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How often can we realistically visit father-in-law? Six hours each way.

(120 Posts)
Coffeepot72 Mon 26-Oct-15 11:06:24

I've tried really hard to try and think how I'd feel if it were my Dad in a nursing home - but I'm still unsure.

DH's Dad is in a nursing home, approx 6 hours drive from us. Yes, there are trains, but the journey would involve several changes, and the nearest station is quite a distance from the nursing home, so its more straightforward to drive.

Until recently, we'd visit every couple of months, driving up on Saturday, staying overnight in a Travelodge, and driving back on Sunday. It's hard going emotionally, not to mention the travel is very tiring too. And it's expensive.

FIL has deteriorated recently - he had dementia, he doesn't recognise DH, he doesn't even seem to know we are there, the nursing staff tell us this is quite normal with advanced dementia cases. This had made DH want to visit more regularly, he feels bad that his father is very poorly, literally hundreds of miles away.

And of course I understand this, it's only natural. But DH is now talking about visiting every couple of weeks. I work in retail and work most Saturdays, so if we want to go over a weekend I generally need to take a day's holiday. We don't go during the week as DH is self employed, and isn't earning if he isn't working. I don't like DH to go on his own, because he's not the best driver when he's tired and upset, so we usually split the driving.

FIL is in quite good shape physically, and could potentially live for quite a few more years yet - obviously I'm not wishing him to pass away, before anyone attacks me - but I just don't know what is a reasonable pattern of visiting. DH's sister lives near the nursing home and visits regularly, so its not like FIL doesn't get many visitors, but the thought of trying to manage such difficult/expensive visits every couple of weeks for the foreseeable future really worries me. And I feel bad if I try and point this out to DH.

Please don't flame me, I'd hate to see either of my parents in such poor health, and of course I'd want to visit if that were the case, but the distance and logistics is a real headache.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Mon 26-Oct-15 11:11:28

We used to visit DP's parents every 3 weeks, and they were a similar distance away (although not in nursing homes, they just lived there).

I think every couple of weeks is quite reasonable. Your only real choice here is whether you go too.

Even if FIL makes a few more years, it won't be long in the grand scheme of things, and your DH will only regret the visits that he doesn't make.

I'd accept that DH needs to go every couple of weeks regardless, so the cost is going to be spent anyway, and then just decide how often you want to go with him and how much of your holiday you want to use.

If either of DP's parents had actually been sick, we'd probably have been going more than every couple of weeks, so I think that's already quite a compromise. You get used to the long drives, they become part of life. I miss them now we live closer and don't do them anymore!

summerainbow Mon 26-Oct-15 11:18:06

Right you you 600 miles from a sick parent
If you can't move then you have to forget about holidays night out the lot .
Try and find some where cheap to stay sister house. Let dh go alone . He can sleep on freinds floors if need be . Find a camp site near by . .

DisappointedOne Mon 26-Oct-15 11:19:48

Could you move him closer to you?

VimFuego101 Mon 26-Oct-15 11:22:42

Do you have kids? If not then I agree, it's up to your DH how often he makes the trip and up to you how much of your holiday you use going with him. I think every 2 weeks will be incredibly tiring for him if he keeps doing it for the long term though, I would say monthly is more than reasonable.

Coffeepot72 Mon 26-Oct-15 11:24:06

I was going to suggest monthly visits Vim - we'll just run ourselves ragged with exhaustion otherwise, and no one benefits from that.

girlywhirly Mon 26-Oct-15 11:25:19

If DH went alone by train some of the time, could he stay overnight at his DSIS' home and they could visit together? This would save a bit of the cost on a hotel, and he could plan visits so that he could buy rail tickets in advance which is cheaper. DH could use the time on the train to do bits of administration/paperwork for his business.

Leelu6 Mon 26-Oct-15 11:27:27


I have no experience of this but could your DH go by train to visit his dad every couple of weeks and then you could go with him every two months?

If your DH buys the train tickets in advance, they may not be too expensive?

