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Should I feel bad?

(23 Posts)
Moggycuddler Mon 10-Feb-20 11:02:36

I am 63 and up till several months ago I gave a lot of help to a lady of 84 who lived next door. She had a lot of mobility issues and was in the early stages of dementia, got confused and forgetful. She had children but none of them visited or did anything for her for years, so somehow the burden always fell on me, even though I am caring for my disabled husband too. I used to help her with everything, go shopping for her, make phone calls, help her to the toilet, make her drinks and simple meals, give her her medications, fix household things, even wash her sometimes after she had been incontinent. She would phone me at all hours to go in and help her, phone doctors etc. It went on for a few years and became a big strain on me, even though I felt sorry for her and would never have refused her the help, since she had nobody else. I had (have) health problems myself, as well as caring for my own husband. Anyway - it all came to a head a few months ago when she was taken into hospital (It was me who phoned an ambulance) and eventually transferred to a nursing home. Her daughter then came out of the woodwork, having not been interested in her mother for years. She took over everything then. Her mum has now become apparently more confused and a bit aggressive at times, though she has " good days". The thing is - I can't bring myself to go and visit her. I know she has her daughter now who sees her every day, and she' s being looked after. But I just can' t make myself go and see her. My husband says I have no obligation to do that and I am not a relation, and I' ve done my stint with all the years I looked after her to the detriment of my own life. Also, because she is suffering from dementia it could be difficult. She has (so daughter told me) become very aggressive and distressed at times, screaming to go home. So I am a bit scared that if she saw me it might kick one of those episodes off. But I feel more than a bit guilty that I haven't visited her, after being involved with her for such a long time. It's on my mind.

SueDonim Mon 10-Feb-20 12:06:37

I don’t think you should feel bad about not going. You’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty already and it’s time for her family to attend to her needs. If her dementia is advanced, it could be distressing for both of you and there’s nothing to be gained by that.

You’ve done your bit, now it’s time to remember her as she was. flowers

rosenoir Mon 10-Feb-20 12:19:17

Living with guilt is awful, give yourself a cut off. If you still feel guilty in a month then go and visit.

ToniSH Mon 10-Feb-20 12:24:17

I would say as a non family member you've done more than enough already. Now that her daughter has taken over, you can step back and take care of yourself and your own family.

sodapop Mon 10-Feb-20 12:37:34

Yes I agree you have gone over and above the call Moggycuddler. I do think though that you should visit at some point, maybe in a few weeks as rosenoir suggested. You don't have to stay long but just see if things are going as well as they can under the circumstances.
Your neighbour was very lucky to have your help for such a long time.

Oopsadaisy3 Mon 10-Feb-20 14:43:37

I think that you know that you don’t need to feel guilty, but until you go to visit her the feeling won’t go away.
Why not ring the home and ask how she is on the day you are thinking of going to see her? they will tell you if it’s not a good day.

My DH goes to see his mother about 20 minutes before lunch, by that time she’s up dressed and as soon as she hears the cutlery go onto the table she’s up and trotting across the room with her walker, even though she’s either

a) pretended to be asleep the whole time and not opened her eyes
b) she’ll have talking non stop about whatever thought flits across her mind and usually makes no sense at all.

So , go and assuage the guilt that you feel (even though it’s misplaced.)

Esther1 Mon 10-Feb-20 14:44:59

It’s preying on your mind. Just go and visit so that you can draw a line under your feelings.

Eloethan Mon 10-Feb-20 16:38:44

You have been absolutely selfless and have been a good and caring friend. You should not feel obliged to go and visit this lady.

However, I think you might feel better if you do visit, particularly as you have had such a close relationship with her. She may welcome a visit from you, but if you find your visits are not welcome/unsettling her - eg she always becomes aggressive - then, for your own peace of mind and health, you may feel it is time to let go.

M0nica Tue 11-Feb-20 15:03:20

No, you did all you could. As her behaviour has deteriorated so much, the chances are she may not recognise you and her asking to go home doesn't necessarily mean she is talking about the last place she lived.

