Background: My mother is 96, still living alone in senior apartment but hopefully will be moving into a skilled nursing facility soon. She lives 50 minutes away and after many agonizing months has finally decided that she would prefer to go into the nursing home near her. I think it is a wonderful place (as nursing homes go). (There is also one particularly great nursing home near me, but the wait list is about a year long whereas the one near her can pretty much take her in soon.) My mother has been exhibiting signs of dementia for a few months now, and it’s been picking up steam. She can’t bathe without help, doesn’t take her meds the way she’s supposed to, leaves food containers on the stove top, only dresses sometimes, hardly eats, loses her keys constantly, couldn’t find the coffee for two days (it was right where it always is in the fridge). She refuses to allow me to hire help to come in except for one woman who cleans once a month. She is frail and afraid; she has asked me a few times now, “What is happening to me?” It’s heartbreaking.
Let me add here that I am all she’s got. I had a sister who disappeared 5 years ago and we don’t know where she is. There are no cousins in this state. I have two daughters who want to help, but previous times when I’ve gone on vacation and tasked my daughters with covering for me, she has turned them away. They also live near me, 50 minutes away from my mom.
My husband and I have recently retired. He also has an elderly mother who lives alone, but he has 4 brothers, 3 sisters-in-law and countless nieces and nephews who live within 5-20 minutes of his mother. (We’ve only been married a year, too, so this is all new to him - the only child caregiver to my mother thing.) My husband and I desperately want to travel and see the world while we are still young and healthy enough to get the most out of it. But, I am unwilling to commit to vacations of more than 1 week at a time while my mother is still living alone. And I am not willing to guarantee that we will be going on any 2 or 3 week trips even after she is in a nursing home, at least not until she is completely comfortable there and I can rest assured that she will be in good hands while I’m gone.
My husband has told me that this is ridiculous, and that certainly after she’s in the nursing home I should be free to travel more often and for longer trips. And he’s talking about SEVERAL trips a year, driving a motorhome across the country, etc. He even went so far as to say that my relationship with my mother is inappropriate and unhealthy. I am stunned that he is so completely unable to put himself in my shoes ... what would he do if HE was an only child, HIS mother was 96, unable to care for herself, just on her way into a nursing home, etc.? Would he be able to just pack up and go off for a few weeks comfortably?
I’m really struggling with this. I always knew him as a very compassionate, caring man, but that’s not how he is presenting himself now. And he’s struggling with the whole “we’re retired now, it’s time for us to travel” thing and thinks I’m overdoing the caregiving.
I guess I’m just curious how others see this situation. Thanks.