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Carers UK Forum • Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.
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Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:02 pm
by Rachael
Hello, I need some advice.
I am getting married in February and is over 2 days far from home.

My fiance's grandfather, John, suffers with dementia, has severe hearing loss, has lost the use of one hand due to a stroke a few years ago and can't walk without aid and not very far. His wife, who is reasonable able apart from struggling to walk long distances, is determined to go to the wedding and take her husband with her.

I have tried to gently talk to my future mother-in-law, who is lovely, about it perhaps not being the best idea to drag John to a long wedding. Not out of inconvenience, I will happily bend over backwards to help make him as comfortable and safe as possible but I am very concerned about his welfare. I am by no means an expert but I was a carer for 3 years and my training told me, though it was a while ago, that it is distressing for dementia sufferers to be put in a stressful situation such as a wedding. But, my MIL told me that the grandmother would not go without John and that she is a very stubborn woman and would insist on going.

My FIL (it's his parents) is just as stubborn and wants them to be there. He doesn't know anything about the condition and is of the belief that taking his father out regularly is good for him. I can't comment on the validity of this belief but I do know that he will force John to the wedding if his mother wants it. I have considered suggesting to my more amenable MIL that perhaps they should ask a doctor if it is okay to bring John to the wedding.

Is there a way to gently persuade them it is not the best course of action? Or, am I completely wrong in thinking that it's a bad idea? And if they are insistent about going, what can I do to help John as much as possible?

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer. I hope I have not come across as heartless. And sorry it is so much text!

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:12 pm
by sunnydisposition
I think it would be better for you to concentrate on your own wedding. That is stressful enough. You can only advice people. Just make a request that you are kept informed on what plans -they are going to put into place. Ask them to have a back up plan if things do not go according to their plans.

https://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/showthr ... -coming-up

https://apracticalwedding.com/ask-a-psy ... -dementia/

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:18 pm
by Sometimes
Tell them that they are responsible for his care , transport and well being on the day. You will have enough dealing with everything else

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:22 pm
by bowlingbun
My father in law was poorly but absolutely determined to attend his only grand daughter's wedding. We took him there, 40 miles away, he stayed for the service but then went home rather than stay for the evening reception. (much to my annoyance because I loved family get togethers and was disappointed I couldn't stay, although husband was relieved I think!) FIL rapidly went down hill afterwards and died of heart failure two months later.

This could be an option for John.

Make sure your fiancees family are aware of your concerns and he should make them understand that it's your day, John is welcome to come but it must not spoil the day for everyone else, it's up to the family to make sure John is comfortable, someone else is designated to help MIL, there's a wheelchair etc. etc. if needed. That is THEIR responsibility to arrange. MIL will doubtless enjoy the ceremony and the chance for a family get together afterwards, if John allows.

Don't make a big deal out of this, otherwise you could be making trouble for the future for yourself and your future husband. You can't choose your in laws. Some of them may need a lot of tolerance from you. One of mine certainly did, but in 34 years of marriage, I never ever let him get the better of me, I always kept my temper, at the time anyhow.

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:28 pm
by jenny lucas
Ray, I understand your concern.

Let's look at the practicalities. you say the wedding will be over two days from home (ie, from where you live now, do you mean? With your fiancée or not?). Does that mean it's near where her parents live, and if so, how far from them do her grandparents live?

What is the journey time from the grandparents to where you are getting married, and what is the actual wedding set up? ie, are you getting married in a church, what time of day, where is the reception, is it afternoon or evening (or both!), etc etc etc.

Try and do a 'logistics' plan, right from the moment your g.FIL (grandfather-in-law) wakes up in the morning, to when he finally is 'put to bed' at the end of the day. That might indicate whether it is or is not viable at all for him to 'put in an appearance'.

And 'putting in an appearance' might be all that is possible, if it is possible at all.

For example, does he have to be there for the wedding ceremony AND the reception, or one or the other? Is the reception in a hotel, with a sit down meal, or will it be a buffet, and will there be music and dancing, etc etc etc.

