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My mother and I never had a good relationship. She is now in a SNF and I go to visit 1-2 times a week. I don't enjoy going and feel guilty. My siblings and I divide up the week and someone is there every day.
but I dread going. don't have a lot to talk with her about and feel a sense of relief when I leave.

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It's perfectly normal to dread these visits. We hate seeing the decline, we hate the inability to communicate like we used to, we hate the knowing that our loved one is nearing death - even if that death is years away. And, underneath, we hate knowing that one day this will likely be us. It's the life cycle and these visits put it right in our face.

Sooooo - deal with the unearned guilt by doing what you must do without beating yourself up. Then, bring things along that may help the conversations.

Jeannegibbs contributed a great list on this thread. What you bring will depend a great deal on where your mom is physically and cognitively. It was different for each of my loved ones, but I went with their interests.

Don't forget that watching an old movie together on DVD (your mom's memories, not what you may think of as old :) or depending on her age, a DVD of the old Lawrence Welk shows or some old comedies (I Love Lucy, etc.). You can still be together, laugh, touch and communicate however you can, but there is a distraction.

Blessings, my friend. You are just like the rest of us. This isn't easy.
Take care,
Carol
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If people were honest I think the majority of them would admit to feeling the same way. I don't think there are many people who enjoy visiting their parent in a nursing home.

My dad was in a nursing home for 6 months before he died. And while I wanted to see my dad and I wanted him to know that I hadn't forgotten about him it was a chore when I went to see him. Am I proud that I felt that way? No. But I went several times a week. And each time after our visit as I was walking out to my car I too was relieved that it was over. My dad wasn't difficult, he was a very sweet and loving man yet I still felt that way. And I felt guilty for feeling that way.

I can't absolve you of your guilt but I think what you're feeling is normal.
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I, too, think your feelings are very common.

Except for a deep love of each other and of several other people, my mom and I don't have much in common, and her poor memory reduces that even further. So I always plan something to do with her rather than relying on fascinating conversation. Some of activities include:
1) Bring a big bag of coins for her to sort. (Many with dementia love sorting.)
2) Bring a scrap book to look at together.
3) In good weather. push her for a walk around the neighborhood. (This is an ideal time of year for that -- each time the flowers have progressed a little more.)
4) Color together (I print pages from the internet.)
5) Push her around inside the building and check out the decorations people have on their doors. Talk about the pictures on walls.
6) The nursing home has a computer monitor running an Eagle cam. We go and see how big the little eagles are getting.
7) Bring magazines or gather some up from around the nh. Laugh at the styles. Mom like to ogle the men in them.
8) Bring in cookbooks with lots of pictures. Talk about food.
9) Bring in a big bag of socks of many colors, and ask her to match them up for me. (Other ladies with dementia volunteer to help! Sorting and matching really are popular.)

My sisters read the newspaper with Mom. For some reason she never wants to do that with me. I guess I'm her "scrapbook daughter" and not her "newspaper daughter." :)

I have the advantage of always having had a good relationship with Mom, but we really have little in common to just sit and talk about. We can do things together or look through books and magazines companionably.

I'll bet if you brought something to do or look at, you'd feel less dread. And if your mother could feel that some of the things were useful to you, she'd have a feeling of satisfaction. ("Can you help me sort these children clothes by size, for my garage sale?)
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Carol gave all the "nice" reasons for hating the visit, and if that were all there was to it, you wouldn't feel so guilty. For a lot of us, we hate the visits because of the current dynamics of the relationship we have with the patient. What I'm talking about is the emotional abuse we have to put up with everytime we see them. (And have suffered from them for all the years that the dementia has affected their peronality.)

What we hate is hearing all complaints, the criticisms, the rudeness, attempts to manipulate us, the continual attempts to make you feel bad. It's mindboggling how they can forget how to wipe their own butts, but remain incredibly skillful at pressing all your buttons. It takes a real strength of will not to get angry at this. That is what I hated the most.

All that aside, her suggestions are excellent. Bringing things especially. On days when his mind was working better he was bored. On the other days, he was in a fog, and some stimulation was a big help.

For my Dad the things I brought were sweets and coffee. Dad always loved sweets. (And a taste for sweets happens to be one senses they tend not to lose.) I also brought his DVD and VCR players and TV from his home, when he was admitted. I put on home movies, and copies of "Everybody Loves Raymond" . ( He was obsessive about that show.) On his radio, I'd play Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. (Any Italian singer was a favorite of his).

And each visit I'd bring old photographs. As I cleaned out Dad's house, there were thousands of photographs . (Photography had been his lifelong hobby.) [My brother and I made a project of copying them into the computer, and sharing some on face book with cousins and other siblings.] I'd choose about six photos for each visit, and brought copies. I would sit with him and together (mainly me) we would put them in this fat photo album. He would look at them for a long time. Not always remembering, but sometimes he's just like to look. Even the facility workers would look at the album with him when I wasn't there. It gave them something to talk to him about.

