It has been a long time since I posted. But recently I have been struck by the fear of visiting my Mom and I do not know what to do. I have literally pulled up outside the nursing home and cried my eyes out and not went into visit my Mom. She has been in the nursing home for three years now and I am the one she can always count on. When I go to visit we just sit and stare at each other. She apologizes because she has nothing to talk about and we both sit there and feel so uncomfortable. The nursing home tells me she is in the late stage. I feel that the nursing home has become her life and I am the intruder. Does anyone have any advice that might get me out of this rut. Thanks for listening to me.
I suggest that you try to read to her or find other things to do with her. Did you sit with her for activities? You can share the activities with her. As long as she can talk and walk a little bit, you can always try to find something to share with her. Even if you just sit by her, it is a comfort for her. At least someone is there to make her feel secure. I don't think you are outsider to her. She just doesn't know what to do with you.
My FIL is in a residential home and lots of time we just sat with him as well in activity room or we ate with him. Last time my husband read to him and he responded.
Everyone is different. You can also read a book yourself when you sit by her. Like what she told you, she has nothing to say, but I am sure she feels the comfort from you.
Even if she does not know you, you would be like an one on one caregiver who is with her.
These elders appreciate that a lot.
By the way, my FIL does not know us exactly - he also forgot my husband's childhood and family events. He treats us like colleagues and etc although he still knows his son by name.
My FIL does not talk much either since Feb. He is in stage 6/7.
Good to hear from you again. I just wanted you to know that I too, have driven to see my stepdad and not been able to bring myself to go in a time or two. I bet we're pretty normal
It's been three years for me too, and sometimes.....it's just all too much. I agree with the other suggestions - of doing an activity, or reading, either to her, or just reading something yourself.
I really do believe they are comforted - just by our presence. Oftentimes I just sit with my stepdad - or we watch TV together (which he hated before he had dementia btw) or sometimes listen to music. I always think the "hello" is the best part since he still knows who I am and always has a happy smile when I open the door to his room I'll take the good things where I can find them.
Take care - and don't be too hard on yourself when those days hit where you can't bring yourself to visit. It's okay. Let us know how you're doing
Julie, three years is a long time. I have been in the same situation for just a month short of 3 years... having lost Dad in the middle. Sometimes it is hard to go in but I always seem to do it. Sometimes Mom knows me and greets me when I come in with a huge smile. Those moments are the ones I take a chance on. Most days I just walk with Mom. That is what she does. There are rare occasions when she makes me smile, comes out with a lucid statement, or gives me her smile. Yep, those are the moments I take a chance on. It is ok to just sit. I did that this afternoon with Mom. Just being there is enough. Yes, we are the ones they depend on and they know will be back. That is enough to bring me back. The facility has become her world but I am still that special person who keeps showing up. I just join her in her world for a little while.
Take some old photos and talk about them. You can read to her, listen to music, or just talk about your day. She doesn't have to understand what you say. It is your presence that pleases. If she can be up in a wheel chair then take her for a spin around the facility or out into a courtyard. Food is always special if you can bring something she enjoys and can eat. Or just tell her how much you love her and how sweet she is to you. Just go in and start talking as you would with anybody else. She's your Mom and you want to tell her about your day. It doesn't matter if she can answer you.
If you go in, what is the worst that can happen? The two of you just sit and be together? That has value.
You all never cease to amaze me with your wonderful knowledge and/or your wonderful understanding and support. I have been away from you all to long. What I was thinking was abnormal is normal in the world of Alzheimers. I appreciate all the tips, reading to her is a great idea. Thank you, Thank you!
What we see each day is normal for the job we are doing though it is totally abnormal for the rest of life. It takes all that we KNOW about relationships and life in general and throws it out the window. Yep, we see it as abnormal when compared to life but by joining forces we see that the abnormal we see in this disease is actually normal. That's why I love this site!!! We can compare our abnormal and know we are all actually in the same boat of abnormality which is nice. It's nice to have companionship and validation!!!
Before I read the others' answers, just a tip or two from my long experience with Mom. Bring some hand lotion with you, or use any she may have there, and rub it into her hands. Comb her hair, massage her scalp. Give her a manicure. Rub her back. It doesn't have to be verbal communication. Sit there next to her and hold her hand, read aloud from a book, sing a song. I have a croaky voice caused by a bad larynx infection and scarring, but Mom loved old folk songs so I sang (croaked) them and every now and then she sang along.
Above all don't feel guilty that it is hard, scary and weird to be there, it is. We know. Go anyway.
Last edited by Martha H; 08-31-2011 at 03:25 PM.
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I related to the posting very much. I find it gets harder and harder to go to the NH, and I have begun to sit outside trying to prepare myself.
I thought it would get a little easier as time passed, since I know what to expect more and know that DH is being well-cared for.
In my deepest heart, I don't want to visit. I don't want to see him in this state, and I feel that I have failed him by "letting" him live this way. Intellectually, I know this isn't true but I also know how he would have hated every moment of his life in the NH.
I visit to honor the man he was, and to keep my marriage vows. The kids visit to respect their Dad, and to reciprocate the things that he did for them when they were small. We bring him sweet treats or cokes, and keep an eye on his clothing and personal care. We talk to the nurses and aides to make sure that the NH knows the family is involved. We babble to him about work, our activities or the news. Sometimes he'll still smile at me and say "Mom," say some gibberish that sounds like he's talking about his former job, or occasionally come out with something surprising, like calling one of the kids by a childhood nickname. Admittedly, our visits are shorter than they were a year ago and there's a horrible sense of relief when leaving the NH.
We're not saints. All we can do is the best we can do. Whether it's the NH or a hospital/hospice visit for an ill relative, sometimes we have to force ourselves to do the right thing. Some days it's harder than others, but we're probablky going to want our own relatives and kids to do this for us someday.
Julie - I'll be crying in the car next to you.
Julie...let me tell you how I spent my time with my mom. Toward the end I never went in wondering or worrying about what I would say or not say. I just went in with my little tote bag of tricks and did stuff. In it I had lotion, shampoo, if needed, fingernail clippers..a banana..always a banana, wet wipes...lysol spray if the room smelled....and other necessities for one reason or another.
I would get there at breakfast and afterwards I would take her back to her room...wipe her face, brush her hair, put cream on her hands and arms and legs and her feet. She couldn't speak much but she sure could smile so I knew she enjoyed it. I would speak randomly throughout her beauty treatment. I would tell stories she had told me of antics my brother or I were guilty of..I would show her a picture or two of her loved ones I had placed around the room ...and I would sing...mindless singing. It can drive most people mad with my mindless singing, I suppose, but I would be doing things around her room...tidying it up or whatever and then, more than once, I would turn around and she would looking at me and smiling..just from seeing me and hearing me. Then after I was done with my "chores" and after making sure she was presentable to the world, (lipstick, always lipstick ) I would take her in her wheel chair downstairs to the outside world and we would take a stroll. We would walk outside and around the building and I would sing any and all songs she used to sing with me. Then I would take her upstairs to her room and she would have her banana. By that time it was lunch time and I would take her back to the dining room and leave her with the kind aids who would feed her lunch. I would kiss her goodbye and head out knowing we had a good day. She probably didn't say 5 words but we had a good time. We were together.
It is what it is. They are where they are. Nothing we can do about it so we may as well sing.
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