Should I try to bring my 88-year-old parents, including my...

A fellow caregiver asked...

Should I try to bring my 88-year-old parents, including my mom with Alzheimer's, to my daughter's wedding?

Expert Answer

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Congratulations on the upcoming wedding of your daughter. It's a great time for family, and usually everyone likes to be included. But when one of those family members has Alzheimer's disease, the rules change.

There are several questions that must be answered by you before my advice can be applied to your challenging situation. First, does your daughter want her grandmother there, knowing that this is her big day?

Second, what stage is your mother at regarding her Alzheimer's disease? I like to use a scale of from 1-10, with 10 being end-stage, and 1-3 being moderate in symptoms. If your mother falls into the 4-8 categories, with behavior issues, poor communications skills, inability to feed herself, anxiety in crowds or noisy situations, having her attend may not be a great idea. Also, will your mom be aware that she is missing the wedding if she is not included on that day, and will it bother her?

Third, if she does attend, with you as the mother of the bride, who will be with her the entire time and take responsibility for making sure that she is okay, gets fed, is taken to the bathroom, and receives any medications she is supposed to take during the time she is at the event.

I'm sure you're beginning to see the many issues that are involved here. While your heart may say yes, the pragmatics of the situation are that Grandma may be overwhelmed, confused or frightened by so many people, and the bottom line is that you don't want to take away anything from your daughter's very special day.

Having said all of that, if your mom is still social, able to be left alone at a table with other friends and relatives, does not require close medical or personal supervision, and is aware of her surroundings and the importance of the event to you and her granddaughter, by all means, include her. Here again, this is a decision that you and the bride-to-be have to make.

If, based on her level of debilitation, you decide not to include your mom, she will most likely not be aware of what she's missing, and it's possible that she won't remember anything about the day. For her, it will just be another day of the week, and remain within her normal routine.

Don't feel guilty if you decide not to include your mom. This is about your daughter, and if there is any chance that Grandma may take away from the spotlight on your daughter and her wedding, she too would tell you, if she were able to do so, to go ahead without me.

Remember, you and your daughter can always show your mom the photos and videos of the wedding and let her share in the joy of the event after the fact.

Good luck.