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To ignore family wishes and keep DD from visiting my dad?

(78 Posts)
permanentlyexhaustedpigeon Wed 22-Feb-17 19:39:27

My Dad has early-onset dementia (have posted about this on the Elderly Parents boards) and a variety of neurological issues, which mean he lives in a specialist nursing home these days. His symptoms fluctuate quite a lot: on good days you can have a fairly normal conversation with him for a while, even if he's a bit forgetful; on bad days he has no idea who I am, hallucinates and wanders around a lot. His memory is badly affected and he can't often recall events in the recent past.

DD is 6, and last saw Dad before his admission to hospital. She is scared of 'Granddad acting weird', which is understandable, and I haven't taken her to visit him since he became ill, though I try to go both on my own and with DH as often as I can. The other residents of the nursing home can be extremely unpredictable, and while they're well looked after, I think the shouting, swearing and loud noises that occasionally happen would be hard for her to understand, never mind that Granddad would almost certainly be 'acting weird' even on a good day. (Because of his condition he is not allowed out of the nursing home unless accompanied by at least one carer)

Unfortunately, Dad has been saying repeatedly that he wants to see DD, that I never visit (I do) and he misses both of us terribly. Our other relatives are convinced that my taking DD to see Dad would make a massive difference to his wellbeing and that she 'won't have a problem' with it.

I really don't think it's a suitable environment for DD, nor do I think it will make a lot of difference to Dad in the scheme of things. Other family members disagree. AIBU?

welshmist Wed 22-Feb-17 19:43:16

Can you get Dad out of the nursing home for a cuppa somewhere so that DD is not upset by the running of a nursing home if she is so sensitive?

HandsomeBoys Wed 22-Feb-17 19:47:34

From what you have said I would take my dc. You can leave if she gets upset or if it's not a good day for him.

Thebookswereherfriends Wed 22-Feb-17 19:50:12

I think you are being a bit unreasonable. I used to take my 3 year old to visit my Dad in his care home - also for dementia- and you should be able to explain to a 6 year old that people there are poorly and the way they act can't be helped. Does the home have a quieter room you could take your dad into for a visit with your daughter? The one my dad was in had a little conservatory which relatives could use which had a code, so other residents couldn't enter.

annandale Wed 22-Feb-17 19:52:17

You get to decide what experiences your dd has - whether you are being U or not.

I think meeting up outside the home is definitely a possibility. But I wouldn't be forced. I kept my dad and ds apart for a few years because I just didn't like the way he treated ds. I am quite brutal like that.

mrsBeverleygoldberg Wed 22-Feb-17 19:54:55

Could you visit on a good day in his room? When I was younger and visited my Grandma at a home for people with dementia, I found some of the other patients scary. I was 17.blush

Sirzy Wed 22-Feb-17 19:56:06

Can you make him an album full of lots of pictures of you both?

Is there any gardens at the home so you coild go on a nice day and sit outside so not as scary for her?

It's one where there is no easy answer, but what is right for your daughter has to come first.

CMOTDibbler Wed 22-Feb-17 19:56:06

If your DD is scared, she won't benefit at all from seeing your dad. If he doesn't remember that you visit, he won't benefit from the visit for longer than you are there on a good day. So I wouldn't take your dd.

If you wanted to take her, I'd only do it with another adult so she can visit for a very short time, and can be removed quickly if she's at all distressed.

Witchend Wed 22-Feb-17 19:58:50

I remember visiting my gran in a nursing home with some severely effected dementia patients.

It wasn't the nicest place to be, but it bought gran pleasure and I'm glad I did it. Even my dbro who was younger understood that they were ill and couldn't help it.

DearMrDilkington Wed 22-Feb-17 20:01:25

I'd take her. Explain the situation to her, children are wonderful at understanding sensitive situations if it's been explained beforehand.

KarmaNoMore Wed 22-Feb-17 20:04:03

I think that at 6 she can perfectly understand if she is given a brief age appropriate talk about what to expect when she visits.

Personally, I think that "sanitising" life too much for our children is never a good idea.

Lochan Wed 22-Feb-17 20:05:08

What about FaceTime? Would that be a compromise?

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 22-Feb-17 20:14:21

I think associating it with something stress-free is good. Maybe take her to lunch after, or toy-shopping.

NotAPuffin Wed 22-Feb-17 20:16:26

My 6 and 5 year olds visit MIL regularly; she has Alzheimers and doesn't know who anyone is, and can have good or bad days. They take it in their stride, and she loves seeing them.

Magicpaintbrush Wed 22-Feb-17 20:19:46

We took my dd (8) to see her nan recently (my mil), who she hadn't seen for a couple of years due to an estrangement. Her nan had been ill and lost an awful lot of weight, very hard of hearing etc and my dd was very anxious about seeing her, very nervous and worried. Although as the afternoon went on my dd relaxed a little in her nan's presence it was a big shock to her how thin and old she looked and it caused her anxiety for some months afterwards. She developed separation anxiety (which we are still dealing with) and though that was down to a number of assorted worries I know that her nan's health was one of them. She is now very reluctant and afraid to see her again or even speak to her on the phone. In some ways I wish we hadn't taken her. Tread very carefully before you decide whether to take your dd to see her grandad - it's all very well other people saying 'she will be fine' but they aren't the ones who will have to deal with it if it really affects your dd badly. We have learned this the hard way.

