My brother and sister wants Mum to visit their home for a week. But with her increasing dementia the results are painful to see. How should I proceed? - AgingCare.com

My brother and sister wants Mum to visit their home for a week. But with her increasing dementia the results are painful to see. How should I proceed?

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My Mum is 93 and has dementia. She has lived with my Brother and his family until 4 years ago when she started to spend longer and longer periods at my home. This has also coincided with her greater need for care – as she has gradually become less able to function on her own. I work from home and the transition has been gradual so we have just adapted together. A priority has been supporting Mum to keep active both mentally and physically.

Both my Brother and Sister want my Mum to visit them and stay for a week or two at their homes – as she had done from time to time in the past. Yet in the last year or so I have noticed that Mum has always returned from these visits exhausted and confused – and completely off her schedule – and in the past it has taken weeks to get Mum back into health and into some routine – but lately it has become nearly impossible to get back to any kind of normal. Now Mum is so fragile and her memory is so confused that I need to assist her 10 - 15 times during the day with every need except her own hygiene (although this is on the near horizon). My brother is still insistent on Mum staying with his family at least one more time. If I agree it seems like I’m betraying my Mother (as I don’t know if this time she’ll recover – or I will be able provide enough care upon her return – and maintain my job). But if I don’t it will cause a rift in the family. Mum does not want to leave here – either leave me or the birds that she so adores – yet she wants to make everyone happy - and cannot remember the difficult time - or even remember any of the previous visits.
I’m just so unsure of myself – I see what I see but my brother has another perspective. Not sure how to proceed?

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I know how difficult this decision must be for you. As the demented patients age in place particularly in your situation, it is very hard for for them to leave the familiar surroundings. They do seem to take much longer time to get back to themselves before the change and it seems your mother is doing just great. So here is my suggestion: ask your siblings to come there for a visit and a short one. Everyone will be much happier and your mother with be so much better. At this point in the stage of the disease, it is best to make sure that mom is doing ok and that she can maintain stability in her own home. Maybe you can take some time off yourself while your family visits or you can feel free to do some of the things that you have been putting off i.e. a massage, hair cut, doctor's appointment or a day just off the clock. Stop feeling insecure as you are a very good caregiver to your mom. This is not about what is convenient fom the family, but what fits into your mother's schedule and routine. Suggest that the family make the trip to see you all. This time is about taking care of mom--I bet that your brother is truly not ready to handle mom for a couple of days and surely not for a couple of weeks. Insist GENTLY that he come to see mom as that is the best for now. Once he is there and sees his mother, I am positive that he will agree and thank you for all of the care your provide to mom. Thanks for the care that you do daily for your mother--I know that if she could tell you, she would.
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It gets harder and harder for the person with dementia to get back to 'normal' after they've been away from the familiar. I took my mother-in-law down to see her eldest son a few years ago, in order for her to spend just 4 days with he and the family. She was so agitated that they had to call me and ask me what to do. She didn't remember them, didn't recognize the house, didn't know where she was and sure didn't know WHY she was there. It took her a couple of days to calm down and just go with the flow. Needless to say, we've all decided it's not a good idea to do that again. On one hand you don't want to get your moms delicate mental health off kilter, but at the same time you could use the break and your siblings are wanting to pitch in right? If she did go, I'd vote for 2 weeks in order to give her enough time to 'get used to' her new surroundings, and see how it goes. Is there a way that your siblings can come one at a time and stay at your house to see her? I don't know, you're in a quandary for sure. Ask her doctor to get a second opinion.
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I don't blame them for wanting "one more" visit with Mom...my Mom is gone now, and if I had one more visit with her it would be the greatest thing in the world, even though we did not get along that well overall - she would see her grandkids and we would go to the zoo and see the penguins and then we would eat pizza. And she would complain about my straggly hair, ignore my daughter and heap praise on my son. And since I knew it was just that one time I would be OK with it. What a fantasy...but I digress. Why the second anniversary is hitting my harder than the first I have no idea, OTHER than not having gotten in that one last thing or two or three we had hoped for....

What I am trying to blunder through saying is just, yeah, arrange a visit, just maybe arrange for it to be just an out-trip with them or have them come to your place or whatever works. And maybe have shorter little visits more often somehow. I hope there is a good solution that will give all of you some pleasant memories and sustain you in times to come.
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