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Old 11-25-2008, 06:57 PM   #1
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Holidays...I feel so guilty...

As many of you know, my mom is in a NH just a stone's throw from my home. I have not planned on bringing mom home for the Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas.

Even though mom is fully mobile, it would be so hard to have her here as she is somewhat incontinent; and really wouldn't know if Thanksgiving or Christmas was coming.

There are other circumstances that would make it difficult having her here which I won't get into....it's just difficult period.

I'm not going to bring her here, so how do I explain about the holidays in case it comes up? I thought I'd tell her that hubby and I were invited to his sister's...which is the truth, but turned her down because of mom's sister wouldn't have anyone to be with; plus she's recovering from the hip replacement.

Seems all I've been doing for the past 7-8 years is caring for my elderly mom and aunt. I'm so afraid that hubby and I will not live to see our time together in our golden years...anyone else?

Getting back to my original question..how do you all handle the holidays with your loved ones and what do you tell them as to why they aren't joining you and your family in your home as they are used to.

The facility is having its own Christmas party and we are always welcome to join mom for Christmas dinner, but it still wouldn't be the same in my mom's eyes...or so I think.

If mom knew I was fretting about this, she'd tell me, "Darlin', don't you worry about me; do what's best for you." I can hear her saying it for crying out loud!! So why don't I listen?

Last edited by sunnydaze1; 11-25-2008 at 07:01 PM.

 
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:06 PM   #2
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

Dear Sunny,
Let go of that beast named "guilt". You know your Mom better than anyone. She would want you to do whats best for you. I understand thats not an easy thing to do for caregivers, not feel guilty. I truly understand what your saying about wanting some time with your husband without worrying about what Mom is going to do.
We're having the same problem here. Which daughter gets Mom for Thanksgiving. Sounds just awful doesn't it??? All 3 of us are exhausted. It takes a village to care for Mom right now. She is completely incontinent. Has "accidents" all of the time. What if its in the middle of dinner?? What about the kids?? She wants us girls to sit by her and not do anything else. No playing with the kids, no long walk after dinner, no games. Just sit with her. Also she can't take alot of noise. So we take her into the den where things are quiet. Of course one of us girls will stay in there with her. I love her dearly but I want to make some memories with my grandkids. Your a good daughter. And you know dog gone good and well your not selfish with your time.
Be good to yourself this year and enjoy the holiday with your husband. Listen to your Mom.
Remember NO GUILT..............I know, easy for me to say.
I can't help with the question since Mom will be with one of us girls. She knows full well that its Thanksgiving. I'm hoping to hear some good answers so I can store them away for when I'm going to need them.
Love Chris

Last edited by DrewsG; 11-25-2008 at 09:28 PM.

 
Old 11-26-2008, 12:09 AM   #3
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

My Mom has always said..... A holiday is whatever day you decide to celebrate it. Since her grandchildren were old enought to know there was a Christmas (my daughter is 29) Mom has insisted that we be at home where we belong. Mom and Dad have had season college football tickets forever. The last game is the Saturday after Thanksgiving so we always did Turkey in conjunction with that football game. We have never celebrated the holidays on the right day.

I will cook turkey for two on Thanksgiving. Sister 3 plans to go eat Thanksgiving at AL. I will see my parents on Friday and take them a plate of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. My daughter and her boyfriend will also be there for a visit. Then Saturday, Sister 4 and I (I might be crazy) are taking Mom to the last home football game of the season and sister 3 is staying with Dad at AL. So each of us gets our Thanksgiving and the parents get their celebrations as well.

Last year at our Christmas Mom had a major melt down.... over a table cloth. It was not a good day. I had made arrangements to have family celebration at the guest dining room at AL. Load up the turkey and take it to them. But, my sister's children decided that was too... depressing. So plans are to take have the parents, and all the family, at sister 3's house the Sunday before Christmas. We will just deal with whatever. But Christmas day will be spent with our own families.

Because of the way Mom has always handled holidays we don't have those major guilt pains because we are not home for "the day". Thanksgiving has been split up this year and it's ok. I can see it happening next year for Christmas. We listen to Mom's voice..... "It's ok honey because you are supposed to be with your family!!"

That is exactly what you need to do..... listen to your Mom's voice. Celebrate the day with your Mom at some point.... just not at the time you need to be with your family. It is the celebration, not the day that is important.

Love, deb

PS.... I picked up a new book to read... "Talking to Alzheimer's" by Claudia J. Strauss. It's an excellent guide to the dos and don'ts, and what to expect, when dealing with a loved one with dementia. So far it is excellent.

Last edited by Gabriel; 11-26-2008 at 12:47 AM.

 
Old 11-26-2008, 03:52 AM   #4
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

I understand, I truly sympathize.

Thanksgiving 2004. I was still living with Mom, being her full time caregiver outside of my work hours when an aide came to stay with her for all but the first 3 hours of the day.

Thanksgiving - we are invited to my brother's. Huge gathering, many relatives and friends, including his son and pregnant daughter in law, still in the early stages of morning sickness.