Anyway, this helped me a lot, as another dreaded part of the visit was the mind numbing boredom of sitting there and trying to find something to talk to him about. The photos, the food, and the videos help fill that void.

And even with that, I rarely stayed more than an hour. I forced myself to visit daily at first, then after the first few months, at least 3 times a week. Yep, dreaded it all, and relieved when I left. But now that he's gone, I'm glad I did it.
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Do you have children,..for them, take a journal and ask questions that you want to keep for your family...ask him about his past...they love to talk about it...ask him how he met your mom, how did he propose to her...ask about the day your were born, ask him about his parents...each visit think of something he could share with you, because when he is gone, you can't ask it anymore.... They also like to give advice and feel important...that is what i did...and now i can't ask anything more...
Give a purpose to your visits...you may not like them now, but ....I agree , you are feeling normal, but the time will pass and your will look back and be happy you went...
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I had a really close relationship with my Mom but I sometimes dreaded my visits simply cause it was sad for me to see her the way she was there. My Mom had always been a strong, intelligent, vital woman until age related decline made her into a not so vibrant woman. She always had that twinkle in her eye though.

I would stay 2 or 3, sometimes 4 hours when I would visit her. We would sometimes just sit together and watch t.v., not talk but with her and I that was comfortable. Sometimes I'd give her a mini facial, set her hair, cut her fingernails.

But I did feel depressed going there. I have to admit. But I'm glad I went and now that she is no longer here I miss those opportunities and would love to be able to go visit her. So just try and look at it from that point of view. One day you won't be able to see your Mom. It might give you a different perspective.
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Betty--
I think so many of us have this same problem. Mother isn't in a NH, she's at home in her apt with brother's family---but I have a hard time with the "guilt" I feel b/c I visit out of a sense of responsibility. I don't think we should call this guilt. We don't enjoy spending time with EVERYONE, do we? So we shouldn't feel bad b/c we don't enjoy time with a relative?
I just came back after a 6 month hiatus of "mom time". I am determined now to go visit her once a week, but with a pre-planned agenda. This week I cleaned for hours. Next week I will update all the collages of pictures that are in the hall. The next week will be cleaning, again. I let her talk, she really just wants someone to listen to her stories. (Over and over and over....)
My other 3 sibs are off board and only visit her once every 4-6 months or if there is a crisis. You're lucky to have better support than we have.

Try to work past the guilt. SHE'S the negative one, and she WANTS you to feel guilty. I know that sounds nuts, but it's probably true.

Good luck! A lot of good info on this site.
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I don't believe the answer is as simple as "just don't go". As adults, responsible thinking adults, we have long since accepted the fact that often, we must do the responsible thing, no matter how difficult or unpleasant. The people we are caring for are sick, weak and damaged, and in great need of the help. And for whatever the reason we find ourselves in the position of giving it. Avoiding a sick, needy, damaged person in need, simply because I find it difficult is not something I could live with for the rest of my life.

And I feel the OP here is also not one who could comfortably live with themselves thereafter. I agree she has absolutely no reason to feel guilty for her feelings. And no one is saying she needs to be happy, happy, happy when she's miserable. Feelings are what they are, and she has every right to them. But a persons actions have far more value in the ultimate scheme of things, than their gut feelings. She might quiet that gut by not visiting , but it's likely to be eaten up by guilt when that patient is dead and it's too late to live up to her responsibilities.
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I too dread the visits to my mom, she's in a personal care home. The reason is that she just wants, wants, wants and complains alot. I just go there and do the best I can with it. I'll admit, I don't stay long. Just try to let those feelings go and make the best of it. Guilt feeling about parents is a hard thing to deal with all the way around. Just be thankful you aren't in a position where you have to car for her 24/7 because many people are.
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I'm repeating what a lot of others have said here, but....

I HATE visiting my mom in the NH. We've always had a cordial, but somewhat distant relationship. If you know what I mean, my mother has never "gotten" me. I have a similar relationship with one of my three children; with the other two, I can be completely genuine and spontaneous; with one of my daughters, she just sighs and says "Mom, you just don't understand". I DO understand what that feels like!

My mom is a nearly two hour drive from where I live (because her nh is close to one of my brothers; he and his wife visit several times a week and they appear to love doing that.

I'm trying on the idea of going every other week, because I find that if I don't visit as often, I have more time to do interesting things which I can then talk about. My mom has aphasia and vascular dementia from a stroke, so there's not much conversation coming from her corner, but she does love to hear about the plays and concerts that I've gone to, gossip about my children and friends, etc.

I really urge you to not feel guilty. Guilt is for folks who have done something wrong. What you are feeling is completely expected.
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