Mom isn't happy at assisted living...

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It is just really hard when your wonderful parent isn't happy.


My Mom moved into a very nice AL facility a month ago. She is just not happy there. I don't know that time will make a difference. She was living with my sister and was unhappy there, and looked forward to getting into her own place. As my brother says, her unhappiness is because her brain and body aren't working right and that is going to be true wherever she is. I don't know that I'm looking for advice so much as to just vent and share my unhappiness that my dear mother (who is very sweet and nice) is unhappy and likely to remain so.


For years Mom lived in a MIL apartment by me, and then more recently spent a couple months with my brother and then my sister. The reason for the move out of the MIL apartment was that she developed dementia rather quickly over a few months, and I wasn't able to deal with her increased needs. We are still working through the diagnostics for her (with a top notch Memory and Brain Wellness center at our University), but the preliminary thoughts are that it is vascular dementia. She forgets a lot, and has real trouble planning. But she still is able to understand complex information and discussions. Her dementia has been pretty stable over the last few months (which would match the vascular dementia diagnosis), although she has gotten much more wobbly.


Mom is very private, and it bugs her having people come into her apartment to give her meds, etc. She is also not leaving her apartment to participate in any activities. One downside at this AL is that there are many people who are less "with it" than Mom, so that bothers her. Her thyroid is also low and that could be impacting her mood, cognitive ability and willingness to do things. We are also going to ask her doctor about anti-depressants.


We realize things MIGHT get better with more time. And before considering any changes we need to complete the whole diagnostic part so we have as much information as to diagnosis, prognosis, etc.


She would like to move back in with my sister, in which case we would have to hire full time caretakers while my sister is at work. Mom can mostly be okay by herself, she hasn't shown any tendency to wander. But she does get confused and worried when she is by herself, which seems to increase her dementia, so it is best that somebody be with her most of the time. My sister and husband might consider it, but they haven't discussed it thoroughly. My mom really isn't demanding. But she still might not be happy.


I know from reading this forum a lot, that moving back in with my sister might be a very bad idea. I really want to protect my sister and make sure that if that is an option that is being considered that she have lots of support and help. If it were up to me I would probably say that Mom should stay in AL, and if not this one, then maybe another one.


But mainly I am needing to learn how to live with my mother being unhappy. I like to solve problems, and I think this may be a problem that may not be solvable. She wants life like it was 5 years ago. Even 2 years ago. And that isn't going to happen.

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With regards to medications, I bought my father a programmable pill dispenser, expensive but well worth it. No need to worry about over dosing and you can program it for multiple times in a day. Luckily for my dad it’s once a day and I only need to refill it once every 3 weeks.
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SadHelpless1, if she is trying to run away, it probably time for her to go to Memory Care. The AL Staff can look at it a lot more professionally and dispassionately than you can. Her unhappiness does not trump her being safe. From what you have described, she is not happy now. ((HUGS))
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This sounds just like my mother. She had fallen and had three brain bleeds and before had already been showing signs of dementia. She went from Skilled nursing to AL. I brought her own furniture and items to make her feel more at home. She hates the intrusions. Feels like no one likes her. Won't participate often in activities but complains that no one invites her (although the staff does come and knock to remind her) She thinks everyone is going to kill her or her room is bugged or they're going to steal her stuff. I go twice a week with one day always being out to lunch and shopping. She gets her hair done there once a week. A doctor watches over her and a psychiatrist has recently put her on medication for anxiety and dementia because she tried to run away. I am the only caregiver. I come home heartbroken and sad and always cry. My mom is very unhappy but she can't live at home by herself and I cannot take care of her with her constant paranoia. AL wants to put her in Memory Care but I think she would really be unhappy and more paranoid. Any advice?
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I have appreciated all the comments on this thread, so I thought an update was in order:

Mom has been in AL for almost 3 months now. My sister and I both feel she that over the last few weeks she has become more content there. I think she feels at home now in her apartment, surrounded by all her helpers. We are very grateful. So I would agree with a lot of things I read that it can take 2 months to adjust.

Over these months my sister would bring Mom home to her place a night or two, just for a change of scenery and because Mom liked getting out of the AL. The other day she suggested that Mom come with her for a night. Although Mom was originally excited about the idea, when she thought about it she decided she would prefer to stay at the AL, with my sister coming and visiting her there for the afternoon. This is quite a change. We think the thought of packing, changing beds, etc. just didn't appeal to Mom.

During the first 6-8 weeks of this transition time, Mom frequently said she'd prefer to live with one of her kids. My sister, who needs everybody to be happy, was having a hard time saying a definite no, even thought she realized it probably would not work well. At one point I was visiting Mom, who again told me, "I really would like to live with one of my kids". I told her rather casually, "Well, Mom, I think you should probably assume that won't be an option". She has not mentioned living with one of her kids again. Somehow she remembered me saying this, and accepted it, even though she forgets so many things.

