• We're currently experiencing technical issues with our newsletter software, so our Dementia Talking Point monthly updates have been put on hold for now. We hope to restart the newsletter soon.

    Find out more >here<.

Christmas holiday

Abbsy

Registered User
Jul 28, 2016
9
Staffordshire
I have a dilemma about plans for Christmas Day. Mum went into a CH earlier this year, and seems to be settling well. She has mixed dementia, which is progressing quite quickly, and although she is still able to recognise family members, she is very disorientated and confused with regards to space and time.

In the summer, my mum was very poorly and given just a few days to live. This isn't the first time this has happened, but it seemed to be 'it' this time. We had the idea of booking a Christmas holiday in the hope that a change in routine may help ease the loss that we thought would be inevitable (having lost my Dad to dementia 8 years ago, I anticipate this to be a rough time of year).

Our family is small: I'm an only child with three grown children, no other relatives. One of my daughters is in the army and due to go to her new regiment in early January. This could well be her last Christmas with us for a while. Also, my husband works away but has two weeks off for Christmas, and my two other daughters have had significant transitions to navigate this year.

Mum has been seriously ill a couple of times since we booked the holiday, but rallied around each time. We therefore did not cancel the holiday, which would be a much needed break for myself and my family.

Mum is as settled as she can be in the CH, the staff are good and she appears well cared for. She doesn't know what day of the week it is, nor the month or year, and last week couldn't remember seeing the GP who had only just left her room when I arrived. She doesn't like us to stay long, and sends us away after 15minutes so that she can sleep.

The holiday is due to begin on Christmas Eve, until 3rd January. We could visit Mum on Christmas Eve before setting off. The dilemma is obvious: do we forego the holiday for the sake of a 15 minute visit to Mum on Christmas Day (which she may not remember minutes later)? I know that I'll feel guilty if we go away, and am also worried about whether in some unknown way Mum may register what is happening and miss us. I'm also concerned about what the CH staff may think....... Will I regret not spending what could be Mum's last Christmas with her, or will I regret more not having a good Christmas with my family....:confused:

Has anyone had any advice or similar experiences?
 

marionq

Registered User
Apr 24, 2013
6,131
Scotland
Christmas is special when you are able to enjoy it and know what it means. Your Mum will not get better just because you deny the family a break. Remember the good days and go on holiday leaving instructions about what should happen if the worst occurs.
 

Risa

Registered User
Apr 13, 2015
481
Essex
I agree with Marian, your Mum is going to be looked after whilst you are away so enjoy spending time with your children.
 

Beate

Registered User
May 21, 2014
12,021
London
It doesn't matter in the slightest what the care home staff think, plus most of them will surely be intelligent enough to see that you need a break. You don't need to justify yourself to anyone.

Most PWDs don't realise it's Christmas anymore anyway. The care home will no doubt decorate and put a nice Turkey dinner on, and your Mum will be happy about it without necessarily understanding the reason for the fuss.

We can't predict the future. She might miss you, she might not. She might deteriorate, she might not. Just go and enjoy yourself, you deserve it. And knock that guilt monster off your shoulder!
 

Abbsy

Registered User
Jul 28, 2016
9
Staffordshire
Thank you!

Many thanks Marionq, Risa and Beate,

It seems so obvious when I hear you say this, and this would be my advice if someone were to ask me the same thing. I guess I have become bogged down with so many conflicting emotions that I needed to hear the 'voice of reason' from someone else.

Thank you so much - TP is such a valuable resource.
 

love.dad.but..

Registered User
Jan 16, 2014
4,557
Kent
I agree with you all, go on your planned holiday and enjoy it. Dads illness has taught me, amongst other things, what will be will be. We have no control over how this illness chooses its path. Don't over think the what ifs, your mum will continue to be well looked after while you are away, the staff will not give it a second thought that you are having a well deserved Xmas break. Regrets....we all have a few (as the song goes), not about our tough decisions made in the best interests of the pwd but that they were unlucky to get this blasted illness. Have a lovely time.
 

Abbsy

Registered User
Jul 28, 2016
9
Staffordshire
Regrets....we all have a few (as the song goes), not about our tough decisions made in the best interests of the pwd but that they were unlucky to get this blasted illness. Have a lovely time.
Very true. I feel that I've had so many decisions to make, most of which make me question my wisdom, motives and even at times, my sanity. It's a long, rough road, especially when there are few family members around to share the burden.

Thanks to everyone today - I'm now daring to look forward to my holiday!
 

alyfen

Registered User
Sep 25, 2016
28
Very true. I feel that I've had so many decisions to make, most of which make me question my wisdom, motives and even at times, my sanity. It's a long, rough road, especially when there are few family members around to share the burden.

Thanks to everyone today - I'm now daring to look forward to my holiday!
I've had a similar conundrum. Only child. Mum is new to the CH my problem is my OH who feels we should spend Christmas Day visiting Mum. I want to be at home (299 miles away) for Xmas, just cos it'll be nicer ( selfish only chikd). CH staff say Mum will be fine & have lots of Xmas cheer & lots of hugs. Mum doesn't know me most of the time but OH has a huge guilt about leaving her & what folk will say, which makes me feel like 'bad' daughter. I will go before & after but am sticking to my guns of a potentially relaxing Xmas day. Good luck X
 

Pear trees

Registered User
Jan 25, 2015
441
You should go on holiday and not worry or feel guilty, and not give it up to be on hand in case there is a problem, or for a short visit which your mum probably will not remember. She is well cared for and safe, and most care homes do special things over Christmas. The home will call you if there is a change.
 

Georgina63

Registered User
Aug 11, 2014
956
Go!

