In Elizabeth’s words…
When you reach your 50s and 60s, I think it is the parents’ responsibility not to wait for the children to raise the subject, but to say: ‘This is what we want.’
I worked as a social worker and we had always talked as a family about planning for disabilities. My parents realised that a property miles from anywhere with a third of an acre garden that had 10ft-high hedges wasn’t suitable for them in their 70s. We talked about it and spent two or three years looking for more suitable accommodation.
We had planned that somebody would come and live with Mum to make sure she was always safe and comfortable.
Eventually, they moved into an apartment on a site for the over-55s – a sort of retirement village. It wasn’t quite sheltered accommodation, but it was pretty close.
I think it was one of the happiest times of their lives. It was warm, spacious, comfortable, easy to look after, and it had wonderful gardens maintained by the resident managers. Every day my Dad would say, ‘Aren’t we lucky to be here, Pat?’
After he died, Mum was quite ill and seemed very weary. She had a spell in hospital and when she came home, my brother or I stayed with her at first.
Planning for live-in carers
We had always agreed that I would not give up my home and Mum wouldn’t have wanted me to, but I wasn’t going to leave her on her own. We had planned that somebody would come and live with Mum to make sure she was always safe and comfortable. We talked about how she was bound to like some carers more than others, and that, if it didn’t work out with one, I’d come and stay for a while until we got someone else. We thought we’d have several years like this and were looking forward to enjoying them together.
Great care at home
My parents had their own bedrooms and we did up Dad’s old room. We put in nice new bed linen, a TV and an armchair and turned it into a comfortable bed-sitting room. The carers were so appreciative of it.
Mum liked the fact that someone would bring her a cup of tea the in the morning, check she was all right and ask if she wanted any breakfast. We never had anybody we were unhappy with. Some got on better with my mother than others, but that’s inevitable. I’d always go over and help them settle in, and give them days off.
It was so reassuring for my brother and me to know there was someone around. We thought it would go on for years, but Mum only lasted about a year after Dad.”
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