What MIGHT be possible is for him to be there 'some of the time', but you may have to decide carefully which bit he could best cope with.

Another key issue, to my mind, is what your grandmother-in-law will be doing during the two events - wedding ceremony and reception. Does she want to be at both, for the entire duration?

It could be, you see, that what might be a practical 'compromise' would be that you and your fiancé hire a care-worker for the day to look after your g/f in law. This might enable his wife to enjoy more of what is going on (I would count out totally your MIL and FIL - they are 'on stage' throughout a wedding!), and have someone 'on hand' the entire time to see to things like getting to the loo, letting him sit quietly somewhere, of even, perhaps, taking him home in the middle of it all if he gets distressed or agitated or just too restless to cope with it all.

I think if you think of him as a 'toddler' you might get a handle on whether he could, or could not, cope with any or all of a wedding.

I do understand why his wife and son wants him there. Weddings are 'handover' events for the generations, and this could well be the last time there are any 'mass memories' and 'mass photos' of him. It's part of the 'saying goodbye to him' that is going on in your fiancee's family.

Bear in mind that for your fiancée, she will feel, naturally, a lot less 'intensely' about her g/father than does her own father (his son) and her g/mother (his wife). So his presence will be less important to her. She might theoretically 'like' to have him there, but not if it causes huge problems both to him, and to the overall 'performance' of the wedding.

With your own experience of being a carer, I think you already envisage that his wife cannot be both 'guest and carer' with him at the same event. She has to be one or the other, and she probably does not really realise this yet. She, and her son, are probably still trying to play 'Everything's OK!' in a mythical 'Happy Families', and really it will take what is likely to be the 'disastrous' reality of having him there to make them re-think this.

I would say, myself, that it's essential for him to have 'escape routes', whereby someone can basically just take him home again, and return him to what is his 'normal' now.

What is he like socially? A great deal will depend on this. For example, my friend, whose father with pretty advanced dementia living with her, recently organised a lovely afternoon birthday tea for his 90th. There were about twenty family and friends, me included, at a swish hotel. It actually all worked very well - there was a private tea-lounge only for the birthday party, no strangers, and whilst everyone basically chatted to each other, a nice fuss was made of the dad, and because he is very 'peacable' he seemed to be enjoying himself, sititng there, his daughrer ensuring he had 'nice things' to eat, etc etc. He seemed to cope fine. But he had been' escorted in, and escorted out, and it was a fairly undemanding situation overall.

BUT, if your fiancée's grandfather finds other people confusing and distressing, and can't sit still, will he be wandering around aimlessly, behaving in a (as can happen alas) 'disinhibited' way, etc et

I do think, in the end, that since it is your and your fiancée's wedding, what YOU two want should be what happens! That said, if your fiancée wants to keep her parents happy, she may, whatever her own fears, agree that her g/father should be there.

If that is so, then apart from doing all the above, when the actual day comes, remember that you are the STARS of the show, NOT the Impresarios or House Managers. It is for OTHERS to sort out the guests etc etc,and you and your bride should basically be able to ignore any 'untoward goings on or disturbanceYs' that her g/father's presence may cause.

Once the day starts, you should NOT get involved in anything to do with the running of it. You just 'play your part' (and let your bride be Queen for a Day!!!!), and let 'others' deal with your fiancée's g.father.

Wishing you all the best, and I wouldn't agonise too much about it - prepare as best you can, and then leave it your new inlaws. If they want it, they sort it.

Jenny

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:15 pm
by Rachael
Thank you for your replies so far. I really appreciate the support. Luckily my fiance totally agrees with me and we have both tried to talk with my FIL and MIL about it.

I'll add a little extra detail about the wedding to answer Jenny's questions.

The wedding is 2 hours drive away from where my GFIL lives, so there is self catered accommodation for Friday night and Saturday night 2 mins drive from the reception and the ceremony (all neatly on one estate). So luckily it is quite easy for him to escape to a quiet place but I was worried that he would not cope well with the accommodation for 2 days.