Abbsy - you should go on holiday. It's so hard when you have pulls on both sides, but you should go with your family, knowing that your Mum will be well cared for and not able to fully appreciate that it is indeed Christmas. We were at home with my folks last year (both have AD) and it was confusing for them even then. They are now in a care home and my sister will be visiting them on Christmas Day (we don't get on), whilst I spend time with my family. I think it may well be confusing and overwhelming for Mum and Dad. I think also the staff perfectly understand that in many ways Christmas is just another day, so do not be swayed by what they might think - they don't have the appreciation of your circumstances in any event. I think we all have to look forward as best we can and enjoy time with our families, and try hard not to feel guilty though I know that this is more easily said than done! Go and enjoy. Gx
 

Margi29

Registered User
Oct 31, 2016
1,224
Yorkshire
Very true. I feel that I've had so many decisions to make, most of which make me question my wisdom, motives and even at times, my sanity. It's a long, rough road, especially when there are few family members around to share the burden.

Thanks to everyone today - I'm now daring to look forward to my holiday!
Go and enjoy a lovely break with your family, you will have your own lovely memories made while away.
What will be, will be and nobody should say you are not right to go.

Your mum will be well cared for, I understand completely after similar circumstances with my lovely dad x
 

MollyD

Registered User
Mar 27, 2016
1,696
Ireland
Hi Abbsy,

I understand how this feels like such a 'dilemma' because you are your mother's daughter.

You need permission to be given true permission. And blessings with it.

When you look at the situation as you have outlined it there is no 'need' on your mother's part for you to give up your much needed break (and family time with those who do need it).

The rub is you are your mother's daughter and that is embroiled with innate guilt, attachment and woven with love.

Going on holidays doesn't change your love for your mum. If you could imagine/visualize her giving you her permission with her blessing? Would that soften the guilt rock any?

Ideally we need to be able to give ourselves permission, that's part of the journey/rite of passage of letting go somewhat. Easy to write down but difficult to live.

Fwiw, you have my permission along with so many others' here. And blessings.

Hope you can enjoy your precious family time with those who need it.

Hugs xx
 

Frederic H

Registered User
Apr 1, 2015
75
Devon
I have a dilemma about plans for Christmas Day. Mum went into a CH earlier this year, and seems to be settling well. She has mixed dementia, which is progressing quite quickly, and although she is still able to recognise family members, she is very disorientated and confused with regards to space and time.

In the summer, my mum was very poorly and given just a few days to live. This isn't the first time this has happened, but it seemed to be 'it' this time. We had the idea of booking a Christmas holiday in the hope that a change in routine may help ease the loss that we thought would be inevitable (having lost my Dad to dementia 8 years ago, I anticipate this to be a rough time of year).

Our family is small: I'm an only child with three grown children, no other relatives. One of my daughters is in the army and due to go to her new regiment in early January. This could well be her last Christmas with us for a while. Also, my husband works away but has two weeks off for Christmas, and my two other daughters have had significant transitions to navigate this year.

Mum has been seriously ill a couple of times since we booked the holiday, but rallied around each time. We therefore did not cancel the holiday, which would be a much needed break for myself and my family.

Mum is as settled as she can be in the CH, the staff are good and she appears well cared for. She doesn't know what day of the week it is, nor the month or year, and last week couldn't remember seeing the GP who had only just left her room when I arrived. She doesn't like us to stay long, and sends us away after 15minutes so that she can sleep.

The holiday is due to begin on Christmas Eve, until 3rd January. We could visit Mum on Christmas Eve before setting off. The dilemma is obvious: do we forego the holiday for the sake of a 15 minute visit to Mum on Christmas Day (which she may not remember minutes later)? I know that I'll feel guilty if we go away, and am also worried about whether in some unknown way Mum may register what is happening and miss us. I'm also concerned about what the CH staff may think....... Will I regret not spending what could be Mum's last Christmas with her, or will I regret more not having a good Christmas with my family....:confused:

Has anyone had any advice or similar experiences?
Well there has to be someone with a different view I am afraid.
My wife went into a nursing home 3 weeks ago with dementia she knows who I am but otherwise totally confused and spends a lot of time sleeping
The family suggested I go to them over Christmas with grand children etc
but I wont go .I will spend Christmas day with my wife and all the other patients there
and then go to the family on boxing day.
After 52 years I owe her that even if she does not understand I will feel better for it
 

MollyD

Registered User
Mar 27, 2016
1,696
Ireland
Hi Frederic H.

I don't see that as a different view per se. You're making a different choice for yourself and your wife in different circumstances.

I don't have my own family, I mean, children or husband so I've asked my partner to come stay with me so we cwn be together on Christmas day for once, while still going to see mum and spend time with her. He can relax with a glass of wine while I do that.

I'm dreading Christmas to be honest, still, I want to make the best of it.

Abbsy sounds like she does too, as you do as well. The lead up to making arrangements has the potential to be a fraught time with or without dementia in the mix.

Hope it goes well for all of us. X
 

mancmum

Registered User
Feb 6, 2012
403
Have an un-christmas, winter solstice, scandi christmas

Unless you are a devout Christian and 25th December means something for you, then do it on another day. Actually probably those who are really devout then Easter means more than Christmas.

We have an un-christmas day because son has had to work Christmas Day in the past.

Take some photos of you both together with Christmas tree in background, opening presents. Blow them up and print them out. Staff can comment on them, look at the presents she had. Therefore you came to see her on Christmas Day...I think in Scandinavia they celebrate the feast of St Lucia around 16th December. That will do nicely.

It matters that you give the time you do, not that it happens on anyone particular day.

Have a lovely time on holiday.

I moved my three year old son's birthday when I knew I could be in labour with subsequent child. He wasn't bothered and actually I was in hospital so he wouldn't have had a birthday otherwise.