Opinions please - children visiting their Grandmother

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by jenniferpa, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    I am struggling with this and I would love to get other people's input. I am tring to decide whether to take my children (20 and 17) to see their Grandmother. As you can see, they're not little. Here are my problems, in no particular order. 1) We live in the USA, so we're talking major expense. 2) Because of 1) when I visit I normally like to stay a couple of weeks, otherwise it doesn't seem worth it, but I don't think any of us (children, Mother or I) could stand that. 3) If I take them all that way, I'd like them to have some fun, but taking my Mother around precludes a lot of that. 4) How distressing will it be for all concerned? My children know about my Mother's mental state, but knowing and seeing are 2 different things. Will my Mother find the concept of having adult grandchildren to hard to handle? She's 89, will it simply be too tiring?

    I keep thinking that if I don't take them, it may be that they'll never see their Grandmother again, but then I think, maybe that would be better, because then they could remember her as she was. There is no denying that I find her behaviour irritating at times, so how will they find it.

    In an ideal world, we would go for a couple of weeks, spend a few days with her and then go to London. Unfortunately/fortunately she's sufficiently aware that she would be very upset if I told her I was visiting for a few days, but then going off.

    I haven't actually discussed this my children yet. I had considered taking them one at a time, although if I take either of them, we're talking about hotels which add to the expense (when I go on my own, I stay with her).

    Another alternative is that we go and rent a cottage, or something for a week, take Mummy with us and then when that's done, the children and I will go to London. Problem is, strange surroundings and a dementia sufferer are not a great combination.

    I suppose my main problem is, if I'm in the UK, I'm going to feel even guiltier than usual if I'm not with my Mother. I could, I suppose, fly over on my own, spend a week or so with my Mother, then the kids could fly over, they could spend a couple of days "visiting" and then we'd go and do what they want to do, maybe coming back for a couple of days before we all fly home.

    Any input? My heads spinning.

    Jennifer
     
  2. Rosalind

    Rosalind Registered User

    Jul 2, 2005
    203
    Wiltshire
    If your mother is not completely away with the fairies, then your children might well appreciate seeing her and talking about her life - particularly if she now lives in the past and can tell them about her childhood.

    It has always struck me as rather awful that people cross the world to attend a funeral, when the departed would possibly have much preferred to see them when alive. Actually, I have similar thoughts about funeral flowers - I would love to receive the occasion surprise bouquet now, but could not give a stuff if a whole load appear after I have died!

    But surely the children should be asked what they think, and if the idea of a visit appals them don't force them

    Your solution about coming over first, and spending time with your mother, and then having your children arrive and see her briefly before having a proper holiday in England or Europe sounds a good compromise.
     
  3. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    16,111
    Toronto, Canada
    Jennifer,
    First thing - why don't you ask your children if they want to visit their grandmother? They are now young adults & can certainly make up their own minds. They might surprise you. And yes, seeing your mother the way she is now might be distressing to them but I think they should have the option. Not seeing her at all may hurt more in the long run and leave them with regrets.

    I think your last option is good - you go over for a week, the kids come & spend a few days, then you 3 go & do something for yourselves then back to your Mum's for a few days. As for hotels, are there any B & Bs near your mother? Plus the kids are old enough to do day trips on their own so they could pop over & say hello after breakfast & spend a little time, go off & do their own thing for a day & come back for dinner.

    Spending all day with your mother might be too difficult for them.

    Having said all that, I think they should go. It's their grandmother. Play it by ear, they don't have to spend all day every day with her.

    Joanne
     
  4. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    I know I need to talk to them about it, I just have control issues! To add to the mix, they don't get on particularly well (how 2 children from the same parents can be so different amazes me), so I suppose I'm wary about adding a grandmother with dementia into the mix. My DD will be fine, I'm just not so sure how DS will handle it.

    After I've spoken to them (and DH, 'cause he's paying!) I think I'll try and arrange it for the end of November (Thanksgiving break) or possibly (and perhaps better) Christmas. Actually, Christmas probably would be better, except for the weather, because I'm visiting in September anyway, so that'll be 3 months later, which is when I would normally go anyway.

