Has anyone thought about Christmas yet?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Mary's wee girl, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. Mary's wee girl

    Mary's wee girl Registered User

    Sep 21, 2015
    I have spent the last 8 out of 10 Christmas's with my mum. Last year was a struggle she came to stay with us as always but she needed 24 care. Mum Could not grasp the day to day stuff, fell down the stairs and did not seem to settle at all. We live 350 miles apart and I knew it would be strange for her even though she knows our house well. However the big day was great and with a big table of people around and chaos, mum's illness didn't seem to matter too much.

    This year mum was properly diagnosed with mixed dementia (something I have realised and tried to get recognised by her and her GP for two years)and has since experienced a rapid deterioration and no longer has capacity and at present is in a nursing home. Mum will never be able to go back home.

    To bring her down here will be difficult but do-able. It's a six hour drive so it would take me away from my kids at a busy time for two days just before Christmas, to drive up and bring her down with me. Or I could fly with her but i have no idea how this would work As last year she flew down and told us she didn't go through security as they have taken it out of the airport and she also lost a lot of money from her suitcase. She has arthritis so I would need wheelchairs at both ends of the journey- something I think mums pride would struggle with. I'm not sure how stressful it would be for her being in such an environment.

    I the don't know how we would all cope when she is down. I know she would need constant care and I get that it's my turn to do this for her as she brought me up. I'm just so worried I wouldn't cope but the though of Christmas without her is unbearable.

    I can't visit to say hi and the phone no longer works as she is distant and confused and often cuts off mid sentence and says bye. I'm struggling to come to terms with the fact I've lost my confidant and now the thought of her not being able to enjoy a normal Christmas breaks my heart. What do I do for the best...I know it s over 100 days away but it has always been an amazing part of my life, especially now I have children.
    Has a anyone else got complications like this to over come at this time of year?
  2. 1mindy

    1mindy Registered User

    Jul 21, 2015
    What on earth are you thinking . Its one day. Once my mum was in care she never had another Christmas with her family. She couldn't have another " normal " Christmas as they were ,just "normal" as they had become. The stress on her with the noise , number of people etc would have been too great as would the pressure on us. My OH says he won't be going to the gathering this year he just wants peace and quiet ,so I shall go on my own . We are both doing what is best for us. Don't get hung up on one day I doubt your mum will be . Harsh but most probably true .
  3. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    #3 Witzend, Sep 24, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
    Would she enjoy it as she once used to, though? Will she even be aware that it's Christmas? Dementia makes such a difference.

    The first year my FIL was in his care home, we brought him back to our house (where he had been living) for Christmas, for a couple of nights. We had assumed he would enjoy it, since he always had before, and we would have felt bad to leave him there. However, the care home staff advised against it, they said he'd be better left in his familiar routine. and they were absolutely right. It was a bad mistake. He was confused, agitated or worried for much of the time, had begun to think it was his own house and he should be doing this job or that. For the first time he also started asking where his wife, dead some ten years, was.

    Given that experience, when it came to my mother some years later, I did not even think of taking her out of her care home. For at least a year previousy she had not been aware that it was Christmas, not even with carols playing, crackers on the table, and people giving her presents. We had made a real effort those last couple of years, going to her house instead of bringing her to ours, so that she was still in familiar surroundings, but even that was too much for her - the extra people and 'fuss' - she really could not cope with it any more.

    Given the logistical problems you have, and the fact that your mother will very likely be better left in her familiar routine, I would say, please don't even think of it. I am sure the staff at her care home would say exactly the same. And the fact is, most care homes do make a real effort for Christmas. It is all too easy to think that the person would enjoy the sort of things they used to enjoy before, but as I said, dementia does make such a difference. Visit her before or afterwards, when you can, in a calm and 'normal' atmosphere.
  4. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    The Sweet North
    I agree with the other posters. Please try to see it through your mother's eyes -- such a journey would be cruel really when she has been settled in one place for so long........she would be tired and confused at the other end.
    Please do what is kindest for her. Dementia changes things and we have to accept that.
  5. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    Personally I think you would be making a big mistake to bring mum all that distance for Christmas.
    I know it's a special, but she won't. Getting her out of routine will be upsetting for her, noise is not good either.

