Coping with hospital visiting and POA?

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7_week_wonder
7_week_wonder Posts: 820 Forumite
edited 10 May 2013 at 9:50AM in Over 50s MoneySaving
Hello,

I hope you don't mind a young whipper-snapper intruding but one of your regular posters suggested I came across here for your collective wisdom!

My OH and I are next of kin and POA for a distant relative (she lives nearby, and has no closer relatives). Until a few weeks ago she was fine and completely independent. We simply phoned every couple of weeks, had her round for a meal about once a month and popped over every so often (usually to sort out problems with her computer!), that sort of thing. Then five weeks ago she had a fairly major stroke and has been in hospital ever since. So suddenly we have been thrown into the world of daily hospital visits, sorting out all her affairs (fortunately she is *very* organized), running her finances etc etc and it looks like this will continue for the foreseeable future.

We are very willing to do it, but I just wondered how everyone else copes and whether anyone had any hints or tips (especially about POA matters). Four evenings out of five I leave work, sit on the bus for 45 minutes, go to the hospital to visit (meeting OH there), then get the bus home via her flat to pick stuff up/check for post, then arrive home to a pile of washing, phoning her friends etc. Add to this my elderly mum who is 200 miles away and struggling a bit (I try to get down there as often as possible and usually go with her to hospital appointments etc) and all in all it feels a bit un-remitting.

I know that plenty of folk have far harder things to cope with and, like I said, we're more than willing to do it. I'm just wondering how everyone else balances things and manages to keep going with a smile on their faces.

Thanks
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  • Dunroamin
    Dunroamin Posts: 16,908 Forumite
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    Hello,

    I hope you don't mind a young whipper-snapper intruding but one of your regular posters suggested I came across here for your collective wisdom!

    My OH and I are next of kin and POA for a distant relative (she lives nearby, and has no closer relatives). Until a few weeks ago she was fine and completely independent. We simply phoned every couple of weeks, had her round for a meal about once a month and popped over every so often (usually to sort out problems with her computer!), that sort of thing. Then five weeks ago she had a fairly major stroke and has been in hospital ever since. So suddenly we have been thrown into the world of daily hospital visits, sorting out all her affairs (fortunately she is *very* organized), running her finances etc etc and it looks like this will continue for the foreseeable future.

    We are very willing to do it, but I just wondered how everyone else copes and whether anyone had any hints or tips (especially about POA matters). Four evenings out of five I leave work, sit on the bus for 45 minutes, go to the hospital to visit (meeting OH there), then get the bus home via her flat to pick stuff up/check for post, then arrive home to a pile of washing, phoning her friends etc. Add to this my elderly mum who is 200 miles away and struggling a bit (I try to get down there as often as possible and usually go with her to hospital appointments etc) and all in all it feels a bit un-remitting.

    I know that plenty of folk have far harder things to cope with and, like I said, we're more than willing to do it. I'm just wondering how everyone else balances things and manages to keep going with a smile on their faces.

    Thanks

    Hospital visiting is qute a different thing from caring but you'd make your lives a lot easier if you and your husband took it in turn to visit and I don't really see why one of you need to go every day.

    In the situation you're in I'd try to be a bit more organised and arrange something like a system where you either send texts to her friends or phone different people on different days, encouraging them to update the others.
  • 7_week_wonder
    7_week_wonder Posts: 820 Forumite
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    Dunroamin wrote: »
    Hospital visiting is qute a different thing from caring but you'd make your lives a lot easier if you and your husband took it in turn to visit and I don't really see why one of you need to go every day.

    In the situation you're in I'd try to be a bit more organised and arrange something like a system where you either send texts to her friends or phone different people on different days, encouraging them to update the others.

    Thanks, I completely agree that what we're doing is alot easier than a caring. I'll try and think of a different title!

    Why do we go almost every day? Well firstly just to give her some company, her face does light up when we are there. And secondly, there usually seems to be something to be done/discussed. We pick up her washing each night (fair point - we could just take a larger bag every couple of days) and take her post in. This evening I'm going to cut her toenails for her (apparently the hospital won't do it unless they are actually dangerous whereas they are simply a bit long and uncomfortable), confirm I've done a couple of financial things and take a birthday card for her to sign. We both go because she is actually OH's relative but she trusts/relies on me to do the running the household stuff.

    We send an email out to her friends once a week with an update but that doesn't stop them phoning us to ask things, apologise that they can't visit etc. And last night's task when I got home was to check out car prices and options for selling her car and find the paperwork for returning her driving licence.

    I *know* it isn't much on the grand scale of things. And the above ramblings were more to clarify things to myself, I'm just trying to work out why I suddenly feel a bit fed up about it all. (I think one thing might be that I'm feeling guilty that I'm spending alot more time and effort on elderly relative than on my mum at the moment) Sorry for the ramblings.
  • Mojisola
    Mojisola Posts: 35,559 Forumite
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    We send an email out to her friends once a week with an update but that doesn't stop them phoning us to ask things, apologise that they can't visit etc. .

