Hi all. I am wondering how to handle this and am sure some of you face the same issue. My husband has refused to spend another holiday with my Mom, whose Alzheimer's has caused her to accuse him of stealing from her, to yell at him, and other unpleasant things. She is in Assisted Living and I am the only family member in the state, and the only one who visits her. She is very functional in many ways but her memory is so poor she will probably not be very aware of whether the holiday has come and gone. We accepted a neighbor's invitation for Thanksgiving, and we are going out of town by ourselves for a few days at Christmas. Mom has mentioned the holidays and Christmas shopping, but I can't figure out how to have any kind of event with just her and myself that wouldn't make it painfully clear that my husband is not there and that there is no festive dinner or party. Asking my husband to have a "second Christmas" in January with her would be like a bait-and-switch for him; he is a quiet person who is really looking forward to a holiday with no drama this year. What do I do? Whatever I do, I realize that she will likely have forgotten the holiday season entirely within a couple of weeks. But I want to avoid pain in the moment for her and so when she brings it up, I just say, oh, it's weeks away!

Continue the plans you have.
Have a nice lunch with mom. Either take her out if it is still safe to do so (and you want to take her out)
Make a day of it if you wish. Start with some shopping and a nice lunch.
Many people with dementia though do not do well with crowds and lots of noise and lights so keep that in mind.
If she asks about your husband, and she probably won't just tell her he had previous plans (you don't have to say anything more than that) If she starts in on you about him (if she does that) just ignore it or cut your day short.
I would not even mention that you will be going away for Christmas.
See her when you get back.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Grandma1954

I agree with Grandma. Husband gets the holiday he wants. He should not be subjected to accusations. If mom can handle it take her out shopping. On a separate day take her for lunch and presents. I learned you can't pack too much in with an elder. This way she has two outing to look forward to.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to lkdrymom

Great ideas posted below.

Do something with your mom -- just the two of you. And if she starts badmouthing your H, then leave.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to CTTN55

You are overthinking this. Your husband has other plans, and cannot make it, that is the answer.

Take her out for a nice lunch or if that is not doable, bring a lunch in.

Her pain in the moment is just that for a moment.

Your husband is your priority he deserves a drama free Holiday Season.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to MeDolly

Another vote for having an alternate holiday with her. My MIL is in a LTC facility close to my home. We've tried going to visit her on actual holidays but now my kids have demands on their time for the holidays, it just adds to the stress so we plan a holiday in advance or aferwards -- whatever works in our schedule. She is just as happy to see people whenever they come. Even people without this challenge celebrate a week ahead or after. Be flexible!
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Geaton777

The facility will have Holiday meals there. Usually a few days before the actual holiday. You can join her then. Take her gifts with you. She will have no idea if its the real holiday or not. I agree about taking her shopping and lunch. She probably will not want to stay out long. She may go into a store, by one thing and be ready to go.

It comes down to, its you who want to continue giving her the holiday. She will have no idea if its the 25th of December or not. Say nothing about being invited out. If she asks about TG just say you have chosen not to have it this year. If she mentions Christmas, again have chosen not to have anything big this year. Not sure of your age but could say just getting too old. Me, I have lasagna Xmas day.

Your first priority is to your husband. He is entitled to a nice quiet holiday with his wife. Life is short so enjoy every moment you can have with each other. Mom is OK.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to JoAnn29
Isthisrealyreal Nov 19, 2022
I enjoyed these meals with my loved ones, it gives you a chance to mingle with the people caring for and living with your loved ones.

Hugs and thank yous were greatly appreciated by all.
I would honor my husband, who will remember his hurt feelings longer then a couple days.

Alzheimers and dementia are no excuse to subject someone to abuse. That's what she does and he doesn't deserve it.

I get her brain is broken and she can't help herself but, she isn't the only one that matters.

Find out what the AL has planned and see if you can work it into your schedule with the plans you and your husband have. If not, the AL will make sure she has holidays.

