Monday, 18 February 2013

Real Life (part 19)

There are times when being a grown up is less enjoyable than it normally is. I have written periodically how being a grown up wargamer is so much fun as you have access not just to the toys, but also all the accoutrements of an adult. Like power tools and an enormous shed. And, mostly, a regular income to pay for the new toys.

Alas with all the of this comes responsibilities, and to be honest, I've almost had enough of being a grown up recently.

My mother, who will be 87 this year, went into hospital with gall stones the weekend before Christmas and has been pretty much in hospital since then. She was initially discharged, and then was taken ill again and had to be treated on a stroke ward. She's quite small and has become increasingly frail. Her desire to be independent and stay in the family home seems to be inversley proportional to her physical well being.

All in all she has been hospital for 6 of the last 8 weeks. She was discharged again last Monday, complete with a re-enablement package (that means care workers coming in three or four times a day to help with getting up & preparing meals). This package hasn't always met with her expectations, - as I remarked last week our game was cut short by some difficulties she was having and she'd only been back home for 12 hours. By Tuesday it was all too much for her and we were looking for space in the care home in our village.

Well, I say "we" but it was Mrs T doing the all work. I was stuck in London, being a grown up.By Wednesday the assessment had been done and we were waiting for a move date and shoving numbers in a spreadsheet to see if the expected fees and existing savings stack up. And hoping we can move my father to the same place.

Since then we've had a lot of calls about the inadequacy of the home re-enablement help and increasing pressure from her to move as soon as possible. Eventually it was decreed it would be this Tuesday.

So the weekend is spent going through the house and working out what she needs ("I must have that chair, - and that, - and one of those" "Mum it's just one room you know"). So we are rooting through the house like everyone's died, looking for things and trying to work out what we're going to do with everything and who in the family needs a dining room suite or that nice bureau we all like, and what about the contents of the freezer, stuffed full as it is with ready meals. Now we're wondering if we should rent it out, either furnished or unfurnished (the house that is, not the freezer. It's big but you couldn't live in it).

All very grown up stuff and not at all enjoyable.We just hope this is the right solution and she'll be happy. After all, there is no alternative as far as we can see. The only silver lining is that we may get some of our free time back and we won't be constantly wondering if she isn't answering the phone because she's taken her hearing aid out (again) or whether she's fallen over. And we'll be able to spend time together because we want to, not because we have to.

Everyone, pretty much, looks up to their parents and as you go through life you wonder how it is that they seem to know what to do about things in general, - whether it is cars, insurance, buying a house and so on. Then you get to the point where they can't help anymore and it is you who is expected to know how all this works. I spend my life in a quasi-legal environment, reading contracts and service proposals. Crumbs, - I've even read and understood rules by Phil Barker and Martin Goddard - but even the "simplified" fact sheets from Age Concern are incomprehensible. I can work out how to shift billions of dollars safely round the world but I haven't a clue as to what happens with attenadance allowances worth £50. Thank goodness for my sister in law who used to work in a local authority social housing department.

All of which is not very much about wargaming, and is overly self centred and self pitying. Probably just better grow up and get on with it.


  1. Let me commiserate with you by simply stating that things are no better here in the USA. My sister (who is a lawyer) and I had to engage a lawyer who specializes in elder care just to help us with the paper work of getting my mother approved for Medicaid. In the interim, sadly, she passed away leaving her estate saddled with tens of thousands of dollars owed to the nursing home since she had not received financial assistance from the government.
    Two different countries and two very similar situations. Is there something that says when you speak English you have to make everything so damned hard!

  2. Hi Trebian,

    I am really sorry that you (or indeed anybody) has to cope with this kind of situation - it is bad enough when you have to worry about loved ones without the added worry of worrying about the bureaucracy that goes with it.

    My thoughts and best wishes are with you,


  3. Best wishes, sadly this will happen to us all, but it something nobody wants to think about. Sincere sympathies and here's hoping things level out a little soon ;)

  4. Yeah, being a grown up is not all it was supposed to be when we were younger. I feel for you and your family and hope you come out of it ok.

    And I am with you on some of the forms and bureaucracy. All my life I read rules and and work I process and generate forms etc, financial stuff seems easy and then it gets to some healthcare stuff and I have no idea.

  5. Trebian,

    I have a fair idea how things have been going for you. Over the past two years we have had to deal with my father-in-law's health and care issues, then his death and the winding up of his estate (which included clearing and selling his home in Herne Bay) at the same time as my father has been suffering from dementia and increasing frailty which has resulted in his being placed in a care home. We have also had to clear and sell my father's house, and with my brother's assistance, we have put my father's financial affairs into order so that his care can be funded. (That, by the way, costs £750.00 per week because my father worked and saved all his life; had he not done so, it would have been free! Roll on the day when care costs will be 'capped'!)

    In both cases the amount of time spent trying to get help from 'the system' was disproportionate to the help that was eventually given ... and then usually 'withdrawn' soon afterwards.

    Our experience of the care system is that my father's home is excellent, with lots of staff per patient, whereas the 'home support' my father-in-law received was variable in the extreme (some helpers would do anything; others just made a cup of tea and then left).

    Once things have settled down (which they do, after a fashion) your life will become slightly less fraught and slightly more your own, but as our parents become frailer we began to dread the phone ringing.

    Throughout it all, my hobby and my friends helped keep me going ... and I am sure that you will find the same. Likewise my wife was a rock ... and having met her, I am sure that yours will be as well.

    Good luck,


  6. Trebian,
    please pardon my bluntness, but bugger any concerns of being "overly self centred and self pitying". You're going through an extremely stressful time, and any route towards some catharsis has to be of benefit. Us grown-ups need it from time to time. It's your blog; your rules.

    All the best,
    Clive G

  7. Got to say I don't think I can add very much to any of those - just wanted to say "chin up" and then "what Clive G said"! :o)

  8. Thanks to all of you for your best wishes.

    We have just got back from moving the first car load of personal items in, and have left my mother to sit and have a nap. She likes the room, and the staff seem friendly and helpful.

    We just need to go back now with her clothes and her ornaments, then once I've hung her pictures up she'll be right at home.

    Then I can get back to writing about wargaming!