Last week I posed a question to the readers of the Alzheimer’s Reading Room.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we again have the discussion – Should we take Mom?
Is it too much for her? Too stressful to be in an unfamiliar place away from her comfort zone?
Will she want to leave early? – Unfair to her sister who lives in the same retirement home and who will want to stay longer.
And the unspoken question – Why, when she won’t remember it anyway?
But it’s Thanksgiving…
I feel so strongly that Mom, if at all possible, should continue to be a part of our life – especially major celebrations.
Am I being selfish or inclusive?
Am I thinking more of me and my need to keep Mom part of my life and less of her peace of mind?
Increasingly, when away from home too long, she becomes anxious, wondering where she is and why she is there. “Do I have to stay here?” she asks, impatient to return to the security of her small apartment.
And there have been occasions where taking Mom would have been unwise. As much as she loves the water, a very long trip to a family reunion at the beach was in that category. Too many unfamiliar faces, too much stimulus and too far away to return home quickly should she become uneasy.
But this is a relatively short trip – about 30 minutes. She loves taking drives and “getting out.”
I can take her home early if she becomes anxious. Mom’s sister, our wonderful Aunt, can ride home with my sister if she wants to stay longer.
I will work to keep her engaged – to keep anxiety at bay.
And Mother will definitely enjoy the food … especially dessert.
I think the central truth for me is that the life of our family would be diminished if Mom were not a part of it – knowing that adjustments are needed.
But I wonder – am I making the right decision for Mom?
People were incredibly generous in their responses – each sharing their experiences and expressing a tremendous resolve to include their parents in important family events.
BUT you have to have a plan. Commit yourself to engaging Mom or Dad throughout the evening. In Mom’s case, I’ll enlist her to help with chores – setting the table or folding napkins. I’ll ask her to play the piano. And I’ll be prepared to leave early and take her to a safe, secure place should she become uneasy.
And above all – enjoy the precious time you have together.