Finding it hard to put your parent into a care home?

Are you struggling with the decision around whether you should put an elderly parent into a care home? You love them dearly, but caring for a parent whilst working full-time can be exhausting. Here Mary Fenwick gives advice to one reader who is facing the dilemma of placing her mother into care...


Finding it hard to put your parent into a care home?

Reader’s dilemma: “Mum’s partner won’t let her go to a home but I can’t cope”

My mother has been unwell for two years and I think she needs to go into a care facility to be properly looked after. Her partner won’t agree to it and wants to keep her at home with him. The result is that I have to go over regularly and look after both of them. I think he just wants to keep her there so she can also take care of him! I don’t want to be selfish, but it’s wearing me out because I also work full-time. Can you help me see a way forward? Ellen, 56

Mary’s advice: It sounds as if you feel alone without siblings or a partner to share the emotional, let alone practical, burden. I wonder whether you have fully acknowledged that the role you are taking on makes you one of the UK’s nearly seven million unpaid carers.

The national organisation, Carers UK, has a recent report called ‘Breaks or Breakdown’, which says that the past year has been particularly tough on people in your position, with less support and a feeling that there is nothing else to life but work and care. The point they are making is that if carers don’t get time off, they can’t fully function in their role.

I know it might seem radical, but if you were to start planning a break for yourself, it would become more obvious to your mother and her partner that this situation can’t go on. It might be worth speaking to your GP to have an assessment of the impact on your health. Your surgery should also have information about local support for your mother, but you might even consider paying for short-term residential care.

Carers UK has a helpline and they will help you put your own needs back into the equation. They can also advise about your rights at work as someone with caring responsibilities. Call 0808 808 7777 or email

Mary Fenwick is a writer, speaker and executive coach; she’s also a mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.

Photograph: Getty Images

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