    The point about funerals has been on my mind as well - when the time comes, do I or do I not take them? It would obviously be appropriate, but the logistics make me want to pull my hair out. Can you tell I like to cross my bridges before I come to them?
     
  5. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    621
    Kent
    Children visiting.

    I think you should definitely ask them what they want to do first and then plan. My children (27 and 29) will not visit my mother unless I go with them, because they find it spooky when she says strange things. However they do like to see her.
    If you came and stayed with your mother as usual, maybe the children could go Youth Hostelling or stay with friends or relations. They would not enjoy spending too much time with an elderly lady and she might not enjoy their company for long either! There are often cheap fares for under 25's and students. It would be better for them to see her now, than go to a funeral in the future.
     
  6. Kathleen

    Kathleen Registered User

    Mar 12, 2005
    639
    West Sussex
    My only advice as a daughter of grown up children is to talk honestly and openly to them, one is already an adult and the other almost there.

    I remember myself at that age, I thought I knew it all and my parents were very old, boring people who knew nothing!........in reality they were in their early 40's , busy happy people and I had so very much to learn about life, ........still do really!!!

    Having said that, your youngsters' thoughts and feelings are as important as your own, so discuss any worries and concerns with them, they may well come up with an entirely different plan, or may not want to see her at all.

    Either way, respect their wishes and ideas, as they should respect yours and I'm sure a compromise of sorts can be reached that will mean a good visit for you all.

    On a final note, siblings may well seem at odds on everything, but when the chips are down I bet they will always be there for each other.

    Good Luck

    Kathleen
     
  7. Libby

    Libby Registered User

    May 20, 2006
    625
    North East
    Hi Jennifer

    I remember when I was younger (about 12-14) going to see my gran who had AD. I never knew what to say to her - she just kept repeating herself all the time. But the sad thing is - it's the only way I remember her

    So although I would like it if my two sons said they would like to go with me when I went to visit Mum, I won't ask them any more, as I would also like them to remember her the way she was - a caring, loving grandmother who looked after them, took them out for days and bought them sweets!!

    Libs
     
  8. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    10,824
    london
    #8 Margarita, Jul 6, 2006
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2006
    Why not tell them it’s not really a holiday it’s just that you want to see your mother & explain you’re concerned to your children about your mother and if you can afford it take them. Like that you are giving them a choice .

    Don’t worry about them arguing, your be amazed in there reaction if you show them how concerned you are about your mother illness , wanting to see her not knowing how much time she has left on this earth

    It’s best to be open & honest with your children about your mother

    Is your mother in a care home or in her own property?
     
  9. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    In her own home, but attached to a nursing home - slightly unusual situation.

    Well I'm torn - it's true that it's not a holiday, but they really like going to England. Honestly, they've been so understanding about me taking off at the drop of hat, I think they probably deserve the holiday!

    I'm still wondering about the (future) funeral - take them (with all the expense) or not?
     
  10. May

    May Registered User

    Oct 15, 2005
    627
    Yorkshire
    Hi jenniferpa

    I would say be guided by your children's reactions to a suggested visit, they're young adults and will have their own ideas (don't they all:rolleyes: ). My children are older than yours but have great difficulty in coping with their Nan's dementia, they find it very upsetting and don't visit unless I'm with them.
    As to where to stay, I don't know where in the UK your Mum is, but there are numerous website's with holiday cottages/apartments to let by booking online, which would give you the convenience of a base for the children that's not directly in the 'dementia orbit' 24/7, and they could maybe do their own thing, day trips for sight seeing etc, whilst you are with Mum.
    Hope whatever you decide, it works well
    Take care
     
  11. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Good thinking - I hadn't though of renting a cottage near my mother (duh)! That way, I can also make sure that we're near public transport - neither of them will be allowed to drive a rental car (well, actually my DD wil be 21, so I'll have to check that out).

    It is the distress (on both sides) that I'm concerned about - she's not totally "away with the faries" as I think Rosalind put it, but she's not so good either. I would rather their memories of her were not too badly coloured by the dementia. Of course, I may have to revisit this issue - these things aren't stable.
     
