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My mother is in an ALF and I am the only one near to her that can visit. She has early dementia, bi-polar, depression/mania and has a narcissitic personality disorder. She has relied on me since my dad died in 2009. My husband wants to visit his mother in Florida who is 91 and other family members too. We plan to leave on the 26th of Dec., how do I tell her my plans? What words do I use? She will not like it but I feel she will survive. I can call her every other day if that will help. Any suggestions?

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It is a very good point to remember that mother is not the only mother in this equation, her husband has family too and they count as much as she does, you'd think she'd get wouldn't you, perhaps not if it is all about her in her dementia stage, but sometimes a huge poster will continually having her look for her daughter, for cripes sakes she has a roomie and is in assisted living, she is in not in a shark's tank.
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I hope I'm not being too literal about this, but one thing I would do is write down the date I was going, what I was doing, and the date I'd be back on a big, jolly Christmas card-type poster and pin it to her wall. My mother's in early dementia too, and doesn't remember things unless she's prompted. It'd also be a talking point for the staff at her ALF, give them something to chat to her about. Call the ALF staff if you find you're really worrying; as for calling your mother, do if it suits you and don't if it doesn't. But maybe send her a post card as soon as you get to Florida, let her see that you're thinking of her (whether she believes it or not..!).

All of this does rely on StandingAlone's very good advice. You're going, if she doesn't like it too bad. Yes she will most certainly survive. Do NOT let her attitude spoil your party, or even worse make it difficult for you to support your husband and enjoy visiting his family. Bon voyage, have a great time x
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My first thought was as Madeaa said FIB!!! There's an emergency and we have to go to FLA.. She is in safe hands with professional caregivers... Enjoy your visit with family!

I recently went away and it was like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders... I didn't tell my Mom I was leaving until the night before I left...
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A narcissist you say? Well, that certainly makes things much easier! You say, 'I'm going on vaca with the hubs! I'm really looking forward to having a great time! :D' **guilt trips, manipulation, bitching, starts** You: 'Oh! Look at the time! Gotta go!' Then you turn around and don't look back. Easy. You call the sibs to tell them what's up. **bitching, guilt, etc, etc, etc, starts** You: *CLICK* End of conversation. You then enjoy your much needed respite from ALL of the narcissists! Yay!

And lose the guilt. Just another narcissistic ploy. Don't buy what they're all selling. You'll feel SO much better!
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To Sunflo2, it would be nice if she participated the activities but she is not interested in doing anything, she'll go to her meals and maybe get a haircut in their salon but that's it. She is waiting for me to visit and entertain her, it's hard to talk to her about anything, she doesn't comprehend what I'm trying to say. Another issue is that my two sisters (live in different states) don't recognize my moms issues because she sounds different on the phone than in person. If they knew I was going away for 3 weeks they would get all over me, how dare I leave. They have convinced her in the past that I am the enemy. They cause me more stress than my mother! It's been so hard at times that my doctor has put me on anti-depressants. I know my mother expected to live with me after my dad died in 2009 but I would truly loose my mind, it's hard to make her understand that, I've tried in a nice way of course. The guilt feels like a knife twisting in my chest. Maybe I take all of this to seriously but that's my personality, good or bad who knows. I know I'm going off the subject, just venting.
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I believe I would ask myself these questions: what would happen if you had to leave on an emergency to a place where there was no easy communication? OR, what would happen if, goodness forbid, YOU had to go in the hospital for your own emergency and were incommunicado?

You have the luxury of knowing in advance that you need to be gone. Not only can you set up some kind of service (such as a visiting caregiver) if you feel it's necessary, but you can also make a decision about how to inform your Mom in a way that is the healthiest FOR HER. You are pre planning how to tell her out of your own guilt about leaving. Don't do that! The sooner you tell her, the longer she will have to ruminate about it and possibly even make herself sick over it.

Once you have everything technically and administratively arranged, it may be best to tell her either at the last minute OR actually just leave as if it were an emergency and then either tell her by phone that you are gone or have someone there tell her for you if you feel that would be more humane.

I would try NOT calling HER to check on her (call the staff instead to find out how they think she's doing). Let the staff try to encourage her to participate in activities as a distraction. If she doesn't have you to lean on daily, she may be more willing to do that. THAT's what my mom did. As long as she thought I was coming, she kept waiting for me and would not go to activities. But on the days I had to work, I'd ask the staff to remind her that I wasn't coming, and those days she would go play bingo, etc. Give your mom a chance, she may surprise you. Maybe not, but you don't know yet.

When I say to have things administratively coordinated, how far away will you be and for how long? You should consider whether you want to set in place a temporary health POA if they can't reach you in the case of an emergency.