Sitting at the table enjoying the last bits of the three different knds of pie and all of a sudden I smell it. Mom has pooped in her pants. Mom was still unwilling to wear any kind of protective underwear, was insulted when it came up; not until the NH 9 months later did she wear Depends.

The other guests leave the table in a big hurry My niece runs to the bathroom to throw up. Mom sits there smiling, ''where did everybody go?" My sister in law takes her to the bathroom and cleans her up, lending her some of her own underpants.

Most of the company has left when we get her back to the LR. End of party that would have lasted until late evening.

Mom had no idea what was wrong, chatted happily on and on about things only she understood.

Christmas, 2004. Small get together at Mom's apartment. Only the immediate family. No accidents, no hassles.

Moral of the story - if you can have your loved one in your midst without anticipating any disaster, then go ahead and do it but make the gathering very small. They can't handle crowds. If the loved one is already in a facility, let them take care of the holidays. They always had a party and some appropriate activities, but Mom never knew or cared what day it was.

That expected child is now a beautiful 3 year girl, my Mom's 6th great grandchild. My niece brought her to the nursing home a couple of times, but Mom never remembered who she was.

Have a happy, guilt free Thanksgiving.

Love,

Martha

Last edited by Martha H; 11-26-2008 at 04:02 AM.

 
Old 11-26-2008, 04:05 AM   #5
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

My Mom is not in a Nursing Home but has been in a Rehab Facility for awhile. She will be there awhile longer as well. I signed myself and my Dad up to join her for the Thanksgiving Dinner they prepare. No it is not as good as the comfort of your own home and good cooking but, the way I see it is we are very fortunate we still have mom with us this year!! To me it really doesn't matter WHERE we are as long as we are with her. We spent our Thanksgiving Day dinner in the same Facility with mom two years when she was in there it was pretty nice. They gave us a special room and table with a big window with a nice view.
The important thing is to do what you feel is best for you and your family. Sometimes these holidays can be so darn stressful. We all try to spread ourselves out in so many directions. You have to do what you feel is best. Split your time accodingly with your own family/huisband and your mom. Balance is the key.

Love Pauline

 
Old 11-26-2008, 05:23 AM   #6
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

Hi Sunny....
Everyone has given you such wonderful advice on this. As I'm not a hands on caregiver, I admire so much all the tough decisions you all have to make....this one is tough also. But remember you can only feel guilt because you first feel love, right?
I'm sure your beautiful mom made it a big priority to give her children wonderful holiday memories when you were all young, so now you have to do the same for your own family. I agree with Deb, it doesnt matter what day you celebrate the holiday on.....as long as you are there at some point.
You have nothing whatsover to feel guilty about......sad to say the heart of a caregiver is just too big for their own good sometimes......so just celebrate with Mom when you are able, and enjoy enjoy enjoy the rest of your family. That is the best gift for Christmas you could possibly give your mom! I know she would agree!!!

Love, Caroline xo

 
Old 11-26-2008, 09:09 AM   #7
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

Well Mom called 14 times yesterday. No kidding 14 times. She is really struggling to hang on. She just came out and ask me if I was going to come to get her for Thanksgiving??? "Of course I am if you want to be here". "I want to be with you".
Who could say No to their Mom? Not me of course. Its going to be a hard one this year. My kids will help and it will be fine.........I say with my fingers crossed!!! LOL
I did see the Dr. for my knee I got cortozone shots in both knees.....OUCH!!!
My knees are shot along with my ENTIRE body...........getting older is not for the weak!!!!
OK I'm done complaining for the moment friends.
I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Love to all,
Chris

 
Old 11-26-2008, 09:11 AM   #8
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

Chris,

Have a BIG glass of wine, grit your teeth, and enjoy your day. What we do for our families.....hang in there....BTW you can bite the towel also...

 
Old 11-26-2008, 09:21 AM   #9
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

Sunnydaze, You are not alone, my family is also having the same issue but with our father. We are also from NH. As my dads doctor told my mom who are you doing this for you or he. An to be honest it was for all of us, not him. He would not want to go back to the facility so why even make that an issue for him and it would break our hearts just to hear him say that he did not want to go back. We will go visit like we do normallydo and have a good time without the word "Thanksgiving" but we are nothing but thankful this year just to have him with us.

I wish you and your family a very HAPPY THANKGIVING.... Just enjoy your day with her know matter how you spend it. You will always have that day to remember so make it special.

Jean

 
Old 11-26-2008, 09:48 AM   #10
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

I think your doctor is right Jean.... we do have to ask ourselves who we are doing this for and be honest with our answer. Where they are is their home. Why not celebrate in "their" home.

My plans for christmas were thwarted to please a few that find the AL "depressing". If it turns into the disaster of last year, I will be there, do most of the cooking, and deal with whatever Mom and Dad thow our way.

The book I mentioned earlier "Talking to Alzheimer's" reminded me that what we think is a matter of mind. How we think effects what we think about something and we can change the way we think about something. If we think about our loved ones home as a horrible depressing place then that is what we will see and we will respond to that. So leaving our loved ones in that horrible depressing place makes us guilty. If we think of it as their home with people who love and care for them then why would we have guilt? We just give them a moment of celebration. They live in the moment with no static time line we do and then it is gone. So celebate your thankfulness with them, give them their moment in their home, and then take your time as well......

