My mother, who lives three hours away, loves to visit me for a couple weeks. My sister, who lives next door to my mother and is her caregiver, says that when mom gets back home, she has behavior problems. Mom’s doctor has suggested that it might not be a good idea for mom to visit me. I’m having a hard time understanding why my mother shouldn’t visit if she wants to. Please advise.
Your situation reminds me of the old saying, “Don’t sacrifice the good for the perfect.” Your mother may be having some transitional issues when she goes back and forth, but it sounds like she is also happy to spend time with you.
It’s hard for me to give a definitive answer without having more information, but my instinct is to keep doing what you are doing and evaluate the situation every few months.
To be more proactive, find out more about the behaviors your sister is talking about. Are they serious enough to warrant this change or does your mother bounce back after a day or two? Is something specific triggering the challenges? Could a small change—like making sure mom wears her favorite sweater, listens to her favorite music, spends time out of doors, or gets her favorite meal on her first day back home—could ease the transition?
Or could the problem actually be the relationship between you and your sister? Perhaps you both need to be sure that you are on the same page about care for mom and engaging her with consistent, supportive care. Sometimes family members like your sister, even when exhausted or stressed, don’t want to give up control to another person in the family. Stress to your sister that you want to maintain your relationship with her over the long haul and that it is important to you to spend time with Mom, while giving your sister a break. Consider asking another family member or trusted friend to mediate if the conflict grows.
When mom’s dementia worsens, it will be harder—even impossible—to move her from place to place. But I sense that day has not arrived quite yet.