Real Life MMD: Should we keep paying for son's extras?

edited 17 May 2011 at 8:15PM in Money Saving Polls
74 replies 27.2K views


  • shehen23shehen23 Forumite
    28 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    I know this doesn't answer the question but I just want to say how heart warming it is to read so many generous posts. In this harsh financial climate it would be easy for people to use this as a reason to be selfish but clearly most people have their priorities right and would still provide for their nearest and dearest in their hour of need. It must be devastating for the husband in this case to know that his child is suffering from a mental illness and I'm sure that there must be periods where he has blamed himself or felt guilty (I'm not suggesting he should or actually is).
    Providing these small things, whether treat or necessity must be as much a comfort for him as it is his son and you can't put a price on that. I wonder if the OP has really talked to her husband about how the situation has affected him, perhaps then she would understand why he needs to continue to provide for his son. A sad story anyway, I hope everything turns out well for all concerned.
  • Some of the best advice I've read here is from people who, like me, have stayed in psychiatric wards. I agree it's personal contact that helps. Although I understand your husband must be in torment, material things and price tags are not a measure of love. A gift can be a card or letter expressing something honest and caring, maybe with a well chosen quote or some lyrics from a band your stepson likes. It could be something bought in a charity shop relating to an interest he has - so cheap and relating so much to his interests only that it would be less likely to be stolen.

    You don't know at the moment how long your stepson will be in hospital. It's a particularly bad idea for your husband to insist on spending so much on visiting just now if his son's stay turns out to be longterm (although I hope it doesn't come to that). If your savings are eaten up by daily transport costs then your husband may begin to realise that his good intentions were impractical when faced with the possibility of debt/not being able to visit his son.

    Comments like "if he was your blood" are missing the point. The fact that you may not have the same emotional bond as your husband does to his son doesn't automatically mean you don't care. It's the very fact that you have an emotional objectivity that allows you to view the situation in a practical way and think about what's best for all of you.
  • heathwheathw Forumite
    2 Posts
    Does your stepson have a care co-ordinator or social worker that will be looking after him when he is discharged from hospital? It may be that you can get some help with finances for yourself and your stepson. Hospital staff should be able to advise. They may not know that there is a problem. Having a loved one in a mental health hospital is very hard, especially when you are travelling back and forth. I don't think that it's wrong to be honest about how you feel. You have to be realistic. There are also agengies that can help family members who support someone with a mental health problem both practically and emotionally. It's worth asking hospital staff. Hope things get better soon for you all.
  • pmdpmd Forumite
    65 Posts
    Could you talk to ward staff about the problem of stuff going missing? If, like someone's relative above, he's throwing things away, then perhaps staff could retrieve and keep them so you could bring them again when he changes his mind! Labelling everything must be useful, even books, CDs, bottles of shampoo, slippers, etc - more likely to get back to him if picked up by other patients either as theft or as confusion.

    I'm sure you've looked into cheapest transport; sadly the "change to a more economical car" option is probably only viable if you've got enough spare cash that you don't really need to - all depends on the balance betwen your savings, possible savings on petrol, and any estimate of how long this scenario is going to go on for.

    It's much more important to visit than to bear gifts every time. I wonder whether husband's relationship with son is a bit strained so that he feels he needs to bring gifts for his visits to be welcomed? People with mental illnesses don't always welcome or thank their visitors, though they may still value the visits. Again, perhaps talk to the staff to see what would best improve his quality of life during the 24-n hours that you aren't there.

    Also worth double-checking whether there's any benefits he's entitled to which don't get suspended while he's in hospital - just as someone who's in a care home and fully funded by the state is allowed a small weekly amount for "pocket money" to pay for shampoo, birthday cards, out of their state pension although the rest is taken by the state. But if he has savings, that may explain why he isn't getting any benefits - and if he wants things like CDs (beyond what you can provide for free or near-free), then perhaps this is his rainy day for which he's been saving and he should be doing so. You and your husband could always decide to lend/give him money out of your savings at a later point when he's rebuilding his life.

    Best wishes in this horribly sad situation.
  • fatal1955fatal1955 Forumite
    58 Posts
    It sounds like you and your husband really need to work on your relationship before anything else, otherwise I'm afraid your stepson's illness may wreck your marriage. You tell us your husband is adamant, whilst you refer to your stepson as his son and ask a bunch of complete strangers to arbitrate in your conflict. For goodness' sake, keep covering those extras for now, while you two get yourselves back on a solid footing ... please!:(
  • pmdpmd Forumite
    65 Posts
    Back on the subject of stepson's benefits: try and find out whether there is any help available at the hospital (some hospitals have visiting advisers from CAB) who can help look into whether he should be claiming Employment and Support Allowance, which is NOT affected by a stay in hospital (unlike Disability Living Allowance which stops after 4 weeks in hospital). See Directgov at "Hospital stays and your benefits", and also about ESA.
  • tallgirldtallgirld Forumite
    484 Posts
    Part of the Furniture
    If it bothers you that much tell your husband to go on his own with his own money. Your marriage will probably be over soon after!!
  • edited 19 May 2011 at 9:35PM
    Chillout5892Chillout5892 Forumite
    91 Posts
    edited 19 May 2011 at 9:35PM
    For a whole variety of reasons you need to talk to the staff, first.

    A difficult idea you may have to grapple with, is, that it may not be in your son's interest to visit daily. While you may want to offer unconditional support, your presence will detract from him focusing on his current thinking, behaviour and it's consequences in a constructive way with the help and support of the staff. Once or twice a week, tops really should be your limit for visits, and then they really shouldn't be for more than 2 or 3 hours. Your son will be being theraputicly observed. That includes the relationships he forms with fellow patients and staff, and how he deals with the highs, lows and routines of ward life. While you are there, that's not possible. He may also be discussing with you topics he really should be disclosing in a theraputic setting, without having 'testing for effect' with you. This may all be very difficult for you and you may also need support and help to respond to your stepson's diagnosis and treatment in more positive and supportive ways.

