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I haven't been away from home for several years. I retired a year ago, so I don't need a vacation. But, my husband wants to go to a WW2 convention and I am going with him. My mom is 88 years old and lives alone. My brother stays with her three or four days a week. However, he won't do anything for her except in an emergency. He will take her to a doctor or call for an ambulance. She is doing OK right now. We will be leaving in mid - October. But she tells me she might need me and to send her the hotel phone number and dates I will be gone. I told her I would. Two days later she asks if I sent the letter. I didn't yet. I tell her I will send it in a couple of days. She repeats that she may need me. And that she guesses she will have to call the hotel if she does need me. I feel guilty when she says this. She has no one to help her when there are problems except me. There are no friends for relatives left. I don't want to have to never go away for a week until she dies. The conference is a week. I can't make it shorter. If there is a health emergency I have to come home early, but hoping not. I could make phone calls from the hotel for her if necessary. She is not trying to manipulate me. She has anxiety disorder (I have it too), plus she does have health problems.

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Can your mother dial 911? Does she have a medical alert system? Does your brother live close enough for her to call him? Do you have a cell phone? I would think that would be far more effective than a hotel number. Also, why not just send her the letter she wants now. You can send an update if the information changes.

I don't know a lot about treating anxiety, but I would think it would be helpful to realize that you are not dependent on a single person or thing for emergencies. If she does need help while you are gone it makes far more sense for her to reach out to someone who is physically closer. She can notify you from ER or after she has been helped.

If Mom really is not capable of calling 911 or her son or pushing an alert button, then she should probably be in respite care while you are gone. If she successfully lives alone, that seems kind of drastic to me, but it is an option.

You deserve an outing. Your husband deserves to have you travel with him. Go. Have fun.
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Oh, and should you feel guilty? Hmmm. Will that relieve Mom's anxiety? Will it improve your husband's enjoyment of the trip? Will it make it less likely that Mom will need some help? If you can think of any good that would come from feeling guilty, have at it!
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My mother can call 911. She also does have an alert system that is monitored. My brother lives about 20-30 minutes from her house. I think she is thinking about needing me not just for health emergencies, but also other reasons. She has hearing aids but the make loud noise when she is on phone so can't hear good on phone. I have made lots of calls for her to solve things. Or maybe she is mostly thinking of health stuff.
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Sure you make lots of calls for her to solve stuff, and that is great. I hope my kids will do that for me when phone calls are difficult for me. But realistically, what kind of thing would need to be solved RIGHT NOW, before you get home? Only an emergency, right? And emergencies are already covered by 911, the alert button, and your brother. Non-emergency? Wait.

It is really so wonderful that you and your mother are a comfort to each other in dealing with your anxiety disorders. I am so glad you have each other! But truly, you can both be separated for a week without terrible things happening.

Are you being treated for your disorder? Maybe your doctor or therapist can help reassure you about this outing.
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Is your mom on meds for anxiety and depression?
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She is too old to be left alone. Get a sitter.
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Hadnuff, I can understand how your mother feels... I have the same issues whenever my sig other leaves to visit his side of the family or on assignment for work.

Years ago I lived alone after my divorce in a big old empty house for about 10 years... never had any issues. But once I had cancer it turned my whole world upside down and now I tend to feel so uneasy being by myself. My heart would skip a beat and that would put my mind into over drive thinking something is wrong.

Like I said, I know how your Mom feels.
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It would help you relax and enjoy the time with your husband....so go ahead and hire a sitter for 12 hours a day staying overnight. Give the sitter and your Mom your cell phone number and have a great time. Everyone deserves a break!
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Should you feel guilty about being away for a week, especially in such a good cause? No of course not! No harm will come to your mother as a result, and meanwhile you and your husband have your married life to lead. I hope you both have an interesting and companionable time.

But what's the problem with giving your mother a note of the dates you will be away, and the number of the hotel (with In Case Of Emergencies underlined next to it!)? Aren't these fairly standard details to leave with a family member? If she does start badgering you on a daily basis, with questions like when are you coming home or how do I use the TV remote, I expect the hotel switchboard will be able to intercept calls for you and head her off.

But, about your brother. Well. For the week you're away, he is on call. If God forbid there is any kind of crisis, then he's going to have to deal with it anyway because it'll be hours before you can be on the scene. And it's only a week. I feel sure he could rise to the occasion if he put his mind to it. And if that still doesn't reassure you, what about this: how do you manage when your brother goes away for a week? Just fine, I expect? Well then. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Let them cope. All will be well.
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Would you expect someone to suspend their own life just in case you might die any minute and you can't stand to be alone? geez.
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I live an hour and a half from my mother. She is alone three or four days a week normally. I did send the letter telling her the dates I would be away and the phone number of the hotel. I will call her maybe every three days while I will be away. She is mainly worried about getting sick or going to the hospital. My brother has told her he would not take care of her if she got sick. But he will call an ambulance and pick up stuff from the house for her if she is in the hospital. She wouldn't let someone stay with her even if she or I could afford it. She would not let a volunteer or a college student stay with her eighter.
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Look at it this way. You could be right in the same town with her, be in the dentist's office having a procedure done, and be relatively out of touch in an emergency. Since you don't live with mom, nothing much has changed except your proximity to her.

