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I am wondering how others have coped in my scenario and would love some advice.


My mom has Alzheimer’s and has been in a secure dementia unit for 18 months. She is well cared for, the staff are fantastic and I have no concerns there.


I previously visited her 3 times a week with my newborn but as my son has gotten older it’s become more problematic- I didn’t visit at all when he was crawling but did see her 1-3 times a week on day visits to my dad's house. Now he is walking all I can manage is 1 afternoon a week at the rest home as the visits are so stressful- my mom doesn’t know who I am, has little interest in my son other than getting him off me, and has shown aggressive tendencies towards him in the past. The staff advise me over and over not to let her hold him (I don’t). I spend my visit monitoring them both.


I would like to visit without him but for various reasons this isn’t possible right now. She isn’t able to have visitors in the evening. She has very limited communication so phone calls are not possible.


My dad is unable to see that it’s hard and pushes me to see her more often, for longer, and for a bond to be created between grandmother and grandson. I have recently drawn a line and he has stopped speaking to me -calling me selfish for doing so.


My mom has visitors 5 days a week at least so is far from neglected. I feel guilty it two directions- that I am not doing enough for my mom and that I am not doing enough for my son.


Has anyone been in this situation? How did you get through it?


Thanks for reading to the end

Your first obligation is to your son. How would you feel if Grandma pushed him off his feet, pinched him or hit him? These were all things my mom, with dementia, was capable of. At this point, I fear there isn’t much chance of any “bond” being formed between the two of them. Dad is deluding himself. Firmly explain to your father that Mom has violent tendencies and you will under no circumstances be exposing your son to that. If, in his eyes, that labels you as “selfish”, so be it. If you feel you must visit, check out babysitting co-ops in your neighborhood or perhaps a stay-at-home mom who offers drop in babysitting. Facebook Marketplace is a good place to find local kids who would babysit for an hour or so so you can visit. But be aware that Mom may not even remember that you were there.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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AJ,
I agree also, your 1st responsiblity is to your son. It is practically impossible to control a toddler anyway. I hope your visits are short.

Speaking of short visits, could you pop in for 5-10 minutes twice a week, instead of an hour long (or extended) visit once a week?
That might satisfy your dad's request to see your mom more often but lighten your load with the little one.

I used to keep toys in the trunk of the car that were only brought out when we went out to dinner. They were like new toys to our son and made for some calm dinners out. Maybe you could try this when you visit your mom. Also, possibly a walker so you can restrain him and use the tray in front to play with the "new toys". A favorite snack would be a treat to keep him calm for a good minute and a half too. LOL!

I sympathize with you honey. It must be very hard with a little one to not have your mom mentally well to be able to share in his life. You must do what is best for you and your son. God bless your mom, she won't remember anyway. Do what works for your son.
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Reply to SueC1957
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The bottom line is that your dad is not able to give up on the idea that his grandchild establish a typical bond with the victim of a horrible condition which
prevents her from reacting to that child in the typical way that a grandma would and should.
How much does your guilt come from his grief for what could have been, but now, in her condition, cannot be?
I go to my LO’s AL about once a week with my my grandson, who at 2 1/2 uses a wheelchair, but is outgoing and enjoys “visiting” the residents and employees there.
My LO, his great-grand Aunt, loves him and enjoys the visits. We usually stay from 15-20 minutes, and he can safely roll around in his wheelchair and amuse himself, under our watchful supervision.
My guilt comes from the fact that I would have loved to have taken care of them both at home, but had to admit that I could never manage it. Everybody who loves someone with dementia has guilt about something.
You are doing what you should be doing. Your father is acting the way he does from his grief. Does he ever see your son at the residence? Perhaps if he saw your mom’s reactions to her grandson, it would help clarify the problems of which you are already aware.
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AndreJay Jan 4, 2019
That’s a very insightful response actually- perhaps some of my guilt does come from my dads own expectations and grief.
He cannot/ refuses see the potential issues I see which led to me setting a boundary he reacted badly to and now ignoring me (and his grandchild).
You have given me a lot to think about- thank you
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I have differing opinions on this topic. When my Mother was on her deathbed in the hospital my brother and S I L brought their kids to visit several times. The youngest was 10 years old at the time, so not really young but he looked freaked out. I get letting your children learn about death and so on but I think one visit to say good bye would have sufficed.

