Too good to be true

Now we can’t afford the care!!  I can’t believe my bad luck.  The carers have had to be cut down to mornings only and a couple of lunch time visits from Monday!

We knew that once mum moves in with me her house would be considered an asset but we hoped the care costs would be based on her actual income and not what the Council assume it to be! We have put her house on the market straight away, but she doesn’t have that money yet – it is all just on paper!  Plus nothing is selling in this market and we can’t afford to do it up to rent it.

We hoped we could pay any additional monies owed after her house had been sold.  But no, now 12 weeks have passed she has to pay the full cost of her care and with four carers coming in a day it amounts to over £500 a month more than she actually gets!  So not only have we lost most of our privacy in our home, given up a room and now share most of our ground floor, including the kitchen and bathroom, with complete strangers, it appears that I now have to provide the bulk of her care and pay for the privilege!!  I thought it was all too good to be true!!!

We did ask the social worker about deferred payments and he said it was only for people who had savings of less than £20,000!  Well mum has absolutely NO savings! Then he kept on about what a good pension she must have! Yet another assumption!  It possibly was good 38 years ago, but it is pretty basic now.  I know I certainly couldn’t live on it.  Eventually it dawned on him that their financial assessment left no room for food or other daily living costs, so agreed to send me the forms, but on reading them I was shocked at the costs involved in arranging this.  Nearly £1500 to set up and then they charge you compound interest – interest is charged daily, so you are paying interest on interest – with no indication as to what that interest rate might be!  And do we really want to put yet another charge on her property whilst it is up for sale?  We don’t want to risk holding things up if we did get an offer.  Plus the Council already has charges over the property for the bathroom and the stairlift, with no indication as to what that interest rate is either – on top of which we have to pay for the stairlift to be removed (even charities don’t want it!) and, if we had to rent, to have the bathroom put back!

Anyway, irrespective of all of that, it seems we are not eligible for deferred payments anyway – they are only available to people if they go into residential care!!  So there seems to be no support when you move in with family – we are just expected to pick up all the bills!

So I am left with no choice but to cut the care costs down to the bare minimum and hope we can meet those costs.  The minimum call out in the mornings for personal care is an hour.  I have to have some lunchtimes as I am at work and of course she also has to pay for her club and the watch alarm. This doesn’t include the costs of her ‘personal’ items, additional laundry, additional heating, creams and lotions and medications etc etc.  So until the house is sold we are just accumulating debt alongside a lack of sleep (I already do the night time care) and trying to manage my own household commitments and go to work. And we are faced with university fees (no student loans for graduates at medical school), accommodation costs and living expenses for my son.  I feel I am getting hit at both ends.   How I wonder does anyone else cope.  I can’t help feeling like I have been mugged by the government!

And there is no consideration of  risk?!  We were told by the hospital that she had to have full time care but I can’t provide that as I work and now we can’t afford it!                                                                                                                                                                                               We can hopefully recover some of our costs from the house sale, but then we have to worry about any tax or inheritance tax (should there be any) or future care costs, whatever so you are expected to prove everything you spend.  When you take a parent into your home to live with you, they don’t tell you about any of this!  And did I really even have a choice – we were told there were no residential care homes in our borough and the Council couldn’t afford to pay for a non-discounted home outside the borough and she could not live on her own!  I could just put her back in her house, where she would get support but it is the night-times that would be the problem and the loneliness.  I think I should start booking my flight to Switzerland as I dread to think what the future holds for me and I definitely won’t be able to afford to ever pack up working.

Playing up

I suppose it was a bit ambitious thinking I could go away for 5 weeks and not have any problems, but I had planned this trip before mum had her stroke and I thought it would have been more of a nightmare trying to change it.  My 23 year old son amazingly offered to oversee her care while I was away, give her an evening meal and help her to bed.  The carers were still coming in 4 times during the day, so it should run smoothly, or so I thought.

What did mum do?  She rang a bell (for night time emergencies) literally every 5 minutes, and was constantly demanding.  I think she thought my son was there to cater for her every need, with 24 hours constant care!  She would put the tv on really loudly to get attention, throw everything on the floor, deliberately wet herself and even wrote on the wall!!!  Not once did she say thank you to him and would just point to what she wanted.  She was also rude to a friend who was staying with us, who was kindly popping in to chat and take her cups of tea or the occasional meal if mum was hungry.  She told her she was fat 4 times and that she had never had a ‘real’ job (she was a PhD student!). Mum couldn’t understand why they stopped going in to talk to her.  I could say she was overly anxious and didn’t know what she was doing, but she has admitted to me in the past that she does know.

This isn’t dementia or a consequence of growing old, it is her personality sadly.  She can be very nice to others who are not close, although she has admitted to saying unkind things to friends on occasion.  Every few years my brother goes through a period of refusing to talk to her, but I try to convince myself that it is because of her own background/childhood and her general bitterness about life.  Her life wasn’t horrendous but it was tough and experiences can effect how we develop as a person.  Or is there really no excuse for being rude?

It was also a lesson in who will actually help when they say they will.  One day my son needed to see a friend which involved an overnight stay, but people who said they would help now wouldn’t, so it cost me £200 for an agency carer.  I felt he deserved the night off, bearing in mind if he had managed to go out in the evening, he would get a cab back at 10.00pm to help her to bed, as she wouldn’t go to bed any earlier.

