Monday, 10 December 2007


Once again, I am humbled to record another individual who dealt with a comparable situation himself rather than seeking care from outside. My respect for you, Sir, is very great and your "do the right thing" message resonates with my guilty conscience about how I've decided to handle my Mother's future care.

My Mother's condition likely stems from a stroke she had about 12 years ago, where she temporarily lost the use of one side of her body. She quickly recovered at the time, but apparently this episode leaves her more vulnerable than others to further TIAs. The pathology of her diagnosis was mixed, with evidence of many small TIAs and some additional deterioration that could be Alzheimer's.

Yes, Care Homes over here are expensive too, typically £700-£800 per week for anything half-decent. This is twice my Mother's income from her pensions. In the UK, if the individual has assets of less than £21,500 the State will either contribute or pay in full to enable her to go into Care. Unfortunately, in my Mother's case the fact that she owns her own home places her well beyond that boundary, and I will be selling her apartment to fund the shortfall. If she lives long enough to outlast this asset, then the State will step in to top up her fees. Finance is not a worry, beyond the fantasy of my inheriting something from her estate one day. I've come to terms with that after some soul-searching (my soul was under a sofa cushion).

Yes, I have read a lot of horror stories about staff in Care Homes, not only ill-treating their charges, but also drugging them to keep them somnolent and co-operative. I haven't seen evidence of  this in any of the many homes I have visited these past few months. However, I have visited places which felt wrong in some way, that smelled, or where it seemed the residents were not encouraged to leave their rooms. Believe me, I am going to make sure that my Mother is happy where she ends up, or I'll take her home with me again.

I have thought a great deal about the idea of quitting my job and caring for her myself. As you say, a salary even a fraction of what would go to a Care Home would be attractive. One of my dreams is to settle in the countryside of France, enjoy the warmer Summers and grow my own food. Mum's assets and income joined with mine would make this possible, and I would have fewer worries and more time for her, but the care I gave her could not be 24-hour, and I lack basic Nursing skills. More to the point, I'm ashamed to say that my temperament isn't suited to looking after Mum. It really is with the best of will that I have searched for a place for her, out of my belief that she would benefit more from people who are more patient and less emotionally-linked to her failings. I am denying myself a good chance of realising my dreams because I feel that it's in my Mum's best interests.

Your scheme for Elder Elder Care is an intriguing one, and I'm curious if anyone has tried it. One thing I would say is that many of the Senior residents at my Mother's apartment building treat her contemptibly, I suspect because they see their future before them (the Warden there agrees that the ones most vile to Mum are those closest to her condition). However, I'm sure the number of kindly, charitable Seniors far outweigh the nasty contingent.

The place that I have been happiest looking at organises itself as a 'village' of people, encouraging as much interaction and shared responsibility as the residents are happy with. I've met some kind people there, and Mum is enthusiastic as well.

I hope for the best. This seems "the right thing" for Mum and not a shirking of responsibility, but I welcome opposing views and anyone who can pin-point any self-serving thinking on my part.

Good luck to you, too, Sir. It seems to me that you are far from a burden for the time being, and I hope I'm still capable of celebrating, myself, when you reach 110.



Sorata said...

I'm still working on reading all the posts on your blog... I think I'm somewhere in May 2007...? I'm such a slow reader.

I just want to say to you and the gentleman under the name anthropositor that, if I have anyone who care for me that much when I reach to an age with the problem your mum and dad faced, I would be the happiest elder living on earth.

Thank you for these inspirational posts.

On a more happy tune, I thought of you when I watched this video. These folks seemed to be having lots of fun:

Greg said...

Hopefully you will not have these problems when you are old, Sorata. We can only focus on enjoying today - it's pointless to worry about tomorrow.

Thanks for the link to youtube - they DO look like they're having fun. I played on Wii for the first time a few weeks ago. I'd like to try that bowling program.