A Christmas question

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Liz57, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. Liz57

    Liz57 Registered User

    Dec 22, 2013
    Sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere but I wondered what others do for Christmas once their loved one is in a care home?
    Mum went into a care home a couple of months ago and after a few unsettled weeks, seems to have settled in well. She doesn't know where she is or why but joins in with the various activities, eats well and seems fairly happy most of the time although she still has her "moments", particularly in the afternoons. The care home staff are lovely and happily adjust their routines to keep mum occupied during the afternoon when she becomes anxious.
    My question is about Christmas. This will be the first year she's been in the home and in the past has spent Christmas at my house. Last year she became anxious and went home after lunch, trying to take my dog with her which she said was hers (much to the annoyance of my daughter, whose dog it actually is!). Should I consider bringing her to my house again this year or leave her at the home? I am concerned that taking her back to my house (which is very near the home she left) might stir up all sorts of issues but I don't want her to feel abandoned on Christmas Day. What do others do?
  2. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    This crops up every year, not surprisingly. I don't know about yours, but for a couple of years even before she went into the CH my mother had not been aware that it was Christmas, not even on the day, with crackers on the table and people giving her presents. So we knew she would not be feeling abandoned, and would just visit her on Christmas morning. However the CH was only a 5 minute drive away, so this was easy for us.

    When we were new to it all with my FIL, several years previously, we had taken him out of his CH for a couple of nights, reasoning that he'd always enjoyed it before, so we should do the same again. However this was against the Ch's advice, and they were absolutely right. He was worried and confused for much of the time - he started to think our house was his own, and he ought to be doing this job or that. For the first time he also started asking where his wife (dead 10 years) was.

    The following year we left him where he was, in his safe, familiar routine and surroundings. Having said that, I think we'd have felt bad if we hadn't tried bringing him home - maybe we had to learn the hard way - but the experience with him meant that I never tried doing the same with my mother, especially when she honestly never had a clue that it was Christmas, despite all the lovely decorations in her CH - they always made such an effort, and I think most CHs are the same.
  3. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    Hi, we are in a similar position - dad moved into a care home about 5 months ago, and for us it's been a very difficult transition. Thankfully he does seem to be settling at last :).

    It's a small care home, about 12 residents. The manager spoke to me recently suggesting that we leave dad there this Christmas - they have a Christmas lunch plus gifts on Christmas Day, and there's an open afternoon on Boxing Day, when relatives can visit and the home throws a little party. She said that about two thirds of the residents stay with them and the ones who are taken home for Christmas generally become much more unsettled afterwards. I had the impression that the home itself prefers the residents to stay with them over the Christmas period.

    Like you, dad has always come to us for Christmas in years gone past so this will be a complete change of routine. But given that dad had a hard time with moving to the care home, we're planning to heed the advice of the care home manager and leave him there this year.

    Do you know what generally happens on Christmas Day in your mum's care home? If you can find out how many stay and how many don't, what activities are planned etc. it might help your decision. Maybe you could visit in the afternoon, exchange presents and so on? Good Luck, whatever you decide!
  4. Patricia Alice

    Patricia Alice Registered User

    Mar 2, 2015
    I am glad someone has asked this question because it is one that has been going through my mind for weeks.]

    My mum was sectioned last Christmas and spent it on a psychiatric ward, so our family Xmas was "different" as we could not relax with the family as we had to visit mum, or at least felt we had to. She is now in nursing dementia and I believe they do a wonderful Christmas day.

    My problem is because we did not get a proper Christmas last year do we take her out for the day/night? Would we be doing it just for our guilt because we are at home and she is in the care home. It's a hard one, and a decision I am also struggling with.
  5. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    It's not like the care home staff will go home on Christmas day leaving people to their own devices! I am sure they will make it lovely and festive, so why don't you go and join their celebrations! I don't see the point of taking them out of their usual surroundings. I wouldn't spend Christmas somewhere else with OH anymore now, so there is not much difference. Let others visit!
  6. ellejay

    ellejay Registered User

    Jan 28, 2011
    #6 ellejay, Oct 13, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
    We visit my mum in her CH just before & just after Christmas. Mums CH is close to us so we take her presents on Chistmas Eve.
    The day itself we have our son & grandchildren round without guilt.
    When we call in on Boxing day, mum has already forgotten it was Christmas Day the day before.
    I think its a mistake to bring people into a busy environment that may confuse & unsettle them.
    No_one benefits .