  12. Suzy R

    Suzy R Registered User

    Jul 4, 2004
    40
    Switzerland
    I haven't visited TP for a while nor posted a reply, but this is something I feel quite strongly about.

    I think your son and daughter have to be included in both the decision to visit now and whether to attend a funeral. My parents didn't want me to travel to my grandmother's funeral - I was twenty at the time - and I have regrets.

    Why not have a week together (without your mother) then visit her for a weekend before returning home. You could even remain for a few days with her alone.

    BTW - a hire car in the UK at 21 is no problem, but driving 'stick-shift' on the wrong side of the road might be....
     
  13. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    1,342
    I hope she'll still be well enough to enjoy their visit, if they agree to go.

    Lila
     
  14. rummy

    rummy Registered User

    Jul 15, 2005
    700
    Oklahoma,USA
    Hi Jennifer,
    With AD, the only real thing we can do or give our loved one is time. It is a commodity and a precious gift that does not last forever. I understand being torn between what you want to do and what you should do for you and your kids. But here is a point.
    Getting old, getting diseased and dying are a fact of life and I think sheilding older children from the unpleasantness of it does them a disservice. Why shouldn't they be given an opportunity to spend time with their grandmother for what could be their last time? Even if it is short. They have a whole life time of fun holidays ahead of them but how many visits with granny do they have left?
    When I was 16 yrs old I saw my Dad two days before he died of colon cancer. It was dreadful. But if I hadn't had a chance to see him one last time I would have regretted it forever. ( he was in a specilized hospital a very long way from home ).
    One last point. What we do teaches our children how to take care of older folks. They have no other barometer. I don't know if it is fair to ask kids what they would rather do. Stay home, have fun on a holiday or visit dimented granny in the NH. It might just be a recipe to make them feel really guilty later on.
    I hope I haven't been too harsh, I don't mean to be and I know all these decisions are tough to make. Just do what you think is right and all the rest will fall into place.
    Take care and I hope all goes well,
    Debbie
     
  15. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    No, No not harsh at all! In fact, very good advice. This is exactly why I posted - sometimes I get bogged down in the logistics of things and fail to look at the wider picture. It's back to the "be all things to all men" problem - perfect daughter, perfect mother, perfect wife (fail miserable at the last LOL). I hope I haven't made my children sound like selfish brats - they really have a great deal of empathy. My DD, bless her, actually knows more about memory problems than I do, having studied it in college, while my son, although he has his failings, is amazingly good with the elderly (once they get past his hair - dreadlocks!). Having reread that, it makes DD sound a bit of a cold fish, but actually, she has always been closer to her grandmother (first grandchild syndrome). On the other hand (that would make about 8 hands) teenagers/young adults are remarkable resilient when it comes to other peoples problems - if they weren't, they'd never go out into the world.

    So, Christmas in England - that's what I'm shooting for. I'll rent a house or apartment near Mummy, maybe spend a couple of nights in London and then come back to Mummy again. With her memopry problems, that'll be like two visits anyway!

    Jennifer
     
  16. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Suzy - yes. When the time comes, I'll have to let them make the decision about the funeral - it could be 10 years down the road, so their own situations will factor in. In a way, if they were younger, I'd know what to do - at age 10, I wasn't taken to my own father funeral, and for the longest time I had some doubts that he was actually dead, so I wouldn't make that mistake with my own children. As adults, though, depending on when this occurs, I'll have to be a bit more flexible. Stick shift, wrong side of the road - hmm, I'll have to think very carefully about that. Actually, I've thought - public transport for them - drivers are way more aggressive in the U.K. I'd spend all my time worrying.

    Thanks everyone

    Jennifer
     
  17. nikita

    nikita Registered User

    Jul 31, 2004
    92
    visiting

    give your children the choice my daughter was 17 when her great gran died i never pressurised her to visit but sometimes she would come to visit with me, she never minded gran but sometimes the other residents in the nursing home bothered her. if they do visit take lots of photos as they may want them later in life.
     

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