At the age of 88, Sarah’s mother was reasonably active and independent. She was able to walk a short distance to see people in her village and she spent lots of time with Sarah and her family. Then she had to go into hospital.
“On the ward were lots of people suffering from dementia, and she found herself in a bewildering and frightening environment. She said, ‘Is this what I have come to now?’ Her illness resulted in a dramatic decline in her physical ability.
A local authority funded care plan was organised when she came home about which she said, ‘I’m no longer independent and if the carers don’t turn up, what am I going to do?’ My impression is that she felt she had lost control of everything in her life. She could hardly walk. She had a catheter fitted, which she hates. She couldn’t do most of the things she used to do. She became very isolated - more or less a prisoner in her own home.
Loss of independence
She had lost all her independence. She relied on people coming to her or to take her out – which I did two or three times a week. I’d find her sitting in the porch outside her house even on a cold rainy day, because she liked to watch people going past.
When we went on holiday she spent three weeks in a care home. My daughter went to see her and told me: ‘I cannot believe the change in Gran. She’s back to her old self, laughing and smiling, she’s made friends.’
So when I came back from holiday, she said, ‘I really love it here.’
We had a meeting with social services who stated that they wouldn’t pay for my mother to go into a care home, because they are seen as a last resort. My mum looked totally deflated and said, ’I wish I was dead.’
"A care home is not what everybody wants, but neither is staying at home 24 hours a day if you are lonely."
As my mother felt so strongly that that she preferred her future to be in the care home where she had felt happy and secure, my husband and I initially made up the shortfall in what she could afford to pay from her pension and benefits. However, since this article was begun, Social Services have agreed to fund her care home placement.
In the home there are people her own age, with visitors coming in each day to work with the residents. They make things, play games, and do things to trigger memories and conversations. It is exactly what my mum needs.
She looks so much better. She feels independent because she’s not relying on her family for whatever she wants to do. She chooses her own friends. Her depression lifts and she gains a sense of self-worth.
A care home is not what everybody wants, but neither is staying at home 24 hours a day if you are lonely. Not every person has the same wishes or needs.”
- Care homes: useful advice and guidance on care homes.
- Care services directory: find care homes for older people in your relative's area.
- Companionship for older people: advice and information about companionship options for your relative.
Page last reviewed: February 2016
Next review due: April 2018