We took them both to the venue as well as my in laws because my GMIL was concerned already about facilities and spent the day listing all the things they would need. (Mat for the wheelchair across grass, heated blankets for outdoor pictures, a more comfortable seat during the sit down meal, an area of sofas in a quiet corner so they can watch the evening bit from a distance, frames for toilet and shower access in the accommodation, extra towels for strip washes etc etc.) My GFIL was already getting agitated after 2 hours into the visit saying that he "didn't want to stay there" and that he "wanted to be taken home". I don't know what type of dementia he has but he went to my SIL's wedding a year ago and spent the day asking where he was and who was getting married and when could he go home. He doesn't recognize my fiance most of the time and not me at all now, even when reasonable lucid.

My MIL has told me not to worry and that they will sort everything out but I don't want them to have to worry either. They are supposed to be part of the day but they have already provisionally booked accommodation at the Premiere Inn because the GMIL did not think the accommodation we booked for them was suitable. This means that either my MIL or FIL will have to not drink on the day and leave at some point to drive to the other accommodation, the very thing we wanted to avoid by booking the rooms at the venue.

I feel like I'm just ranting now so I do apologize.

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:31 pm
by jenny lucas
Oh dear, from what you say it doesn't sound like this is going to work out well, does it? If he was already 'difficult' about his other grand-daughter's wedding.

To be honest, it seems 'cruel' to drag him there for something that will mean nothing to him - it's really for his wife and son's sake that this all seems to be happening.

It seems the final straw that GFIL and his wife can't stay at the accommodation at the wedding venue, as that, at least, would be easier than him having to be taken to the Premiere Inn - and, as you say, your inlaws having to be there as well.

One thing I would say, though - you say the wedding is in February. Well, it's only July now, and you know, in the seven months till the wedding GFIL's health may simply deteriorate so much that even for his wife and son it will be impossible for them to insist on his presence. (You might want to contact your venue, and see ifthey will hold their accommodation on 'standby' in case it is required after all.)

But, all in all, this does seem to be all about your GFIL's wife and his son - not about GFIL himself. Isn't that a tad selfish of them???????????? (Could GFIL's doc not insist, as has been suggested, that he simply must not be taken to your wedding?)

A tricky situation indeed!

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:35 pm
by jenny lucas
This is only an 'extra' thought, but I throw it in anyway.

My 93 y.o MIL has advanced dementia now, and ironically, is relatively 'peaceful' now - but until she reached this state of current decline she could be very 'restless' and 'agitated' (Mainly, she didn't want to be in the care home, alas.....)

Because of this she was prescribed a low dose of Diazapam to 'calm' her, and make her less anxious and restless.

I'm just wondering whether, if your FIL and GFIL's wife insists on GFIL being lugged to the wedding, whether GFIL's doctor could prescribe something similar, so that he is 'calmer' about the whole thing?

It's hardly ideal, but there you go, I put it into the hat. (Of course, he may be on it already?)

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:50 pm
by Pet66
My post bumped with Jenny's!
First of all congratulations on your upcoming wedding.
This is my view on the situation.
My lovely husband is in a nursing home because of strokes and vascular dementia. I couldn't or wouldn't want to confuse him any more than he already is. It would be unfair on him. The same for your GFIL. He will enjoy a slice of cake and looking at the photos afterwards.
Could some trusted person care for him for a few hours whilst everyone enjoys your wedding? I do wish I could come up with a solution. It's is yours and your bride to be's day.

Re: Advice needed on dementia suffering grandparent and wedding please.

Posted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:03 pm
by MrsAverage
Hi Ray
I'd just say that February is a long time away, let people have their dreams that he will manage it, and if he does so be it, if he doesnt it will be their decision nearer the time. You just concentrate on the nice bits of the wedding planning
Kr
MrsA