How do I not feel guilty going on vacation with my husband and not take my father in law? - AgingCare.com

How do I not feel guilty going on vacation with my husband and not take my father in law?

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He has dimentia, no control over bladder or bowels. We are his caregivers. He has gone with us in the past but he is much worse and we need a break.

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What guilt??? Get a sitter and go have fun, relax, enjoy each other. I used to Elder Sit when I was younger. Just find someone reputable--I don't know how you do that nowadays--maybe relatives or even a hospice might take him while you are out of town. I live with my mom whose m.o. sounds a lot like your dad--I have scheduled time off and my sisters and brothers work it out. I have even learned to screen phone messages from them because they can work out any "problem" without me if left up to their own resources. If they leave me a detailed message and I think they can't handle it; I will return the call. Otherwise, my vacation is off limits. No guilt and I return rested and ready refocused for another three months.
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Last week I would have tried to talk you out of feeling guilty. It is true that there should be no blame here -- it is not your fault that FIL has delined in health. This weekend I attened a conference and heard Dr. Pauline Boss, author of "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia" speak. That gave me a little different perspective on guilt, and I'd like to share it.

Guilt is pretty much a given for caregivers. Once in a while it may serve a good function. If I've lost my patience and been harsh with my loved one, I should feel a little guilt, think about how I can avoid that in the future, forgive myself, and move on. But mostly our load of guilt is about things that aren't our fault and we have no control over. It is irrational and it is pretty hard to reason ourselves out of it.

The guilt is going to be there. Accept that fact, and don't let it stop you from doing what you decide is best. I guess we have to learn to live with a certain level of guilt.

It is wonderful that you have been able to include FIL in previous trips. You have enriched his life. That is an awesome gift. It is very sad that he is no longer able to be included. It is one of those losses we experience on the caregiving journey that we need to acknowledge and allow ourselves to mourn.

Dr. Boss suggests the practice of "both/and" statements, (instead of seeing the world as either/or). In this situation, here is an example that may be applicable: I feel both guilty about leaving FIL and excited about vactioning with Hubby.

Caregivers of people with dementia live in an ambiguous world. Our loved one is both present and absent. We have frequent bouts of grief and our loved one is not dead. We are the sons or daughters and we are doing the parenting.

If you have to feel guilty, so be it. But arrange good respite care and have a wonderful vacation. You owe it to yourself, your husband, and, really to you FIL, because he deserves caregivers who periodically recharge and stay healthy. So you should probably feel guilty if you don't go. We can't win, can we?

Anyway, this approach to guilt is new to me and I can't recommend it from personal experience. But I sure think it makes sense. How does it sound to you? I'm going to try it, and try thinking in both/and statements.
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Ks: It seems that the first rule of care giving is to take care of yourself. I don't know why that one is so difficult, but it is. A vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing. It's supposed to separate you from the stress of the daily routine and restore your spirit. How can you have a vacation, in the true sense of the meaning, if you take your FIL with you? I think your husband and you deserve to enjoy each others company; hold hands, have a meal out, pop into the little shops that catch your interest, sleep in, relax and take some time to nurture your relationship. As you said, he is much worse and you both need a break. Find good respite care for him and take this vacation time for you and your husband.
You shouldn't feel guilty at all.
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