I can't bring myself to visit mom in the nursing home. How can I move past my anxiety?


Q: Mom has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home. I get physically ill at the thought of visiting. How can I cope with this?

A: First of all, I salute you for your honesty. Your reaction to the nursing home is normal and you should be comforted in that knowledge. Given your mother's condition it is not likely that she will be leaving the nursing home. It is painful to visit a nursing home and see so many infirmed elderly people who you see as having no quality of life.

In the past, when I've gone to visit family members who are in homes, my first reaction was physical. I've since taught myself how to show up, be present and spend quality time without feeling ill.

However, I wasn't able to accomplish this until I came to terms with the fact that I was feeling fear that this would be me one day. Fear can make us physically ill. And fear is simply False Evidence Appearing Real. This does not have to be you in future years. Given your mother's condition, she probably doesn't know how often or how long your visits are, but you need to go.

So you gear up emotionally. You purchase some bright flowers and you KNOW in your heart that you are serving the greater good by visiting your mom. And when you are there, take her out of her room and get outside as far away from the depressing part of the home as you can. It will be good for her and it just might save your sanity.

I would also recommend that you join a support group for family members going through this. You will receive comfort and compassion from others who are experiencing the same journey.

Cindy Laverty is a Caregiver Coach and Founder of The Care Company, an online support website for family caregivers. Through programs, coaching and products, Cindy is dedicated to empowering family caregivers.

View full profile

You May Also Like

Free AgingCare Guides

Get the latest care advice and articles delivered to your inbox!


I am 64 and am not physically well. I have had CFS/FM/ME and Depression and Panic Atacks for 20 yrs. I am house bound and rarely get out. My mother is 89 still drives, live alone and takes care of herself. She does not have any seious health problems yet..Our relationship has always been estrangted. She does not believe I am really sick. She thinks I can do when It is convenient for me, which is not true. She is beginning to tell others that my husband and I don't love each other, that we don't care about her and she is angry with me and my husband but refused to accept our apologies.But she has started telling our frends personal and hurtful things that are not truel She tells everyone I am angry with her because she refsused to move to an assistance care place. And she just tells them she does not care if we are any or not, She said ti does not bother her at all. She has never been one go gossip and talk about our problems and it has been very embarrassing for my husband and me. It has been a little over a month but I still have not confronted her with the things she is saying to my friends because I did not want her mad at my friend who is our beautician. If my mother finds out our beautician has told these things, she will then turn on out beautician and stop going to her. My husband and I both apogolixed in the beginning week or two after the problem occuuBut, whe was not willing to accpet our appologies. Now what to we do? I cannot beg her on that will make impossible to live with her. She is not emotional and see things so differently from me. I am very soft hearted and all of this hutts me and makes he ill. But, I think mother can sty angry and unforgivineg firever and will never ask forgiveness. My husband had been taking het to all her doctor appot and now I guess my brother is going with her but he sits in the car and cannot help he with what the doctors are telling her and she does not undertand most of what they tell her. My brother is gay and doent want to be bothered but will do it anyway but he has not patience with her and yells and curses her. But, she does not say anything to him no matter how badly her treats her. I hate her being angry and yet so cocky and she knows I will comie running badk. But, I have not been motivated to. My biggest concern is what If something shoud happen to her and we are not speaking. How would I deal with it? She is so hard to deal with and I am worn out. What would a Christian Daughter do in this situation. She has matriculate degeneration and soon will not be able to drive anymore.l What will we do? She would not like an Assisted Living or Nursing Home because she cannot make friends. She could not survive in a semi private room.And she will not participate in any group actives. She will not eat the meals that are prepared everyday. She has not hobbies or anything she likies to do but walk. Do you have any books that would help me deal with her so I can try and help her when it is time for her to move to a new assisted living or nursing home? How can you plan in advance to get a private room or see is whe would qualify. I am more concerned for the others living there and those whe care for them than I am my mother. She will see that she gets her way.. If there is any good literature to help me with this, please let me know. I need to be reading whatever I can to help me help her or it will be a total disaster. We had a very dysfunctional home life. They both drank on the weekend and fought too. I never had a nurturing partent and she still tried to put me down and belittle me. I just try to not cause her any problems and do the best I can. But, my best has never been nor will it ever be enough for her.