Hi everyone - I'm back again for your assistance. How do you talk to your parent about going to respite for two weeks? I haven't been able to find a permanent nursing home yet but I have been able to schedule a two week respite for my dad in September. This is going to give me a real break but I don't know how to tell him. He is going to be devastated and I will be heart broken leaving him there but I need the rest. I've asked my sister to go with me when I take him there but I need to break it to him. For some reason he is more coherent lately. He understands what is going on. Should I wait until the time is closer or should I try to start preparing him now? Your suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks Gloria
It is hard to tell how aware they are of reality. There are times my Mom appears to have it together but then you realize she is just as scattered even if she is calm about it. I have not had much experience with waiting for something to happen. When we moved Mom and Dad it was an emergency situation and it was only a week between the time it was evident they had to move and they were sleeping in their new apartment.
Other time I have found that if we tell Mom early she either forgets and we have to explain it over and over or she obcesses about it (which is worse). Dad never remembers. I would wait until closer to the time. Use a little twist of the truth and tell him it is for medical reasons while reassuring him that it is not permenant. He may surprise you. My dad, who we were truly fearful would not adjust is the one that actually enjoys the facility. My Mom who was 100% ready to go is the one that has not adjusted as well.
The one thing you need to do is remember that you are doing what is best at this time for him and for you. You need this break so you can give him the best care possible. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Just use your best judgement at the moment and know it will be ok.
You have to tell him, not ask him. You have to say it calmly and without emotion. Leave out any phrases like "I'm so sorry to have to tell you this ..." or "this may be hard for you..." or "I wish I didn't have to do this ...'
Just say, "Tomorrow (I would not prepare him ahead of time and thus prolong the time of arguments and protests) you are going on a little vacation. You will stay at X with lots of nice people. They will take care of you until I get back."
Any protests or outbursts must be answered with, "yes, you are right, but this is what we are going to do".
I wish you luck, since all this is much easier looking back than looking forward!
Thanks Martha and Deb. I have been told that since he is going to respite rather than a permanent situation I can't visit the first week he is there. They tell me this is as much for me as it is for him. I am setting up visitors for him so that he will have someone different visit him almost everyday. At least I can ask them how he is doing and not feel like I am abandoning him.
I live in New York and my daughter is in medical school in Connecticut. She was in Oregon for a month attending a Neurology rotation. She flew back into New York Saturday so that she could see me and my father before she went back to Ct. My sister stayed with my dad Sunday so that I could drive my daughter home. When I got back he was so angry because I never tell him anything. Of course I told him before I left where I was going and how long I thought I would be gone. He didn't remember the conversation at all. He didn't remember my sister's name when he was telling me about her later that night. He kept saying that girl you left me with. It is so sad. He is totally dependent on me and doesn't want anyone else around him. I think that is why everything seems so difficult for me. I feel totally responsible for his happiness at this stage of the game. Gloria
You might want to do what I have done with Mom. Instead of telling her something I write it. When I had to leave her for a couple of hours during my last trip to attend the care meeting we were in an activity. Instead of telling her I wrote her a note, telling her I had to to go meet my sister and we would be back in an hour. I also suggested she go on to Lunch and we would met her back in her room. The couple of times I checked on her she was fine and the note was close by. It is a visual cue to what she can't remember.
For the two weeks you are gone find some note cards that your father will notice and write him reassuring notes giving him whatever twist of truth you tell him before you leave and when you will return. Slip them in pockets, in his ditty kit, in his suit case, or give them to his visitors to pass along. Those little reminders may be helpful to reassure him that you will return.