    October, November, December to us was wedding anniversary, my birthday, his birthday and Christmas. Last year he had no idea what was happening at any of them. Lots of cues and he was still living at home. It happens, I'm afraid. If you really want your mum at home, why don't you leave it til, say Easter, when it's still a celebration, but the weather is better ( hopefully, Easter's at the end of March next year) and you don't have the same stress of sorting out three generation, all with different needs.
  6. CollegeGirl

    CollegeGirl Registered User

    Jan 19, 2011
    North East England
    Hi - I'm so sorry you are faced with this horrible dilemma. I think bringing your mum home for Christmas would be a lot of stress for everyone involved, but only you know whether this is worth it in order for you all to be together. I can understand your reasons.

    As an alternative, for this year, would you be able to visit her just before or just after Christmas and celebrate with her in the home?

    As a longer term option, I wondered if it would be possible to move your mum to a care home nearer where you live? If she wasn't so far away maybe you wouldn't feel so devastated if she can no longer join in Christmas celebrations at your house - because you could take a mini celebration to her.

    Apologies if this isn't possible or feasible - obviously I don't know why you live so far apart!

    I do hope you manage to come up with a solution that you're all happy with.
  7. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    I also think the whole visit and journey would be too much for her and too confusing to be out of her home. Maybe family could visit in small groups before and after Christmas itself, and then phone her on the day, and check that she has plenty of food and someone can bring her a hot dinner so she is not left without any contact or visitors.
    My MIL used to host Christmas for her large family for many years till only recently, but now my suggestion above works best and does not distress her as she cannot cope with large groups and frets about not being a good hostess.
    My own mum has never done Christmas, and even used to slam the door in our face when we visited when grandchildren were young! She now sits and watches all the old films until my SIL brings her dinner. We have visited for the last 3 Christmases with a food hamper, but we have been told to go away in colourful language once she has snatched the hamper from our hands!
  8. Rageddy Anne

    Rageddy Anne Registered User

    Feb 21, 2013
    Pear tree, that's sad about your mum not liking Christmas. I have a much younger friend like that, and it seems unnatural. My friend has alienated family and loses friends easily with her strange ways..but each to his or her own, as they say.
  9. Rageddy Anne

    Rageddy Anne Registered User

    Feb 21, 2013
    #9 Rageddy Anne, Sep 24, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
    Hello, MWG. Sorry you're struggling with this. Christmas can put a lot of people through the worry mill when it comes to Dementia, or even simply the long distances that divide families without the Dementia issue.

    Thre are two issues....though it will be sad and distressing for you at Christms without her being part of it, it does seem that it would not be in her best interests to be there.
    Will she know it's Christmas? And will she wonder why she's not seeing you? It could be that she won't even think along those lines, and the Care Home people should be very good at comforting nd distracting her if she does.

    I do feel for you....my husband won't be up to making the journey this year to our son's, and I know how awful my son must be feeling. His circumstances don't give him the choice to come to us. It can't always be Happy Families, and I hate those TV commercials that depict them so relentlessly.
  10. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    Near Southampton
    Just as a reassurance if it is your mother's feelings about this that is concerning you rather than your own, I can say that Care and nursing homes do try to make Christmas a good as it can be for residents in their care.

    My husband's nursing home had lots of activities going on with carol singers, a Christmas party, decorations including lots of large Christmas trees, a Christmas card and present for ever one of its up to 80 residents, a special FC hat and of course, a Christmas dinner.

    I have to say it was all lost on my husband as he had no idea it was Christmas or maybe even what that word meant.

    It is natural for you to miss your mother at such a time. Christmas always pulls at the heart strings with memories of Christmases past ever present. Still, it is only a part of the whole distress this illness causes and there is far worse.

