1. Pirate

    Pirate Registered User

    Jun 24, 2007

    I've been a lurker for sometime on this forum, and have found it very helpful.

    I was wondering what you think about my current feelings, as I find I'm no longer able to visit my mum, who has Alzheimer's.

    I'll go back to the beginning.

    My dad went into Hospital in April 2004, and died a couple of weeks later in the May of 2004. My mum went into respite care, and then when it was clear there was no way she could stay at home by herself, she went into an assessment unit, and then a couple of homes until she was settled in March 2005.

    I live in Kent, my mum lives in Essex - I wanted to keep her in Essex, as she'd lived there all her life, and my aunt and uncle would be able to visit, along with my mum's friends.

    In some ways I'm happy that things happened this way - my dad never had to make a decison about putting my mum into a home, as she was becoming too much for him to cope with, and my mum never had to deal with grieving for my dad. When we (my husband and I) took her to visit him in hospital she didn't even recognise her husband of 48 years, and when he died and we had to tell her, she didn't even know who we were talking about.

    So followed a very difficult year. I don't have any brothers or sisters, so I had to deal with my dad's estate, apply to the Court of Protection to get Receivership to deal with my mum's affairs, deal with clearing my mum and dad's house and give up the tenancy and visit my mum every week and work full time.

    So by March 2005, I thought the worst was over, my mum was settled, and as she didn't really know who I was by that time, I started to go every two weeks to visit my mum, to give myself a break.

    But in July 2005, I had a anxious call from the home - they were worried about my uncle's (my mum's brother in law) behaviour with her. They felt his behaviour was not appropriate. I reassured them, as I felt he would not do anything wrong, but two weeks later, without going into details, he was seen kissing and fondling her. The police were involved, three more people came forward to report things they had seen and it went to court. The case was heard in June 2006 - he was found not guilty, but I believe he did do it - for four people to come forward, and go through the ordeal of giving evidence in Court, I believe something must have happened. Incidently I also had to give evidence at the Crown Court for background information.

    Needless to say I no have no further contact with my Aunt and Uncle, so I've lost touch with the family I had left. Around this time I started going to visit my mum only once a month, as things were getting a bit much.

    Fast forward to May this year. I went on holiday on the 19th May, so went to visit my mum on the Saturday before, the 12th. I wasn't feeling very well, and it was the 3rd anniversary of the day my dad died. But I felt as if I had to go, and frankly, the whole thing freaked me out to such an extent that I was ill for the rest of the weekend, and has made me feel I CAN'T go again.

    It seems that people who don't visit are not very well regarded on this forum, particularly 'children in their 40's who are just interested in getting on with their lives'. Well, yes, I'm in my 40's and I freely admit I want to get on with my life.

    I felt I lost my mum and dad at the same time. My mum doesn't know who I am, and has no interest in whether I see her or not. I know she is well cared for. Everytime I go to see her its like picking over the scars of grief, and I need to move on

    So, I think I will probably only go on very rare occasions. Does this make me a bad person?
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Please don`t think that Pirate. No one is entitled to sit in judgement on any other, and the members of this Forum know better than anyone, the stress and emotional angst that goes with Alzheimers.

    Visiting is so painful, even if there are no complicated histories, and you can only do what you feel able to cope with.

    You certainly seem to have had more than your share of upset, and if this is the only way you can continue to cope with what`s gone before, who is to judge you?

    Take care
  3. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    Dear Pirate

    Well I think you're correct that sometimes the forum comes down on people that don't visit because it's "inconvenient" or "upsets them too much", but for the most part, they haven't been through what you have been through. Also, this response is predicated on the fact that the person with AD still knows them on some level and gets pleasure from their visits AND that the upset to the visitor is short-term.

    What you're talking about is very much a different situation. I, personally, do not agree with people laying themselves on the altar of family responsibilities: I know some people do, and if they're comfortable with it, or need to do it, then fair enough. However, I KNOW my mother would not expect that of me, and I don't think most loving parents would expect it if they were well. I am one of those who do not visit as often as I would like: I live 3500 miles away from my mother. So, yes, my excuse in inconvenience and expense. I HOPE I would take a more active part in her life if I lived closer, but I don't so I don't have to think about it. Every 3 months or so I try to work out some way I could spend more time with her (move there, move her here) but I can't, so I have to deal with the guilt.

    So, if you can't visit, you can't visit. Provided you've made sure that she is safe and well cared for you have done what you can do. As Sylvia says, none of us is in a position to judge. I don't think you'll find a single person on this board who hasn't at some point felt that they have failed in their duty. It goes with the territory.

