Q: My brother and sister think my elderly mother should move in with me. Is there any help available as she gets more frail?
A: The first step is to ask yourself if you truly want your mum to move in with you. Better to find an alternative now than go through the stress of it not working and inflicting two moves on your mum.
If you genuinely feel positive about the idea, next you need to ask your mum what she wants. She might have other plans.
Your next port of call should be your local carers’ charity. They will have lots of information about what you can expect from your local council, other non-profits in your area and also the benefits system.
They’ll also be able to tell you of alternatives if you feel you that living together wouldn’t work.
If you don’t have a carers’ charity nearby, try the helpline of Carers UK on 0808 808 7777 or the online advice at the Carers Trust.
Depending on your circumstances, needs and location, you might or might not find that you’d qualify for a benefit payment, help with any necessary modifications to your home, community nurse or home help services, respite care or specialised grants.
Websites devoted to helping older people live independently, will help you research more of the issues that you might encounter over the longer term.
Organisations such as Age UK and Independent Age also have campaigns you can support to help improve services for older people.
Since your siblings are so keen on the idea, find out how much they’re willing to pitch in – not just now but regularly over the next five, ten, or twenty years.
Finally, however well it goes, such a big change will be hard on you and your mum so start building yourselves up now. Both of you should get a health check-up. Both should look at your support networks and figure out how you’ll both be able to see as much if not more of your friends. And if you don’t already, both of you should start investing some time in a little relaxing exercise, such as yoga, tai chi or line dancing – something that gets you moving and puts a smile on your face.
First published in Issue 12 Widows and Widowers magazine