If you would allow me to introduce some metaphysical woo woo here, IMO, the universe operates on vibration. Psychic studies have been done (some at universities) about owners leaving their anxiety ridden dogs when going on vacation. The very interesting thing that came out of the research was that the dogs who had the LEAST anxiety when their owners were gone were the ones whose owners had been able to let go of their OWN anxiety over leaving their dog and just have a good time. The conclusion was that having a happy dog back home may be more a matter of training the owners to put negative thoughts about the dog being left behind out of their minds. Working with dementia patients is more emotional, more visceral, more vibratory; more like it is in the animal brain. Wouldn't it be interesting if this concept could hold true in people with impaired brains, who aren't able to think with as much of their intellect anymore?

You know your mom better than anyone, but this time away is respite for you, and since this is maybe a long term situation, you need to learn to relax and not make decisions out of guilt. Your husband and family need you too, so you must find a balanced way not to spread yourself too thin. This is probably going to be emotionally harder on you than it is on your mom.
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I agree with Madeaa. She's in a controlled environment with people to look in on her. I'd call her once a week and look at it as a time for you to recharge your batteries in regards to your mom and her care. Everyone deserves some time away, even you.

With her personality, it probably won't make any difference to her if you twisted yourself into a pretzel to take care of her while she's gone. She's still going to be unhappy that you have a life beyond her. And that's OK. She'll survive and you'll feel refreshed when you return (if you can, since you're going to be dealing with your husband's mom). Good luck and keep us posted.
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Well, I have been introduced to the wonderful world of fibs, brings me back to my younger years, funny all the work not to fib to have to fib again. I would tell her after you visit for Christmas if you are going that you have to go visit your husband's mother cause she is sick and needs him, period. She has a roommate, she is in assisted living, she will be fine, just go and work on that guilt, I hear you, it is something I have to do also, and a lot of us here have to work on, guilt, if you do, and guilt if you don't. Just go, don't bother with the every day calls also, time to move away a bit and define some sort of boundary, that's my take at least, you know best.
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Just tell her the truth and reassure you will call each morning or afternoon at X time. Take some pre-stamped and addressed cards and send those as well while you are away to give her mail to look forward to.

In the next couple wks talk to the ALF director and staff and tell them your plans and enlist their help to reinforce your trip with mom and how much fun and outings and activities are planned during that time and "won't it be nice mrs smith to be able to join us on our shopping outing at X or now you'll be able to join Joan and Susan at the dance New Years dance we're having.." .

Mom will be fine and the time will pass quickly. Don't worry, you spend a lot of time with her and now it's time to support husband in his visit to family.

Don't think its necessary to call everyday unless you want to. Just be prepared that the calls might tug your heart strings if she sounds unhappy. Don't let it spoil your time away. Please enjoy your break and safe travels!
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My mother has never been happy in her life and you're right you can't make someone happy who won't be. Try to find someone to look in on her and tell her you're going just as you're leaving. Your husband deserves this trip and you need to get away from her. While you're away you can look at your situation from the outside and vow, for you and your husband's sake, to make boundaries and stick to them. My mother, in a NH, would call and scream down the phone at me on an almost daily basis until I told her if she did it again I'd change my number and that straightened her out some. Since a stroke a couple of months ago and now with increasing dementia she can't dial the phone any more.
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Don't have any other family member to visit. She does have a roommate, which helps, someone to talk to. When I visit I check to see if her clothes are washed and put away for some reason she doesn't think about doing that for herself. She makes me feel very guilty if I don't visit. She is on depression meds and is doesn't like to do any activities that they offer, she expects me to enterain her, she's not happy even though I've been trying to make her happy since my dad died in 2009.
I can't make her be happy if she is not a happy person to begin with. I don't think she is as bad off as she wants me to believe. She's the type of person that doesn't have any problem lying to your face, she has done that to me alot.
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That is really a tough one. My sis lives 5 minutes from Mom's ALF, and although she doesn't visit every day (usually 2-3x/wk), just knowing she's there in case something "happens" is a comfort to Mom, who has mild dementia, social anxiety, and paranoia. Sis left with hubby for a week to visit HIS parents, and Mom developed a weird tremulous voice and her depression worsened. That being said, she did survive and recover.
Is there anyone who can come visit for a few days? Another sib? Is she on meds? Can you hire someone from one of those home care agencies (i.e., Home Instead, not a CNA or RN) to come visit her a couple of hours a day? You'd need to start that NOW and check out 2-3 people to find one who is compatible, maybe have them come while you're there so you can check their personality also. Or is there a church that has a ministry to shut-ins nearby? Sis's church has something called the Stephen Ministry and a woman has been coming to visit Mom on Saturdays for a couple of months now. Maybe a caregiver can set up a Skype or FaceTime call with you. Also, alert the ALF staff and her doc. Best of luck to you; enjoy Florida and know that you need this time away more than she needs you there.
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