How do I know what is the right thing to do?

Oct 20 2016 Published by under dementia

I wrote this several months ago. I had forgotten it.


My mother is slipping out of this world (see these posts: here and  here and here and here). I've written a lot about my pain and hers:

I too want Mama

Winter of her life is now

Snow on hair and mind

I see her once or twice a week. I care for her when I see her, but that's almost more for me, as there are others who care for her where she lives.  She is in a good place, a safe place. She is being taken care of by people who have a calling to take care of her. But almost every time I leave her I think: should I being doing more?

And then the internal dialogue starts:

"Should I be doing more?"

"But what else could I do?"

"I could go see her every day"

"That would be very difficult, and end up taking 60-90 minutes out of my already over-filled time"

"But I waste so much time... maybe this instead of reading sci-fi at night"

"Would it matter to her?"

"How can I possibly know what matters to her?"

I do not think that I am alone in this dialogue. I would guess that every aging child, every adult child who cares for their parent, whether they have the resources I do, or whether the demented (or not demented) parent is living at home in too-small of a space, has this discussion with themselves. To take on the care of a parent, one must already have made a commitment.



6 responses so far

  • I'm so sorry that you're going through this. I think anyone with an ailing parent goes through all these questions. The fact that you're even worrying about this means that you're doing the right thing. I'm sending you good thoughts.

  • chall says:

    It's hard seeing and living with the decline of an elderly parent och grandparent. I am sorry that you are going through this, and the guilt/other feelings and hope that you find find peace within yourself.

    It's not something people, at least around me, talk too much about and share the feelings of inadequacy or confusion and other things. Plus that it might in one way be easier to not go visit since then it's in the back of the mind, and not in the forefront when you miss them, how they were before and wanting to spend more time. I agree with Amanda, the fact you are thinking about it means you're caring. If anything, I hope that you can feel comfortable in the knowledge that you have found a good place for her to live and that she and you have a good relationship.

    Speaking from experience (a few different situations) seeing situations where children take care of their parents at home I'd say that it is extremely tough and very depending on the need of the parent and the ability of the child. In one of the situations the children were in the late 60ies taking care of the parents who were frail and needed a lot of physical help. It turned out to be almost dangerous for more than one party. In another one, the parent could stay on their own during the day and even help out with grandchildren. Although, in all the cases I've encountered I would say that one of the really hard things was the helping with the practical physical deal of having the parent live with them and needing help (shower/bathroom). These things were very draining and the shift of role of caregiver from one to another made the emotions raw and complicated. And the idea of working at the same time as the child, was very hard and complicated.

    Be kind to yourself and love the fact that you have a good relationship with your mother and get to spend time with her when you visit.

    (hope I didn't overstep or wrote something that can be interpreted bad)

  • Zuska says:

    Yes, this is the internal conversation that everyone tortures themselves with. You have captured it well.
    My heart goes out to you as I know all too well what this is like. I can only say, there is no "good" answer or perfect solution that eliminates all guilt, even for those with incredible resources at hand. See "No More Words", Reeve Lindbergh's remarkable memoir of caring for her mother Anne Morrow Lindbergh. If you have time to read it - I found it oddly consoling, as a caregiver.

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