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Mom is in assisted living and has been diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer's. We are her only family in the state and we generally visit her 3-4 times per week. As caregivers, we both need some "us time" to recharge. However, we do feel guilty about leaving. Our daughter will be able to look in on Mom when we are gone. Any feedback is much appreciated.

Go ahead and go and don’t feel guilty. You sound like great people to visit that much. Most people wouldn’t visit that often. Soon enough we may be in that position so we have to live our lives too. Life is short so take trips while you can. You can’t change the way things are with your MIL.
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Reply to Suetillman
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If possible, before you leave, go only once or twice a week - do NOT mention it. It will upset and make her afraid even though she will soon forget. She really has no idea if you are there or not - just the moments you are actually there.

Go and have a great time. She will be safe.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Every situation is going to be different and, as others have said, you probably know best if your Mom will remember what you tell her. When we went away, I did tell my Mom (in MC) and I said I would call every day. When I did call, I was surprised that she remembered we were away so I'm glad I gave her the information. She would ask me when we were going to be back and I would always say "soon". She wouldn't remember to look at a calendar or even know how that related to our return so "soon" seemed to be OK for her. Enjoy your trip and know she will be taken care of while you are gone. It's great that you have a daughter who can visit too!
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Reply to AvaC42
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I would not tell her. All it will do is upset her, and she probably wont remember you told her later anyway.
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Reply to Karsten
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I would tell her and tape a calendar with your schedule somewhere like the door to her room or somewhere she will see it. Also call, etc. My mom was unable to understand the time of day or how to do a lot of simple things, but taped, short instructions worked. For example, I got her an Amazon Alexa button and taped the instruction "Alexa, play classical music" and mom was able to do that. She never would have remembered to say that. In other words, after you tell her, put up some kind of written reminder. Maybe use pretty paper, upbeat stickers, or something to jazz it up so it's not just writing, but also encouraging.
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Reply to Oskigirl
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Answers many ways! Tell, don't tell, wait to the last minute! Leave notes/itinerary. It really REALLY depends on how aware your mom is on days/time. Although you said moderate Alzheimer's, her perception could be very different from another person with "moderate" Alzheimer's.

Grandma1954's response sums up what I would say - assess her ability to determine day/time.

If she isn't aware, I wouldn't bring the trip up at all. This also applies if/when you tell her something and she forgets it promptly!

If she is aware, I would provide dates/times/plans, etc, probably on a calendar, so she would know where and when you are. This would probably be best provided just before the trip, so as to lessen any chance for her to get anxious about it. Provide that with daughter in attendance, to assure mom that she'll have a familiar face visiting/caring while you are away!

While our mother has dementia (probably vascular), and has been in MC/AL for 3.5 years now, her biggest issue is with short-term memory. She is/has been capable of most self-care, albeit with some prompting now. She repeats herself a lot and is drifting back in time some (asking for her mom and dad), but really has no concept of day/time. She likely wouldn't know if I visited daily or yearly!

