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Advice needed please.

(43 Posts)
mrsmopp Fri 15-Nov-19 16:37:09

My elder sister has dementia and it’s very sad to see her like this. She has 2 sons who haven’t visited her for over 2 years.
I know they are busy working but even so. They live 200 miles away.
Would it be out of order for me to email them and just remind them to visit before it’s too late? I’m trying to be diplomatic here. I haven’t seen either of them either, but I do visit my sister.
What would you do?

Luckygirl Fri 15-Nov-19 16:38:43

Presumably your nephews are aware of her condition. Is she still able to look after herself at home? Does she talk about her sons and express a wish to see them?

Hetty58 Fri 15-Nov-19 16:45:55

Would she recognise her sons now? My friend's mother didn't recognise her, which she found very upsetting.

She maintained contact with the nursing home, provided clothes and toiletries, received news and photos - but didn't visit!

ladymuck Fri 15-Nov-19 16:59:56

If she doesn't respond to them, there isn't much point in them travelling to see her.
A compromise might be to set up a link via the internet. Then they can speak to her without having a wasted journey.

Callistemon Fri 15-Nov-19 17:10:18

I wonder how far her dementia has progressed Mrsmopp?
We visited someone recently of whom we're very fond and she recognised us both immediately and was so pleased to see us, chatted away as if nothing was wrong, but a couple of weeks later told my DD that she'd love to see us as she hadn't seen us for years.

They really should make the effort but I'm not sure how you should approach it. Can you telephone them instead? Distance and pressure of work are just excuses imo.

winterwhite Fri 15-Nov-19 17:25:03

I'd certainly email or phone them. If they don't come they'll be bound to feel bad 'when it's too late' and may round on you for not alerting them. Agree that email could sound rather formal, but a phone call could be tongue-tied both ends. You could just say that although she isn't in a good way you're sure she'd love to see them. Are they her official next of kin?

M0nica Fri 15-Nov-19 17:35:09

Sadly, unless her death is imminent, I can see no point in contacting them. Distance and work is no excuse for not visiting their mother for over two years. Do they contact her by post or telephone?

I suspect that there are reasons for this lack of relationship between them that are known only to them.

Jane10 Fri 15-Nov-19 17:40:24

I once had to do something similar. Just a telephone call to someone who should visit. I was very glad I had done it and so were the other parties.
Do it. What is there to lose?

mrsmopp Fri 15-Nov-19 18:25:35

Phoning her doesn’t work, she just holds the phone and doesn’t say anything. I visit as often as I can and she is always very quiet, just sits there smiling. She does not recognize anyone in family photos. But I’m sure she would recognize her sons, but for how much longer? Monica I have no way of knowing if her death is imminent, people can go on for some time in this state. I’ve decided to email them.

sodapop Fri 15-Nov-19 18:39:37

It does annoy me when people don't visit family or friends because they find it upsetting. It's not about them its about the sick person feeling remembered and comforted.

I think you are right to get in touch with the sons mrsmopp

MissAdventure Fri 15-Nov-19 18:49:21

I think it's appalling to assume there is no point in visiting someone with dementia.

How bloody sad.

notanan2 Fri 15-Nov-19 18:52:44

If they're not a close family they wont suddenly become one just because their mother is ill.

Bossyrossy Fri 15-Nov-19 19:05:06

Contact her sons and explain that their mother is deteriorating but would love to see them. Even if she is easily confused, she will probably recognise them with a little help from you. Perhaps have some family photos that they could share together, often the past is fresher in their memories than the present. I speak from experience as I had an older sister who died from dementia. At least you will have done your best to bring mother and sons together. You have my sympathy.

Callistemon Fri 15-Nov-19 21:01:45

I didn't mean for them to phone their mother, I meant for you to phone them and persuade them it might be a good idea to visit her, mrsmopp

I hope that they do

Jane10 Fri 15-Nov-19 21:17:33

That's what I meant too.

Hithere Fri 15-Nov-19 22:30:20

Very sad situation.

Sadly, reminding them to visit before it is too late is not diplomatic at all.

It comes across as a guilt trip.

Do you know if they keep in touch with her on the phone, despite her not interacting?

