Rather sadly there comes a time in one’s life when one’s parents need looking after. The role reversal isn’t easy for either parent or child. This is where I am now – fortunately with two brothers and a sister to bounce ideas off and have telephonic family board meetings with, it makes life a bit easier. But where do I start, there is a house in France to sell before we can get my mother back to the UK in order to pay care home fees and this minefield of what help is or isn’t available is a whole new ball game for all of us. There are some really good websites like Age UK, but so much to read and find out about before we can really get anything going. The French inheritance rules don’t help either as we four children have inherited my Pa’s share of the house so documents have to be signed, initialed whatever by all of us to get anything done and we are scattered throughout the UK and Europe. Then there is the French property market……..
Looking at residential homes is not much fun either. I now know that the initial smell when you walk in is so important. That awful smell of poo and school dinners is such a turn off, and I know immediately that I am really not interested, however many different menu plans and musical afternoons. There have been some really lovely ones however; one with wonderfully caring staff, nice rooms, a pudding trolley with ten different puds on every day (imagine the planning, meringues one day, Eton mess the next, trifle day after and on it goes), but piped music throughout. I found it irritating after an hour, so if my poor mother was there permanently, she would go bonkers. And then what if she decided to stay in her room for days and not venture out to enjoy said pudding trolley but ate in her room, no refunds for non-takers. The fees there were enormous. Perhaps a suite at the Ritz – Lady Thatcher style – might be cheaper.
What we are all really hoping to find for Ma is a nice, very warm, place in the countryside, wonderful staff, lovely food, a room that can take some of her own furniture with Wifi for her beloved computer, a vicar who comes in regularly both to chat and to hold services, a bit of gardening to take part in, window boxes or flower pots etc would be acceptable, lots of interesting activities and above all nice old Downe House type girls to chat to and make friends with, close by to one of us for frequent visits and not too far for the others to visit regularly, ditto the various rellies and friends that my mother has in this country. Along with acceptable fees, is this too much to ask for?
Somebody will fall in love with my parents’ house. They must have done when they bought it 28 years ago. Ok, it needs a bit of updating but I hope everyone will agree, it is very pretty!