In her case, I would NOT tell her. I did give her a calendar (initially a full one like she used to rely on when living alone, but that disappeared, so I got a 2 year pocket calendar), mainly so I can write down appointments, etc - it helps to reduce the need to cajole her to get us out the door! Otherwise, that calendar is almost useless as she has no idea what month or even day it is.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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Most definitely. Especially if you're all she has. She relies on you, is practically living for you & needs you to be honest. Tell her you'll call every day at a certain time. Have it written down. Leave pics & notecards in her room. She relies on you. Always be honest, always reassure her that's she's an important priority to you & make sure she knows she has someone she can count on.
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Reply to Kelkel
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We are in the same situation with my mom. I told her that our daughter would be coming in our place for a while, left Mom her phone number taped up in her room, and gave Mom a schedule of visits. Worked out fine. Take your much-needed time away with no guilt.
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Reply to KiminAL
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I would definitely be truthful about going on vacation for several weeks. Make sure your daughter reminds your mom every day that you will be back soon. She should visit her every day. Skype her every day to check in on her. Find the time that works best for all of you. Several weeks is a long time. I take care of my mother 24/7 and recently had to travel to Thailand for three weeks to see my brother who was in the ICU on a ventilator. This was the first time I left my mother in 18 years. I talked to my mother prior to my travels and she agreed to it.I skyped my mother everyday and sometimes twice a day. That gave her some security and contentment. When I got home she kept asking me for about a month if I was leaving her. I reassured her that her son, my brother is well now and I will not leave her. She had my niece, her granddaughter taking care of her and many people visiting her everyday, nurses, aides but I am the primary caregiver. I think she thought I was not coming back. I was heartbroken. It has been 2 months and finally she is feeling secure again. My mother is 96 years old with dementia. The day I got home and looked at my mother I knew something was very wrong. I took her blood pressure and it was very low 70/30 rushed her to the ER and she was admitted. I would not leave her for three weeks. Try to take short trips and reassure her you will be back soon. I took my mother on vacation every year for 18 years. This past year she can not travel as much but I am so glad and grateful she was able to travel with her family in the past. We have great memories that will last a lifetime. For those of you that think oh it was easy for me and my mother think again. I had a wheelchair, commode, ten suitcases, supplies, medications, treatments to do etc. The vacations with my mother and family were my respite. I hope you make the right decision. I always believe family first!
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Reply to earlybird
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Weeroo Jul 4, 2019
wow, traveling for 18 years! Mom and I are visiting family via plane this fall and i would love some of your tips and experiences. Please PM me. She is 93 with mild cognitive impairment but trouble walking and seeing.
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It depends on her cognitive level
If she knows that you visit Monday, Wednesday and Friday and she will miss your visit then yes tell her.
If she does not know when you visit, the day and how many days there are between your visits then I would not tell her.
In the first scenario she would be aware of your absence in the second she would not.
As others have said make sure the facility is aware you are going to be away.

I would also leave your daughter's information in case of emergency. Give your Daughter authority to make decisions. I only suggest this because in an emergency they will want the ability to do begin treatment right away and if you are 10 hours away to wait for a physical authorization might be longer than they want. If your daughter can authorize treatment in your absence that would be a time saver. Obviously they and she would consult you in such matters.
And if your MIL has a DNR or POLST make sure your daughter has a copy as well as the facility.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Definitely make sure the staff all know that you will be away (and what dates) and that your daughter will be checking in. Give the staff contact information to call you or email you if there is an emergency, if you can. About telling your mother, if you think it will stress her to know in advance, don't tell her. Let her ask and the staff or your daughter can tell her. Before you leave you may want to tell your mother that your daughter will be visiting her for a few weeks.
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Reply to NancyIS
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If daughter is able to pop in and Mum won't realise you are not there, then leave it to ALF and daughter and don't distress Mum by saying anything. Have a good holiday :)
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Reply to TaylorUK
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It sounds like you’ve already got coverage via the ALF and your daughter so there is no need for guilt. She would want you to go and enjoy if she didn’t have dementia. Realize our time on earth is short and one never knows when it’s our last day. So enjoy this time together to recharge yourselves and create memories. Your mom will be cared for and you will return ready to go back to the daily routine. I agree with the others about waiting to tell her and chances are she may not even remember. Enjoy!
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Reply to Harpcat
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Yes, tell her; write the departure and return dates on her calendar; and most of all make sure the ALF staff know - they're the ones who are going to have to explain where you've got to! Or they and your daughter, at least.

You'll send post cards or something will you? They'll be helpful to the staff when it comes to explaining, as well as nice for your mother to get. I used to send chatty emails to mother, via the facility's office, when she was in respite care; but as your mother is a permanent resident here and not holding her breath until it's time to go home again I shouldn't think that would be necessary for you.

