Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thursday, January 14, 2010 gerifitz, Community Member, asks

Q: How do I get family members to visit.

My husband is one of 6 children.  He has lost 3 sisters and now there are only 3 brothers left.  My husband, who has moderate alzheimers, does not get visits from either of his brothers.  One is 2 hours away and the other is 1 1/2 hrs. away.  The one that lives the farthest used to come and help out with outside chores, but that has stopped. Although we fly 3 hours to Florida to visit our daughter and granddaughter my husband does not like to travel by car to visit his brothers as it is too confusing for him.  I don't think they understand. How can I get them to visit?

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Answers (5)
Dorian Martin, Health Guide
1/14/10 10:37am

Hi, Gerifitz,

 

You're facing a difficult situation. I've found that some family members can't deal with the realization of what Alzheimer's is doing to their relative and avoid visiting. I believe that was part of what happened in my family when my mom's favorite cousin never made a visit (and he was only 2 hours away). I'd suggest having an honest and compassionate conversation with each brother and explain that, even though your husband is in the moderate stages, he really values their company and wishes they would come to visit. You also might also plan a special event that takes the focus off of your husband's Alzheimer's and places it on someone else - perhaps one of the children in the family or a family friend. That way, everyone could get together without having the focus beon your husband's disease.


Take care and keep us posted on how you handle this.

 

Dorian

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NC, Community Member
1/14/10 12:01pm

Hi Gerifitz,

 

It is so hard for family to realize that someone has Alzheimer's and needs all the support.

It depends on how they really relate to one another and how close they really are. Sometimes maybe they have a hard time to come over. Have you tried to get the video or photos about their lives and show them to your husband?

My FIL's other son (my husband's step-brother) is in Europe and he is too poor to come over the States to see his Dad (they also had some conflicts years ago.) But the son has kept sending photos and my FIL seems to love the pictures although he really forgot about the son and his grandson there unless the son calls. (My FIL can still recognize the voice and somehow acknowledge him on the phone but that is about it.)

 

Maybe you can remind the siblings that your husband will someday forget about them. So maybe it is best to come to see him now to make peace or have reunion. They may think it takes a long time. But for my FIL, he forgot about his other son in 2008 right after he was diagnosed with AD in late 2006 with moderate stage. In 2009 he is getting confused with my husband too. I am glad we have spent 7 months with my FIL in 2009 (we are long-distance caregivers for my FIL and we hired home care co. to help him.)

Things like writing a card to sending photos or even phone calls will help him a lot.

 

Hope this helps,

Nina

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NC, Community Member
1/14/10 12:16pm

This is regarding your daughter. I am sure if you tell her that her father has trouble traveling, she will try to come over instead of asking you to go. Sometimes people don't realize how bad AD is. Also the patients are afraid of getting lost just by being in the car driven to a strange place. Not to mention airplanes....

Of course if you guys want to move to Florida to be with your daughter, that is another issue. Otherwise, you need to inform the family how your husband progresses with AD and how he behaves so the family gets the clues.

 

Good luck,

Nina

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CJ, Community Member
1/16/10 6:45am

Hello.  I've been thinking about your post a lot.  It's hard for people to visit, I think, when then can't anticipate what the outcome of their visit will be. This, I believe, is partly the issue I face with my mother, anyway.

 

In the situation you are in with the two brothers, it could be that the one who used to help with the household chores feels very awkward coming over and not helping.  But he probably doesn't want to have to help out any longer.  Or maybe he just can't help out and then drive the distance back home with confidence.  And so he stays away.

 

As for the other one, who knows what could be keeping him away.  Some people don't handle difficulty well. 

 

It could be the brothers fear that they might develop alzheimer's, and seeing their brother who has alzheimer's makes them worry about themselves.  It could be they worry they might cry about the situation in front of their brother.  It could also be that they just want to live their own lives, or what's left of their lives, without living in the grief that can come when they see their brother in a deteriorating situation.

 

I have had an interesting time of it with my sisters and my mother.  The two oldest sisters (12 and 14 years older than I) have been coming with some degree of regularity.  They live 3 and 7 hours' drive away (respectively)!  They stay overnight, either here or at a motel nearby.  The other sister, who lives only an hour away from me, has not been coming to see our mother, almost at all, by comparison.  I don't know if she thinks that if she avoids seeing our mother, then our mother might not really be in difficulty or what - but she *has* been avoiding seeing our mother, for whatever reason.  When she is here, it seems as if she wants my mother to be the way our mother was.  It's hard for her to deal with my mother on my mother's terms, being attentive to her needs and wishes.  I tell my sisters to come when they can and as often as they can. 

 

So I do see a difference in the way my sisters are handling this news about our mother, and I try to see the situation from their vantage point, most of the time.  But as the one who is here being present for our mother all the time, I do find sometimes that I wish they could understand how hard it is for our mother to try to cope, to fill in the gaps, and so forth.  I feel that our mother is being quite brave as she faces this new adventure in her life. 

 

It's hard to see a loved one in difficulty. Maybe that is why the brothers don't come over.

 

Have you tried having a private talk with them about their absences, just to see if they'd open up with you about it?

 

I hope they come by soon.  What a loving wife you are, trying to figure out how to make your husband's life better.

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
1/16/10 8:42am

Hi Gerifitz,

There are some really good comments and suggestions here. I believe most of us have had a version of this problems.

 

If you have a relatively good relationship with these people, then a heart to heart talk may help. Some people are so afraid they will get "sucked in" to more than they can handle that they stay away all together. Others just don't know what to say or do, so they stay away. These things can be talked about in an honest way - sometimes. There again, it depends on the people and the relationships.

 

I do believe many people see themselves a developing the disease, or even aging - which they know will happen. They are subconsciously afraid of this and just can't handle it.

 

I wrote this article, which deals with care centers, but some of it may be pertinent to your situation: Refusing to Visit an Elder in a Care Center .

In the end, you can try, but you can't change people. Good luck.

 

Carol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By gerifitz, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/25/10, First Published: 01/14/10