She can’t take her as she has no room.

    The inheritance thing isn’t a driving factor in this. What you ain’t had you don’t miss.

    My wife really doesn’t want her to go in a home.

    tjagain
    Member

    If you have a poa that helps a lot. Money from the house goes to the mother in law – its hers. What she does with it is up to her. What does she want to do with the house?

    Sensible to think about the MIL paying her way / paying the wife to stay off work. Is the wifes sister OK with this? Be very sure she is

    How much room do you have in your house? If she is going to come and live with you then I would still get carers in to give your wife a break / allow you to go out. Its very hard caring for someone at home but its the best if you can cope with it but do not struggle on without any external help – or certainly be prepared to get some in

    good luck

    Not a massive house – we can turn over our sitting room for her, and convert our dining room into a sitting room for us.

    Mother-in-law is not completely bed-bound so can be left for a several hours at a time but isn’t up to running a house on her own. It’s a problem middle-ground.

    tjagain
    Member

    Remember it will only get worse as she becomes more frail

    I cannot emphasise enough to make sure all the family is on board with it

    phil5556
    Member

    Sheltered accommodation near to you?
    So she rents a flat but has support.

    Keeps her independent for longer & potentially a nice and sociable environment for her.

    I’ve no real experience of this other than friends whose parents / grandparents have stayed in places like this. I think they have as much or little help as they need.

    poolman
    Member

    Sorry to hear this.

    Is your mother in law claiming the care allowance, 60 gbp pw day rate, 80 odd if night cover required. It’s not taxable, I applied for both parents and got it.

    What about other income, can she afford external care to give your wife a rest. The house sale will not produce much income in savings interest, stock mkt is too risky given an unknown time horizon. Looks like premium bonds at c 1.25%.

    In my family we take it in turns, in fact it’s mine next so I ll be staying a month.

    Good luck in whatever you choose, it’s a massive learning experience.

    tjagain
    Member

    Social services will also provide equipment and help with house alterations if needed

    Thanks all.

    We’re not sure where we are going yet. She’s currently in hospital awaiting results of scans for an enlarged liver and other stuff.

    I know she’d hate to live in a flat though. She’s a proper old school country type, always been outdoors, never moved from the same village – a flat would drive her crazy.

    tjagain
    Member

    If she is in hospital then she must have a proper assessment before discharge – and if care is required at home it is up to the council to provide it. too expensive is not a choice for them. Get read up on rights and duties that you , her and various bodies have. Unfortunately with this sort of thing those who shout loudest get the best service.

    Home care comes under the council, discharge arrangements under the NHS. Hospital OT and social worker should be doing an assessment of how she can cope at home and / or alternative living arrangements.

    Certainly in Scotland the NHS has a duty to assess living arrangements for all elderly being discharged.

    If she is in hospital then she must have a proper assessment before discharge – and if care is required at home it is up to the council to provide it. too expensive is not a choice for them.

    So they can’t refuse to provide care?

    We went through this a few months ago when she fell and broke her hip. The hospital and local Council were useless and said no care could be provided in the village where she lives due to location and logistics of times between calls. It’s not the outer Hebrides and less than 10 miles from the Council Offices themselves! Even private care companies wouldn’t go there.

    Councils have a statutory obligation to provide care where it is assessed as being required. They do not have a statutory obligation to pay for it though. If you are lucky enough to live in Scotland you can get free personal care if, again, she is assessed as needing it. In your case, instead of taking the care, you can take the budget instead through Self Directed Support, this money can then be used to arrange local care or pay a relative (certain conditions apply). I do not know if the same Self Directed Support arrangements are in place in England or Wales.

    fossy
    Member

    She won’t be released ‘home’ until the hospital/social services are sure she can/can’t look after herself. Most likely will end up in respite care until fit enough.

    Don’t underestimate the time and pressure. If she’s still mobile, then this will be easier – e.g. can get to the loo assisted. Factor in getting her to the bathroom – stair lift etc. etc.

    We’ve been helping MIL live at home last 5 years since FIL passed away, but MIL had been fairly immobile last 10 years. We managed to keep her at home, with carers 4 x a day – mornings/evenings needed a carer there for an hour to get her in/out of bed. She’s had to go into a Nursing Home following an illness as she won’t/can’t walk even to a commode, and given her weight, it’s a hoist job, not something we could do.

    In the end it’s about the person’s safety. It’s been hard enough having MIL locally as she was always on the phone mithering about the slightest thing, that had to be done now – but that’s her personality, no patience.

    It’s been much better since she has gone into care, i.e. she’s much healthier, she’s well looked after, and we aren’t run ragged. My wife gave up her job for a while to help look after her mum, no money though.