MatildaTheCat Wed 22-Feb-17 20:21:38

I would wait for a good day,miso you go in and see how things are while your dp waits with dd nearby. Then if it is a good day either see him in his room or a separate area where you won't be disturbed by other residents. Is there a small sitting room you could use?

Bring something that they could look at together, keep the visit structured and keep it short. If you can incorporate a drink and a biscuit that helps as a social occasion. Be ready for dp to take her out if it gets difficult and it goes without saying that you need to explain that there are some very poorly people in the home who have bad problems with memory and health.

PurpleCrazyHorse Wed 22-Feb-17 20:21:42

Are there grounds to sit in or maybe an event (sing along etc) planned that might make it a bit easier for your DD? I'd visit with DH too, so he could take DD out and off to a coffee shop if needed, and pick you up later. I think keeping it brief would be good and see what happens.

Maybe talk to the home manager for their suggestions. Could they suggest a good time when your dad is in his room, or maybe they can help get him somewhere a bit quieter for your visit?

I think I'd try and find a way if at all possible unless he was acting in a way that was totally inappropriate, which some forms of dementia exhibit. Good luck though, sounds like a tricky situation.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Wed 22-Feb-17 20:24:22

What dear said - I took
My boys to my father deathbed . They were the quietist I have ever seen them poor little beans

I am glad I did actually - give her credit 6 year olds are wiser than we think flowers

Pitchforktotheface Wed 22-Feb-17 20:26:44

I work with people with dementia (social worker) and see lots of different homes.

For me, it would depend on the home and the behaviour of the other residents. If this is an EMI home (for verbally aggressive/ difficult dementia clients) there would be no way I'd take my DS. However if it was unit of quiet older adults sat in a lounge, I would.

You say he asks for DD and says you don't visit - what does he say if you say 'I was here last week'? I suspect even if you did take DD he either wouldn't recognise her or wouldn't remember the visit the next few days.

Only you know the home, your dad and your daughter. Will you regret not taking her, if he dies?

I remember being taken to see my great gran, I was about 3. It isn't a nice memory. I remember being scared, I remember the smell of the home and the stair lift. I don't actually remember my gran.

Trooperslane Wed 22-Feb-17 20:31:09

My DM had Lewey Body Dementia and was incredibly, indescribably un predictable.

She spent the last 18 months of her life (very well cared for) in a psych ward and under 18s were not allowed on the ward under any circumstances.

There was a room downstairs that we were allowed to meet her with DD, but the difference was DD was a tiny baby - 7 weeks old when she met DM and 7 months old (weird, just noticed that) when she died.

An older child - I'm really not sure..... it's a horrible choice to make, but you have to put DD first I think.

Good luck flowers

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Wed 22-Feb-17 20:38:18

I would recommend that if you do decide to take your DD that you go with DH she just pops in, says hello and how are you, maybe takes a picture she has drawn in for him and then your DH takes her off somewhere else. My DCs (then 6 & 9) were comfortable with this with my grandma once she had become very unpredictable but really didn't want any more than that. It's very difficult, but do what you think is best and don't be pushed.

KarmaNoMore Thu 23-Feb-17 05:34:39

I was very shocked to see my grandad extremely skinny and ill, after a year or two of not seeing him (we lived very far from him and he had got a very aggressive form of cancer).

It wasn't pleasant, I agree, he couldn't talk, it was a shock but there are things in life we cannot just hide under the carpet.

Having said that, if the person with Alzheimer's is aggresive or shouting all the time, then yes. Do not take them but make sure they are aware that old people does not need to be forgotten/disposed of just because they are no longer pleasant.

This thread reminds me of a conversation I heard my father and his brother having after his brother said he was not going to attend a funeral as he didn't enjoy going to funerals. My father said, "...and? do you think we do???"

graciestocksfield Thu 23-Feb-17 05:43:27

I think it's an old fashioned attitude to not want to "upset" children by telling them stuff/letting them see someone be ill.

IMO the not knowing, secrecy and misinformation can be much worse and cause long lasting effects. Definitely take her to see him and properly explain what is going on.

user1477282676 Thu 23-Feb-17 05:47:03

Gracie but I think that children ARE upset by seeing illness and death and I'd rather protect them. I remember my poor maternal Nan...she had many strokes and my only memory of her is of her trying to speak in my Mum's living room in her wheelchair. Utterly terrifying for me at the time as she could only really make noises.

"old fashioned" it isn't. It's human nature to want to protect the very young from the cruelties of death.

Buddah101 Thu 23-Feb-17 06:03:33

I think you have to judge your daughter, is she a mature 6 year old? Do you think that if you explained to her why the people in there where there because they were ill and couldnt help doing what they were doing, she would understand.

I'd also try and see your dad in his private room with her if possible, limiting the contact with other people in there.

FWIW I have fond memories of going to visit my gran in her care home, hated it at the time and I was 7/8 but i do still remember the place and seeing her happy face when my dad would take me in, i'm glad I got to see her, and in another way my other nan when she was seriously ill and eventually passed away, I was kept away from everything and I still resent my mum for that to this day for not being allowed to see her 1 more time. Children can cope with a lot more than we give them credit for, they ask a lot of questions but that's their thought processes trying to understand it all.

In your place, id honestly take her to see him.

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