I would say in this case it does seem weird, but it’s hard to know her reasons. My parents took care of my mother’s parents for several years when they started to decline. We moved them to our state, found them an apartment nearby, and my mother would go over once a week to clean, several times a week to drop off extra food, and whenever anyone had an appointment (to drive). Eventually they got so bad they were moved to a home, but my grandfather wouldn’t let any nurses in to help my grandmother. One night she fell, he tried to carry her back to bed and then they both fell, and she broke her sternum. At that point, my parents redid part of the first floor of our house to create a room for them with a bathroom, installed a ramp and other features, and moved them in. My mother became their full-time caretaker and as much as she loved them, it drained her. I was still in high school and my siblings were younger. I saw my mom impacted so heavily and it broke my heart. I know it wasn’t their fault, but I could see the huge toll it took on her. My grandfather wouldn’t trust anyone else. My dad stepped up by working even more while my mom couldn’t and taking more care of us kids and the pets (I had two younger siblings and we had like… two dogs and 5 cats I think). I sometimes helped but I think they wanted us kids to have as “normal” a life as possible, and I was very involved at school.
After many many years of this, we had a family trip planned for Mexico. As the date got closer, my mom got more and more nervous about leaving (my cousin was coming to look after the house, the pets, and my grandparents). Eventually she decided she couldn’t go, but we should all still go. I remember pleading with her that she needed this more than any of us, and that we wouldn’t go if she couldn’t. She was very stubborn, but my cousin and my father talked her into going. It was a hugely healing trip for us all.
My mother cared for her parents until her mother passed away, peacefully, in our home. She then took care of her father until he too passed away, a year later. She took an entire year off work and she and my dad traveled quite a bit the year after. I think they needed to bond again and just rest after those stressful and disconnected years. I did not help very much but we were all so impacted that getting back to life as “usual” was very strange and almost uncomfortable. The day after my grandfather passed away, my mother took my sister and me out to lunch, at a simple casual restaurant just down the street. It felt strange even to have that simple pleasure again, as my mom wasn’t stressed worrying about her dad and telling us we had to hurry. We were just all so used to it. I’m proud of my parents for what they did but I will tell you it had such a huge impact, on all of us. My mom was superwoman but she was in a way “gone” for a few years and it was just so nice to have her back. She tells me even now that she never wants to put us through that, and is adamant she wants to be in a home, which makes me sad. But she knows first-hand just how hard it was, and just doesn’t want to inflict that on us.
Obviously our case was very different for us, but we needed that vacation as a family. It’s easy to say someone nearby and retired should do it, it’s much harder to be the one taking care of others full-time as the expense of your own life, especially when they refuse any outside help. Maybe your aunt sees that it is going down that path and doesn’t know if she even wants to be the sole caregiver for her parents. It’s really hard. It’s unfortunate that no one lives close by to help her. Are you guys willing to send money or come help when she needs a break? What is the long-term plan for this couple in their 90s who won’t let outsiders help? It sounds like your family is expecting your aunt to fall on her sword because she is closest and the daughter and retired. In my opinion, the whole family should help however they can. In my parents case, there wasn’t really anyone else, just occasional help from the cousins.
I agree that she could have canceled this trip, and I would have if I was her. But to say it’s selfish for her to go on the trip, idk… to me it’s selfish to expect her to carry this burden basically alone.