Our next big event is a doctor's appointment this week to discuss the results of ALL the neuro-cognitive testing that has been done. I am anticipating a diagnosis of either vascular dementia, or mixed vascular/Alzheimers. Mom will be relieved to be done with all the appointments.
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My mother is unhappy no matter what but I think it comes from within and not what is going on around her. She moved into a Senior apt home last year and has not mad the best of it. I think it is the realization that she can’t turn back time.
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I forgot to say that her apartment is set up with her familiar furniture, artwork, photographs, and "pretty" things. She seems to be quite happy with the apartment itself.
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Thank-you everybody. It helps to have so many people understand and give ideas. We are going to schedule a care meeting with the AL to discuss options (many of which were mentioned here). My sister is getting lots of support from us siblings, saying we do not feel that Mom living with her is the best option. I think she needs to hear that from us, because otherwise she feels terribly guilty.

My Mom doesn't have a history of being negative. She has adapted without complaint to many things in her life, so having her unhappy now is especially hard. A friend visited her today and reported that Mom said she was starting to feel at home and was getting used to things. I hope that is true, although in general she would never complain to people (too private).

And I really agree that Mom is better off adjusting now, while she still has some ability to figure out new things.

My current plan is to schedule my visits to coincide with some fun AL activity, and then persuade (insist?) my Mom go with me so she starts getting used to leaving her apartment. She does go to meals in the dining room, and has met some people that way. It is funny, most people love the food there. But Mom was a superior and adventurous cook, and it doesn't meet her standards much of the time. But by the time she moved out of her apartment she wasn't cooking anyway, so I don't feel too bad about that. It is good food (we often eat there when we visit), there is a variety to choose from, so she really isn't suffering!
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I have not read ALL the great information given to you in the previous responses, but let me give you my perspective and info. My 94 year old Mother opted to be moved to an Assisted Living Facility 4 1/2 years ago. We moved her to her own apartment with her own furniture and all. She was apprehensive, but did make a good effort to be with the people around her and to "make" friends. Even tho Mom has vascular dementia, she did try to talk to other people etc. But, she too, found that most of them were worse that she was, but tried to find those who were not. That was at the beginning of her stay. It did not take too long before she said to me that she didn't want to be with "those" people, but that she did like her apartment (no kitchen) cuz she had all her furniture there with her. That comforted her. Speed up to a couple of years later....Mom is friends with a number of people, has gotten into playing bingo regularly and seems to be enjoying being there. Fast forward to now....Mom wants to go home to where she lived with her husband and her kids many years ago. Mom wants to know why nobody calls her or comes to visit. She cries because she thinks that no one loves her or wants her around. Breaks my heart. I am her daughter. Her only other child lives in Arizona with his family. EVERYONE ELSE HAS PASSED. She does have grandchildren, who of course, are busy with their lives and their kids.

So, I guess, what I'm trying to impress on you is that....no matter what you do for your beloved mother, it really doesn't matter. You just need to be with her, call her, take her out, if possible, reassure her that all is well and that it's just dementia playing tricks with her mind should she start getting too confused. Let her know that she is loved and that everyone in the family loves her. My Mom is the last one living of her generation in our family. And I tell her that so that she realizes that there is NO ONE to call her or to visit except for me. And that everything is okay. Just rest assured, that you will have to keep saying that over and over and over again. But it does seems to talk her off the cliff, if you know what I mean.

I hope this response will bolster you to accept those things that are inevitable with dementia patients, and that no matter where your Mom is, you want her to be safe.
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Hello Chdottir,
We are in similar situations. We had to place mom in a Senior Care Facility. It was the hardest thing for us to do but in order to keep her safe this was/is the best thing for her. She started forgetting a lot of things, to take her meds, would leave the stove on ALL YEAR ROUND, heaters, losing her purse and much more. They start forgetting little by little then something serious happens and we have to take the necessary actions for their safety. Our mom too was a very independent women and was very hard for her to understand why she had to share her space with someone else. Keep in mind in order for us to get her to feel somewhat comfortable in the Senior care we had to make her believe we had moved into an apartment. No mom is not happy there but just like yours she was not happy when she stayed with me or my sister. So we tried a different approach and my sister and I would rotate weeks and stayed at mom's with her but we started to get over whelmed and stress began to consume us. Having to leave our families to keep mom happy but in actuality she wasn't due to her dementia progressing. All can I say is-it is going to be a tough road at the beginning. You need to be there with her and show her you're it going to leave her alone. Participate in activities with her. Fix her room with curtains she had at home, pictures, decor, make it feel cozy for her. We did all of this for and she feels like she's at my house (We don't challenge it). You and your sister should also join support group meetings. They will help you get through this...God Bless You & will keep you in our prayers.
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At Moms AL residents weren't allowed to keep meds in their rooms. Moms meds were ordered thru the ALs pharmacy in blister packs. I feel you should leave Mom where she is. From what you have wrote, I would not leave her alone. The Dementia will only get worse and she will need more care. When Mom was at the AL they brought a man in to live. The poor man just wanted to leave and constantly was trying to leave. I heard an aide say his family waited to long to place him in the AL. Meaning if they had placed him earlier he would have adjusted and may not have wanted to leave all the time. I think he ended up being moved to a place that would have a lock down section. So what I am saying is placing her early maybe better.
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