Q. Is it morally wrong to not visit a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s in a nursing home? What is the point of visiting if they don’t remember you, or won’t remember you ever visited?
answered by Erica Orchard, Activities Co-ordinator
Let me tell you what happened with my parents. Dad had Alzheimer’s for many years, and Mum looked after him until she was physically and emotionally worn out. He became aggressive towards her (this is very common) and was sectioned for a month in order to be observed and get his meds sorted out while a place was found for him in a specialist dementia care home. Three days later she broke her hip, and went to a different hospital. She was there for two weeks, but of course that didn’t mean she was better: she couldn’t look after him at home, she couldn’t drive to see him for three months, and she also couldn’t visit care homes. His month in hospital was extended to three, and the council found a place for him. We were fortunate that it was pretty convenient for her to get to by bus, and was a good home.
Mum and I still see her broken hip as a blessing, for several reasons: she didn’t have the guilt or worry about his care; but also it allowed her three months of respite, during which time friends from the church and neighbours got into the habit of visiting her and taking her out. She rejoined the history club and the church choir, which she hadn’t been able to do whilst looking after him.
Their enforced separation meant that she was able to rebuild her life. He was never going to come home anyway, and when he moved into his care home Mum didn’t feel that she had to see him every day. He was well past the stage of knowing whether she’d been in that day or not, and was overjoyed to see her two or three times a week, and content when she wasn’t there. One lovely thing was that every time he saw her he asked her to marry him!
When he died Mum already had her friends, her clubs and her routine to sustain her.
Being married to someone with dementia is being widowed by degrees. (And a similar process if losing a parent in this way too). And it’s exhausting. You need to look to your own future, and look after your own health. Those of us whose job it is to look after your loved ones have been trained to do this, and we’re not with them twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. We get proper lunch breaks and tea breaks, and we have holidays. Trust us to look after them, doing the less pleasant aspects of their care, and enjoy visiting them regularly, but not reluctantly.
If you find it difficult to know what to do or say, ask whoever provides activities within the home for advice. Here are a few ideas to get you started: read aloud from a newspaper, poetry book, even a book you enjoy; listen to their favourite music; give them a hand massage; go at a meal time and eat with them or feed them; go for a walk in the garden; look at photos; take in an object that will have some meaning for them, like a musical instrument they used to play, part of a car engine, a piece of embroidery; take some fresh herbs for them to smell; take a doll, stuffed toy or soft blanket to touch; sing or dance together; take some wood and sandpaper for them to smooth it with; listen to the radio and hold their hands; do their nails; put makeup on them; comb their hair; take some fruit in to taste; plant bulbs in a pot; do some colouring. Go for as long or as little time as you want to. If you do this sort of thing the benefit to them will be enormous, and your visits will be guilt free and interesting. You will be able to carry on loving them, just differently: and as your loved one’s spirit gradually leaves this world you can prepare yourself for your life when their body has followed their spirit.
source : Quora