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    Former MSE Lee
    Real Life MMD: Should we keep paying for son's extras?
    • #1
    • 13th May 11, 4:16 PM
    Real Life MMD: Should we keep paying for son's extras? 13th May 11 at 4:16 PM
    Should we keep paying for son's extras?

    My husband's 28-year-old son had a breakdown and is currently in a mental health ward. Daily visits cost 50/week in petrol as the round trip's 40 miles. On request, we get him special treats (eg, CDs, slippers), which he often loses due to his illness, then asks for more. He has some money in the bank but will need that when he gets out, and isn't eligible for benefits until discharged. We're struggling and now using savings to pay for the extras, and I think we should stop, but my husband's adamant we must keep paying up. What should I do?

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    Last edited by Former MSE Wendy; 17-05-2011 at 8:15 PM.
Page 1
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 17th May 11, 9:43 PM
    • 6,924 Posts
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    • #2
    • 17th May 11, 9:43 PM
    • #2
    • 17th May 11, 9:43 PM
    Is it possible to reduce the amount you spend?

    It's natural for you, and particularly your husband, to want to make his son's stay in hospital as pleasant as possible, and your husband may feel he is failing his son if he doesn't keep paying.

    How aware is your husband of how much it is all costing? have the two of you sat down together to discuss this, how long you can continue for?

    Would it be possible to compromise - perhaps sacrifice one visit a week, and use the money saved to buy other things? Or set a budget and stick to it, so you don't eat into your savings, but don't have to stop completely.
    How much does your stepson have in savings? Perhaps this could be used for his day to day 'treats' - when he comes out, and you and your husband no longer have the high pertol costs you may be able to afford to help him a little if he needs it, without eating into your savings.

    |finally, On a non financial note - do you and your husband have someone (counsellor / support worker) who you can talk to? This must be a very difficult time for you both, and you need to take care of yourselves, and each other, as well as of your son.
  • sresra
    • #3
    • 17th May 11, 9:44 PM
    • #3
    • 17th May 11, 9:44 PM
    Hi i think yes pay for the extras but i would try to buy them as economically as possible and maybe label them if possible so hopefully less likely to go missing. Must be v hard situation, hope he gets better soon.
    • geri1965
    • By geri1965 17th May 11, 9:51 PM
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    • #4
    • 17th May 11, 9:51 PM
    • #4
    • 17th May 11, 9:51 PM
    How does he manage to lose them in hospital?
  • evespikey
    • #5
    • 17th May 11, 9:55 PM
    • #5
    • 17th May 11, 9:55 PM
    honestly, what is more important than the health of your family? seriously.

    Especially your children, who haven't had as much time as you have to be financially secure.

    Obviously you have a say on what you buy him. I would Want to buy people things who were in hospital for whatever reason- especially my family. They would be bored sitting there all day. It's so easy to lend them books to read, pick up a few from a charity shop or solitaire or an old cd player. I would just buy everything economically- there is no point buying expensive things like ipods etc. if they are going to be lost- although shouldn't he have someone looking after his things if he is in a mental health ward? I assume he's not going around loosing his passport, wallet and credit cards etc. and that someone is looking after those for him, whether it be a nurse or yourself.
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  • dpscs1
    • #6
    • 17th May 11, 10:17 PM
    • #6
    • 17th May 11, 10:17 PM

    Sounds rough on you all. Your poor husband has alot to deal with, and driving all that way every day must be hard. Saying that, I drive that to work every day.

    Is there a local volunteer car scheme that could provide low cost transport? Is their a direct bus?

    Also I am dubious about him 'losing' his items. I have a little insight into mental health hospitals and there are ogf course thefts. Are you sure that the staff or other patients are not taking his things? Maybe a word with a (senior) practicitioner. Maybe they are aware that other people 'lose' items? It might be a genuine one of loss though.

    I wouldn't have thought slippers would count as a special treat? Do the normal day to day things go missing or just the expensive things?

    I'll stop banging on about that now.

