‘We want to keep her with us until she passes’

The family of a woman with rapidly advancing Alzheimer’s, who have been waiting almost five years for a housing adaptation grant, have made an emotional appeal to the Government to help them continue caring for her at home.

‘We want to keep her with us until she passes’

The Mulhall family in Cork opened the doors of their local authority home in Mahon yesterday to show the difficulties they face caring for Marilyn in a house not suited to her changing needs.

They said releasing a grant now to pay for an extension would save the State extensive institutional care costs in the long run.

“We don’t want to be doing this — this is our last resort,” said Marilyn’s tearful daughter Jennifer.

“We can’t wait another four or five years. Mam could be dead by the time we get the extension we need for her.

“We are on the verge of giving up. We don’t want her to go into a home.

“But when we can’t cope anymore, that’s what we’re going to have to do. We don’t want to do that. She is our mother.”

The Irish Examiner first highlighted the family’s plight last month.

Marilyn, 62, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago.

The family applied to Cork City Council in 2011 for a grant to build a small ground-floor extension with a bedroom and wash facilities.

It is estimated the work could cost between €50,000 and €80,000.

Marilyn’s condition is advancing rapidly. She no longer answers to “mum” and only recognises certain family members.

City officials said they are keenly aware of the family’s plight, and it is understood they are on a priority list. However, a lack of central government funding has created a massive backlog.

City council officials have warned of a six-year backlog to clear the list.

Jennifer, her brother Paul, sister Claire, and their aunt, Marilyn’s sister Claire, held a press conference in the family home yesterday as a last-ditch option to secure the funding.

“Our last option is putting Mam into a care home, and we don’t want that. What’s that going to cost the state?” asked Jennifer. “We want to keep her with us until the day she passes.

“She could deteriorate an awful lot in six months, but we don’t know. We have to take it day by day.

“We have lost our mother already to Alzheimer’s, and we’ll lose her again when she passes.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Chris O’Leary slammed the grant application system, and said the family had been tied up in red tape for years.

He called for more openness and transparency so that people can track the progress of their application.

“The human factor in all of this is that Mrs Mulhall has a life expectancy from diagnosis of about eight years — five of those years have been spent waiting on the application,” he said.

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