    As others have said, draft up an agreement, as anyone with a vested interest may not be happy – e.g. SIL. You’ll also need to look into tax and NI issues as your wife would be an employee.

    johndoh
    Member

    Are you able to adapt your house so she can remain independent (ie, her own suitable kitchen and bathroom facilities) but at the same time giving your wfe quick and easy access? Selling her house could help fund this if required.

    Might be a daft idea, but rather than her move in with you, can you move in with her? We are in a similar pickle with my dad. Too frail and too often ill now to be really safe at home, but refuses to go into a care home. We have done the whole stairlift/wetroom/alarms/carers/cleaners routine with him the last couple of years, but it’s now getting beyond that.

    tjagain
    Member

    Another thing – there is a fair chance they will pressure you and her to accept a “temp” discharge to a care home – you do NOT have to accept this. Make sure she is only discharged into a setting you and her are happy with. Care homes with immediate places available have empty places for a reason!

    Care homes with immediate places available have empty places for a reason!

    Breaking News: People in care homes do die. It is not unusual to have a vacancy that coincides with another potential resident needing to leave hospital.

    Don’t listen to TJ’s silly suggestive formula above. Instead, visit a home, meet the staff and read Care Inspection reports (all available on internet)

    tjagain
    Member

    True Frank – it might be OK for the reasons you suggest. However I have experience in this. Every home I consider acceptable has long waiting lists. so if a person dies there are many folk waiting for that place. Its really pretty rare for a home to be able to take someone straight from hospital if they are a good home.
    At one point NHS lothian was putting people in a care home that had failed care commission reports and was in special measures as it was the only one in the area with places. It was so bad the agency I worked for refused to send staff to it. People without advocates were being sent to it despite it being substandard.

    Its just a warning from what I have seen happen. People being shunted into substandard homes because the home they wanted had a waiting list.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    My wife and her sister have POA.

    Don’t let yourself forget what the scope of this is – its allowing you to  help with the decisions people make, not making their decisions for them (if they can make them) and not even really stopping people from making bad decisions.

    My wife really doesn’t want her to go in a home.

    ….yet. ts entirely laudable to want to help someone maintain as much of their independence as possible. But a point can come where you’re defending someone against an outcome that’s actually in their better interest. We’ve had to very suddenly flip around the efforts we’re making with my mums care – we’ve put more and more strategies in place over the last few years to keep her safe and happy in her own home. Gradiually that has meant more and more intervention from us.  What that has come to mean is ‘independence’ is really being couped up with us or all the time – day and night either me or my brother are there, so she’s safe but its hard to say just now that she’s happy. We can’t provide enough interest – everything she does, everywhere she goes she’s stuck with us. I can’t find enough ideas and energy each day to keep life interesting for her.

    Recently we had to arrange 4 days of residential respite care for her because another relative suddenly fell severely ill – we dreaded her having to go…. she loved it. Stuff, space, people, things to do, variety.

    We were so focused on our increasing efforts to look after her that we didn’t spot a point pass about 6 months ago where really we should have switched or efforts to paving a way into a world that would be much more suited to.

    So yes – do want you want to and can now – but don’t paint yourself into a corner and you find yourself standing in the way of better care.

    tjagain
    Member

    ~Good post maccruiskeen

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    With my grandparents my parents were lucky to be in a position to purchase the semi-detached house next door (helped with the proceeds of selling my grandparents house). Initially both were in good health but after a few years my grandad needed a lot more assistance so they have NHS carers in a couple of times a week (I think it might have been daily towards the end though) as my grandmother and parents weren’t really physically capable of helping him with some stuff.

    Was important all the siblings were on-board and supported the plan (an aunt now lives in the house after the grandparents both died), I imagine it owuld have caused a lot of problems if any of them had complained about reduced inheritance etc. rather than just being focused on what was best for the grandparents.

    Not actually sure what will happen when my father gets to a state he can’t look after himself, both my brother and I have PoA and neither of us cares about inheritance (I keep telling my dad to blow it on C&H but he’s not interested), but neither of us live locally to him and he’s said he wants to ‘visit’ Dignitas rather than end up in a home or needing round the clock private care in his house. I’d want the same to for me personally but I know it’s not going to be that clear-cut then the time comes…

    tjagain
    Member

    My parents sold their house as did my grandparents to buy a huge house together – so they could have independence but be all under one roof. House was then adapted ie two kitchens, 3 bathrooms etc so my grandparents could have their own spaces

    Is this a possibility?

    wrightyson
    Member

    Muffin have you thought of selling yours and her house and buying somewhere with an annexe/granny flat. That sort of money could get you something perfect round our way. That way she keeps some independence and you some privacy. My nan moved in with my mum and dad and had a fantastic last 3 years of her life there but it was hard sometimes and she used to drive my mum mad some days.