As for nursing home visits, I feel kind of the same way about that. Let kids see and learn without experiencing any trauma but if the person they are visiting is not in their right mind and could adversely affect the child in a psychological way then perhaps maybe you need to reconsider.
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partsmom Jan 7, 2019
When my husband was in the hospital his last week, we "smuggled" in his youngest grandson, who was about 11 at the time. Fortuntely, grandpa was relatively alert at the time and appreciated seeing his grandson, who seemed to deal with the situation well. I do not forget his grandfather laying hands on him and blessing him! Three days later, when he was in a coma and obviously on his last day, we had five of the grandchildren, as well as nieces and nephews there most of the day, and the young people dealt with it better than my husband's siblings. I don't recall if we had the youngest, then about 3, there, if so it would have been in the hospital waiting room with an adult.
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Maybe one of the staff members can talk to Dad. Explain that they feel its not wise, at this stage of Moms dementia, for you to bring a toddler. That Mom has been shown to have agressive tendencies so its not safe for your son to be near her. Sometimes its better coming from someone else. Then when he excepts that, you can tell him now son is older, it makes it harder to get out. He has a routine that you need to work around. I am assuming you are not working. If not you are living on one salary hiring a sitter may be money you rather not spend or can't afford. (Been there) Maybe son doesn't take well to other people?

I took my 3 yr old GS to visit. At that time Mom was able to enjoy him. A male resident played ball with them. The other residents enjoyed him. But seems that doesn't happen with you. Your visit is stressful. Mom doesn't know you or who your son is, then I don't see how visiting her is good for anyone. She has no idea you have been there. I can see where you feel you need to visit for you but its not even possible. I guess nighttime is bad because of sundowning. Not a good time for her, Dinner then getting them ready for the evening in their rooms then going to bed.
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I agree with your own Adult decision that you made. Let Bad Dad be Mad. He will either get over it or go to his grave being a hard nose Grudge bearer.
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AndreJay Jan 8, 2019
Thank you- and that’s a succinct way of summing it up I like it.
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As usual, agreeing with Ahmijoy. Is it possible for your dad to care for your son? That might lighten up your father to be able to care for him and let you visit your mother without any distraction or stress?
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Thanks so much for your comments- it’s really appreciated and your right that my son comes first - which he does but it’s hard to say that without feeling like a traitor to my mom. There is so much pressure to be everything to everyone, I really appreciate the perspective and the great ideas. I will try shorter visits and separate toys- everything worth a try :)
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Ahmijoy Jan 4, 2019
You must, of course, do as you see fit. However, I would still reconsider bringing baby to see Grandma at all. When my mother was in the beginning stages, she always asked about her grand and great grandchildren, but as time went on, she never said a word about any of them. At one point, at a Christmas gathering, she hallucinated that my husband was someone else and lunged at him. If he’d been a toddler, she would have badly hurt him. It happened in a split second.

I agree, if you feel you must bring baby, don’t give him free range of the area, toys notwithstanding. Keep the visits to a few minutes. Closely monitor Grandma’s. mood.
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This must be so tough for you. My feeling is that you are fine not going to visit your mother for the time being. I am sorry your Dad can't understand. I like the idea of having someone on the staff (occupational therapist, director??) explain the problem to him. It seems like bringing your son would not benefit him, you, or your Mom. The only benefit to bringing him is to make your Dad feel better, although I understand your desire to please your Dad too.

Is there any possibility of having some sort of play corral for him that you could set up to separate him and your Mom? I know managing that would be a huge hassle, but maybe it would allow a visit every couple weeks for a limited time and that might help your Dad feel better.

Or is there a friend or family member who could visit with you, and you two could take turns with your son, even keeping him in a separate area most of the time.
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AndreJay Jan 8, 2019
Thanks it has been difficult at times! Moms sister has recently taken pity (maybe?) on me and visited with me last week rather than her usual day. It was OK and she was useful in occupying mom when she got too keen on trying to pick him up. It will probably work in the shorter term while I still have to take him every visit.
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Your mom barely knows what is going on. Do not let your son be traumatized by her behavior just because your dad cherishes a fantasy about a bond that isn't going to be formed. Let him be mad. Your child comes first. Don't let your life be consumed with anxiety about how to make everyone happy. It won't happen and everyone will lose out if you try.
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Reply to oldmamabear77
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AndreJay Jan 8, 2019
Thank you this is sound advice.
‘Let him be mad’ may be my new mantra.
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