Lynn from the Mobilise community has occasionally shared a little about her mum, Margaret, and how things were going throughout lockdown. For Mother's Day 2021, we thought this would be a great opportunity to find out more and see how they’ll be celebrating this year, a particularly tricky time as Margaret is in a care home.
Margaret will be 84 this year. She met Lynn’s dad, Paul, when they were just 15 and 16 and worked together. The besotted couple went on to marry, setting up home in the same road as Lynn’s grandparents in Leicestershire. This hard working pair had two children (Lynn has a brother). Margaret had her own hairdressers shop - where Lynn was born.
Margaret's caring role
Lynn’s dad Paul had a major stroke and Margaret became his carer, a huge weight of responsibility fell on her shoulders caring for her husband, managing his Diabetes and coping with the family finances. Then, as many carers do, she also began helping out a neighbour whose husband had Alzheimers.
This was clearly a challenging time for Margaret and her two children. Over the years the strain of this role began to show. Mistakes with finances, confusion over medication and a fall were initially put down to “carer’s fatigue”. Things became even more concerning and Lynn pushed for tests and a brain scan. Eventually Margaret was diagnosed with Alzheimers.
Lynn begins caring for both parents
Lynn had always been there to support Dad after his stroke and for her mum as she found it harder to cope. One day, when things reached a head, Margaret was no longer able to care for Paul due to her own health and Lynn stepped in.
At one point Lynn had both parents in different hospitals, arranging temporary care home places for them and overseeing adaptations being made to their bungalow to prepare for a planned return home. Eventually after many delays and with Dad’s worsening health a nursing home was needed. With the help of the local carers' centre, a place was found for the couple to be in the same nursing home.
Paul passed away on 30th May 2015. A new care home was needed for Margaret as the nursing home floor she had been on with her husband wasn’t suitable for her long term care needs. In the end, a room came available downstairs and she has been there ever since.
"Things became easier. Mum even had some bereavement counselling, it was top notch."
A typical Mothering Sunday
Lynn shared a lovely memory of a train ride with Grand Central Railway to Mount Sorrel, every mum was given a rose. Those of us that have met Lynn will know what an important part of her life the railway is. A memory to treasure.
“We are more like sisters - because we have had to go through lots of things together, she’s got me through the tough times, always a prop for one another with a shared love of theatre. We used to go to special dementia performances together, I’m so looking forward to doing that again soon.”
The impact of Coronavirus
Lynn was able to see her mum for Mother’s Day last year but since then there have only been a few garden and “Pod” visits. It’s been a tough time for Lynn and Margaret not seeing each other regularly.
“We used to go out on a Sunday to a garden centre with lovely cakes and cheesecake to die for. Mum was a keen gardener and can still remember the names of the different plants. In her care home room she has a patio door with a couple of tubs with seasonal flowers and a bird table and a couple of ornaments from home. That will probably be needing a good tidy up”
Mother’s day this year
Lynn is really hoping for a visit, or time together in some way. It might not be possible on the day itself though as there have been further cases of Covid-19 in the home. Lynn's own role as mum will be celebrated too, her son Richard usually spoils her rotten.
"I’ll be sending her a huge bunch of flowers.”
Words of advice from an experienced carer
In the last few months Lynn has also cared for her partner Martin following heart surgery. We're glad to hear he is doing well and they've been enjoying longer walks in the sunshine.
With all this experience of caring, as well as having seen her mum's caring role we took the opportunity to ask Lynn to share some words of advice with us:
"Power of attorney was done just in time and was so helpful."
"If I had more time to plan I would have a good look round more homes and check the local directory to see their star rating."
"Good communication is key. Have a good relationship with those caring for your loved one - a named nurse is great."
"Pre pandemic we kept a little diary so those visiting mum could make a note of what they had done, these few lines trigger mum’s memory and gets her chatting about their visit."