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Seeing Mom for first time in years
Posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2021 7:21 AM
Joined: 11/13/2017
Posts: 38

I will be visiting my mom for the first time in 2 years next week. She lives in MC, and due to the pandemic, we have not traveled to see her until now. During that time, she has declined significantly. She's probably stage 6 on the 7-stage scale--she's incontinent and is very difficult to converse with. When I call her, she still recognizes me as her son; however, I am wondering whether she will recognize me in person. I feel like she's expecting an 18 year old, not a 44 year old. I believe her MC will allow us to do the visit unmasked if we're outside (which I requested), so at least she'll be able to see my face.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to make a visit with an LO at this stage a positive experience? I was thinking one thing I could do would be to scan some old family photos and bring my iPad and we could go through them together.  Still, I'm apprehensive. It's hard to see my mom like this. And, given her inability to really converse now, I'm not sure the best ways to interact. I usually just ask her simple questions and tell her stories about things going on in my life--although she's lost context of those things now, so very little registers as meaningful. My husband will be with me too, although I'm pretty sure she no longer remembers him.

Posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2021 9:19 AM
Joined: 6/20/2016
Posts: 2813

The pictures may affect her in one of 3 ways.  No recognition, positive recognition and happiness, or she may recognize them and be agitated.  If she seems distressed, forget about the pictures.  

It doesn't really matter if she "recognizes" you or not.  As long as you are there to visit and make it a pleasant visit it's okay.
MN Chickadee
Posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2021 9:38 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1360

I see my mother (late stage 6) many times per week and there are still times I don't think she recognizes me. Or sometimes I am someone familiar like the staff but she doesn't see me as family. As long as you manage expectations and go with the flow it will be ok. It's all right if she doesn't recognize you, that doesn't mean you can't have a nice visit and enjoy your time together.

I highly recommend music. Bring a bluetooth speaker or something and have a playlist ready. Music stimulates the mind of PWD in incredible ways. The part of the brain that processes music is often the last to go. My mother's favorite music makes her instantly happier, and sometimes even helps with cognition. Speech improves and things like that. When she starts tapping her toes and I can always tell we will have a good time. So her favorite music, especially oldies that might take her back, may be a good idea. 

I also bring gifts. My mother is huge into fidgeting. Giving her hands something to do during visits seems to help ease anxiety. They make so many things to fidget with now - the stuff the kids have (google "popits" and similar) and I also got her a fidget blanket of Etsy that she loves. It has all kinds of things sewn on to fidget with like snaps, ties, beads, pockets etc. 

And just be ready to seriously go with the flow. If she doesn't register who you are keep it light. Don't push it, just be whoever she needs you to be. If she says all kinds of weird untrue stuff smile and nod. You may just a random person who is in front of her being kind and looking at the birds together. It's ok to have some silences and just sit together. Conversing is really hard when they don't respond. Music helps fill silence as well. You might find a couple short visits to be preferable to one long one. Take any time together as a blessing no matter what context it is in. If you are able to keep that kind of mindset it should be ok. 

Posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2021 11:36 PM
Joined: 1/1/2021
Posts: 146

I think it's really important to be prepared to have a really short visit--no longer than a phone call. It's possible you could have a longer visit, but her attention span may be really short and sometimes the stress level begins to rise after a very few minutes. I don't say that will happen, but I think it's important to be prepared to be ok if it does.
Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 8:54 AM
Joined: 11/13/2017
Posts: 38

Thank you for the suggestions! I appreciate it. I like the idea to include music. My mom played piano her whole life, so I think she might enjoy that. And yes, I agree I should be prepared for the visit to be short. Even though I haven't seen her in 2 years, there's really not that much to say that she can comprehend, share or be interested in. That's fine. That's just the way it is now.
King Boo
Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 10:04 AM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 3540

Even if you are 'just a nice girl' who came to visit, it will positively impact her life - and yours as well.

Snacks, a favorite dessert are always nice to bring.  You may visit sometimes with your spouse, sometime alone.

Recognition may come and go, or not be present at all.  Different days can have different results.

Recreation therapy used to bring scented lotion to do hand massages - some people like the tactile stimulation, others not so much.

A fuzzy blanket can be a nice gift to wrap in while sitting.

Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2021 7:37 AM
Joined: 11/13/2017
Posts: 38

I wanted to follow up, and again express my appreciation for suggestions for visiting my mom. The visit went well. I brought my iPad loaded with an album of photos from some recent trips, with an emphasis on artwork and flowers (things my mother likes). This was a helpful way to focus our time--and a few pictures even elicited some interest from her, which was great (a Buckingham Palace photo got her talking about the Queen!). Also good was that she recognized me as her son--that I'm gray haired and bearded didn't seem to faze her. 

And we were very lucky to visit when we did. Soon after, there was a reported COVID case in the facility, so they suspended visits. And yesterday my mother was taken to the hospital and is very sick (not with COVID but other things), which has raised for me the possibility that could have been our last visit together. If so, I'm glad it was a nice visit and I got to hug my mom again.

Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2021 8:00 AM
Joined: 9/10/2021
Posts: 56

Oh, wow! Glad you got to see her and really glad to hear it went so well.   What a beautiful memory for you.

thank you for sharing this.   thank you, too, to others for good tips here for me for later this year. DH and i caregivers for MIL, but will be seeing mother sometime next month. (both our mothers are well into stage 5)


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