Aged parent (3)

The story so far.

Mum has been unloaded at Bergerac Airport. she suffered a stroke in November 2010 and was unhappy in her care home where she had been deposited by my siblings.

I collected the car from the Parking and fortunately there wasn’t any UK reg 4X4 in the disabled pick-up space outside arrivals. We had three people, six suitcases and a wheel chair to load into our Fiesta, plan B was to hire another car if it would not all fit in, with a bit of jiggery and some judicious slamming of the tailgate we did manage.

Its about an hour and a half to home and we had the ‘aides a domicile’ booked to welcome Mum home in an hour and a quarter, so no time for a ciggy break or to pick up a fresh loaf.

We managed to arrive by the skin on my teeth, to be met by a discussion group outside, our French and English neighbours were reassuring the Aide a domicile that we would be there.She had arrived twenty-five minutes early. We unloaded and introduced everyone to Mum.

About an hour later Mum had been washed, dressed for the night and introduced to her new bed, TG everything met her approval. I have to say the Carers have been absolutely magnificent, while they may not be nurses and we had no expectation of nursing care, they knew about common conditions suffered by the infirm and we received a great deal of advice about their treatment.

On arrival in France Mum’s general health was as expected but her condition was not, because she suffers from involuntary incontinence she has been wearing super size sanitary towels day and night. when her new carers were washing her the first night they reported back that she was suffering from a fungal infection under her breasts, urine burns around her lower body, bed sores on her heals ( Wondered at first what her ‘Talons’ were). When we later discussed her hygiene regime with them they were horrified that her *** rated care home in the UK only washed her daily and she only had one bath per week, no showers at all! That changed immediately, a trip to the Pharmacie equipped with little notes saw me loading up with special bum cream, medicated boob powder and some sort of herbal stuff for her heels. In a week most of these infections have cleared up; she is, perhaps not happily, having a daily shower and a good wash in the morning, to be frank she was a bit niffy but a change onto the recommended night time ‘protection’ and also an up grade in her daytime wear plus liberal sprays round the room with super odour eater spray soon sorted that.

Our Doctor visited today and immediately ordered a battery of blood tests and we are having a visit from an ‘Infirmiere’ or nurse tomorrow morning.

So Far so good and to see the smile on her face when we wheel her out onto the terrace for tea and cakes in the afternoons makes the occasional struggle well worth while.

To the French health care workers, doctor and administration I can only say BRAVO , If this carries on I shall be cheering for ‘Les Blues’ soon.:slight_smile:

One of the dangers of sharing your blog on Facebook is that it sometimes attracts attention, to show the sort of problem I mean I’ve pasted a reply and my answer

’Liz Woolfenden’ Rog your ‘siblings’ didn’t dump Ma in a care home. If you remember you were very anxious indeed for her to go into Brandon ASAP as she had to leave hospital. YOU arranged it all and upon her leaving there I have heard you held a thank you party with cake and flowers. Also I think she would be mortified if she knew you were broadcasting her most personal details like this.

‘Roger Thomas’ Never believe rumours about a party Liz…As for the Dumping, Yes I did research Brandon, But I was accused or ruining their plans (permanent residency) by two out of three siblings when I made her the offer to live with me. Give me a ring if you want to discuss further.

For this blog there was no party, and Mum was in a stroke unit when we all agreed to placed her in Brandon because she was bed blocking.I was resident in France at that time and after checking the Home on the net as far as possible, i.e quality care commission…3 stars and a very good audit report, suggested that it seemed a good place, I also checked with local care workers who also gave the place a thumbs up, eventually I asked my other sister to pay a visit and arrange a placement. to be fair to my youngest sister it would not have been possible to see Mum’s deterioration on a normal daily visit.

dear Joanna
How very much I have to agree with you about the personal relationships.
My/our doctor is presently applying for ALD, we have her Attestation and are already getting the 60% soon to be 100% :slight_smile:

Roger, I’ve read all three of your posts and sympathise - I brought my mother out here when she was dying from cancer and my brother was furious, not because he wanted to look after himself but because he thought I should coome over to the UK on an open ended ticket and stay till she died. It was very hard in ways I just hadn’t prepared myself, I could cope with the broken nights and nursing what I found really difficult was the sheer intrusion of having someone, a frequently difficult someone, living in the house and coping with my mother’s increasing dementia. I agree the help we got was brilliant - though I’ll be surprised if you can get the cost of the aides refunded, we were told by the association ours came from that you can claim 50% baack on your tax - not a help for us as Mum wasn’t paying tax in France. However we did have nurses coming in to wash her every day - 100% remboursed as she had an ALD and they waited until all her papers were in order before they put in the first invoice so we never paid a penny and as she got iller they came twice a day and could have come three times. We also got back dated payments for the doctor’s bills (you must ask yours to declare your mother has an ALD immediately to get her into the system), first at 70%, then when the S1 was OKed 100%, and about three months later the extra 30% we hadn’t been given in the first place. We also found a remarkable amount of the helpers could speak at least some English and everyone made a real effort.