    A word of advice: I do think that as infrequent visitors we sometimes feel we should be there on "important" occasions: birthday's, christmas, anniversaries, but actually I think they are the wrong times to go, particularly if you are feeling emotionally fragile. There is too much baggage associated with these times, and too many potentially memories crowding around. Better to go on a day when you feel more emotionally resilient and aren't having to cope with ghosts.

    Best wishes

  4. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    One thing (amongst many) that TP has helped me to understand is that 'caring' does not mean descending into total martyrdom ..... I feel the only 'judgement' that matters is that of our own conscience ...... no-one but ourselves and our consciences can know all the thinking behind our decisions for ourselves or those we care for .....

    I had a very helpful 'virtual' conversation with another member here - about 'complicated histories' (lovely phrase, BTW, Sylvia) ... and how two 'buttons' manifest - one is for self-destruct - the other for self-preserve ....... keep hitting the wrong one in moments of highly charged emotion - no-one wins ...... so actually putting your own needs first can actually be the least selfish option ......

    I really feel for you - as an 'only child' whose extended family is mostly distanced because of 'complicated history' it can feel very hard at times without a 'family support network'.

    My first thought - find the 'self-preserve' button ..... and keep banging on it!!!!!! And stop worrying about judgements -no-one has a right to make them - ......You are happy your mum is well-cared for ..... your conscience must be clear .......

    Next thought .... you've had a particularly traumatic time, not just in terms of your losses but of the circumstances surrounding your uncle and his alleged actions ...... perhaps some counselling in that respect alone may be of benefit to you?

    Final thought ...... just my take on a 'bad person' - someone who doesn't think about any consequences of their actions or inactions ......

    Look after yourself, and the rest will follow,

    Love, Karen, x
  5. Kathleen

    Kathleen Registered User

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Sussex
    We went through Dad's sudden death and Mum's admittance to a home in September 2004, so know exactly how it feels to lose both parents at the same time.

    We lost Dad through his death and Mum to AZ, she too has never known grief after their 54 years together.

    I have a sister with whom I share the load and a brother who is a complete waste of space!

    I switched from visiting Dad in his last two weeks of suffering to looking out for Mum, I made a deliberate attempt to put grieving for my Dad on hold until Mum joins him one day................probably not a good thing, but that's the only way I can cope. I look forward to my visits and go as often as I can.

    My sister still grieves for Dad and finds it hard to visit Mum as the memories are often too difficult to deal with.

    We both love her and always make sure she is safe and well looked after, as you are doing with your own Mum.

    I suspect that as an only child who has had no sibling to help with the thousand practical things that needed to be done day by day, plus the shock of your uncle's behaviour, you have had no time to grieve properly for the Mum and Dad you loved so much.

    You are absolutely not a bad person, just someone who has been dealt a series of cruel blows who needs time to heal and feel better.

    Take care of yourself.

  6. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    Hi Pirate

    No way does that make you a bad person

    I never perceived it like that , that if someone does not visit they are not well regarded on this forum , I know in the past I have said try not to give up in going to visit, but that does not mean that I would perceive a person bad or regard them a lesser person, then to anyone one else who did visit more

    All we can do on TP is offer support to each other .

    Try not to feel bad , its your life at the end of the day , we only get one . so do what feel good for you xx
  7. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    Visiting Mum

    Dear Pirate,
    I too am an only child and I found it very difficult emotonally to visit Mum when she was particularly distressed, or when she had been ill and was very weak and helpless. I visited two or three times a week, for perhaps half an hour, or more than an hour at a time, depending on how she was, as she was in a local Home. Sometimes she just wanted to sleep. She settled in and made friends with the staff and another resident, and she did seem reasonably content.
    If your mother doesn't seem to recognise you now, it may not make that much difference how often you visit, except to yourself. My Mum's friend rarely saw her family and they didn't check to see if she needed any new clothes or had any other needs. However the staff in the Home made sure she was well cared for. Even if you feel unable to visit very often, you could still contact the Home regularly, to see if anything is needed for your mother.
    My Mum had a tummy bug for a week and then just as she seemed to be getting over it, she had a heart attack and died before we could get to the hospital, which is only 20 minutes drive away from our house. Although I wasn't with her at the end, at least she was with people she knew until she went in the ambulance, and then she was probably not aware of very much in the hospital.
    I think it is important to do as much as you can, but you also need to be realistic and perhaps limit visits to whatever is practical in your own individual situation. It would be wrong for anyone to judge others, when their position may be quite different.
    My visits to Mum did vary a great deal and I never knew quite what to expect, but at least she did seem to recognise me.
  8. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Pirate

    No, I don't think you're a bad person at all. A lesser person than you (still not necessarily bad) would not even question the decision not to visit.

    The fact that you are posting here shows you are not quite sure --and I'm certainly not going to try to persuade you otherwise.

