What a mess of a situation we've landed ourselves in. My 91 year old mom with mid-stage FTD (fronto-temporal dementia) fell at the nursing home. Now she's hospitalized with a broken femur. I'm not allowed to visit her because I've been home sick with flu. It knocked me on my butt five days ago. My fever finally broke last night, but the doctors want me fever free with no medications for 24 hours minimum before they'll allow me near her. I completely understand. In the meantime, as her active health care proxy we're trying to do all our discussions and decision making with the medical staff via phone. My husband visits mom to check things out as well. But it's so stressful and it's physically draining me quick as I try to recover. Extended relatives are taking the 2 hour drive out to be with my mom so it's not all on my poor husband's shoulders. Again, it's just such a mess. And my heart feels like this is the start of that decline I've heard about. Just a sad situation all around.

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It truly seems that the crisis in our lives happen when they are least convenient--and I realize that's a stupid statement b/c who can control things like someone else's health? You can't!

You are lucky that you seem to have a great support system in place. Whatever happens, happens. As much as we want a beautiful, spiritual 'end' to our LO's lives--we rarely get that. There is usually some measure of chaos and frustration. Just take care of you and hopefully you will be well enough to see mom and assess the situation for yourself.

You seem to have the understanding that the 'fall' is often the beginning of the slow slide into the end. At 91 you have had a long life with mom. Do what's best for her care and comfort. But take care of you too!

Thank you so much everyone for your support and encouragement - as well as the important reminders that my health counts for something. As you all know, it's so easy to forget that in the midst of it all.

I remember VERY well the burden of having an elderly parent in the hospital. Being so sick on top of it is awful, and I feel for you. As I look back at those times, these are my takeaways...

I don’t know your mom’s financial situation, but if she has resources, the first thing I would do is have your DH call a service and hire a sitter for her in the hospital if her dementia is such that she can’t even really answer the nurse’s questions for herself accurately. Someone your DH (not you, you are sick and need to rest:) can write a quick overview for that can text you with updates or questions.

If that isn’t an option, you have to find a way to let the hospital handle it. I say that with kindness. Touch base with the doctor or even the nurse’s station once or twice per day, DH can visit once every few days. But she is in a medical facility with a broken bone. It is THEIR responsibility to make sure she is ok. No, they won’t be as on top of things as you will. Getting to a place where you are ok with that as early on in this process as possible will do you, your health, and your relationships a world of good.

Think of it as setting boundaries, not with a person, but with their decline. Since it sounds like you are at the beginning of the emergency - chaos - return cycle, you may want to begin as you mean to go on. It is a profoundly difficult mental shift. We are so used to fixing things and making them just so to optimize our parent’s lives, which is lovely. But, the reality is we aren’t an endless font of omnipotence. We can’t run the emergency hamster wheel indefinitely and expect our own bodies and lives to hold up under that weight. Many here, including me, are still trying to recover.

My MIL (vascular dementia and many ailments) was in the hospital SO many times, and it was me there through the night and my DH would relieve me for parts of the days when he could get away from work. It was BEYOND exhausting. I didn’t even realize a sitter was an option until my MiL went into the hospital the day after my own young Mother has a massive (and after 6 weeks, fatal) ICH stroke. I was talking to one of the nurses and she mentioned that, although they try to put patients with dementia very close to the nurse’s station, it can bring peace of mind to the family to have an extra set of eyes there when they can’t be.

And, frankly, right now, you can’t be. Neither can your DH, and you don’t have the energy to keep “arranging” family coverage. The flu is serious and, even when you are cleared by the doctor to no longer be lethal to others, lol, you need to get some of this stress off of you and you need to REST.

This is one of the biggest mental jumps to make in the journey of a family caregiver. Advanced age and dementia pretty much guarantee that you are being flung into constant emergencies and the important gets lost in a world of urgent needs.

Right now, choose large chunks of time to actively FORGET what is going on with your mother. I know that sounds cold, but I don’t mean it that way. The world will not end if she is taken care of by the staff. Being the security blanket of someone with dementia also gives us a tremendous sense of duty and empathy. But, their fear is different from what we imagine. It is important to let go of the ruminating about them and their needs... it makes your role much larger than it is. They can survive with other caring people around them.

I know not everyone is ready to hear these things, so if they are not helpful to you, maybe they will help someone else reading your story. Remember, you do what you reasonably can, but taking care of your health and that of your DH is priority number one right now. You can’t continue what will likely be a long journey by depleting yourself every time age and decline run their course.

Best wishes to you, truly.

She'll be alright, your husband is visiting her as are others, calm down, focus on you. Yes, she may a little confused for awhile, give it some time before you start stressing over that.

Thankfully you have others to step in and help.

Focus on you getting better, stress can cause a relapse.

Don't be surprised if she seems far advanced, breaking the femur is traumatic and can cause lots of confusion for a while. Don't make any determinations about this until she has time to recover. A dear friend lived for 8 years after breaking her femur, but the 1st year after was sketchy and concerning.

Great big warm hug! One day at a time.

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