    So, if it helps, I think the idea of going down for a visit is a good one but not around the day itself. Your mother will no doubt be tired from the festivities happening around her. I have to say my husband was always asleep when I visited on Christmas afternoon and I ended up opening the presents I had carefully wrapped up previously to an unresponsive audience!

    How about sending your mother a beautiful display of flowers with a card telling her how much you love her. That would give her pleasure for days.
  11. daisydi

    daisydi Registered User

    Feb 25, 2015
    Hi, I know how you feel. This will be my first christmas wiithout my mum being around. Last year she was here but she really didnt get involved. She didnt seem to get any pleasure from opening presents and wouldnt sit at the dinner table for more than 5 mins. I certainly will not bring her back this year. The home will be much nicer for her and she will be in familiar surroundings. I will go to the home and see her on Christmas day but it is only 10 mins away. I dont think you should take your mum out of her home, especially as you are so far away.
  12. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    Sorry Marys Wee Girl, did not realise your mum was in a home. As other posts have said and from my friends' experiences the homes try to make Christmas special with Christmas dinner and activities and even father Christmas.
    Sending a Christmas bouquet for her room is a very good idea, and somewhere to display all her cards possibly.
  13. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    Raggedy Ann you are right, it is sad, that she has driven away her son and all her grandchildren with her spiteful ways and selfishness. She does not even have friends at her lunch club as she only goes for the food! I will still pop in at Christmas even if she ignores me in favour of Gone with the Wind.
  14. Risa

    Risa Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
    I think you need to ask yourself if it wasn't Christmas Day, would you be putting yourself under pressure to take your Mum to your house? It does sound that with her health declining, a long drive or a flight to yours would be very taxing at any time, let alone near Christmas when weather can be poor and lots more people are travelling.
  15. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    Despite all the arguments against, OP, I do understand how sad it is for you if you can't enjoy Christmas with your mum the way you used to.

    Pre dementia but right into her late 70s after my father died my mother would drive herself to my house a day or two before - she would be laden with presents and a stack of her own mince pies, which were always better than mine - thinner pastry and more filling! She would be there on the step with a big smile and everyone would be so happy to see her, including the dog! And on Christmas Day she would insist on doing most of the veggies for me - she used to bring her own little knife and peeler because she didn't get on with mine. About the last Christmas before dementia kicked in, I remember her crying with laughter at the Christmas episode of The Royle Family, which somehow we'd never watched before. A phrase from that - Are you all right there, Nana? - in the accent, became a catch-phrase with my daughters and would make her laugh all over again.

    It is so very sad when these happy traditions come to an end.
  16. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Mum had her first Christmas in her care home last year and as my daughter had invited me to go to her home for Christmas this year (the first year that she had ever invited anyone) I felt I should go, although it meant that I wouldnt be able to see mum over Christmas.

    As it was her 90th birthday soon after we had a little gathering for her birthday with cake and balloons and it was a very happy occasion. Mum had, apparently, enjoyed Christmas in her care home. As saffie said, most CHs make a special effort and mums CH had had the local school kids coming in to sing carols, there were fantastic decorations, (we saw them when we came for her birthday) a proper Christmas meal and one of the carers had dressed up as Father Christmas with a sack of presents for them all :D

    This year, knowing what the CH did last year, I am not going to worry about her at Christmas. She will have company, a familiar routine and proper Christmas celebrations. I will go and visit her again on her birthday, although this year I hope to go and visit her and give her her Christmas presents a few days before Christmas as there is still the Christmas "buzz" then - she was tired and it was all a bit "flat" after Christmas last year.
  17. mrsdavis

    mrsdavis Registered User

    Jan 5, 2016

    Hey, My mom is at the care center for the past one year. She love flowers. She throws away everything else but flowers she love. So this Christmas I ordered a large bunch of roses online from Flowers Canada. She loved it. She kept it in her hand all day. So glad that I could make her happy.

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