Send a wreath and go have a drama free holiday, you will find it is the most addicting thing you will ever do. Speaking from a position of knowledge, 20+ years of drama free holidays and love each one.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal

This is my first year cut off from my parents. They live, 10 minutes away, with my youngest sister, who never left their home, 14 years younger, and two sisters in between. Our caregiving sister has never wanted anyone, our parents expectations as well, BUT herself for the job. Will not allow hands on help cause mom is not comfortable. With anyone else. She’s going on year four, of mom being immobile and incontinent, both are overweight, and refusing hands on help.

I reread a piece of advice on here, maybe, that was asking about how to handle the holidays, and a very wise person answered that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just like any other day, for our elders whose memories are truly gone. If your mom will not truly know for sure, just skip over the holidays!!! Do not bring it up, distract her from the subject, however you can.

Honor your husband’s wishes, and have a special time to yourselves, knowing your mom is being taken care of, safe. My husband has gone through eight years, of my parent’s poor health, listening to me, and helping me thru it all. Helping everyone in my family, with stuff like property maintenance for cabin, moving them out of huge split level home, etc.. He knows my families dysfunction. But HE comes FIRST, not my parents. We got 42 years together, his family is a mess too, mom with Alzheimer’s, eight adopted siblings that do not communicate.

So we are each other’s sanity, and we were NOT in control of any decisions made by our siblings and our parents, so this holiday season, my boundary is that unless my caregiving sister can say one nice thing to me, answer my text/emails, I will continue to say nothing to her, personally. She knows what she did, said, and that it’s time to give me some of the grace she’s enjoyed. I ignored bad treatment, for too long, and it was not wise.

I am still making sure they feel my love, and care, am dropping a care package of food they love, a Hallmark flower card, telling them I am grateful for them, on their front porch. I’m bending for my sis, again, reaching out, and just saying the treat bag is on porch, love you all. If no answer, no call, (she must do it for them), then I will relax, breathe, and know I’m trying. This is what she asked us to do, exactly, I hope she will reach out to me. After this, I’m drifting away, and feel that is her wish, too.

I reread all my posts on here last night, sad, depressed, hopeless, and want you to know how much I appreciate your wisdom, most everyone tbh, sharing what hurts so much, trying to help others, like AA, the first hand that reached out, to me decades ago. I’m going to focus on my family, husband, kids, dog, and be ok. The holidays stopped being a “thing” long ago, but at least we saw each other at their home, simple visit, no meal or fuss. No more. Things changed, I’m adapting, good luck to you! Please do not feel guilty, cause it doesn’t help, but it’s hard to get off our back, I know from trying.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Odaat59
Odaat59 Nov 22, 2022
P.S. I should add that my parents memories are NOT gone. The dementia is present, but poor health care is still the biggest problem. That’s why it hurts so much. They are losing themselves, but still know who I am. Take care, and I apologize if this was too much me. This season feels heavy, but always hopeful. I’m so sorry for all the caregivers who would welcome help, and have none.
At all costs, if you want to save your marriage (somewhat kidding here), do not ask your husband to be present. Give him a break and some compassion.

* A person with dementia may accuse an/other/s of stealing. THIS IS NOT UNUSUAL. This is part of the cognitive decline / changes in the brain. She can't help it - although being on the receiving end isn't pleasant and at times, intolerable.

* I do not understand your concern about spending quality time with you and your mom, w/o your husband there. A simple "he's busy with work" is enough.

* I would clarify or learn the difference of (1) she is functional and (2) forgetting, blaming others, i.e., stealing. I've had some clients who appear 'very functional.' In fact, if people that didn't know her engaged in conversation, they wouldn't necessarily know (it requires a few interactions to get it/see the pattern).
- I've watched these interactions, somewhat in disbelief. or at the very least, amused and fascinated.
- Be careful not to confuse functional with an ability to go out on her own; i.e., if she gets in a cab, she could have the cab driver (or Uber, etc.) drive her 25-50 miles away . . . and / or start up a conversation going out for coffee or breakfast ... and someone sees how she is and takes advantage of her.
- I wonder / hope there are ... procedures in place to keep her safe while giving her the room / flexibility to do what she can.

