It’s gotten to the place to where I dread going to see my parents. We have always been so close but this is so hard. My mom is in AL memory care and my dad is in a SNF. It is so physically difficult, as well as emotionally difficult, taking him to see her because he is in a wheelchair and it wears him out as well as myself. What do you do when she can’t understand why he can’t be with her? If I take her to see him, it upsets her to see him in a SNF. If I go see her without him, he is all she wants to talk about, getting them a little house or him coming to stay with her. I know this is going to have to be a permanent living arrangement due to her not allowing anyone to help him but I can’t tell her that. It is so depressing having to see her in the confused state she’s in and him in the physical condition he’s in. How do I cope with this knowing there’s nothing else I can do and knowing I have to be there for them? It is so depressing and heartbreaking.

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It is definitely depressing and heartbreaking. I have no solution.

Your mother's situation reminds me of the concept of ambiguous loss. Therapist Pauline Boss says that when your loved one has dementia you don't simply lose them when they die, but bit by bit along the way. They are physically still there, but may not really be present to you. Many caregivers are experiencing mourning as they go through the journey with someone who has dementia.

In this case it is the person who has dementia that is experiencing the ambiguity. Her soul mate and life partner is obviously still alive, but except for occasional visits she has lost him. And it is even worse since she cannot understand the situation. Poor Mom.

If you visit alone she only wants to talk about him. Can you divert her into discussing the happy memories she has of him rather than focusing only on their separation?
"I wish we could get a little house and live together. I could take care of him."
"Can you tell me about the very first home you had together? Was it an apartment? ..."
"We had a teeny tiny apartment, but we made do and were happy. We lived there when you were born!"
"Did you have a crib for me?"
"Not at first. We padded a dresser drawer for you to sleep in!"


Sympathize with her loss. "Yes, it is terrible that you and Dad must be apart now. I feel just awful about it. I wish there was some way we could change it. I know you still love each other very much."

Hurt, almost half of all couples who stay married will lose their spouse. Couples seldom die together; one generally goes first and the other is left to mourn and try to put their lives together on a new basis. This is hard enough if the survivor is healthy and cognitively stable. When that is not the case it must be almost unbearable.

I don't know if it would help any to think of your mother as being in mourning. But in a way she really is.

Is your mother religious? Would she find comfort in visits by a clergy person? Perhaps being reminded that they will be together again in heaven, if that is part of her belief system, would be soothing. Don't introduce any new religious concepts -- but build on any she would already understand and accept.

If your father realizes that they are separated because he needs a higher level of care, I wonder if he feels guilty? Can you assure him that he has been a wonderful husband and father and that you and your mother are so fortunate to have him in your life? Parkinson's is not his fault, and dementia is not your mother's fault. Nobody here is "guilty" of anything bad.

I certainly don't see a solution here. Maybe a slight change in perspective could make it more bearable for you.

Come back often and talk to us. Even if we can't help we can assure you that you are not alone.
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I know it is so difficult. But it is a great gift that you are able to take him to see her. Imagine how they feel being split up. I know how it hurts and how difficult and emotionally exhausting it is. But is it a great show of love for you to go through that.
And you get to go home, they don't.
It is not clear why it has to be permanent.
Like Mama said, I will also pray for you and God gives strength, and HE loves you more than anyone can. And HE will get you through it, if you believe, and ask.
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Hurtbabygirl, wow my heart goes out to you and your parents. I am new to this site and have questions as well. Your situation is so much harder than anything we are dealing with so far. I don't have any answers for you. But I can pray for you and your parents and I promise I will. Give God what you can't handle and try to rest knowing ultimately that God loves you and your parents and he will handle what you can't. I'm glad this site is here. So if nothing at all we can encourage eachother to get through this and that we're not alone. And somewhere out there you might get an answer. God be with you. ➕
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.........I got nothing.....,but your situation and your screen name made me want to respond (and hug you!). Is there anyone else you could share these visits with? Maybe to cut back on the stress?
How long have they been in these facilities? Is there, perhaps, someone who could go with you on these visits to help deflect the questions? There was a post recently asked by someone in similar circumstances. Maybe someone else on here knows how to find it for you. I don’t have any experience with this problem, but I didn’t want your question to go too long unanswered. I’m going to ask some questions from some other sources. Hopefully, others with more experience can help you. Meanwhile, I pray for a good night’s sleep for you and your parents and for comfort in your distress.
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