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What am I going to do with my mother? Could a live in carer be the solution?

What am I going to do with my mother?

My mum is 71 years old.  A young 71, perhaps even a teenage 71 given how much time she spends gossiping on the phone to her mates.  Like many her age, she dotes on her grandchildren and can’t do enough for them.  She often claims: “you are happiest when you’re useful”.  Having fallen twice last year, she had a hip replacement, which of course shook her confidence in terms of her mobility.

My sister has taken up the slack and comes up on weekends to do the shopping, whilst I do various odd jobs.  Mum’s independence has been compromised in other ways, particularly her social life.  We took her to visit an elderly care home in Reading where we live, during which she clutched her bag tightly and shifted uneasily as the manager explained the history of the building.  I even did my best Tony Soprano impression (“ma, it’s not a nursing home, it’s a retirement community!”) but she was unmoved.  Our alternative option was to consider live in carer and after some research we came across LiverInCare.co.uk, a specialist introductory agency based in Reading.  The immediate benefits of a live-in carer were obvious; mum stays in her own house, she gets one-on-one support and chooses the carer instead of fitting around the routines of a care home.  I think that feeling disempowered is my mum’s (maybe everyone’s) worst fear.  Given that it is a choice she never wanted to make in the first place, home support certainly seems more palatable to her.

Of course, it’s great that she gets to stay with her pets too.   One of her great bug bears is to have people fussing or hovering over her and this has been all too apparent since she came out of hospital.  When I sat down with her I asked her what type of support she would find useful, her responses were reliably in the mould of the “teenage” pensioner:  “I want someone to drive me to my friends or to the shops, help me with the day to day jobs like cleaning, cooking and bathing and to have a laugh with me”.  These criteria will form the basis of our interviews with prospective carers.  I can already see my mum moving into the ‘Alan Sugar’ role.  Having the chance to be the boss again at 71 seems to have re-energized her.

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