* If you want more of a festive environment, invite some of the residents (2-3-4) or even rent a room at the facility and offer a 'group party.'
- There will be several, if not many, residents there w/o family and they will appreciate an invite as much as your mom may (hopefully) enjoy a festive event with some of her neighbors.
- Go to the $1.25 store and get party hats, a tablecloth, etc. If nothing else, decorate her room.

THEN . . . take your lovely quiet husband out for a celebration. You both deserve this quality time together. I (hurt) / feel for him.

Being in this field, I have been through the ringer and back. It is the changing brain that responds, along with fear. It can be overwhelming, even working in this field. Some people with dementia, or in the beginning stages, KNOW their brain isn't working right or how it used to . . . now that I think of it, mine doesn't either (!) (71).

Gena / Touch Matters
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to TouchMatters

So she knows who he is and would miss him if he didn’t come? It almost sounds like she forgot who he is and is suspicious of a “stranger”.

I understand that you would probably like his support but wouldn’t it be better to spare both of them the upset of these visits? It’s as unpleasant to think and accuse someone of harming you as it is to be accused, it can’t be good for your mom to get all worked up like that.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to iameli

Yes I agree to plan a separate visit to celebrate with Mom. If just you 2, include some other residents maybe. Bring some flowers & fancy serviettes. Make it girly, just for ladies if you like!

Call Mom on the actual days to wish her a nice day & remind about your different-day special visit. (She may/may not remember but you will feel better you called).

I'm flipping this into reverse. If your Husband wanted you to spend time with his Mother, yet (due to Alz behaviours) this caused you much stress. What would you wish your husband to do?

Go see his Mom alone & give you the gift of a drama free holiday? (I would).

If you give this gift to your husband, Mom may be offended? Is that your worry?

Fear. Obligation. Guilt. Is the family "FOG" influencing you?
(I catch myself being wrapped in this more often than I would like 😕. I picture a greyish gloom descending. But recognising it is helps me)

Whether Mom is upset or not in the future is out of your control. Let it go. Enjoy your own special days. Bring the joy for the different-day special days.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Beatty

I can truly empathize. I’ve been struggling with this year’s Thanksgiving plans. My 94 y/o father is in rehab. I’m on my one month stay with my parents, leaving to go home in a couple of weeks.

My sisters have been feuding the last couple of years and both made plans to be out of town for thanksgiving. There won’t be any local family gathering where my mom can be included. I feel bad for her about that. Whatever bond of family amongst my sisters and me and my parents is now gone. It is a shame.

And I sunk to a new depth of selfishness. I decided to spend Thanksgiving with my childhood friend and her family, I did not want my husband to have a crappy Thanksgiving and frankly sitting here in this house on any given day is depressing and it gets magnified for holidays. I’m not happy with myself but I acknowledge I did not want to spend the day with here with her and so I’m not.

I told her that when dad gets back from rehab I will make Thanksgiving dinner for the four of us. That was my way of dealing with my guilt. I am thankful for the caregivers who will be here tomorrow.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Hothouseflower

Holidays create all types of confusion such as; who are you going to spend it with, how long, and where . Since your husband is not comfortable with visiting your mother because of her ongoing accusations and being yelled at, I wouldn't try to include him in anymore visits. It doesn't matter if you visit before or after the holidays. Try to get some quality time in with your husband and focus on your marriage.

Facilities will host festive gatherings for their residents that are quite enjoyable for them. There will be food, sweets, and maybe services depending upon the facility. Your mother will be fine.

Don't let the guilt and worry get to you. I know it is hard during this time of the year for many. Just do the best you can. Whatever you do, don't tire yourself out and get adequate rest.