    Lin x
  7. Dustycat

    Dustycat Registered User

    Jul 14, 2014
    North East
    We brought my Dad out last year and whilst it was OK he seemed agitated a lot of the time and I seemed to spend the day stressing. This year my husband and I are going to visit in the morning and again after lunch. We have decided to book our Xmas lunch in a hotel to give us more time. It also means we can spend more quality time with Dad's. Xx
  8. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    #8 Lindy50, Oct 13, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
    I am another one who is glad this question has been raised.

    Mum moved into her care home at the end of August. She is gradually settling but like others, she has her moments!! Last year she came to us, but was very unsettled and glad to get home. Then, when she got home, she was afraid that someone had broken into her flat and put 'strange things' there.....they were in fact her Christmas presents from us, but she couldn't recognise them or take that in. Mum also didn't send any cards, and was totally unimpressed with those she received. And she didn't want much to eat.....

    Thank you for helping me to think it through. It does seem very unlikely that mum would benefit from coming out at Christmas.

    I'll ask the care home what they do, and try to fit in with that.

    Good luck everyone, it isn't easy, is it?

    Lindy xx
  9. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    #9 Witzend, Oct 13, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
    In the couple of years before she went into the CH, we would go to my mother for Christmas and stay the night, in order to cause her as little disruption as possible. However, even that was too much for her - just maybe 3 extra people (no kids) extra noise and 'fuss' - she would get grumpy now and then, and fretful when she wanted to go to bed at 8 and the rest of us didn't. She had a positive 'thing' about that - I don't know why. On my frequent 'sleepovers' I would have to pretend to go to bed with her very early, and sneak down again later.

    If I'm honest, Christmas was perhaps hardest in the much earlier days of dementia. One year when my sister and niece were over from the U.S., my mother told me at the last minute that she was very sorry, but she'd really rather stay quietly at home. Fair enough - so I went down anyway on Christmas Eve, taking her presents and some nice food, instead of picking her up.

    Just a few hours later, when everyone else was out, she was on the phone saying the most horrible, furiously angry things - why was she there all alone at Christmas? What sort of a daughter was I? She was cutting me out of her will, etc. etc. She simply had no recollection of being invited and not wanting to come.
    It was awful - I was in tears for ages. Of course I offered to go again instantly - 60 miles - if she'd changed her mind - no, she didn't want that either.
    By the following day she had of course forgotten all about it.
  10. daisydi

    daisydi Registered User

    Feb 25, 2015
    I have been having exactly the same thoughts as you. This will be my mums first christmas in the care home. I have decided to leave her there but visit in the morning. Last year she really didn't realise what was happening and there would be absolutely no benefit to her in bringing her out. She has only been to my house a couple of times since she has been in care but she doesn't settle and I feel that she is better off left where she is. She only really likes sitting in the car being driven around. She will be fine. Not sure about me though!
  11. BeckyJan

    BeckyJan Registered User

    Nov 28, 2005
    When my husband moved to a NH, on Christmas morning I and our two daughters visited to enjoy a simple carol service conducted by local band. They went to my home to prepare a Christmas meal for themselves and their families. I had lunch with David, but a very small portion. By then he was exhausted so I saw him peacefully asleeo for the day and went home (usually in tears en route!). Then I joined in the family meal whether it be a portion of the main meal or into pudding! At least I spent time with D and then with them.

    I felt it worked well under the circumstances but in no way easy. Thankfully I had daughters who lived away but came to both give us a Christmas and to see their Dad.

    All this for one day in the year albeit for something special. The main thing is to make it as stress free as possible when dementia affects us.
  12. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    The Sweet North
    I think most of these replies illustrate two things really well.

    'Person-centred care' -- not trying to impose something on our loved ones that they wouldn't like.

    'The Christmas' --- the memory of Christmas Past can't change Christmas Present and take away dementia for a day.