And then go, and have a wonderful time, and come back firing on all cylinders. Bon voyage!
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I am answering this as I am about to board a plane for Aruba after spending a week with family and friends. As luck would have it, my 94 yr old dad called me this morning and said my 82 yr old mom with dementia is in hospital with another UTI. We have no other family close by. So...before I left, we made arrangements with a home care agency to help them if needed while I was gone. Although they live in AL, the facility does not have the ability to provide personal care as some do. So, I reminded dad about that option if he needs extra help with mom or wants someone to stay with him at hospital. I made a hospital packet for them with all doctor contact info, medical directives, poa info, and med lists.
Yes, I would rather be there, but I also need to be with my husband. Will I enjoy the trip? Who knows.
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Reply to Judysai422
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97yroldmom Jul 3, 2019
Judy
Thats a very practical package you left. I hope you have someone to call for YOUR piece of mind so that you can enjoy the trip.
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In our family, we practice "just in time" information to reduce the fretting and obsessing. When my mother was dealing with her mother, our grandmother, who lived to the age of 94, she ultimately had to withhold info altogether about the bus tour trips she and my dad would take. Before that, once my grandmother learned of an upcoming trip, she would devise all kinds of ways to disrupt and lay on guilt. My sister still has a recording, I think, of a call from Grandma when she acted out a problem, saying something's wrong and actually tapping on the phone to add drama. Drama was her middle name! We were onto her tricks, though, and often found humor in her antics.

Don't tell until you're practically on the way. If you lay out an itinerary with dates, she could follow along. A phone call or two to her during the time away would probably help.
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Reply to ParentingTheOld
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97yroldmom Jul 3, 2019
Parenting
we did that too. It really does depend on the elder. My mom didn’t have dementia but she was very anxious about any trip she had to take so we told her the absolute last minute. But she loved to hear about others travel so I think it depends on the senior.
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Yes, before you leave I would tell her. So good that your daughter is willing to help out. Of course my suggestions would depend on your mom’s abilities at this point. You could leave her with a note she could refer to saying where you are and when you will return.
You could share your trip with your mom with brochures or maps or points of interest you plan to visit. Maybe an album or a bulletin board for her to refer to.
You might ask your daughter to come with you when you tell her you are going and have her record the conversation on her cell phone. Then when mom forgets daughter can replay the video for her.
Of course she could edit out any upset mom might have so that portion is not reinforced by reviewing it. If she doesn’t ask for you, daughter could respond appropriately and not bring it up that you are away.

Additionally you could record things you see or do and send it to daughter to share on her visits.
You could also send post cards along the way.
Facetiming might be too stressful for her and defeat your benefit of getting away. Also send a card to the nurses and ask for a good time to call in and check on mom to reassure you that all is well.

Have a wonderful time.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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I don't have experience with Alzheimer's, but can offer you my suggestion based on my 89 year old MIL who suffers from anxiety and depression. I would tell your MIL that you are going on vacation, but wait to do so until just prior to your departure. I know my MIL would fret and obsess over the info the longer in advance that she had it. Reassure her that her AL community will take good care of her and that your daughter will be available during your absence. As caregivers, you know firsthand how important it is for you and your husband to get away for your "us time"...it is hard not to feel guilty, but you deserve and to be frank, need this away time for your physical and mental health. Best wishes and hoping you and your husband have a wonderful vacation.
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Reply to Kukinana
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What are your expectations for telling her as opposed to not telling her?
Is she able to use a calendar to keep track of days of the week, the activities in her residence, TV Schedules?

When you visit, does she speak things that occurred during your last visit, or have occurred SINCE your last visit?

My LO has almost NO functional short term memory. The passage of hours/days/weeks, mean nothing to her, as far as we can determine. She comfortably spends time in the present, but her present and distant past are all that she has available to her.

I am fairly confident that if we were to go away, she would be unaware of the difference when we returned.

If your mother is in a similar situation, I’d wait until your last visit before your departure before telling her.

If she has recollection of the passage of current time, I’d buy a large calendar and indicate departure, destinations, and events, and post it in a conspicuous place in her room. Perhaps also mention to her caregivers to introduce conversations about your travels during the time you’re away.

ENJOY YOUR TRIP!!!!!
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Reply to AnnReid
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