    Regarding his lost items and requests for replacements, this hospital has a duty of care and these items should not be lost or broken on the ward without comment. You may find the hospital has to replace them, or the ward or the condition of your son makes the replacement of them undesirable at the present time. For personal items (which are not replaced by the ward, think about it) set yourselves a budget and stick to it, and shop economically. If he is not grateful for one present a visit, why would he deserve more? We would all love to be smothered with flowers, chocolate and new clothes and gadgets, but does it really make us feel better in the long run, or even worse, guilty if we get it.

    Do be careful, mental health issues are volatile, I know I suffer from them myself. But while he is not himself, he will not be able to respond appropriately and once he is on a more stable footing, he will be relieved if you've shown compassion and restraint in response to his crisis.

    The hospital should also be helping him regarding applying for benefits etc. One of the most important things they will be trying to do is helping him to behave in as independent and responsible manner as possible. Do ensure your efforts are not counter-productive. Stay in touch with his care worker or dedicated nurse and discuss all these issues with her.

    BTW if his mental health issues are in any way a reflection of his family life before you were in the picture, may I suggest you and your partner really look into what support you need to fashion a new and healthier future for you all.
    :cool: Chillout5892
    :smileyheaDMP PayPlan £17,652 @£100 pm > June 2027.
    Women don't mature.
    They either go hard or soft in the wrong places.
    Simone de Beauvoir
  • Just a quick note. Thinking of when I was a patient in a psychiatric, after having been a nurse in a different one.........
    If they had had mobile phones then I would have been over the moon to have got a text message everyday from someone I knew. Cards were fantastic morale boosters. It's embarassing how often they get shown off. And I know the post isn't cheap, but you can always post small things.

    There is noting worse than getting a visit when you are having a 'bad time'. Another total downer is if someone visits too often, because hospital life is unbelievably boring and monotonous. Once I had a visit from a friend 3 times in one week. On the last visit we just had nothing to say to each other and then she didn't visit again and I was in for another 5 months!

    Just keep the support going but let the staff do their work. Visits should be something a patient can plan to look forward to. But cards and text, text text.
    :cool: Chillout5892
    :smileyheaDMP PayPlan £17,652 @£100 pm > June 2027.
    Women don't mature.
    They either go hard or soft in the wrong places.
    Simone de Beauvoir
  • CabbagewhiteCabbagewhite Forumite
    82 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Firstly, I just want to add my support to you and your family at what I know is a very difficult time. Ignore the negative posts and concentrate on the positive ones. Frankly, I can't believe some of the negative ones.

    I started to write this and realised I would be typing all evening, so I just want to reinforce some of the advice already given.

    Speak to whoever is your named contact on the medical side (nurse/consultant etc) they may be able to give you some information for local support or information. For instance, most large hospitals charge for parking, a lot offer free or reduced parking for long stay patients' relatives, but do not advertise the fact. You may be making plans for a long term situation as it is, whereas his medical team may be thinking of transfering him to another unit, you will be amazed how quick this can happen. They may even be thinking of discharging him 'into the community', to which you need to have some imput and make sure there is a written 'care package'. If at all possible I would try and get some form of power of attorney for him. He may well have mental capacity under the Mental Capacity Act (nearly everyone has) but the chances are that he lacks the inclination to do anything. I can't imagine any 28 year old going into hospital not having any financial matters that need dealing with. He is definitely entitled to some benefit unless his savings are too high (in which case you should be using his savings not your own). All adults in care receive a 'pocket money' element of benefit (used to be incapacity benefit, but refer to the previous post with the DirectGov links). This is to allow the purchase of shampoo, slippers etc. It was £15ish for a long time, but I think it is £20ish a week now. The Hospital does have a duty of care to the property lost. When my Mother was moved to a stroke and dementia ward, they itemised EVERY item she had, down to each type of coin she had in her purse. Copy the CDs and DVDs. I was an avid reader before my breakdown - 8 years on I can now read a two page newspaper article and very rarely read fiction, even by authors I used to love. Many of my likes and dislikes have changed and I understand this is not unusual. If he wants to read then good, but buy the books he wants as cheap as possible.

    If visitors are encouraged by his medical team, see if you can get other members of the family, former work colleagues, friends etc. to give you some respite. It is a good idea to approach them as they may be a bit in limbo as to whether they can visit or not as mental illness is not very well understood. My Father had a breakdown some years ago and I saw him suffer, but it was not until I had my own breakdown some years later that I fully appreciated what he went through. Mental illness is usually ongoing, with improvements and setbacks, but it is quite often an ongoing situation of years not months. You may need to adjust to dealing with it for the long haul.

    As to referring to the Stepson as her Husband's Son, that says nothing about the OP other than she was clarifying the position. She may have been his Stepmother since he was a baby or since last year. There is so little information regarding the family situation or the financial position of anyone involved, so it is difficult to be specific, but as the son is 28, then I am presuming the Parents are my age or more likely older. It is quite common for my age group and older to refer to money put aside for bills, MOTs, car repairs etc., as savings - when in fact it is not savings at all, just money put aside to pay imminent bills. I suspect if they had substantial savings they would not have posted on this site in the first place.

    I hope everything works out for you all. If I were you (literally), I would sit down with my Husband and show him this thread and try to get him to take some of the responses on board, otherwise your relationship may suffer along with your finances and possibly your health.
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