    One small thing - we set up an informal telephone tree so that one person would phone me for hospital updates and then they would phone a couple of other people. Even if people only phone one other person, it helps. If people still want to hear it directly, ask if they would take turns so that one phones and then updates the others.
  • Dunroamin
    Dunroamin Posts: 16,908 Forumite
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    Mojisola wrote: »
    One small thing - we set up an informal telephone tree so that one person would phone me for hospital updates and then they would phone a couple of other people. Even if people only phone one other person, it helps. If people still want to hear it directly, ask if they would take turns so that one phones and then updates the others.

    That's what I meant but I didn't know what it was called.
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,128 Forumite
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    But you'd give yourself a bit of a break if you visited together max 3 times a week, and each went on your own in between. Each of you would get at least two evenings back, and there's very few things which can't wait a couple of days to talk about with all 3 of you there.
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  • Mojisola
    Mojisola Posts: 35,559 Forumite
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    I'm just wondering how everyone else balances things and manages to keep going with a smile on their faces.

    Savvy_Sue's advice about visiting is good - you're not superhuman - don't try to be.

    Many of us have learned the hard way by trying to do it all and then realising it's not sustainable.

    Don't give the hospital or Social Services the impression that you will be able to manage to care for her without help - they will back off and leave you to it.

    Depending on whether she comes home or needs residential care, she should be assessed before she leaves hospital and a plan put in place. She shouldn't just be discharged, leaving you to pick up the pieces and put something together but it has been known to happen.

    Be realistic about what you can cope with in the long term - think six months and a year down the line.

    Think outside the box. It might ease the load if you have a cleaner at your house for a while so that you can at least get home and not worry about housework. Has she got a local friend who will check her flat a couple of times a week so that you don't have to go every day? Could you keep a selection of her clothes at your house so you don't have to go to the flat all the time?
  • insured
    insured Posts: 122 Forumite
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    I cannot offer advice. Only sympathy as I have been in a similar situation before.
    My mum died many years ago and she had a cousin who had never married. His mother (mum's aunt) had been very supportive to my mother when her own mother died. Consequently, when my mum was alive, she felt obliged to run around and fetch and carry for her cousin.
    When she died, I felt obliged, as a duty to my mum to run around after him and fetch and carry for him when he was in hospital.
    To be honest, he was not a very pleasant person and I begrudged every time I had to visit him and do things for him. I had him living with me for a while as I did not want him in a home etc etc.
    In retrospect, I should not have felt to obliged to him because I started to resent him. I feel guilty about feeling this way, but I felt I would have been letting mum down if I did not do these things.
    His frequent stays in hospital were a strain, as it was a 60 mile round trip which I did every other day.
    I echo what someone else has said about making sure the hospital know that you will not be able to cope when they leave, and there must be other arrangements made.
    The cousin died during one of his frequent stays in hospital and I still feel guilty about not being at his bedside when he died. The hospital had phoned me to say he had took a turn for the worse and he had died about 10 minutes before I arrived.
    You should not put too much pressure on yourself. IMHO, you only need to go every couple of days. Unless something urgent comes up of course.
    Best of luck.
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,128 Forumite
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    BTW, Dad was in hospital for six weeks before he died. I set up a Doodle Poll to co-ordinate family visits (google it if you'd find it useful!) - there were five of us plus Mum. Between us he had a visitor every day, but it meant that we could each offer what suited us best, and those of us with slightly more flexibility could fill in the gaps.

    It also meant that we could plan ahead, and show when we were NOT available.

    insured, please don't feel guilty about not making it before your relative died. It sounds as if you were doing your best to make it!
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  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,987 Forumite
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    Give yourselves some time and space if you need it without feeling guilty.
    Does she have other friends who visit, as if they go on specific days that would give you a day off. And I'd second you and OH taking turns. In the longer term when your house is a mess, your social life fading, and your meals all going to pot, life can start to get to you.
    My grandmother was desperate for me to visit every day for two or three hours until I had to turn round and say that with my work and other family commitments I was losing the plot and did occasionally need an evening to myself. She was disappointed but she understood.
    Making yourself stressed by doing too much leaves you no use to anyone.
    Do you know anyone who'd be up for a spot of visiting? I had a couple of friends who'd pop by- they didn't initially know my grandmother, but they got on and she was glad of different faces and conversations.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • mumonashoestring
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    Is there a League of Friends branch at the hospital? One of the things they do is to help personalise a person's stay in hospital. I'm sure if they're there and you explain that your friend could do with the company, they could arrange to 'fill the gap'on the days when you can't visit.
    If you lend someone £20 and never see them again, it was probably £20 well spent...
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