My 97 year old mother was recently diagnosed with moderate dementia and is now in a skilled nursing facility, which causes her a great deal of angst. She constantly talks about going home. But that’s not the issue, just gives you an idea of her psyche. She also frequently believes that I am dead. I see her every other day (the SNF is 45 minutes away from me), yet often enough on the days that I am NOT there, I get a call from nursing because Mom is just inconsolable because she believes that I am dead, that someone is bringing caskets to her, etc. Talking to me on the phone is not good enough, I can tell her facts that nobody else could possibly know, and she’ll respond, “Anyone could find that out! You’re an imposter!” She has asked me to drop what I’m doing and drive there so she can see me in person, which I have refused to do, telling her I’ll see her the next morning.
So, the problem is, my husband and I planned a 2-week trip to Europe a year ago, before any of these current issues. The trip is coming up quickly, and I am just at a loss as to what to tell her. Do I tell her I’m going on vacation for 2 weeks and won’t be able to visit? Do I tell her I’m going to Europe (which could cause her to worry more) or tell her that I’m going a couple of states away (which could lead to frequent phone calls)? I want her to worry as little as possible, although I may be fooling myself on that one because she will probably worry equally no matter where she thinks I am. I’m purchasing the full international cell phone service because I’m expecting phone calls at all hours from the nursing staff asking me to talk to Mom and assure her I’m ok. Maybe I should put a sign on her bulletin board that says, “Louise is on vacation from X until X (dates),” although I didn’t really want to tell her that I’ll be away for two weeks because her sense of time is warped and if I don’t tell her I’m gone for 2 weeks, she may not realize it’s that long. But, on the other hand, she may think I’m gone forever.
I can’t cancel this trip. My husband would not forgive me. I cancelled a trip to Canada in July because my mother was melting down really badly (that was before she was in SNF), that was bad enough. Plus, we are traveling with a single friend, and I can’t leave her in the lurch, either. Oh, and I am the only child, so there is that. I have two daughters who will go see her on weekends, but they are both working with very limited time off available, I’m not asking them to take days off to go visit her during the week. I have friends of hers lined up to go visit, but it’s not the same ... she doesn’t obsess about THEM being dead.
I welcome all of your suggestions!