    It's hard sometimes, a bit like when a loved one goes into care -- it's the right thing to do, but it feels wrong, for a while, until we see the benefits for them and others.
    It's that same feeling at Christmas, we know it's right not to try to impose the Christmas on them, but it feels wrong, especially if it's their first in care.

    But we have to set aside our longing for Christmas Past, and treat them as kindly as we can, and if that means leaving them in familiar surroundings, with familiar routine, then that is kindness.
  13. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    Thanks Sleepless for summing up so beautifully
    and making a personal decision so much easier to accept
  14. Rheme

    Rheme Registered User

    Nov 23, 2013
    Hi Sleepless,

    Thank you for your post and I couldn't have put it better. :)
  15. Liz57

    Liz57 Registered User

    Dec 22, 2013
    Thank you to everyone who has responded. You have certainly helped make my mind up for me and I will speak to the care home about what they do. A visit with pressies in the morning seems to be on the cards and I'll probably visit again on Boxing Day to check on her. fortunately the care home is just a 20 minute drive away and is absolutely lovely.

    I feel much better about this now and everyone is right, last year she was unsettled so it seems almost cruel to put her through that again.
  16. janetw2010

    janetw2010 Registered User

    May 19, 2015
    The first year my mum was in a home it was decided by my brother that mum should stay in the home and that she shouldn't come to me like she always has done. She had a lovely day with the staff making them all have a special time. My brother and his wife visited in the morning and I had to go after lunch to see her.
    The following year I was told they wouldn't be through at all on Christmas day but this time mum had detiorated and was mostly in a wheelchair and we couldn't have brought her to ours so I went through in morning to help her open presents and then went home to make our dinner and returned later.
    Last christmas they said the same and I did the same.
    Find what you feel is the best arrangement for you and your dad and do what you feel is best as you wil then make it work. At the end of the day it is your christmas too
    I am dreading christmas this year as mum is now on a nursing home and sleeps most of the time. The big family christmasses are a distant memory but we still need to make it special for her but enjoy it ourselves too
  17. Dimelza

    Dimelza Registered User

    May 28, 2013
    Last year we brought dad to our house and he only lasted an hour. After initial upset I realised we'd only brought him for our sakes as he'd no idea what the day was.
    This year I'll treat it as a normal day for him.

    My dad has mixed dementia and lives with us in an annexe.
  18. MrsTerryN

    MrsTerryN Registered User

    Dec 17, 2012
    This will be mums second Xmas in care. Last Xmas my family and I visited (3 of us) mum had no idea. We did the same for easter except mum seemed a bit more with it so I had left eggs for the staff mum was going to give out . Mum had so many delusions over the eggs. Won't do that again.
    I think I want my mum to be there to grumble about how much food there is , to complain there is too much sweet things for dad, to discuss the boxing day test.
    I can't have that anymore . I actually am not in the country for Xmas this year
    The nursing home put on a lovely day. It just isn't how we did Xmas
  19. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    Last year OH didn't know about anything - wedding anniversary ( October), my birthday ( November) , his birthday (December) or Christmas. In fact , Christmas was particularly difficult and I swore I'd never do that again, thinking I would put him into respite. Be careful what you wish for, after a massive downturn, he died in July!
  20. reddollyfood

    reddollyfood Registered User

    Apr 28, 2015
    I've only just seen your question and I'm sure you've probably decided what you are going to do on Christmas Day. I asked the same question myself with some trepidation a few weeks ago as this is my first Christmas in 45 years when my husband and I will not be together. He is in a nursing home and as he is totally immobile and his dementia gathers pace now there is no question of whether to bring him to the family Christmas Day celebrations. I decided to join him for Christmas morning and the NH have welcomed me to join him for Christmas Dinner which I think is great (for me - I'm not sure my husband will notice nor remember I will have been with him). I have no family close by and will go and join them later in the afternoon on Christmas Day and spend a few days visiting my relatives. I didn't decorate my home this year - I just didn't see the point in it but I decorated my husband's room in the nursing home. I was dreading this Christmas but as it draws ever nearer I know it will just happen - I'll wake up alone on Christmas morning and will probably spill a few tears and then just get on with it. I hope your Christmas works out well.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.