My grandmother went into care and kept asking to go home but it was very clear she was talking about her childhood home, not the marital home she had lived in for nearly 40 years.

annep1 Tue 11-Feb-20 15:12:08

If you will always feel guilty you should go and see her even briefly.
If you actually can't physically cope with going then don't go and don't feel bad. We can all only do our best.
If you just don't want to, that's ok too. You have been very caring and helpful to this lady. No need to feel guilty.

eazybee Tue 11-Feb-20 15:15:25

No, you shouldn't feel guilty. You helped when she needed it.
But you might feel better in yourself if you went to see her once, just to put your conscience at rest.

AGAA4 Tue 11-Feb-20 15:48:22

You should feel proud of yourself Moggycuddler not guilty. You have already done so much for this lady and it is time to take a step back and let her family look after her. Don't feel obliged to go to see her if you don't want to. At least give yourself some time, without guilt. Maybe decide you will think about going next month and forget about it till then.

Hithere Tue 11-Feb-20 16:02:13

There is no rational reason to feel guilty

You didn't have to help her. You chose to do so for the goodness of your heart and way above and beyond.

I would request not to judge her children for not being there for their mother.

They may have had a bad relationship, they may have tried to be there for her and it was too much for them, maybe they offer help their mother rejected.
It is also responsibility of an adult to arrange for their own care when they get old.

endlessstrife Tue 11-Feb-20 16:20:34

Good grief, you shouldn’t feel guilty, you’ve gone way beyond the call of duty. Focus on yourselves now, and let her family take the reigns.

BlueSapphire Tue 11-Feb-20 17:39:54

The thought crossed my mind that if you want to see her she might think that you have come to take her home......

Tangerine Tue 11-Feb-20 17:42:44

You've done more than many people would do but it clearly worries you that you haven't visited.

Why not go? It might go very well. If not, leave after 10 minutes.

You could ring the nursing home and ask if they think it's a good idea for you to visit. They could give an impartial view.

Hithere Tue 11-Feb-20 17:47:09

Do you want to visit her?

Don't forget to put the breathing mask first before helping others.

Hetty58 Tue 11-Feb-20 18:16:54

I'd say just let go of the guilt. If you visit, it may be very distressing for both of you. She's not your responsibility.
Sometimes we need to put things (and people) firmly in the past.

Xander Tue 11-Feb-20 18:22:14

I hope the daughter has thanked you!! If anyone should feel guilty it is her. Likely the lady may not know you ,so do not feel obliged to go. Only go if you will feel it will bring,(that horrible phrase) closure and a time to say goodbye. You have done over and above anything required/expected of a friend to help and support neighbour these past years. Time for someone else to step in.

welbeck Tue 11-Feb-20 20:15:21

it is tricky. I sympathise and have/ am experiencing something quite similar at the moment. but without the dementia and personal care. but it is tricky, as I am enabling, persuading the careworker not to leave, she is excellent but not always treated properly by neighbour and family, eg still not paid for extra work over xmas.

in your case OP, the sight of you may set off distress, confusion, as she may associate you with her previous home, and even think you have come to take her back there.
that could be v distressing for both you and her.
so I'd be careful. her daughter hasn't said she's asking about you.
the home she remembers may well be a childhood one. you could ring the manager to make discreet enquiries.
but I think it might stir up problems for you and her if she is reminded of you, unless she asks for you.
and you have your husband to concentrate on.
wish I had. have lost 3 close peeps. I know I get involved with neighbour to partly distract me from pain of loss and sadness. but at what price
you have done well OP. now listen to you husband.
and thank him for his insight and care for you.

Witzend Wed 12-Feb-20 12:20:39

Having had far too much to do with dementia, I really don’t think you should feel guilty. You might unsettle her, she might demand that you take her home, she might be very angry if you don’t. She might not even know you any more.

She might accuse you of something, e.g. putting her there, or stealing something. Dementia ‘logic’ could even tell her that that she’s only there because you’ve stolen her house! (I’ve known something like this.).

You have evidently gone way above and beyond the call of duty in helping her in the past, please don’t feel bad if you can’t face visiting now.

grandtanteJE65 Wed 12-Feb-20 12:24:39

You have already done plenty.

Don't feel guilty for not wanting to visit her.

She may not even remember who you are if you do go.

Davida1968 Wed 12-Feb-20 12:29:38

Moggycuddler it sounds as though you went above and beyond providing simply "neighbourly support" for this lady, so you should be very proud of all that you did for her. I agree with most of the GNs here: it's time for the family and support services to provide appropriate care for this lady. Focus on yourself and your DH now, and (as GNs have said here) let go of any guilt!