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Can you care too much?

I had a grim but also uplifting conversation with a friend in the pub last night.   Her Mum was in hospital over Christmas with various complicated ailments, all of which come on top of what has been a slow decline into Dementia.   Up until now, her mother has lived with her sister who has cared for her as her health has declined.  The sister has a husband and family of her own, chickens, a dog and a generally busy life.   The situation has started to really upset the wider family in terms of decisions to be made about their Mum, but also the immediate family from the impact of having someone with Dementia living at home.

The conversation last night was around what happens next.   The spell in hospital has pointed out a number of things to my friend the most alarming of which are that her mother no longer really knows where she is, and that she is also clearly now in need of specialist care.  My friend has also concluded that her sister is completely exhausted and yet refuses to give up any notion of caring for her mum.

The conversation turned to thoughts about how best to encourage her sister to realise that caring for her mum herself wasn’t only having an impact on her own health, but on the wellbeing of her immediate family, and those around her.   We also talked about how to try and get her sister to recognise that her Mum needed more and different help than she could give her, even with additional carers to her home.

I’m not sure that we were really able to resolve the situation.  The best plan we could come up with was to try and encourage her sister to let her Mum go into a nursing home for the rest of the winter, to build up her strength and to get some specialist care.   This would have the added bonus of enabling the sister to recharge her batteries, and hopefully to begin to see that she could still care for her Mum, just in a different way.  We concluded that a move from hospital directly in to a home could be presented as the least worse of all options, and that once she was there, perhaps it would make it easier for the sister and the family to agree that it was the best place for Mum.

Today the family were meeting with their Mother’s care team in the hospital to decide the next steps.   I am hoping that they will come away from it having made some good decisions – for their Mum, and as importantly, for them all.

Struggling with care issues? There’s lots of good advice on the site, and people with helpful experience on the Age Space forum.