The Unwelcome Guest
Holidays are really hard for a family with a person who has dementia.
Do you include the LBD or Alzheimer's person in your family plans--even if his/her needs are quite different from those of the rest of the family? Or do you celebrate the holiday with the rest of the family and leave Grandma out of the central dinner or other events?
When I proposed having Easter dinner at 1 or 2 pm, so Mom could join us and then go back to her residence, my husband objected. He wanted to mow the lawn or be outdoors in the afternoon rather than face an elaborate, interminable meal with just the three of us--him, me, and my mother.
"Your family always has dinner in the middle of the afternoon," he complained. "Having to sit through a meal then ruins my day."
I didn't point out that his own mother is having a catered Easter dinner for 23 family members, scheduled for early afternoon to accommodate travel times for various relatives traveling from several hours away. If we weren't a continent away, he would be spending his Easter at that event.
He would rather eat at 7 or 8 pm, even on holidays. And the meal should always be simple, as few dishes as possible.
If our daughters were home, on the other hand, he would accept having an elegant Easter dinner. The scene would be more lively than just him, me, and my mother sitting there.
For Mom, however, a meal at 7 pm is a little difficult. She usually eats at 5 pm, is given her shower at 6 pm, and is napping peacefully in her large recliner by 7 pm, prior to her 9 pm medications and bedtime.
Actually, she could probably eat at 7 pm and return to her residence at 8 pm for her shower, but that would be a little more difficult for me.
She has no private caregiver tomorrow, so I will arrive at her room at 7 am or so, dress her and take her to the dining room for breakfast by 8 am, take her to church at 9:30 am, and bring her to our house after church.
If I keep her at our house until 7 or 8 pm, that means I face a 12-hour day of caregiving.
Perhaps I should return her to her residence after church and then bring her to our house at 7 pm. But at Ocean View Assisted Living, they will serve dinner at 5 pm, so she will be eating two dinners in a row.
I'm not sure what to do.
Will she know she has missed Easter dinner if I take her back to her residence at 2 pm and she stays there for the rest of the day? Perhaps she won't remember that on Easter she should be eating a nice dinner with family members.
Will I be able to shower her at 6 pm at her residence, leave her there for the night, and still serve dinner at 8 pm?
There are no easy answers.
But at least I expect an easier Easter than last year, when I arrived at 8 am to take her to church and found her extremely agitated, unwilling to leave the building because the world was ending.
We never made it to church. I finally got her into the car and took her home, where she sat in the car for hours refusing to come into the house.
My daughter finally coaxed her out of the car and we had a fairly nice dinner at about 6 pm--but from John's point of view, I'm sure it was interminable, too elaborate, and too early.