Sorry to hear that Roger. Hope you have all recovered - mum included xx

Mum had a ‘Crise’ yesterday, Its a form of fit thats half way between a faint and an epileptic fit, although it was all over in fifteen minutes it was quite scary. we phoned 15 for the first time, luckily my French held out and I was able to answer the questions quite coherently, the SAMU contacted her Doctor who literally left some poor woman on the examination table, sorry if it was you, and arrived here within 10 minutes, checked her out and left after giving her an ‘ordanance’ for 5mg of Valium’ and promising a rendez-vous with a Neurologist. I think things may have been different in the UK but I was stuck with a 45€ bill…

One aside, Visitor numbers will be down next year (TG) a suggestion that the visitors might like to provide a little respite care seems to trigger a phone call a few days later of an unexpected change in circumstances…You can read about my visitors on here …2007or How to Survive Visitors :slight_smile:

Can I just add to the U.K care home discussion. While on arrival in France we found a deterioration in Mum’s wellbeing, and were disappointed that her hygiene had not been attended to as we wish, the actual personnel, involved with her care were always kind to her, she only had to ring a bell(sometimes in the early hours) and someone attended almost immediately. Mum can be ‘difficult’ at times but fortunately so can I , we have been lucky that the new carers, with my backup, have been able to institute the new hygiene regime, Mum had become used to the less troublesome quick lick over and coming from an older generation thought that that was quite adequate, like many overworked people they would tend to let her have her own way, after all the client is always right.

Can I just add to Chritine’s comment about care workers in the UK…it’s easy to find worn-out, jaded, synical and negative care workers in the UK. They become like that from both the woeful lack of intiial training, which definitely did used to be the case and thankfully isn’t any longer, especially within the NHS.

I think the problem is much, much more due to the over reliance upon private nursing homes, which are not regulated properly i.e. allowed to be owned and managed by untrained people with little interest in healch CARE and a lot of interest in healthPROFIT. On both NHS units and private ones, the main problems wherever they occur always stemmed from understaffing. With the best training in the world, I couldnt cope with giving out medication for 60 EMI residents per night shift, with a staff of 4 to change, wash and monitor them all night. And no gloves.March 2008, North Norfolk.

I’m an ex mental health nurse and spent a lot of time nursing eldery mentally infirm patients,in the UK until 2008, with a range of additional physical problems such as stroke etc… Can I just say to you Roger, and to your sisters, that it looks from your comments on the forum that you have all been very worried about your mum and that it sounds to me as if, due to her poor health, she’d have had no choice but to move into the care home in the UK. Your situation and the arguments that have been so acutely illustrated, are very very common in the UK. There simply is not the help in the UK from the state and the local health systems that is needed to help people who want to live with elderly relatives. It’s only reasonably possible for rich people to consider. It is very frequent there, that the stress of dealing with such moves causes family arguments and I feel very strongly that I had to comment to try to persuade you to try not to blame each other but to look more closely at the whole situation and try to focus on the massive difference between the UK and French elderly care systems. You’ll see that it’s much more likely to be the lack of help in the UK that causes these family rifts and not the poor attitudes within the family. In fact I can’t think of one single family that I ever met, who didn’t have similar problems in the UK. I really hope this viewpoint helps you to all focus more on looking after your mum and a bit less on how it has affected you all…which has obviously been very troubling, and is most likely not your fault.

Hope that all will continue to go smoothly - or fairly smoothly - and that your Ma will continue to be able to enjoy her new life with you in France!
It is kind of you to share your (her) story with us - and I hope that perhaps others in a similar situation will be able to investigate what additional help they may be entitled to have!
Deciding what to do for the best is always a challenge and even if your parents have been wonderful it doesn’t always follow that having one or both of them to live with you would be the best solution for either you or them. I hope that I am never faced with having to decide what to do to help an aged parent (though between us we still have 3 - and they are all just above or below 80)!!

Hi Roger…so glad that you’ve got mother settled in with you and out of that UK ‘care’ home.
Having worked in several homes when I was in the UK…I was witness to much neglect…both physical and nutritional (Tesco’s economy was always in the cupboards and freezers in one home I worked in)… and one bath a week was normal in all of them. I found many of the care workers completely incapable of being able to feel/tune in to the feelings of their charges. I was forever finding extra blankets to keep the residents warm whilst they sat in the day rooms. Most of the staff felt that I interfered.
On many occasions I would have liked to have been a whistle blower…however I felt I could do more good by seeing the need and fulfilling it…than by speaking out and not only losing my job…but being banned from entering the homes again.
I should like to add that many of the girls genuinely cared…a few were dedicated…but most were young and inexperienced…
God Bless You and your family for caring.