Love, deb

 
Old 11-26-2008, 10:51 AM   #11
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

Diane, I have to add my ditto!

In your past posts, you've mentioned how hard it is to take your mom anywhere, as she doesn't want to get back out of the car when you take her back. And she's around stage 6, right?

You aren't abandoning your mom for these important holidays. You're adapting them to what she can handle, and that is nothing but LOVING! You can have a lovely Thanksgiving visit with her, bring some special decorations, special plate of food, some memorable music, etc, and make some brand new traditions in her new home. Invite any family members who want to celebrate with her. And for your own Thanksgiving, you also start new traditions with the rest of the family that can involve remembering past Thanksgivings and all the good memories of sharing them with your mom. She'll be there in spirit.

Caregiving is HARD! You need to care for yourself and your family, or your own health will start being affected. It's okay to have separate holidays. That doesn't mean you love your mom any less! Personally, I think that dragging her out where it's going to be hard for her and unpleasant for family members isn't in her best interest.

Make a badge for yourself and pin it to your clothing: "Guilt-Free Zone"

Then remind yourself whenever you start falling into that deep pit that you are not going to let yourself believe those lies! No guilt, okay? You're doing the loving thing by having separate celebrations!

We love you, sweetie! I'm tossing you a smiley face towel. You can use it to tuck under your mom's chin while she enjoys some special holiday time set apart just for her, all attention focused on that great lady!

Emily

 
Old 11-26-2008, 12:15 PM   #12
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

You all make so much sense and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I guess I needed to hear that it's okay not to plan on mom for the holdiays anymore if it would just open up a new can of worms, so to speak, in why she needs to go back to the facility.

As it has turned out, we are having lake effect snow that is supposed to last through tomorrow anyway. How can I even think of taking her out just for a dinner that she probably doesn't even know why we are celebrating the day?

You're all right, I'm trying to continue the tradition as though nothing has changed. I know in my heart that it would be a rough go of it just getting her in and out of a car; the snow; and the DOG...it just isn't worth it...not to mention if she falls down or slips while here...we could end up in the ER...and for what?

I've decided to stop by and see her tomorrow and not even mention Thanksgiving. I feel as though the time I spend over there with her, that not too many other family members do, more than makes up for her needing to be here for dinner.

Thank you all again, and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 
Old 11-26-2008, 12:32 PM   #13
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

What you said goes to the bottom of the problem Sunny.... we don't want to admit that life is different now and when we do things to accomodate those differences we feel angst because our lives have changed so dramatically. It's not guilt for something we have done but guilt that we can not fix what has gone so terribly wrong. Or at least that's what seems to be going on with me.

Love, deb

PS... putting on one of IBake's guilt free zone buttons!!!

 
Old 11-26-2008, 02:19 PM   #14
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

Emily...you have so nicely put into words exactly what Sunny needed to hear! Actually ALL of us have benefitted from your post, and can hopefully get thru these upcoming holidays with the realization that life never goes back to "how it used to be"!

I think that's probably the most difficult....when that realization of how permanent changes hits us...and the anxious/scary anticipation of the next change...and the next change...and the next....

Every family member is affected in some way...I worried about my children and their Grandmother(s)...what memories would they have? I pretended to myself that it was important to follow past traditions...but deep-down I knew we'd never be able to simply enjoy the fact that everyone was together and having a wonderful time...too much time worrying about what might happen, or would happen, or already did! It's so hard not to feel guilty...but there will be so many similiar challenges in dealing with this disease that you'll learn the REST of your family needs your attention too!

Our loved ones that are living away from home will have those familiar dinners...they'll share in a few conversations and giggles...and most likely, they will not realize it's a holiday. Those who are taking care of their loved ones at home have very different challenges....and bless, bless, bless their hearts!

You brought up a good subject, Sunny...the answers have been helpful to all facing this...................Pam

 
Old 11-26-2008, 09:40 PM   #15
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Re: Holidays...I feel so guilty...

I am sittng here in the quiet wondering why we, and it is usually us women, who care so much and suffer such angst. We try so hard to provide a "normal" holiday for our loved ones with this disease, or should I say that we try to provide the rest of the family with a normal holiday and bring the loved one with the disease along also and try to make sure that they act as normal as possible also.

Why do we feel the need to provide the world-as we know it-with all of their needs being met? Why do we need to meet their needs for the holiday? Is it because we can't accept that we have to change the holidays now that we have this in our midst? We feel the need to try to keep our traditions alive to prove that we can carry on and still make the most of our families and our lives.

This has robbed us all. Our loved ones wouldn't want us to be killing ourselves like this, trying to make sure that they have a holiday, trying to please relative who don't have the coutesy to stop by to see your loved ones on a holiday or any other day, and cooking for the gathering or just bringing a dish if you are lucky. We have lost the spirit of the holiday by looking for the holiday..

what has come of us ladies....

 
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