    I would keep going. Savings are there for just these reasons and I think it shows how much his dad cares for him that he wants to see him every day. It he was my son I would want to be with him every minute of every day to help him though it.

    Be supportive and have faith that it will work out ok.
    • billbennett
    • By billbennett 17th May 11, 10:18 PM
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    • #7
    • 17th May 11, 10:18 PM
    • #7
    • 17th May 11, 10:18 PM
    For CDs, surely the sensible thing is to keep the originals at home, and burn copies to be lost every so often, then replaced with another copy?
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    • Aldahbra
    • By Aldahbra 17th May 11, 10:19 PM
    • 315 Posts
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    • #8
    • 17th May 11, 10:19 PM
    • #8
    • 17th May 11, 10:19 PM
    Do you have a son? If this was your son/daughter what would you want to do? I don't think it would be to stop the gifts.

    Talk to your husband, make a budget and stick to it. Gifts don't have to be expensive, try charity shops, freecycle, car boot sales, etc.

    Can you take action to ensure the safety of the gifts, surely someone on the ward should take responsibility? Could you label them and catalogue them in some way?
    • Aldahbra
    • By Aldahbra 17th May 11, 10:21 PM
    • 315 Posts
    • 3,684 Thanks
    • #9
    • 17th May 11, 10:21 PM
    • #9
    • 17th May 11, 10:21 PM
    For CDs, surely the sensible thing is to keep the originals at home, and burn copies to be lost every so often, then replaced with another copy?
    Originally posted by billbennett
    excellent idea
  • SuzySF
    suggest you clearly label everything, inc his initialls on the bottom of slippers tho i would count these as necessity not treats/special items, my friend is a senior nurse on a mental health secure unit, and says theft is rife, and they cannot stop it, so label everything as clearly as possible, and make sure the staff are aware. good idea is the burning of a copy CD, so that means the original is kept at home, a copy is only a few pence in cost....try to cut the visits to alternate days, and see if there is a local volunteer scheme for car pooling visits to the hospital....if not, set one up ??
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    • oldnewhand
    • By oldnewhand 17th May 11, 10:48 PM
    • 77 Posts
    • 84 Thanks
    Everyone's advice on continuing the visits and "treats" is good and sound. I wonder are there any other family members and friends that could take it in turns with you to visit and relieve the strain on time and finances as well as increase the interest for the patient. Is recovery likely to be weeks, months or years? If it's comparitively short term then go for it do all you possibly can, if it's longer term then you do need to consider your needs as well, but family is family even if it's indirect as in this case.
  • Rachel021967
    I wouldn't cut back on the visits. It may be the one thing he looks forward to in his day. As said theft is rife on a mental health ward. Name everything so that if they do go walkies he has more chance of getting them back. Also report the missing items to the nurses. They are extremely busy so cannot be reasonable responsible for their patient's belongings but maybe able to narrow down the culprit. Giving him a copy of the CD is also a good idea.
    Just playing devil's advocate here, but are you really worried about the money or are you slightly miffed about the time and attention your husband is giving his son?
  • bus3jr
    From experience with my own Mother I think it would be ok to reduce your weekly visits to around 4 or 5 days a week and arrange for another family member or friend to visit when you don't or can't make it. With regards to the 'extras' that he asks for, if possible explain that you can't afford to get everything but you will try your best to get to him things that he needs. It may be hard to say no but essentially it is the time you spend with him that is most valuable. I suggest low cost treats such as a chocolate bar or a magazine. As others have said before me have a word with the nursing staff and ward manager to help keep an eye on your son in laws possessions. Keep visiting, stay positive and just try your best to balance your finances. I hope he gets better soon.
  • Skintslimmer
    I'd go with the low cost treats, make use of charity shops and car boot sales, and the labelling and CD copying ideas already mentioned
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    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 18th May 11, 1:13 AM
    • 64,989 Posts
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    You could also look at - there must be others going that way some days. And/or other similar sites where you could give lifts for cash.
    • scotsbob
    • By scotsbob 18th May 11, 2:19 AM
    • 4,462 Posts
    • 6,958 Thanks
    "and I think we should stop, but my husband's adamant we must keep paying up. What should I do?"