I think it's unrealistic to expect a spouse to travel 6 hours each way to visit a FIL every couple of weeks.

I only manage to visit in-laws every 2 or 3 months but my DH goes up more often.

Cheby Mon 26-Oct-15 11:31:52

I would keep going at the same regularity yourself, but then DH can go as often as he likes in the meantime. Surely he could stay with his sister if it's just him? Could he look at booking v. cheap train fares in advance, or coaches if it's just him?

PerspicaciaTick Mon 26-Oct-15 11:36:08

I wonder if there is something that your DH could to supplement his visits, which will help him feel connected to his DDad and give his DDad some pleasure? If he wrote regular letters with photos of what you are all doing, would there be someone in the nursing home with the time to read it with FiL. Or maybe an audio letter, with music etc., which your FiL could listen to on a Walkman (or similar).

Fairenuff Mon 26-Oct-15 11:48:45

Let dh go on his own.

TheHouseOnTheLane Mon 26-Oct-15 11:51:11

I live 24 hours from my mum....on the other side of the world. If the trip could be condensed into 6 hours I'd go every other week. Dementia or no Dementia.

TheHouseOnTheLane Mon 26-Oct-15 11:51:33

Why do you need to go too OP?

TheHouseOnTheLane Mon 26-Oct-15 11:52:55

Oh....just seen "I don't like DH to go on his own because he's not the best driver when he's upset."


But he's an adult. It's not about you liking's about him wanting to see his Dad...and not you "having" to go along too.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Mon 26-Oct-15 11:53:29

Monthly sounds reasonable.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Mon 26-Oct-15 11:54:01

If he wants to go more often he should go alone.

Coffeepot72 Mon 26-Oct-15 11:54:26

Thank you for all the replies suggestions - I always worry about DH's driving if he goes alone, I don't like to think of him undertaking the return journey when he's tired and upset (I normally drive back from such visits). DH doesn't share my concerns and I find it hard to convince him to take the train if travelling solo.

Due to FIL's dementia, he's no longer aware of what is going on around him, he doesn't respond to the nurses or visitors, so DH can 't phone him between visits, or send him letters. Dememtia is a horrible illness.

TheHouseOnTheLane Mon 26-Oct-15 11:56:06

If DH does not share your concerns then that's up to him. He wants to visit his don' you don't go.

Simple. This isn't about you feeling comfortable's about your husband's Dad.

Leelu6 Mon 26-Oct-15 11:56:31

@ TheHouseOnTheLane

Appreciate that you're far from your mum and that must be hard, but that doesn't help the OP. It's easy to say what we would do in any given situation but the reality is often different.

Visiting a FIL with dementia who doesn't even know who you are is very different to visiting a mum.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Mon 26-Oct-15 12:00:02

cant he go on his own? that makes the most sense

TheHouseOnTheLane Mon 26-Oct-15 12:00:42


It's obvious the OP has an issue with her DH driving or being away all day....he does not...he wants to see his Dad. It's nothing to do with her feeling comfortable about his driving and everything to do with the DH's Dad. I know what Dementia does and is and there are some clear moments.

So saying "doesn't even know who you are" is crap.

Leelu6 Mon 26-Oct-15 12:02:13

OP, I think you will just need to let your DH make the drive up there himself.

If he knows you're not there to take over the driving, he may be much less emotional and very careful.

You could go with him every couple of months and hopefully you will notice a change in his behaviour.

I hope he is not guilt-tripping you into going with you?

Coffeepot72 Mon 26-Oct-15 12:03:15

I think that keeping DH alive is pretty important.

TheHouseOnTheLane Mon 26-Oct-15 12:03:20

It's a well known fact that patients with Dementia can seem at times to "snap back" and be there again.

Even if the DH's Dad did not...that is no reason to think it's not worth going as regularly as he wants to. When loved ones have Dementia, it can be healing to be with them as often as you need to.

TheHouseOnTheLane Mon 26-Oct-15 12:03:57

Coffee do you have reason to think DH could die if he drives?

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