    Hi Wrighty – we have thought of that, and it would be a good solution (and it would get us away from the shit parking where I live!).

    But the problem comes when she dies and how we’d release the cash for others inheritance then. Bulk is left to my wife and sister-in-law and then some allocated to grand-children.

    And if she then did end up in care with needs greater than we could provide how would that be paid for?

    It’s a ruddy minefield! 🙂

    Premier Icon Dickyboy
    Subscriber

    @the muffin man, not sure if feasible in your case, but I bought a larger house with an offset mortgage so my dad could move in with me, when his place sold we reduced the mortgage to zero balance and more recently since his death I’ve paid my siblings their inheritance by taking money out from the mortgage pot. Kept it all relatively simple 🤔

    fossy
    Member

    It’s a minefield indeed. We’re finding the Council’s charges for the Care Home outstrip MIL’s pension/benefits, so we are depleting her savings (this is in addition to the deferred charge on her house).

    They say you can keep your property, but in reality, the weekly charges will quickly strip any savings, without allowing enough to cover keeping the house running, nor the fact she has to pay for bi-weekly taxis to the doctors for blood tests.

    We have POA to sort the bills. MIL is still there mentally, but has refused since FIL died to be involved in the running of her house. She won’t even listen now when we discuss plans with her house. We try to involve her as she is still mentally capable.

    The move to Nursing home did come ‘naturally though’, she fell ill, and everyone thought she was a gonner, but she pulled round, but has lost confidence, or interest, in trying to move, so there was no way we could have looked after her at home due to her weight – so the ‘outcome’ was forced upon us.

    My SIL has wanted ‘us’ to buy the house some years ago (we had young kids and it’s a bigger house) but it needed way too much work than I was interested in doing, and of course, future inheritance impacts.

    Make sure you get professional advice about your options – plenty of ‘care charities’ offer advice.

    wrightyson
    Member

    @muffin good old newbridge road isnt it?
    My nan basically sold her house then gave mums sister half of the proceeds then used the other half to invest with my mum in their new house together, she was never on the deeds though. Grand kids (me and my sis) will get ours in due time when my mum and dad are done for and I’m in no hurry for that to happen just yet.

    Premier Icon sadmadalan
    Subscriber

    You will need to have the very challenging discussion about inheritance before making any long terms decisions. All the money that she has (and includes any in the house) is hers and she is free to do with it what she wants, including making different living choices (e.g. buying a house with another person). She can leave her assets to who she wants, it does not have to be equal. My gran moved in with my dad – or rather they bought a property together. When she died, she left him, her share of the house. Upset his siblings, but it is her choice.

    Well things took a turn for the worse with this last week. At the time of my original post she was taken in for scans for a suspected mild stroke. While scanning for that they found she had a tumour at the back of her neck and subsequent scans last week showed she had advanced cancer of the lungs, liver, neck and numerous other places.

    She has refused any treatment for the cancer so we are now looking at palliative care in nursing home on a fast-track (CHC) basis. She may only have a few weeks left, but hopefully the nursing home will only be 10 mins from our house* we can be with her as much as possible.

    The speed with which things can go from normal to shit is scary. But it looks like she was hiding the symptoms of this for a good while.

    (*subject to Enhanced Bed Palliative Team approval this afternoon).

    tjagain
    Member

    NOt an uncommon story unfortunately

    Good luck with it all. Make sure you and your family also get the support you need. Venting on here helps some folk. McMillan have a very good reputation for providing support. When things move on so quickly its very hard for the families.

    good luck, stay strong but remember the parable of the willow and the oak. The willow bows before the gale and springs back up again. The oak stands tall until it breaks

    johndoh
    Member

    OP – do you have a hospice near you? If you do you should find out if they have space available. Unfortunately for us, the amazing one near us couldn’t get a bed in time for my mum as she went downhill so rapidly 🙁

    Hope things sort themselves out as well as they can given the circumstances.

    TiRed
    Member

    My friend’s elderly father sold his home and the proceeds were split among the two siblings with an uplift for my friend for care and they then moved to a larger property where they now live together. Father has a downstairs bedroom, own living room and bathroom. Friend provides care as needed. Her brother is happy with the arrangement too. It seems to work rather well.

    Hi johndoh – we’ve found a nursing home that has won awards for it’s palliative care, and it’s in our local town. It’s modern, a bit more clinical and less homely than you’d want if they were staying long term. But end-of-life care is the most important thing at this time.

    And the nurse we spoke to there the other night seemed very clued up on procedures.

    fossy
    Member

    My FIL was too ill to go into palliative care when the need arose, so had to stay at home. That said we had a local cancer charity provide overnight ‘assistance’ so that allowed us to get rest.

    Glad you’ve found somewhere that can make her comfortable.

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