The first holiday we involved MIL in was Halloween. We have three children and took her trick-or-treating with us. She walked in the middle of the street, even after we explained that it was a very bad example for the four yr old. She would not wait on us while the children went to houses and kept wandering off. Halfway through she started crying loudly and would not talk to us or tell us what was wrong. It was a disaster. We assumed that because she had moved in so recently that things would smooth out over time. However, we had similar theatrics over Thanksgiving. She did not want to be involved with the family, she cried loudly and when we tried to comfort her and fix what was wrong, she just yelled at us. Tonight, we took the children and her to a holiday event at the museum. It was pretty much the same. She ran off into the large crowd, would not stay with us as a group, would not participate in any of the activities, and at one point, ran out in the cold and refused to come back inside. We are gearing up to celebrate several weeks in a row of birthdays, and holiday events. I’m concerned that this behavior is really getting to the children, as my eldest one cried all the way home tonight. Should I continue to involve her in our holiday events, or just start leaving her behind? I don’t want to make her feel isolated, or exclude her from the family. But on the other hand, I want my kids to have a happy holiday and happy birthdays. I’m torn between both “rights”.

I have been a "sandwich" care giver too, with responsibilities toward seniors and young children. My policy is when in doubt, the children come first.
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Reply to TNtechie
PowerOf3 Dec 10, 2019
Yes I agree, it’s not fair to children to have their holidays blanketed with poor or embarrassing memories. Mine is 91 and a complaining old grinch although he insists any stipulations are “nooo problemo” till the day comes.
Well he’s had 90+ Christmas days and my son hasn’t so I refuse to let him ruin my child’s holidays and he ruins mine too. My son won’t always be excited about Christmas morning as he’s a teenager so with that being said it’s not an option to cater to an elder instead of my child. I do not want to regret my holidays with my son in 5/10/20 years because I felt bad for an elder who doesn’t care one way or another.
it was also brought to my attention when I posted “oh no the holidays are coming” that he could be getting overstimulated and uncomfortable when we’re opening presents and dancing around enjoying ourselves. I guess to me it’s a matter of memories and my LO has had a lifetime of holidays but my son has not, my child is far more important in his young life and I refuse to allow these days to be ruined. Those won’t be his or my memories, no way!!!
Children should have happy memories. How about doing something separate with MIL. The children can have the full holiday activities. And MIL has a small thing for her. This suits both of them.
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Reply to Lvnsm1826
NeedHelpWithMom Dec 6, 2019
Very sensible.
Folks with dementia -- Alzheimers or most of the others -- thrive on routine and are often disoriented by being out in the neighborhood, with new people, or experiencing new things. That is to say, most of the activities that many children enjoy ... just don't work for people with dementia. What really works for them is to see the same few familiar places -- that is, their bedroom, the table where they eat, the chair where they sit to watch TV or stare out the window. Very few places, always the same ones.

When I worked in the inpatient facility, our residents were still able to carry on conversations (though they didn't always make sense), were still able to engage in some part of various familiar tasks. But any change at all in their routine always set off some sort of upset.

I would 'include' your MIL in brief family gatherings -- say, half an hour in a familiar living room to celebrate a holiday with some ONE activity. And then leave MIL with a caregiver and take the rest of the family for the 'outing' part of the holiday celebration.

I'm so sorry it's being this hard.
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Reply to maggiebea
Snevetsg57 Dec 8, 2019
I agree with this response 100%
My mother is gone now. This is the first Holiday season without her and even though the memories are not good ones of her last days, I can also recall the joy we shared throughout the years. We always included her in a limited way in our family activities providing her a place where she could see what was going on but felt like she could withdraw if it got too much for her. I agree with the others. Give the children their due...but also remember to set a good example of how to be inclusive and caring of others. Often, children can be selfish and reminding them that 'Grandma' is sick and explaining what dementia is to them and how it works is not a bad thing. We did it with our grandchildren and it really helped. I told them that Great Grandma's brain was sick and it made her cranky and tired. It made her do and say thngs that she didn't mean. Then we discussed how that same thing happens to the children when they are tired or hurt. It brought things into perspective and they were less frightened by their Great Grandma's behavior. When we did need to do some family activity that was too stressful on Mom we would have a caregiver stay with her and then show her pictures later.
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Reply to JessicaB
SicilianLady1 Dec 8, 2019
Your answer is the best of all of the posts I've read. Giving the children their due but remembering to set a good example of being inclusive and caring is good.
If your MIL has ALZ/dementia like stated in your profile, new surroundings, places, people can easily confuse and disturb them. She is very young at 51, so sad. Has she had an actual medical diagnosis by a specialist? She will be less and less able to be in control of her behaviors, no fault of hers, just her broken brain. It is very loving and sweet to try to continue to include her but you keep getting the same result, so, no I would not bring her along. But, if she stays home who is caring for her? Will she be alone? I hope not. Plan on small, calm celebrations with her at home before having your own kid-centered events and this may be just right. Blessings!
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Reply to Geaton777

I think you already know what will happen judging by what has already happened.

Snap a few pictures to share with her when you return from outings. That’s a compromise.

Obviously you want to enjoy your time with your family and that’s impossible if you are going to be concerned about a safety issue.

Hire a sitter to stay with her for when you have family activities.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

Your 51 year old MIL, with whom your husband has had nothing to do for ten years, needs substantial care and support. Neither you nor your husband has any idea of what her difficulties are or what help she will need, and you have been prevented from finding out the essential information.

I understand the instinct to rescue her when she needed help and was in crisis, but this is not a care plan. You cannot have a woman with these behavioural and mental health issues living in an unfamiliar home with people, including young children, whom she just does not know.

You want to include MIL in the family; and I agree that in general it is a good thing, an enriching thing, for generations to mingle. But the truth is you don't know her and you don't know anything about her needs - how can you possibly look after her?

Your husband needs to get a grip on this. He should go back to the family members who were supposed to be taking responsibility, back to any agencies or professionals who were involved, gather what information he can, then get in touch with your area's health and social care organisations and get them involved.

God willing, and given a fair chance, your MIL will over time develop strong new relationships with her son and his family, but it can't happen overnight; and meanwhile she needs a LOT of input that you can't possibly be expected to provide.
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Reply to Countrymouse

Your children come first... always!!
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Reply to KlynKS

Including my mom at birthday gatherings for my children is something I truly regret doing. She would always have to make the day about herself. Not loudly, but quietly sitting not saying a word with a sullen and pitiful look on her face. She was not ill just a stinker dampening the joy of the day. My children love their Grandma, but still remember how she acted up even now that they in their mid 30’s. A sad memory I wish they didn’t have. A memory I wish I didn’t have either as I feel resentment of the stolen joy.
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Reply to Shayze

I have read ur first post.

Have you gotten your MIL evaluated? I think this needs to be done ASAP. A neurologist would be my first choice. 51 is really young to be showing signs of a Dementia. There could be so many things causing this. She may have had a mental disorder all along and its manifested its self.

Your MIL is living in a strange place, with strange people. She really doesn't know her son, nor him her. I hope he isn't leaving u to care for 3 children and his Mom. People who suffer from Dementia can be very unpredictable. She may hit one of your kids. And like said, her outbursts scare ur kids.

All your husband owes his Mother is a safe, clean place. She needs professionals. She needs to be in a nursing home. You are both out of your element here. Her crying is anxiety. Trying to include her in everything is just confusing her. People with Dementia do better in a structured environment which with 3 kids u don't have.

I commend you for trying. If u can't get her to a neurologist right away a PCP will be able to start the testing.
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Reply to JoAnn29

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