(((Hugs))) from Scampie
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Scampie1

Is your mother asking to go Christmas Shopping? Do you take her out to do that? You still could shop and help her wrap gifts and pack them up for mailing or delivery. Plan your own Thanksgiving and Christmas visits with her at the AL if you wish. You can tell her you are not doing family dinners this year, esp since it sounds like you are not.
Despite expectations, there is no Law requiring that families gather for Holiday dinners or parties. You can make more appropriate arrangements as circumstances dictate.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to RedVanAnnie

Celebrate early by bringing her gift and a brunch. Tomorrow I am making Mom quiche, fruit, scrapple and a mimosa. My husband and I bring it over and I feed my Mom, we will watch the parade in tv and then we will have a quiet dinner together. In your case let your husband have a quiet morning alone.

it is hard to balance the holidays without guilt snd also to allow ourselves to have family time alone. I hope you take time for you and your husband. She will be in good hands.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Grandmaofeight

You visit her the day before or the day after by yourself. Set your husband free and save your marriage. You can take her a dinner or desert and let her enjoy herself in her own environment.

Christmas, you can invite other family members to visit her, they can stay at you home or at a nice hotel nearby.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to ConnieCaretaker

Do follow through with your plans and your family, friends, but without your mom, Alzheimer's is a disease that your mom cannot control, and she does not know one day from the next. I don't want to call it a vegetable but perhaps an organism who used to be a person personality. Leave Mom in her nursing home to visit her there for all the holidays, or anytime, any day. That includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's other holidays. Do go visit her before, after the holidays, or on the holiday if time permits.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Patathome01

The Assisted Living folks will all be talking about it, and asking. Staff, and residents, and the news on T.V.
My loved one knew what day it was, and the staff was so scarce that day, he had a sandwich, saying "No one cared".
Even though one of the "events" in the week before was a Thanksgiving for the residents.

I have no advice for you.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Sendhelp
cwillie Nov 23, 2022
Yes, there is little hope resident's don't know what day it is unless they've reached the very advanced end stage of life, and even then they may know but just don't have it in them to care. In my experience facilities usually go out of their way to decorate and make the holidays meaningful.... except for the actual day of the holiday when they are running with a skeleton staff.
Squid62: Your husband is your priority. Your mother's facility will have holiday meals for their residents.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Llamalover47

Just respect your husband's wishes. Spend time with your mother on the actual day of the holiday, or before or afterward, and that's that. If her memory is that poor, then she's not as 'very functional' as you say, so she's likely to buy an excuse that your DH is sick or working or otherwise occupied, and gee, so sorry to have missed the occasion. Make a plan with her to do something, eat a meal together at the ALF, or whatever, and then see it through without further ado. I know my DH went above & beyond for both myself and my mother with dementia, for many years, so if he were to have said he needed a break from the histrionics, I would have obliged him w/o a moment's hesitation. I doubt your mother will be suffering much 'pain' if he doesn't attend; it's you she wants in attendance anyway, don't you think? That's the most important thing, and that your DH gets a break. And that both of you take the time for yourselves on Thanksgiving and the few days away during Christmas. Work mom into YOUR schedule this year.

Don't give the matter too much thought; just plan to spend some time with mom on holidays, and then let the rest of the mind chatter go. She will get over it, one way or another, as long as YOU are there.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to lealonnie1

Set aside a holiday time for her. Shop or do things she can manage and enjoy. Spend the night, maybe, and do a catered meal for two the next day. Or cook a couple of things with her and cater a few.
A little stretch of the truth about hubby not feeling up to joining you..and he insisting you go it alone with her. Not exactly a full blown lie. Enjoy whatever you can with her before you can't
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to my2cents

I am also from AL and have a 92 year old mother who is difficult. I am trying this with my mother to cut done on conflict with her. Don't tell your mother more than she really needs to know about your plans with your family. I have to do that or my mother will find something wrong no matter what I do or retaliate if one thing is not her way. Take her a meal and a gift tell her it is Christmas.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Redrose12

Thanks so much to everyone for the responses and support. Of all things, Mom was diagnosed with Covid right before Christmas and ended up in quarantine for the holiday. Afterwards she did not even really realize, or seem to care, that it had come and gone. I've been thinking about what her appearance of functionality means. I think I mean to say that she does not seem incoherent in the moment. It is more like speaking with an ordinary person who just happens to have total amnesia and some very strange convictions and beliefs.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Squid62

Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter