In Sarah’s words…
At the age of 88, my 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 me and my family. Then she had to go into hospital. On the ward there 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.
Mum became very isolated
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 hated. 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 can’t believe the change in Gran. She’s back to her old self, laughing and smiling, she’s made friends.’
When I came back from holiday, she said, ‘I really love it here.’
We then 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. Mum looked totally deflated, saying, ‘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, Social Services subsequently agreed to fund her care home placement.
The care home is a stimulating place
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’s 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’re lonely. Not every person has the same wishes or needs.”
Read about ways to increase the quality or quantity of contact with other people and tackle feelings of loneliness.
The importance of planning ahead, how to access local authority respite care and choosing respite care.
Learn about care home providers, registered care homes and specialist support in care homes.