Advice needed re Mum and life after stroke

Hi all

I’m new to the forum and would love some advice, if possible. 

My mum had a stroke four years ago and it left her with paralysis on the left side. Her leg is about 90% better but her arm, unfortunately, is probably only about 5% better. 

Understandably, the stroke has left mum with depression (which she denies) and it has changed her personality a heck of a lot. The doctor advised us this could happen so although it’s horrible, we knew it was a possibility. We try to help her as much as we can and for the first two years, there was ALWAYS someone with her but that took its toll on us (work, family life etc) and we just couldn’t sustain it. 

She lives alone because my father died in 2019 but either myself or my siblings go and see her every other day and she has friends, cousins etc who she sees regularly too. She drives and she goes shopping etc so she is getting out and about and socialising more and more. 

The advice I need is to do with her living situation. Pre-stroke, mum was incredibly house proud and there was never anything out of place. Since the stroke, the flat has become a bit of a pit. She never cleans or hoovers, she never puts ANYTHING away and so there is always just piles of stuff everywhere. The kitchen is always filthy and the washing up is either left on the side or put away WITHOUT BEING CLEANED. The bathroom is always dirty (I won’t go into any details but you know what this means) and her bedroom is just piles and piles of clothing (no way of knowing if it’s clean or dirty) and covered in dust. The smell is sometimes overpowering and I just can’t take my children in there anymore because they have nowhere to even sit, let alone play. 

Myself and my siblings have blitzed the flat many, many times and have got it looking great again but within a few days, is back to being in a state. We’ve offered to get a cleaner in but mum says she doesn’t need one (the denial). Whenever we try and talk to her about it, she laughs it off and says I know, I’m terrible.” 

We know its a mental health issue and we have tried to get her to see her GP about it but she refuses. It must be only adding to her depression to wake up to that every day. We don’t know what else to do to help her. We can’t keep blitzing the place and having it go back a few days later. It’s soul destroying and it’s bloody hard work! 

Any ideas on how to help her?!

Many thanks in advance!

Dear bugles

what a difficult position for you to deal with.

you have done well to extricate yourself yet still give mum great support.

us stroke survivors know how we can fall in to depression, but we dont have to fall. Keeping depression at bay is so very important.

if mum is depressed then counselling would help.

yes indeed, our personality will change, quite a lot.thats a permanent change which yo must accept and live with. She is not going back to the old mum,  that person has gone forever.

i am five years post stroke and so i do have an understanding that only another SS can have.

i also tried to look after my ageing mum, all pre stroke, and encountered the same issues. With neighbours help, i did find someone who would clean for Mum. A lot of aggro from mum, but it worked well. I cant see any link between this issue and a stroke. Just that mum has a changed personality.

maybe video killed the radio star, but you have managed a difficult situation very well indeed. You have my admiration.

BTW this site auto clears certain words, and hence your post was amended a bit.

best wishes




Hello Buggles

Just wondering how old Mum is?  My own Mum got to a similar stage once she turned 80 as did my Mum-in-law when she turned 80 - both sadly no longer with us.  

Sometimes with older people they like to have piles of things around them because they are frightened they may forget where they have put them if they tidy them away so they get a sense of security by having everything near to hand.It used to drive me mad when my Mum wouldn't let me put her clothes away. I was ashamed of what the doctor or other health care worker may think if they popped in and thought why were her family were letting her live with all this clutter around her.  "Leave those alone!" were her sharp words when I touched any of her things. 

I remember when my Mum-in-law came out of hospital one time and I had 'blitzed' her house to my standards. I thought she would be pleased but her face was like thunder when she came in through the door "Huh, I bet you've done this. I'm never going to find anything now!" was the reaction!

It may be worth trying to arrange a community matron/nurse (if they are still around these days!) to pop in and see the situation themselves. They have ways of getting people to do things that family can't sometimes.  Although we all have personalty changes after stroke, as we age, things like untidiness don't seem important anymore. All that matters is that we can get up and go out and survive another day.  If Mum has home care calling in, they may report it to her GP if you ask them to or the community nurse.  If Mum isn't of that age group, it is a difficult subject to approach without alienating her. Personally, I would ask her GP to pop in without Mum knowing he is going.  

Thank you, Colin. We've broached the subject of counselling before to mum and she shut us down without any hesitation. She is not open to any outside help at all. 

Thanks. My mum is 70 (so was in her 60s at the time of her stroke). She was very fit and active pre-stroke so it's really knocked her for six. I think she thought (as we all did) that she would recover fully and be back to "normal."

Good idea about the GP. I could see if he's open to calling in. 

Bottom line:  She's an adult.  If she's competent mentally,  you have no control and must try to divorce yourself emotionally and get on with your life as she gets on with hers in her own way.  If she's not mentally competent or harmful to herself or anyone else,  you have to go to court and take control of the situation to protect her or others, disregarding whether she likes it or not.  Only you, your family and her doctor can make that decision.  My prayers are with you.  Love, Jeanne

Unfortunately once someone has a stroke, there is no back to 'normal'.  This is why much more advertising is needed to make people understand what strokes actually are.  Like your Mum, I was 65 when I had my first stroke and never really knew what a stroke was. Like many I thought it was something that happened to older people who were frail and unfit.  Strokes affect everyone of all ages even the fittest of us.

Strokes cause brain damage which affects people in different ways depending on the area of the brain that has been damaged.  Brains are wonderful things though and can re-wire themselves to a point of recovery where we can lead lives better than when we first had the stroke so we may appear 'normal' to others.  The trauma caused to the brain by a stroke is enormous and literally throws all your emotions up in the air.  One day you can be happy as a lark and within a couple of hours, you can be in floods of tears, often for no reason.  

I hope your GP can get to see Mum and she gets all the help and support she and your family needs. x

How difficult. My mum was stubborn but not imoveable.

i guess you will have to edge towards the situation whereby you stop doing things that outside helpers could do. 
i dont think i could be that hard, but maybe you can be firmer than me.

having been ground to dust by my mum, then crushed by mum in law, i know there will be no help for me. 

i may have missed your mums age. .?70 something?? But she seems to be living in a time warp. Gone are the days when family stick together. Emigration etc has 
destroyed family life.

maybe, just maybe, when/if we get on top of the pandemic then perhaps things will improve. I am not holding my breath.

bless you and your family