Adjustment to assisted living is tougher for the children.

Started by

Mom has been in AL for 3 weeks. We all expected that she would have a hard adjustment but no one prepared us for the adjustment we would experience. When I say, we, I really mean two of the four of us. My sister and I have been the primary care givers while my brother and other sister have been far removed since they do not live locally. Mom is 91. She has dementia and severe osteoporosis. Right now she is in a wheel chair because she fractured her knee and she has a massive rotator cuff injury, limiting her ability to use her right arm. Mom begs, I mean she really begs, to go home. She hates Assisted Living. She is very confused and doesn't understand why she is there. We try to explain that she cannot walk and needs 24 hour assistance as well as physical therapy which the AL can provide. There is no getting through to her. She just doesn't get it. The AL is wonderful. They try to keep her busy all day and between my sister and I, we are there at least once a day for a few hours at a time. Still, she calls us 30 times a day. I don't answer half of the calls and neither does my sister, but just the fact that the phone is buzzing like crazy all day and all night is enough to make anyone tense. So, speaking for myself, I have been experiencing palpitation, anxiety, and I feel like someone has their hands around my throat. I feel like I'm on the verge of tears all day long. I don't know how to deal with myself let alone deal with mom. My sister just cries all the time. I sure hope there is an end to this and everyone settles down to a semi-normal life. I've posted several times on this forum. I love hearing from everyone. It also helps me to write down my feelings because I don't seem to be able to express them verbally. My sister and I can commiserate with each other, but my husband, et al just don't understand how we feel.


Mom needs an eva9by a geriatric psychiatrist. Find out tomorrow if there is one who cones to the facility, which is your best bet.
Can you get the phone away from her? It's not helping her to continue to call 30X a day and it's certainly not helping you or your sister. The facility can contact you if something happens. Unplug her phone and say it's broken or make up some story.

Get her focused on something else and yes, see if you can get her some meds to calm her down ASAP. I am so sorry you have to go through this - you're doing the right thing. Hugs...
aferrino, I know this will be hard to do, but start cutting back on the number of days you and your sister are visiting, and cut the number of hours there. Your Mom needs to start depending on the Staff to help her and she needs to start meeting people her own age.

I see you both go every day, tomorrow do not go. Do every other day for a hour only. Then eventually go every 3rd day until you are down to once a week. If you are hovering over Mom, that could be making her feel uneasy and she wants to go home.

When my Dad moved to senior housing, we joked that it would be like going to college, his room would be the size of a dorm room, and that I would be worried if he was going to like his teachers and if he would make any new friends :)

As for the telephone calls, I never had quite that issue with Dad. Does your Mom call all day long or only late afternoon and evenings? If the latter, then she is sundowning. My Dad had sundowning so I would get these calls every now and then, and Dad was so confused about where he was. Eventually I learned to just play along with what he was saying.
See the director of nursing and get mom on some meds. And unplug the phone. Do NOT interrupt her activities. If necessary, take her to them and then disappear when she gets involved in them.
She will likely always want to go home so try not to beat yourself up about it as hard as that sounds
As much as I hate having my 93 year old mom in a memory care facility I can't take care of her by myself
I have private caregivers with her everyday and our housekeeper has dinner with her 2x a week and another dear friend has lunch with her once a week
I find if I visit her in the daytime then I'm there for hours so I usually go in the evening 3-4x a week and have a treat with her watch a little tv and then out her to bed
It is exhausting nonetheless as I work 50+ hours a week but she is still very much aware and communicative so I push myself probably more than I should

Dementia is not an easy journey for anyone
Three weeks is not enough time for your mother to settle in or for you to adjust to this drastic change. Give yourselves time!

My mother lived with one of my sisters for 14 months. The minute Sis said she could no longer meet Mom's needs, the other three of us immediately searched for appropriate placement.

The adjustment was extremely hard on the sister with whom she had lived. She second-guessed her decision. She felt guilty. She missed Mom. She didn't know what to do with herself. This went on for a few months. The rest of us could see how much better this was for our mother and our adjustment was pretty easy. (It was better for a number of reasons but NOT because Sis hadn't been doing a great job.)

Mother actually adjusted more readily than Sis did.

Don't underestimate the impact the change in your roles has on you. Many people experience discomfort and flounder when they retire. I was caregiver to my husband for ten years. He died four years ago. In addition to mourning him I had huge adjustment issues with suddenly not being a caregiver 24/7.

Three weeks is NOT enough time for any of you to recover from the change and hit your stride with the new normal. You will. If you and your sister are not more comfortable with this necessary step in another month, perhaps a few sessions with a therapist would help you over the worst of it.
Turn your phone off! At least at night, for goodness' sake. The ALF has your landline number? - then if there really is an emergency they can get hold of you. And as for anyone else, well the human race survived many millennia without cellphones. You deserve eight hours down time, don't you?
Mother CHOSE her rehab/AL center for her post surgical time after a hip replacement based on the fact the place was "close" to my house and "close" to my brother (with whom she lives). I told her prior to going that place was a rathole and I wish she'd make a change. She didn't believe me, even tho the place is IN my general neighborhood and I have done service for patients there. Long story short, she is admitted a week after surgery and the phone calls began IMMEDIATELY to GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! All 5 of us sibs got on board, but it did take a week to facilitate a change. She was so angry, and reacting badly to her pain meds, raging at anyone and everyone--she had a roommate who would disappear at breakfast and not resurface until bedtime. Mother was a monster. She NEVER calls me, but now was calling me or my sibs 10-20 times a day with requests.
I guess luckily for me, she took it all out on me, told me to get out of her life and so I complied and took a vacation from her. My oldest sis simply stepped up, removed her from the "rathole" and moved her to a better, very posh facility. Further away, so it was hard to visit and cost $50 a day more. Sis picked up the cost. I did check on her everyday, through the nursing staff and visited once. It was a lovely break for my brother, she stayed 6 weeks. He call screened her. I guess we all did. We had decided that if something happened that was serious, the staff would call US, not mother.

My cellphone is always "off". My kids and hubby know if I need to be reached, call the landline, I only turn my cell on when I am away from home. I am not of the generation that needs to be "plugged in" all the time.

Give her time to adapt. 3 weeks isn't long (seems like it, doesn't it??)
Best of luck!
I completely understand your pain. The transition to AL is hard, and 3 weeks is still pretty early. Like others have suggested, it may be a good idea to cut back on visits. I did the same when I moved dad to AL (mostly to soothe my own guilt).

Think of it like this... Assisted Living Assists EVERYONE. The only way to get your loved one acclimated to the staff at the ALF is to "let go". They are trained professionals and they can help mom.

My dad would call me constantly at first. Unplugging the phone is a good idea (maybe from the wall so it appears to still be plugged in). If something happens the staff will notify you.

Sometimes both parties (caregiver and loved one) need adjustment time. Yes, it's noble to help out, but IT'S OK for you to have your own life as well. You now have the comfort of knowing that mom is in a safe place and you can take some time for you.

You will be a much better person for it, and trust me, when there's no other alternative, our loved ones can adapt.

Good luck to you!!!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support