The relationship between their children and your sister is out of tour jurisdiction.

The best you can do is continue supporting your sister.

Nansnet Sat 16-Nov-19 06:13:26

Are they aware of her deterioration, and the full extent of her condition? Some families, sadly, aren't that much into keeping in touch, even with their parents. If they are already fully aware of what the situation is, and still can't be bothered to make the effort to see their mother then, unfortunately, there's not much you can do, and little point in contacting them. But, if they aren't aware of how much she is deteriorating, they may thank you for letting them know, before it's too late.

Personally, I would drop them an email and simply say that you thought you should update them on their mother's condition, as you can see she is deteriorating. Tell them you understand if they are unable to visit, but if they can, then now would be a good time whilst there's still chance that she will remember them, and you're sure it would make her happy. Just tell them that you thought they should know. Whatever they then decide is up to them.

Hetty58 Sat 16-Nov-19 08:31:11

That sounds very sensible Nansnet, as mrsmopp will feel that she's done the best she can in this situation.

MaggieTulliver Sat 16-Nov-19 08:35:45

We’re they never close to their mother? When did they stop spending time with her or have they not had a relationship with her for years? You should definitely let them know regardless of the circumstances.

janeainsworth Sat 16-Nov-19 08:41:38

In a way, the dementia is irrelevant.
Sons who haven’t visited their mother for over two years suggests something isn’t right - 200 miles is nothing.
MrsMopp I think you should contact them. You will feel better, even if no one else does.
What is the worst that could happen?
Good luck.

Callistemon Sat 16-Nov-19 09:40:19

nansnet's suggestion sounds very diplomatic.

timetogo2016 Sat 16-Nov-19 09:44:32

Agree with sodapop.

Witzend Sat 16-Nov-19 09:56:13

How bad is the dementia? Do you think she'd recognise them?

My mother was pretty bad before she ceased to recognise me and it happened quite suddenly. One week her eyes would light up when she saw me coming - the next they were blank and I was just a 'nice lady' who made her cups of tea and brought her chocolate. (She was in a care home by then.)

Is there some 'back' reason why the sons don't visit? Bad feeling, a serious falling out?

In any case I think I'd certainly let them know the truth of their mother's condition, and make it clear that the time when she's going to recognise them could well be limited. But I don't think I'd put any added pressure on, even if I felt like it.

eazybee Sat 16-Nov-19 10:05:18

Definitely email them. They haven't visited in two years, because they are working, and live 200 miles away? So?
They need to check if she is properly cared for and discuss arrangements for her future, rather than (I suspect) leaving it to you. I presume they are her next of kin.

fourormore Sat 16-Nov-19 10:33:10

mrsmopp your situation is so so familiar to me sad
My late Mum's dementia was nowhere near as bad as your dear sister, but my brothers (both living about 250 miles away) visited very rarely. One was once a year if she was lucky (never coinciding with her birthday/Mothering Sun/Christmas as he was far too busy). The other, like your nephews, the visits were years apart.
You don't say if she is in a care home? If so, you could explain the situation to them and ask them to notify the sons if they feel the deterioration is serious?
The only thing I can suggest is that you keep them informed of how you feel she is, so that they can't throw it back on you when something does happen by saying you didn't tell them.
We both know they will regret it if they leave it too late, but there's nothing you can do about that - their choice. Nowadays 200 miles is nothing and I feel the same for you as I did about my brothers!
No one knows who/what dementia sufferers recognise and what they don't. One 99yr old lady (a real sweetie and I miss her so much) was convinced her brothers had been in with shopping etc. They had died 40yrs ago, but in her mind they were around! She recognised me every time I visited her. She couldn't have told you who I was but she knew she knew me. I was just a friend but her nephew would only visit if I was there with him. Sometimes people don't know how to cope? When we came to leave it was always me that she pleaded with to stay and not her nephew. They seem to know who feels 'comfortable' to be there with them.
It is a very sad situation and she is so lucky to have a devoted sister like you - please look after yourself too. I have had a lot of dealing with dementia patients and in my experience it is very very hard for the loved ones who care.
Bless you for your care flowersflowersflowers