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Don't know what to d can anyone offer some advice - dementia

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by ethnic, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. Hi

    I am in a personal dilemma and wondered if anyone could offer me some advice or at least point me in the right direction. I wont go into great detail but I have had a successful career as a Head of Music. I have spent most of my teaching career, which spans 20 years, in 2 grammar schools. In 2009 I took up a post as Deputy Head of Music in a leading International School overseas; I have always wanted to teach abroad, particulalry at this school and when the job came up I just had to go for it. Now when I went abroad I was fully aware that my mum had mild Alzheimer's, yet I still made the decision just to try the experience. Also my dad was at home and I have 2 sisters.

    Anyway, things weren't as rosy as I thought they would be. The school was fantasic, package and salary etc. etc. However, I couldn't get on with my Head of Department, who in my opinion was a bully. Also I was missing my mother terribly, so I decided to return for her sake at the end of the academic year 2010.

    At present I do not have a job and am living at home, renting out my flat for income. I am staying with parents and offering support to both of them. However, I am starting to feel really down and depressed feeling that I have lost my career, my independence for the sake of my mother and do not know what to do. My parents relationship is not fantastic so I feel in a way my mother is relying on me too much rather than my dad, whom she hates anyway (part of her condition). One of my sisters is married and we only see them now and again. My other sister doesn't have anything to do with my mum and dad, because my mother has cut her off (again part of her condition). So the main person in the family who seems to have most contact with my mother is me.

    I am 44 and am wondering am I condemned to be stuck at home for the rest of my life looking after my mother. I would say she is in the moderate stages at the moment.

    I desperately want to get back into teaching, especially overseas, now that I have tasted the delights of international teaching (it is great if you find the right school) and a few opportunities have arisen, but I am torn between my mother and my own career. Friends tell me I should look after me for a change and get my life back, but I do feel for my poor mum. The past few months have been a real test to say the least.

    What would you do in my situation?

    Any advice would be greatly welcomed and feel free to pm me.

    Whoops I said I wouldn't go into too much detail.

  2. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    What would your mum tell you to do if she was well?
  3. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I echo this comment.
  4. She would probably say 'I will miss you, but develop your career and take the opportunities that come up"

    Not really thought if it like that!

  5. If the situation before you came back was that she had to depend upon her husband whom she "hates", he had to do the bulk of the caring for someone who wasn't even grateful, and your sister had to chip in a whole lot more, then your return must have seemed like a gift from God. I can totally see why they all sat back/scarpered and let you take on the lion's share.
    It was your choice to return, partly because you missed your Mum. Presumably the bit you missed was not the demanding caring exhausting reality. This is the reality for whoever gets to do the caring. Perhaps now you feel that the aspects of the relationship that you missed are no longer worth the sacrifice of your career and independence, in which case you might as well look for another job. Would it be unfair to suggest that whilst there are plenty of jobs in the UK, a job abroad would at least completely rule you out of any more carer responsibilities?
    How do you feel about leaving your father to deal with all of this effectively on his own? Can he cope? His wife is his primary responsibility but surely it hasn't become too much to ask that a demented woman's own children couldn't chip in?
    Sorry to put this so bluntly but dementia doesn't adversely affect life expectancy to any huge degree. Your mother could have decades of increasingly disordered living ahead of her. She could be admitted to a care home if it becomes too much for your father, but you would need to sit down and consider the financial implications and his future accommodation if they own the house they are currently living in.
    At 44, if you choose to remain, you will be supporting your father in caring for your mother until she either goes into a home or dies. It's a big ask. Only you know the answer.

  6. I would echo the previous posts. I know you probably feel very guilty but the horrible truth is that you could end up being your mum's carer for several years, by which time the opportunity for you to get back into teaching (or any job for that matter) will be very small indeed. If your mum was well, would she really want to hold you back like this? I think not. I care for my mum, who is 88 yrs old and has memory problems. She can be sooooooo confused at times, and seems to inhabit a dfferent planet to the rest of us! She lives with us now because she couldn't cope on her own and she lived 5 hrs away, which made it impossible for us to care for her. We dont really know if she has dementia; she has been diagnosed with cognitive impairment, which is less serious, but she hasnt been assessed for almost a year now and I definitely feel she has deteriorated.
    I too feel very trapped. I'm coming up to 49 and only work as a temp. My job finishes next week and I have nothing else lined up. My mum is in good health apart from her memory and could potentially go on and on for years yet. Sometimes I wish I'd never taken on the job of caring for her, although obviously I do love her. I have a brother who was quite happy to swan off to America and live there. He is quite happy for me to do all the hard slog! I would hate for my daughter to have to do the same for me in my old age if it meant she had to sacrifice her career and possibly end up unemployed for the rest of her days. The problem with being a carer is that once you've had a few years out of the job market, you are effectively thrown onto the scrapheap.
    If I were you, I'd move out and go back to work. I know its hard and you'll feel guilty but your mum at least has your dad. Could you not arrange for carers to help out?
  7. Thanks for your reply and I understand your own situation too. I feel deep down that I do need to get back into teaching and am pursuing this. My mum is definitely very stable and is in the early moderate stages of Alzheimers. There are certainly many times in the day when she seems with it but then there are also many times when, like your mum, she is on a different planet. Most of the time I am motivated by compassion for her and I suppose being single, she is probably the closest person to me (I am male by the way). I think that in a couple of years, carers will need to be brought in. My mum, like myself, also goes to a church so at least she has them.
    At the moment there seems to be little in the way of jobs in the UK. Deep down I still want to go back abroad but I may have to put this on hold. I am, however, applying for a job in the Channel Islands. Maybe this could be a good compromise and it's under an hour from Gatwick and my parents could come and stay often as well as me going back often. It's just that she is relying on me too much now so it will also be hard for her.

    Thanks everyone for replying to this posting!


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