    I think your last visit is at the root of the problem. You were not feeling well, it was the anniversary of your dad's death, and you were going on holiday very soon. All recipes for disaster! I'm not surprised you were ill afterwards.

    You have had a terrible time, with your dad's death, your mum's hospitalisation and the nightmare of your uncle's behaviour. No wonder you're freaked out.

    Give yourself a break. Don't make any final decisions, you don't need to. Relax, enjoy yourself, and trust the NH to look after your mum. Above all, don't feel guilty. You need time to recover.

    Perhaps whan you are feeling better, you may decide to visit again. Perhaps not. But that's OK. If you do go again, don't make it a special occasion, certainly not an anniversary, just pop in for half an hour and see how you feel.

    And look after yourself.

  9. Lynne

    Lynne Registered User

    Jun 3, 2005
    Hi Pirate

    Just reinforcing what others have said about 'special' occasions. I think you'll find that, whilst they may have a deep (or painful) significance for YOU, they will not have the same meanings or assocations for your Mum any more. For her, each day is probably much the same now. She may show a childish pleasure at being reminded that it's her birthday (for instance) but is just as likely to forget again within a few minutes. A visit may make her day special for her, but she is unlikely to empathise with your feelings or distress about bereavement anniversaries, and may possibly forget all about having had a visitor 5 minutes afterwards.

    If visiting is having a detrimental effect on your health or state of mind, don't go unless you feel stronger. If that doesn't happen, what matters is that Mum is safe & well cared for. You did that for her, in very difficult circumstances; be proud of what you have achieved on her behalf. You can still keep in touch with the Home for regular up-dates on her, who else might be calling to see her, or if she needs anything.

    Please, don't project your feelings of guilt onto other people & 'assume' they will blame you. The staff at Mum's home will know only too well how much strain family members suffer; I very much doubt that they would be making any judgements about you. The same applies here at Talking Point. Individual 'case' details may vary but in general terms members know what you are going through - or what we WILL BE likely to encounter, in the case of those of us whose loved ones are still on the nursery slopes of this awful one-way journey. The Guilt-Monster is a well known character here, we all wrestle with him quite regularly and you mustn't let him get the upper hand. He has no business being here, but preys on the emotionally vulnerable people TP members become. Resist!

    Best wishes
  10. fearful fiona

    fearful fiona Registered User

    Apr 19, 2007
    Hello Pirate,

    Just another few words of support along the lines of what the others have written. You've certainly had more than your fair share of trauma, I'm not surprised that you can't visit.

    I think we all feel at times that we just can't do something, it is nothing to be ashamed about. Nobody, but nobody passes judgement on TP, we don't do that. I tend to not mention "special days" (Christmas, Easter, birthdays) to my parents because they don't really mean much to them, and sometimes it can make things worse. That can be frustrating to us because these dates are important to us.

    It sounds as though your Mum is safe and well cared for; sounds like you need to take care of yourself now, and if visiting is going to make you ill, don't do it.
  11. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire
    Your mum

    Well, you just do what you can. There is no law that says you have to visit at certain times, and no law that says you have to want to. My mum means little to me, I don't even regard her as my mum, just my dad's wife. But I do what I can for her.

    That is all you can do. Your best.

    I visited mum today, and her friend Edna was telling me that her son had not been to visit in 5 weeks, in fact I met him last week while visiting her.

    Don't crucify yourself, yes you have a life too.


  12. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    When I mention people who "want to get on with their own lives" I am referring to those who think their own wants are more important than others' needs, e.g. those who never visit relations in hospital, (they "don't like hospitals" (well, who does?)), can't be bothered sending cards etc., but expect everyone else to dance attendance on whatever they want to do. (I could mention quite a few people in my own family.)

    Obviously I wouldn't make such judgments about anyone in here, I don't know them well enough.

  13. Pirate

    Pirate Registered User

    Jun 24, 2007
    Hi, I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the messages of support.

    My husband and friends are always on hand for me to talk to, but reading your messages, from people who KNOW want its really like, has re-assured me that I'm not doing anything wrong by not visiting until I feel able.

    It'd be a different matter if my mum was looking forward to my visits, but I know and I've accepted that it really doesn't matter to her one way or the other whether I go or not.

    I phoned the home last week and she is doing fine.

    I suppose I was worried that people would think badly of me and it's not really something thats easy to admit, that I don't want to visit my mum !

    I'm comfortable that she's in good hands and is happy, and I'm still there to take care of anything she needs, if the home can't do it.

    I've got some perspective on things now - Thank you !
  14. Kathleen

    Kathleen Registered User

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Sussex
    I am really pleased you are feeling better about the situation now, you are doing all you can at the moment and that's all your Mum would expect.

    Take care

  15. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    A good post, Pirate.

    I`m glad TP has been able to help you. keep posting whenever the need is there.

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