If an emergency arises, and she contacts you, you can call 911 (the only route you should take in an emergency) and call your brother to alert him. He can then meet her at the hospital. Have your brother call her every day while you're gone.

Buy a Realtor lock box for your front door (You should have one even if you don't go away) in which you keep the key to the house. They generally require one to push a 4-number combination to open and access the key. If she keeps her storm door locked, be ready to instruct paramedics (on the phone) to break the storm door lock; they'll get the combination from you so that they can get in the house. Tell them everything they'll need is in an envelope on her fridge. Tell them you're out of town, but will immediately be contacting her son who lives close by as soon as you can.

In a big brown envelope marked PARAMEDICS (in bold-tipped Magic Marker) put the following: a list of her medications and dosages; a list of her primary ailments, for instance: Diabetic; Congestive Heart Failure; Mild Parkinson's Disease; include your contact information and your brother's contact information.

They now have everything they need to get your mom professional care even if NO ONE is available to go with her. These precautions should be taken even if you WEREN'T going out of town.

And don't hop the next plane, for Heaven's sake. Get hold of your brother, ask him to meet her at the hospital, wait an hour or two and call the emergency room to find out if she's just there for a tune-up or something more serious is going on.

When your brother gets there, have him call you on his cell if he has one and let you talk to mom to reassure her that she's going to be just fine; her son is going to watch after her, and if it's anything serious, you're on the next flight home.

Have a wonderful trip. You deserve it.
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Your mother and you are extremely 'lucky' that your brother lives so close. It's his responsibility to take care of your mom while you are gone. I agree... In the long run, it'll be healthy for you and your mom to be away for just this short time. I've decided to take a trip for 4 days in November. My mother is going on 87 and lives with me. I don't have any siblings to help, so I'm going to ask neighbors, church friends and anyone else (that I trust) to keep an eye on my mom while I'm gone. Sure, I'll worry... I always do... but, I know I have to get away and I think it'll be better for both of us for a while. You're also extremely fortunate to have a wonderful husband. Enjoy your trip. Your mom will be fine.
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Hadnuff, so if, God forbid, your mother did get sick or have to go to hospital, your brother would see that she did get looked after even if he didn't personally do the caregiving himself. So she'll be absolutely fine, whatever happens. So go to the convention, decorate your husband's arm, relax and have a wonderful time. And don't forget to smile! xxx
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Dear Hadnuff,

I am relating to your concerns because I think I recognize the internal guilit-driven conflict you are experiencing, although I am not sure. I am the only child and when I go away even for a few days, it is SO HARD! do you think you can go and have a good time? If you think you can, maybe have a discussion with your mother as to what would make her feel safe. You have a lot of thngs going for you, even if your brother only does a half-hearted job. You have him, an emergency alert system, and she can call you. Give her your contact information as soon as you can. Do you have a cell phone? Sometimes I wonder if it is worth the anxiety of leaving to please my husband and have a good time, however tainted by worry and guilt. But, I have been doing it. A week is a long time, but you have more resources than I do! Maybe your mom would like to have a caregiver drop by for a couple of hours every other day? At any rate, I truly feel for you because these are hard times and tough decisions for the tender hearted! It is nice you care so much--you have to caree for yourself too! What does your "inner self" tell you to do? We have lots of wisdom if we can relax long enough to hear our inner spirit! Good luck to you, sweet lady!
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njny1952, same here, only child, and once I went away for a weekend it was very difficult because I was scared silly that something would happen to my parents [who are in their mid-90's and still live in their own single family home]... my parents wouldn't let strangers in the house so having a caregiver stop by would be an insult... [sigh].

Yet when my parents were my age, they were traveling all over the place without a care in the world. I keep wondering when will my time come as I am aging, too.
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The only time you should feel guilty is if you've done something illegal or immoral. Going on vacation is neither of those things, so NO, don't feel guilty.

