Off on an Airplane!


Almost one year ago, mom came for a short visit, and ended up staying because she had a little stroke. That episode of illness was the end of her living alone.

Now, for the first time in almost one year of caregiving, I will have a respite of a few weeks. She has flown off to visit another sibling! Yes!

So many things have changed. It’s sad to think about it.

When she first moved in, I spoke to some friends who had experienced caregiving. I read books. In both, I found I was urged to get respite care and guard against burnout. “Check her into a home a few days, and go off on your own!”, a good friend said. I was incredulous. In the first place, I didn’t feel burnout (at that time). In the second, I could not imagine leaving my mom in a home even for a few days. Having dementia, I don’t think she would understand it was only for a few days and not forever.

But because I was urged to get time off from so many quarters, I was prepared when the subject of a trip away to visit the sibling was broached. Make it as long as possible, was my request. This after all, is the sibling who did not make the trip back here to see mom when she had the stroke. Although my advise then was, yes, mom is stable now, but you should try to come back, sooner rather than later.

Last night at the airport to see mom off, my daughter said to me quietly, they will get a shock when they see grandma, so much has changed. I was startled by what she said, but I had to agree. It has been 2 years since they last saw her.

I look forward to my break from caregiving. Time to myself and my kids. Time to rethink my relationship with mom. Time to heal, and move forward.

I hope mom is fine on the flight. I am tracking it online, thank goodness for technology.

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26 thoughts on “Off on an Airplane!”

  1. Enjoy!
    Your daughter’s comment is one I often think about with my mother. Two of my brothers rarely see her, for one especially, years can pass between visits. So much changes. I have time to see it all as little losses, but for them, it must feel like a landslide when they finally see how far she has declined.
    And yes, thank goodness for technology and the advances we have made in communication.

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  2. As the sib who was far away when Dad developed signs of Alzheimer’s, I was actually the first to notice, I think. I’d ask about behaviors that the rest had just “absorbed” into their perception of his aging. I hope you both get some more insight on Mom through this…and that you get some really good, healing rest!

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    1. It has been restful already, thanks.
      Yes, I did notice the differences, but when I remarked, I was told, That’s how she is normally, you just don’t know her that well.
      Part of is has got to do with the differences in how we interact. My sibs tend to be very active and suggest answers in their speech, and mom can respond to given cues very well, usually by agreeing, or saying Anything! So often I have heard a sib express mom’s opinion on something, and then she just agrees with it. Whereas I tend to be more passive, and noticed that mom cannot initiate a new topic nor respond well when no answers were suggested.

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  3. Enjoy your time. Not every caregiver gets such an opportunity but you may get calls from the other sibling about your mom and sometimes our children see things we don’t because we are too involved.

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    1. Thanks. I felt a little guilty writing about it, knowing not everyone gets the opportunity. But then I also remembered my friends who refuse to ask for help when they should and can, and feel I should give all those caregivers a little nudge too.

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      1. Never feel guilty…or at least try not to. Every caregiver’s circumstances are different; some have lots of help while others little to none. And if you can get a break then go for it!!!

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    1. Yes, I will enjoy my break! And not worry at all about it until it comes to the flight back here. For some reason which I still do not know, the sib who was supposed to accompany her on the trip was on a different flight on one leg, so mom was by herself. They have arrived safely thank goodness.

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  4. As mentioned in my blog; caregivers have to learn to be a little self-centered…it’s called ‘self-preservation’. Don’t let guilt raise its ugly head, you deserve every minute of respite.

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  5. Your sister will indeed notice quite a difference after two years have passed. It’s a healthy trip for your mother, for you – and your sister. She needs to have time with your mother now because later just doesn’t work that well.
    How wonderful that your mother was able to travel by airplane. That’s a gift at this time of her disease.

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    1. I am sure they will notice a difference if they just sit and watch. But at the same time, I think they are grateful that she is still around after the stroke. Yes, mom is lucky to be able to travel still.

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  6. One of the things I’ve been doing is finding news articles about caregiving and topics around the EOL process and tweeting them. A very high percentage of the articles out there, every day, are about caregiver stress and burnout. From what I read, it can even be deadly in some situations. Taking time for myself, getting proper sleep and nourishing food was essential for me otherwise I would have become sick myself during my time as caregiver. It’s not selfish to take a little time away, it is what’s going to help you continue providing such loving care to your mom.

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    1. Thank you for your support. I find burnout creeps in insidiously, and appears suddenly. Some people advocate prevention, but sometimes it is just not possible. But I agree, sleep is important, I should get more sleep!

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