I have been helping and supporting my mum both financially and in a caring capacity since I was 27. When mum was in her seventies her home was no longer appropriate for her needs and in 1998 she moved into our home in the New Forest where we could build an annexe.
It was a horribly difficult time and because I was so immersed in trying to cope I was unaware of how seriously depressed I had become. I plucked up the courage to divorce my husband, well aware that mum was totally dependent on me and we moved to Devon.
A sudden change in circumstances
I had an income from myself and my ex-husband’s company but after this was sold that extra income came to a sudden end. This was not long after I had paid for all of my mum’s furniture storage and removals. With costs mounting up I was driven into debt and I fought hard to keep my head above water. I felt I had no choice but to take up an offer on a pension at an initial higher monthly payment but with no increase for inflation.
It cost me around £7,000 to get planning permission for the annexe in Devon. However, my mum decided that she wanted to move back to where she had lived before. The social worker set about finding mum accommodation but this didn’t work out and eventually we found her a bungalow in Hampshire. But her physical as well as mental health had deteriorated.
She was then about three and a half hours drive away and I needed to see her regularly to take her to lunch, medical appointments, and special shopping trips, walk her dog and to do heavy lifting.
She had no more than her State Pension and as many add-ons as was feasible but it was well below living needs.
She was penniless, it still makes me so angry.
I tried to add funds as did my sons, even though my youngest was still a student at the time.
Eventually I found the journey just too much and had to spend money on overnight stays at B&Bs. But this was money I no longer had.
I felt an enormous sense of responsibility.
On Christmas Eve in 2012 I received a phone call to say that mum was being evicted. It was horrendously cruel timing - mum was then 84. I tried everything available and she was eventually offered a sheltered bungalow 22 miles away from me. The moving costs were horribly costly.
A constant battle for justice
The care agency arranged for us was inadequate and thus began four years of fighting medics, social services, the council and many others to get her the care she needed. I found myself constantly on the phone trying to sort everything out such as shopping, ready meals, incontinence pads etc. I had to purchase better pads on a weekly basis.
I didn’t want her to suffer and eventually she had to go into a care home in 2017.
At the age of 71 I get less than full State Pension and with this and my small private pension it’s barely enough with the rise in loving costs. I am not alone in this and have friends in similar situations. We really need to change things. This isn’t how we should be expected to live our lives in older age. Luckily my three children are supportive and are always reassuring me that they love me and why. But I do so begrudge that the life I thought I would be able to enjoy hasn’t been possible.
Have you been affected by any of these issues?
This blog represents one individual’s experience; personal circumstances differ – if you have been affected by any the issues in this blog and want some advice about your own situation please contact Independent Age’s Helpline on 0800 319 6789.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.