The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a housewife in my 50s. I’d like advice about my mother, who is in her 80s.
My mother entered a medical facility near her house three years ago. My father, who died last year, often visited and, two or three days a month, brought my mother, who could not walk, back to the house. I’m an only child, and now it takes me a full hour to make the round trip to the facility.
She is the type of person that hates to be left alone, she sometimes cries and says, “I want to go home,” or “I’m lonely.” And yet, she will also suddenly tell me, “You should go home now, it will get dark soon so be careful.” When I take her favorite food, she perks up and says, “This is delicious, thank you.”
She no longer has a long-term care bed in her house. I think it’s not possible for me to take my invalid mother home by myself. It was something that my father and I did together, but not being able to do it myself, I feel selfish and cold-hearted.
Should I take her back home, even for a short period?
K, Saitama Prefecture
Dear Ms. K:
Although your mother is in poor health, it must have made her happy that your father took care of her until only recently. Now that your father’s help is no longer available, it is not possible for you to occasionally take her home by yourself. You blame yourself, referring to this as “selfish.” What a good-hearted daughter you are.
My basic thinking is that you should keep doing what you have been doing without trying the impossible, and visit your mother as often as you can. With such an answer, you may hold a grudge against me for the rest of your life if, God forbid, your mother dies in the near future.
But, even as her body and mind are weakened by her long illness, she tells you, “You should go home now, it will get dark soon.” I think she will forgive you, and appreciates you.
However, if it is her wish to return home even just one last time, it can be made possible in this day and age. The government promotes a policy of home-based medical care.
It varies according to region, but there is a system in place that allows temporary returns home due to improved home visits by doctors.
Don’t give up thinking it’s not going to happen regardless of what you do. I recommend you consult a care manager or other specialist at the facility. Even if it doesn’t work out as you hope, I think your mother will be glad to see her family making such an effort for her.
Keiko Higuchi, critic