    If he was your blood what would you do? It's not up to you, it's up to how a father wants to care for his son.

    Furthermore, slippers aren't a "treat."
    • MissMills81
    • By MissMills81 18th May 11, 3:37 AM
    • 16 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    This must be a very difficult and worrying time for you, I hope your son recovers soon,

    I do think that it is perfectly reasonable for you to set a realistic budget for what you can afford to pay for treats and nor do I think that you should feel guilty about doing so, your post has said that your son loses some of these items due to his illness which suggests he perhaps is not in a position at the moment to appreciate the value of these items and/or take care of them therefore it is not unreasonable to want put a limit on replacing these.

    Obviously there will be certain essential items that should he lose them will need to be replaced but I do think that for non essential items you should follow some of the advice given on here and use car boot sales, charity shops etc or keep the treats small. Your company and commitment to spending time with him is the most valuable thing you can give him and during this time.
  • Hayley21
    I'm sorry to hear about your situation, I know how stressful it must be and I really hope that your husband's son starts to feel better soon.

    I agree with most of the advice so far. I have been in hospital a couple of times, and it is really difficult - my family lived too far away to travel to see me more than once a week, and financially it does put a strain on everyone. From experience, I would definitely say that having visitors was probably the thing that made the biggest difference - being in hospital is horrible at the best of times, let alone when it is due to mental health problems. Your freedom is taken away, you feel vulnerable/fragile/lonely, it's really boring, and mental health wards in particular can be stressful and scary. If possible, I would continue to visit as much as you can, within reason. Although I do think it's reasonable to visit less frequently, maybe 2-3 times during the week, and for longer periods on weekends, and phone on the days that you don't go.

    Some of the best things I was bought were things that last a long time or were good distractions - puzzles, sudoku/crossword books, art and craft stuff, dvds etc. It was also nice to have things from home - blanket/dressing gown, photographs, nice toiletries, letters or cards from family/friends. As said above, I would label things as clearly as possible, inform the staff, and try to minimise the cost of buying new things. It's a little cliched, but it is the thought that counts.

    Hope that helps, all the best.
  • bennett2kuk
    Tricky situation, obviously I haven't been through anything like this so can't comment from a 1st person perspective. But knowing how much I care for my 1 year old son he would be my ultimate priority and I would go without to make sure he was ok. No matter what. Especially if he was in a bad way.
    The situation should remedy itself in time. I know it would be hard with him not being your son but if you care for your husband then you must respect his wishes for his children.
  • cuba2008
    I can't believe i'm reading this. What a selfish, awful thing to ask.
    If it bothers you that much don't go to visit your husband's son and let your husband visit alone. The savings are your husband's too, and in life if you have children, no matter what age, they will come first. Especially in a time of need like the one your stepson's in. And no, I don't have children.

    It sounds like you're trying to trivialise his condition; have you any idea how fragile his state of mind will be and how he'll be clinging to things like visits and the gifts your husband takes him.
    To have a breakdown and be taken into hospital is a serious matter.
    This may sound harsh to some but I'm failing to see how anyone can justify such a post.
    Originally posted by jockanese
    Jockanese, I don't think there was any intention to trivialise the situation but we don't know how much strain financially this is actually putting on them. The costs are already eating into their savings, which may well be a few thousand or only a few hundred. The problem is there is always one in a marriage who is the sensible one where finances are concerned and the other who likes to spend with no real idea what is available - I say this from experience (my husband likes to spend). You and others seem to have assumed that, because it's the lady's step son she has taken a harder line than she would if he were her own son. She and her husband still have their own bills to pay and travelling that distance every day must be costing a fair bit on top of the gifts. I would go along with others and keep the cost down by buying small gifts from charity shops and taking copy cd's in whilst retaining the originals so if her step son does lose them they can let him have replacements. I would also suggest cutting down the visits (especially if it's going to be long-term) to maybe every other day, but perhaps staying longer.
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