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Ask a counsellor: Caring for my elderly mother is putting a strain on me – what can I do?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on a daughter who wants to take a family holiday but is worried about leaving her 82-year-old mother alone.

The problem…

“My 82-year-old mother is no longer very mobile and is also becoming a bit vague, so I need to help her out quite a lot.

I don’t begrudge her the time because she’s been a wonderful mum who is always prepared to help me and anyone else who needs it.

Looking after her, my family and holding down a job does become a bit of a strain at times though. We haven’t been able to take a holiday in ages, as I don’t feel I can leave her.

She says she’ll be fine but she needs someone around a lot, so I don’t think it’s really an option. I suppose I could arrange for her to go into care or something, but I really don’t want to do that.”

Fiona says…

“Arranging temporary care for your mother while you have a holiday really isn’t a terrible thing to do at all. There are a number of specialist agencies that offer care at all levels of need, sometimes in hotel-like venues in interesting locations.

Please don’t feel guilty – all carers need a break, which is something that Carers UK (carersuk.org) recognise. Of course, there is an expense involved – which may or may not be difficult for you – but perhaps you could look at the options, as it could be like a holiday for your mother too.

Even carers need time off, says Fiona

It can’t be easy for her to feel that she is dependent on you all of the time, so offering her this option might be beneficial in other ways, too.

Finally, do talk to them about what else may be available for your mother, locally. There might be things she’d like to consider doing that could take some of the pressure off you.”

If you have a problem and you’d like Fiona’s advice, email [email protected]


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