Jaqueline, you do not say how much help you are receiving via your medicin traitant and Mum’s Mutuel, You should be able to obtain some help with daily chores, the Aides a domicile are there to help you as much as your parent, I have been told, but have yet to confirm this, that you are able to have two weeks of respite care per annum, and that through the association in your area for the Aides then they will arrange ‘Granny’ sitting even overnight , I have no idea of your or your Mum’s financial state but if you are on a fairly lowish income these services could well be discounted, and or free if ordered by your doctor, especially as dimentia is I believe one of the ‘Afflictions Longue Duree’ which give 100% remboursement. My Mum has almost no French as well but the girls manage her well without it. In the UK normal help for Care homes is capped by the local Council and in our case was £380pw The extra had to be found from her own resources, naturally because she owned her own home there was next to nothing coming forward from the Council after the first 12 weeks(to give her time to sell the house) A Local care home here charges €1200 per month again this is Means tested, the means being her and your capability to pay, Children are expected to pay toward their parents care as said earlier.

Very interesting to hear about the excellent help that you have found available. My mother is 92. She came to live with us in France 4 years ago and fortunately is still able to look after herself most of the time - for now, at least.

Unfortunately she has never been an easy person to live with, which is why I left home at 18 and avoided spending any time under the same roof with her for more than 40 years. To be fair she is not keen on living with me, either, and says she would prefer to be in UK. I draw the line there. Nothing could persuade me to go back to Britain to live.

It’s a relief to hear that such good care could be available for her if/when it becomes necessary.

There may sometimes be good reasons why aged parents should live in care homes.

Dear Roger,

my 83 yr old mother has Dementia with Lewy Bodies and because of the language difficulty - she does not speak a word of french - I am caring for her 100% myself. She sees the GP and a geriatric specialist, but as far as I am aware, unless we can pay, she cannot go into any residential home. We do not have the means to pay for this, and she just has her UK state pension of 430 Euros per month.
Last week we had to call the gendarmes as she went walk-a-about in the woods while we were cooking supper. They called for a tracker dog, but found thankfully her before its arrival. She is becoming incontinent and is completely confused all the time. Her condition means she suffers from hallucinations, and she has no memory. It is a complete nightmare to live with someone like this, and I thank you for sharing your story as at least I don’t feel completely alone.
I would love to find a residential home for my Mum nearby as I hate having to lock doors at night and I think she would benefit from a routine. Never sleeping more than 2 hours is taking its toll on us too. It is almost 2 years since we left the house as a couple - someone has to stay to watch my mother 24/7.
We have lived here for almost 20 years and this is our HOME. We are expecting our first grandchild here in 4 weeks, so we make the best of it. My Mum lived in Mallorca and was repatriated to live with us here in France when she was found wandering naked there. It is the LAW in Europe that families take care of their elderly relatives - which we would have done anyway.
In UK you can just say “not my problem”…no wonder the homes are all full, and so many offer inadequate care.
Basically we all do the best we can within our means and our capabilities.

Thank yu for sharing your Mum’s story - I wish you and her all the best


When my mother was very involved looking after both her elderly parents, there was a feature in the local paper about an old lady who lived in the next road and had just died aged 100 and something.

It contained the immortal line “For the last twenty years she had been devotedly cared for by her daughter Mary, age 82.” At this point my mother looked up and said “OMG” before we got the giggles. Which just kind of sums it up. We all want to do the right thing and it can be very, very hard so a sense of humour helps.

Personally, I think Roger’s blog about this is fantastic. It tells it like it is, which will help others facing a similar situation and it hi-lights just how good the care system can be in France. Something which we would do well to remember next time we’re ranting about officious civil servants (I am very firmly including myself in that group) - bravo Roger and keep us posted please!

It is alway sad and difficult when we become parents to our parents. We are currently hosting my wife’s 94 year old mother.

Wow my aunt just had a stroke and the family just fosen’t know what to do. I’ll keep reading. Thank you.

Dear Jane, its always difficult when In-laws fail to gel as a unit and I quite understand that it is very difficult ,even impossible to care for a patient with dementia, But I do hear the constant excuse in conversation here in France, that Mum/Dad/Spouse is in a home in the UK because they couldn’t get the care in France, what I have tried to demonstrate is that it is possible to obtain in house care, the quality is excellent etc.
But ther is another side, I hear of retournees who have left their loved? ones in a maison de retrait, no contact and due to a different system, no means of paying for their care…

Sometimes Roger it is just not possible to take care of your parents. You say that your mum looked after you and did everything for you, not all parents are like that.
My mother-in-law had MS and dementia because of it and she needed more nursing than we could give.
Also she had been absolutely horrible to me, almost broke up our marriage and there was no way we were going to have her with us and before you say that was due to her dementia, that was well before that started.
You cannot tell from appearances the exact story of peoples lives, some people are very private and you never get the real state of affairs from them.
I know there are parents who get “dumped” into unsatisfactory care homes, but my mother-in-law was not one of them. She had excellent care in a private home that was a home-from-home
and it worked very well for all concerned.

If your still watching I’ve added an edit at the end. it now should be read in conjunction with my rant below B-)

When my grandad was is in a similar condition in the UK, the only way we could get that kind of care was by paying privately. Which of course we did. Well done and we are all rooting for you and your mum xx