Hello all, I am new to these boards, I can't believe I haven't found you before! My sister graciously offered to stay in my house with my mom so I could go on vacation with my husband and two children. Usually my sister comes a few times a week so I can run out to appointments or pick up my child from school, that kind of thing but she has never slept over or done the morning routine with my mom (putting dentures in). I assist mom with all of her ADL as well. I don't know how to handle this with mom. In the last 6 months her memory has definitely gotten worse and if I had to guess I would say she's probably mid stage 6, doesn't want to leave her room, probably a 30 second working memory. I don't want her to think I've abandoned her, we have been together literally everyday for the last 3 years and she has never gone to bed without my saying goodnight to her. Last year when we went on vacation she begged me to leave her home, have someone come in so she didn't have to go, etc. It took me 6 hours to talk her into getting in the car, she never left her bedroom when we got there and then when we were coming home she didn't realize we had even been gone. I promised her she would never have to do that again. I know that on the scale of things, this is very trivial compared to everything else we all have to deal with on a daily basis but my concern is that I don't want her to think I have abandoned her or she did something wrong and that's why I left. She has confabulations and in each of them it centers around someone being mad at her or her doing something wrong. And even with her memory being what it is, when I am out she will ask my sister where I am. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you!

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Hi jeannegibbs,

Thank you for the welcome and the advice.

I hear what you are saying and I appreciate the honesty. I do fear that I am quickly approaching burnout and really do need this week, as does my family. And yes that makes me feel guilty too on top of everything else but I promised myself I was going to try and not pack my guilt to take along. You are so right.

Funny you said about a white board I do use a little one when I go out during the week and my sister is here so mom knows where I went and what time I'm coming back and I could always leave that for my sister to pull out in case mom gets upset.

It's funny, not ha-ha funny, that it seems no matter what plan we caregivers put in place we just don't know which way it's going to go. Even thinking that all the bases are covered it's like nope, did you think about this? It's never ending.

It is such a help to find a place where you are surrounded by people who get it. The sadness, the guilt, the fear, the uncertainty of it all.

Thank you again!
Helpful Answer (3)

Actually, Panini, respite is an extremely important subject in caregiving. Without getting away periodically severe burnout is far more likely to occur, as are physical and mental health issues (for the caregiver). So figuring out how to arrange vacations and "me" time and how to deal with the loved one's feelings and concerns is something that comes up often.

You and Sister sound like an awesome team. Your mother is very fortunate to have you both!

Recognize that you may not be able to completely protect Mom from feelings of abandonment or fear, etc. As with other aspects of dementia, even with the best of intentions and planning we are not always able to provide the calm and serenity we want to. Keep in mind that your mother's dementia is Not Your Fault. Her lack of understanding and reasoning power is Not Your Fault. So, please, do not add feelings of guilt to your genuine concern.

I admire you trying to figure this out in advance. I'm sure that will help. If Mom had enough memory to talk about last year's vacation you could assure her you wouldn't do that to her again and explain that Sis will be with her. But your description makes that sound not feasible. Not enough memory for discussions of last year.

Since memory is so short, I would not tell her about this vacation much in advance. No point. The day before, perhaps, or when leaving. Explaining in advance just prolongs the worry.

I went with a girlfriend on a three-day trip. My husband likes that GF and she came into the house and chatted with him about our plans. Our out-of-state daughter was there to stay with him, and he was thrilled to have her there. When I came home he was agitated and angry with me. He didn't know when/if I was coming home and besides I hadn't left him any money. And why didn't I at least tell him where I was going? (Clearly he was worried about how he would get by without me.) I apologized and hugged him and assured him I'd never abandon him and was sorry for the misunderstanding. And then we enjoyed the rest of Daughter's visit.

I've thought about how I might have lessened the chance of his agitation. He was perfectly fine with my leaving. It was the days I was gone when he couldn't remember that leaving that were the problem. I wonder if it would have helped if Daughter had had a count-down white board, saying "Jeanne will be home in 3 days, then 2 days, then tomorrow, then this afternoon." Maybe it would have helped to talk to him about where I was. Maybe I could have left a written explanation of where I was and when I'd be back that Daughter could have him read when he got nervous. Maybe. But who knows? I approve of therapeutic fibs, but "she'll be right back" would not have worked with his level of cognition.

It is too bad that he had a few unhappy days. I would have prevented that if I knew how. But I needed that respite. He would have had a lot more than a few unhappy days if I burned out. My regret is that I didn't take a little more respite along the way.

You and Sis will do your best to minimize Mom's discomfort. That is all you can do.

Welcome to the forums!
Helpful Answer (4)

Hi Pepsee thank you and hello to you too.

I'd be happy to share anything I've picked up along the way with you. :)
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Hi Ahmijoy - thank you for your answer it makes perfect sense to me. I've been trying to get her to sleepover for the last two months now but it hasn't happened which makes me nervous. She is a visual learner as well so I would rather she at least run through it a couple of times also. She keeps telling me she'll be fine so I'm going with that, I'm the planner, can you tell? Lol

Thank you for the warm welcome and for taking the time to post.
Helpful Answer (4)

Hi Panini 🖐️ welcome!
My Mom lives with me also. It's only been 2 months, and she only has some short term memory loss, so far. So I really don't have advice for you on this issue. I just wanted to say hello, welcome aboard and I look forward to your advice, since you've been at this awhile

I need to pick as many brains as possible! Lol.

Every issue is important. And it's awesome to hear your so concerned with Mom's feeling. :)

Enjoy your vaycay...and don't worry!
Helpful Answer (3)

Welcome, Panini! Don’t trivialize your worries. They’re very valid. On our boards, when our loved ones are so deep into dementia as your mom, we usually advise the “Theraputic Fib”. Meaning, if when Sis starts to help mom with her ADL’s and mom asks, “Where is ‘Sally’?”, Sis says, “Oh, she’ll be right back, Mom.” Mom probably has no concept of time, so the TF will work even though Sis may have to keep repeating it. It won’t be easy on Sis, but you probably already know this. Are you having Sis shadow you for a few days? This is easier than lists and verbal directions, but I am a visual learner. And, I would also suggest you not call while you’re gone just to talk to Mom. This would serve to confuse her even more.
Have a great trip!
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