Should I go ahead with my plan to go traveling for about one year, or stay around for my grandma (92)? -

Should I go ahead with my plan to go traveling for about one year, or stay around for my grandma (92)?


I have just finished university. Some background information about my situation. My grandma has been in a care home for around 7 years, she has some dementia but I believe it is not all that bad. Over the time she has been there I think it has worsened somewhat, but not much. I do not know her exact diagnosis. She gets simple things muddled up which is common, and doesn't always know 'what she is supposed to be doing', and sometimes she says she must visit her mother and father, especially on her bad days. I do my best to distract her and after my visits her spirits are lifted. She still knows who I am and it's usually possible to have a lucid conversation with her, although her short term memory is bad, so repeating things clearly is necessary, and she often doesn't understand simple concepts, but explaining can usually help at least somewhat.

Her physical health - she has ulcers on her legs and sometimes she cannot walk at all for weeks, other times she can move very short distances on a frame. She stays in her room almost all the time but I have come to learn that this is her preference. She always was quite shy. There was a time I forced her to go in the garden in a wheelchair (she really didn't want to!) and yet she enjoyed it while she was out there, but she prefers to stay in her room (I think she feels safe in there).

There was a period when she lost some weight, I am not sure why this happened and it worried me, but she managed to put the weight back on. She does sometimes have trouble eating the food because of her rheumatoid arthritis, it has deformed her hands. At my request she was given special cutlery to help her and she is on a high calorie diet.

I am 25 years old and I am the only member of the family to visit her on a regular basis (once a week). The rest of our small family has a lot of physical and mental health problems, and will often agitate her if they do visit. They also live in different cities. She gets a visit from each of her daughters about once a year.

When I visit her once a week for a few hours I bring her flowers, chocolates and/or sweets which she enjoys. I tried to set her up with a friend to keep her company but she did not get along with them very well, I think it is difficult for old people to make new friends and she is quite a shy lady by nature, she does not leave her room much or take part in the activities provided at her care home.

I have been talking about going travelling for a while now, my plan was to go to Thailand, then Australia (to have a working holiday), then India. I have recently got back from 3 months in Ethiopia, over this time she seems to have coped well without me, there are just some issues I need to sort out with her bank accounts. However one year is a significantly longer period of time.

My further travels would take over one year, possibly longer if things go well in Australia. I saved enough money by working whilst at university. I have told the care home about my travel plans, as well as my grandma who seems excited for me! But I am now worried about leaving her and feeling guilty. I am due to fly to Thailand at the end of January, the rest of my travels are pending (not yet booked). If I go long term I will also need to move out of my current house, so that adds pressure to the situation because it means I have more things to do within the next six weeks. So I feel the need to decide is urgent...

I have asked lots of people for their opinions, but I just don't know what to do. I am closer to my grandma than my mother, as my grandma looked after me for a few years (my mum has long term mental health issues). I don't know what I would do if I came back and she couldn't remember me, or if I did not get to be with her in her last weeks due to being so far away. As well as this I have just finished university, saved up this money, it is a great opportunity to travel (before I start a career, family etc. and have other responsibilities). Perhaps I will not get this opportunity again? She may have only a few months left or several years left... Either road I take seems like it could be filled with regrets and I am scared in case I don't do the right thing and I have to live with it for the rest of my life... I just don't know how to approach this situation, any advice or relevant personal experiences is appreciated, please help.

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Dear Biancargh,
Wow! I hear you. I have had a very blessed career and professional life. I have been able to travel to exciting places and I will tell you that the only regret I have is that I did not live abroad before life got complicated. What held me back? Family.

Did I ruin my life by not being more adventurous early on? NO! Maybe it even opened some opportunities.

You sound like a lovely, loving person. Grandma may be in this stage for a long time and you cannot put your life on hold.

Adventure is like having children, there is never a perfect time, but once you take it on it is a fulfilling and life altering experience.

Best of luck to you and yours,
Helpful Answer (1)

You send her post cards from each destination. She will love it. Ask the care staff nicely and they will create an entire gazetteer on her bedroom wall for her to enjoy. You could print her a nice clear map showing your planned itinerary, too.

I would also expect a good care home to be perfectly capable of handling Skype and email. Your grandmother may not, of course! - but it still means that you can keep in close touch with her care team wherever you get to.

There is one other possibility. Call your travel insurers, explain that your grandmother was closely involved in your upbringing, and check *beforehand* that in the event of your grandmother's serious illness they will cover you for an earlier return or disruption to your travel plans. If they won't play ball, shop around for a different insurer - my mother used the Post Office for her travels, and we always found them pretty accommodating.

But don't not go. Once you're working, you're simply never going to have a length of time like this for travel, or not until you're in your sixties or seventies or you win the Lottery anyway. Bon voyage!
Helpful Answer (3)

Is there any way you could Skype with your grandmother? That would be ideal - you could tell her about your wonderful adventures and "see" her while she could "see" you. I wonder if your friend would be willing to help her Skype with you on a regular basis? If not, I still think you should go and enjoy yourself. Your grandmother sounds like a lovely woman and I would have to believe she'd want you to be happy and not put your life on hold for her.
Helpful Answer (3)

I agree you should go. I think she'd want you to.
Helpful Answer (2)

Type your comments andi was very close to my grandma. She lived until the age of 95. She also took care of me. Make peace with the fact that you do what you have been able to do, and lovingly. Remember that anyone of your family could die or have a health reversal at any time. Such is life. Always pay love forward. No one can tell you what you should do. But you should not stop living your life or making plans and carrying them out. In your shoes, I would go, and I would write and send a picture or two often.
Helpful Answer (2)

You go. She would want that for you. Send her pretty postcards once a week.
Helpful Answer (4)

What would your grandmother want? For you to miss out on these wonderful adventures? Probably not. Go, you are young and your grandmother has lived a long life. You are a wonderful grandaughter. Unless your grandmother is enormously selfish, she would never dream of stopping you. I know I wouldn't.
Helpful Answer (7)

At the young age of 25 , you are too young for all of this. At 92, your grandmother could die or not remember you at anytime regardless if you travel of not. You will have to decide what is right for you for either path could be filled with regrets.
Helpful Answer (2)

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