Either way, I did get away and I will be forever grateful to my son and our friend who made this possible, but I don’t think I will ever go away for so long again – and I don’t think they would be so quick to offer if they had any sense….

Practicalities

A good friend reminded me today about insurance!  Having a keysafe and carers coming in and out of the house might invalidate my present house contents cover!!

Immediately I got home from work, I rang the Insurance company to check my policy. The lady who answered the phone was extremely helpful and understanding and confirmed that they would cover me at no extra charge.  However, she then proceeded to tell me that I actually didn’t have contents cover with them, only buildings insurance!  Could I remember who does cover my contents – not a chance!  So embarrassing!

I did eventually remember, but will have to phone tomorrow now.  Hopefully they will be just as helpful, but if not at least I know who to change to now.  And an important lesson – to be better organised!!!

Selling up

I am actually dreading putting mum’s house on the market.

One it means there is no turning back and two it will be upsetting for mum.

It’s also one more problem to have to deal with – getting the right price, clearing out the furniture, sorting out all the paperwork, old photos, ornaments, cleaning materials, crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils, clothing and all the other stuff she has collected over the years.  I have done this before for my grandmother and I know that their whole life is just going to end up in a small shoebox!

Plus I have to arrange energy certificates etc and cope with all the viewings, assuming there are some.  Housing market is really quiet now after Brexit and the election apparently and prices have fallen – typical!

Families

Now the arguments have started.

Mum has to sell her house to pay for her care.  There is a way to avoid this – if I do her care 24 hours, but I need to work and, having been a carer most of my life I know only too well that it will be too much for me to take on full time.  We have chosen the cheapest option anyway by moving in with me and have already sacrificed the ground floor of our house and most of our privacy with all the carers, social worker and therapists coming in and out when they want using the keysafe!

She could rent her house, but it would need refurbishing and neither she or I can afford to do that.  We have already loaned her all of our savings to get a new boiler and replace the kitchen, but the upstairs still needs doing.  We now have the additional costs of food and laundry, electricity etc now she has moved in and anyway any rent will not be enough to cover her care costs, so that option is out.

In the meantime, we are hoping the Council will agree to defer payments for the full cost of her care (her house is now seen as an asset) until the house is sold as she is currently on a low income.

Meanwhile my brother has been sending emails offering investment advice. Clearly I misinterpreted his email as I read it that he was trying to release some of the money for the family, and now he has gone off on one and will no longer speak to mum, accusing her of being selfish (I put it more politely than he did).  My daughter and son also thought his proposals were good and I am stuck in the middle trying to resolve everything.

Mum doesnt want to think about investment and said no.  My thoughts are that she hasnt even got her house on the market yet – and understandably wants to hang on closely to her money and to be able to see it in the bank (she has an App on her phone and checks her balance every day, despite not being able to use the phone to make or answer calls!).  She may change her mind, who knows, but it is up to her what she does – she could give it all away to some stranger if she wanted (hopefully not! and I now have Lasting Power of Attorney so can at least try and protect her from any scams) but she has the right to say no.

She worked really hard to buy her home. We lost everything when my dad got Parkinsons Disease – his business and our home – and ended up in a council flat which then had rain leaking in in every bedroom and carbon monoxide fumes in their bedroom (fortunately they had moved into the loft because of the water so avoided potentially dying in their sleep).  She then took a GCE and got herself a full time job and also worked nights in a burger bar to save a deposit to buy her own house.  Since then, as the only breadwinner, struggled to maintain the house over the years.  Any money she may receive now should go towards making her life as comfortable as possible.  Yes it should be invested wisely, to meet her future care costs and hopefully leave some for the family, but she hasn’t got any yet!  Early days!

Best buy ever

The battery ran out today and for the life of me I couldn’t get the screws out to recharge it!  Total panic and disaster!  What was this thing that I have become so dependent on?  – a video doorbell.  Honestly, it has transformed my life and I really can’t live without it.

In my stupidity I had thrown the box away which contained the screwdriver, thinking it was just any screwdriver – but of course it was not – it was a T6 torx screwdriver!!  What the fxxx was that?  I managed to contact the company that made the doorbell and to my relief and surprise they immediately offered to send me a replacement screwdriver from the USA free!!!  I never get anything free.  It is flying on its way to me now, but I couldn’t wait.  I really cannot survive without this bell.  Already I have missed two parcels because I couldn’t answer the door from work and mum was also ringing me at work, worrying that someone was knocking at the door and no one was in.

Honestly, everyone must get one of these.  It is truly amazing.  My husband was working in the front garden and having a very animated conversation with my son and daughter who were in Australia!! Imagine that!  I had sent them the link but didn’t imagine they could answer motion on the doorbell from the other side of the world.  I have been able to ask a delivery driver to wait, seen where parcels have been left and asked other callers to come back later.

The only downside is that it video’s you installing the thing.  I just hope the company do not keep this data to torment you with later!!  Apart from the practicality of the bell, you can have such a laugh with it too, believe me.  Some of the images it captures could earn someone a fortune on ‘You have been Framed’.

A glimpse of the future

It occurred to me that we all know that we will go through various stages in our lives, but we never seem to be prepared for them!   At 7 years of age we feel grown up and by 14 years of age we clearly know it all.  But in a flash we are in our 20’s and we have to actually start being grown up.

Continue reading “A glimpse of the future”