GO and have a GOOD TIME.
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freqfllyer--I know! At my age, my parents were having a blast without a care in the world! This is one big problem for me as I prepare to retire--I want to have some fun and get away while my husband and I are healthy and active, but it is just so hard to leave on a reasonably carefree vacation, knowing my mother is alone. Every time I have gone away, she has shared complaints, frustrations, etc. She even told me that she would never have left her father alone, but she never was his caregiver except for a weekend or two. Sometimes she is very nice and part of her wants me to go and have a good time, but I think she just gets scared or something. I often feel I have no freedom--I know I do, but I have to work so very hard at getting it and feeling relaxed about it all. I envy the folks who are writing in who just do it! I am still working on growing my tough bone. I must be a slow learner!
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Take your vacation. Your brother is there and let him deal with it the best he can. Perhaps when he's alone dealing with your mother he will see how he needs to step up.
I took my first vacation in years in July. I told my brother I was going and that that was that. I only had to call one day while I was on vacation and that was to see how her neurologist appointment went. My brother is the one that takes my mother to her doctors appointments.
I too struggle with the guilt you shared, but my mother is not a loving person. She never was even prior to the dementia. I now do what I can and that just hast to be enough. My health started to decline and I also had no freedom etc.
Go on vacation and have a good time. Take care of yourself.
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njny1952, sometimes I think because we were raised without siblings it makes it tougher on us.... we never had the practice of learning at a very early age of standing up to a sibling and not feeling guilty.
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It's frustrating for me to read about you wonderful caregivers who feel like you're in a prison because of your moms. You ARE in an emotional prison, but it sounds like for all of you, it's a prison of your mom's choice.

If your mom won't allow caregivers to come in, that's her choice. And that's fine. But she makes those choices and there are consequences. If you offer good options and your parent chooses not to take them, that's not YOUR fault and you should feel no guilt about going away.

They've made you feel their ONLY caregiver in the world is you and that's simply not the truth. You can get help from other resources than just you. What would happen if each of you keeled over dead (God forbid)? I guarantee your moms would survive. I love my mom and I take very good care of her (my brother lives states away and does very little). But when I go away, I KNOW I need that respite and I can turn off the worry.

There are hospitals and 911 for any true emergency. Your moms will be OK. And if they have an emergency, that's what hospitals are for. Turn off that undeserved guilt! It serves no one!!
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Emotionally dependent people may not be able to realize this, but being unable to let go of a loved one enough that they can have their own life is going to burn them out and bring about their worst fears, whether of being alone at home or of being placed in a facility because the loved one can't keep their head above water.
It is a vicious cycle that breaks up marriages too - the needy spouse tried to pull the other one in, the other one pulls away just because they feel smothered, so the needy one feels neglected and pulls in even harder.

"I would nevers" are usually spoken by people who have never been in those shoes. You DO enough to assure care and safety, then you GO. And the hesitance to give all your numbers out is understandable, your fear of being called and pulled back for something less than truly necessary may not be unrealistic. People can fabricate emergencies and some may have no hesitation to punish the person who dares to take a little time away from them. Some of how you handle that depends on how well you can even talk about it with them. The thing is, if you can't work it out, you WILL be stuck without taking a break ever until she dies and really - if she could think straight - would she WANT you to be secretly sort of eager for her demise just so you could have a life, or a break?

Confession time - my mom and dad always had ALL my numbers :-) and it was a mixed blessing when mom could not remember how to use the phone to call me any more. She'd used to call me instead of ask staff when she was running out of supplies, right in the middle of team conference...and I was sad when I realized that would not be happening anymore, though also a little relieved.

She was just in her late seventies when she could not be left alone any more, and I've known 90+ year olds that not only took care of themsevles fine on their own but took care of ailing spouses to boot. SO I would not say just "age 88" is the factor to determine all your decisions.
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Had; It's such a testament to your abilities as a caregiver that your mom only trusts you, but it's a double edged sword. You might want to consider consulting with a psychiatrist about her anxiety. That being said, I was with my mom at the pulmonolgist the other day. She arrived by ambulette with a CNA she's known for a year. While sitting there, she asked if I knew how to work "the thing in the back" I finally figured out that she meant the portable oxygen cannister. While I probably would have been able to figure it out, I said "no, mom, I have no idea how to work it; that's why we have Pat with us". At some point, just the way we need to allow our children to trust and depend on others, we need to do the same with our elders and not feel that we have to be their "everything".
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One of my true regrets is that I too late learned that I needed to balance tending to my mom, with spending time with my husband and kids. Mom's still here at 94, but I nearly lost my husband and my child to illness. They're all ok now, but I should've grabbed more chances to travel and celebrate life with my husband while we could. Go, laugh, relax -
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Freqflyer--so true. We didn't have sibling practice and I was like a little third adult in all sorts of ways, including family decision making, caring for my mom's emotional needs, pleasing her, doing whatever it took to keep her happy. I did go through a rebellious period as a young adult, but trying to not be afraid of my mother has been my greatest struggle through my whole life. I am turning 62 next week. Still working on things!
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I appreciate all the advice everyone is giving. I know much of the problem is mine and that my mom could be okay if I left--at least physically. It is just dealing with her emotional well being that takes such a toll on me. I am working on it, and making progress inch by inch. I read everything everyone is writing and all of it helps. I think some of us have stronger capabilities, but I keep plugging away trying to carve out my own happiness and joy. Moving forward, just painfully slowly.
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Good for you Niny. Keep putting one step in front of the other - your mom will be OK!
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No, GO! You frazzled and un rested doesn't help anyone. Keep a phone near, give reassurances and take care of yourself. You can't be there for everyone, if you are not there for yourself first...That's care giving Math! Have not been on vacation here in over 20 years...
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