she's so far away


Registered User
Feb 22, 2004
I suspect my mother has dementia in some form. My sister, who lives quite a way away has arranged for tests. My brother lives near to my mother and is trying to support her but he himself needs support for various reason.

My best friend died from cancer 18 mos ago, my husband was diagnosed 8 mos ago and has ongoing treatment. I feel wiped out.

I want to help my mother, I am 10 hours drive away and stressed out my mind but I WILL do all I can..
practicalities. I am going to see her afer not having seen her for over a year... i have been warned about what i will find ( and i have nursed geriatrics in the past so I am not totally naive- but this is my mother, its one thing coping with a stranger with dementia - quite another thing coping with someone so emotionally close).

She refuses to go upstairs to wash because there are people living up there (there arent), she sits day and night in the same clothes and with her coat on. She can manage to ring her brother who she has not seen for months 'who was round last night with a black eye and she better check up on him'.. he says she sounds perfectly normal on the phone to her.

She has had in home assessment, out of home assessment and a brain scan but we have yet to hear back about the results of any of them.

I know this is a hill I climb as she falls ever lower down her hill but I feel I have to help. I am seriously considering bringing her back here. She'll have company at least but the rest of the family may resent it very much, given she is likely to detiorate further and further.

I would like someone to say it will be alright but I know it won't. She is 82 and I cant let anyone suffer more than they have to if I can help it. Just I have coped with so much and am still giving support, but I cannot turn my back on her.

I have no idea if i will get a response to this, I feel I am being totally selfish, I should have seen her before now, guilt enough.. but I am also very scared of what I will see when I vist.


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Oh boy, you've been dumped on in a big way, haven't you?

I know the feeling of helplessness when you're so far away! In the early stages of my wife's dementia, I phoned her from Belfast when away overnight, and she collapsed at the other end of the phone. Fortunately I could remember a neighbour's phone, so could ensure she was okay.

It has to be your decision, but I wouldn't recommend bringing your mother home except as a very last resort. It would in any case be short term, so far better to try and identify another solution.

It takes ages to get a result on tests because the main diagnosis tends to be made when all other options have been ruled out, and that is very time consuming.

Having nursed geriatrics may not prepare you for any changes you will see in your mother after a year. Depends on the kind of illness really. Again, with my wife, I was with her on a daily basis and even after quite major changes, the small day by day deterioration had made the overall difference less obvious to me. My brother and mother visited her after not having seen her for 6 months and they later told me they were so shocked they were silent and shaking all the way back to Bath [90 minutes away]

Changes may be physical as well as mental.

If you do bring your mother home, you may find that takes over your life, depending on her particular state, and that would be a problem with a husband who also needs your time and energy [physical and emotional]

I can't help much other than saying good luck. the best option would be for your mother to be cared for at a specialist home, without doubt. I would not have believed that before having experienced it for my wife, who I always wanted to care for myself, at home. Funding and placement is the problem of course.

Best wishes.


Registered User
Feb 5, 2004
I'm so sorry - you are having the roughest of times. I agree with Bruce entirely. You shouldn't go on struggling with guilt about not seeing your mum before. After all, you are going to do what you can now and no one can ask for more. Everyone has different limits. You really have enough on your plate and it doesn't sound as if it would be good for you, your husband or, in the end, your mother, if you were to bring her back to live with you. Finding a secure and caring home for her - as Bruce says - may well be the best option, although it is by no means the easiest.

I had a bad year in 2002, my father-in-law died of cancer, my mother went downhill with dementia and then my father died. My husband and I lived 5 hours drive away from both our families. It was about the most stressful time I can imagine, so I can empathise with your situation. I felt vast amounts of helplessness and guilt and worry, but we have got through and I know you will too. My mum is now in a home near us and life seems more stable.

As for dreading what you will find - there is nothing worse than the expectation of being distressed or shocked. But maybe you will find that the reality is easier to deal with - at least you know the worst that way. All the very best.