My mother really needs to move to assisted living but is resistant. She has some mild dementia/short term memory loss. How do I persuade her?

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One of the discoveries made recently about dementia and Alzheimer's disease is that patients who can remain in their own home and stick with normal routines do better than those who are uprooted and forced to adapt to new places and new routines. The reason for this, according to studies conducted for the Alzheimer Foundation, is that Long Term Memory is not impacted by this disease as is Short Term (or Working Memory). It is difficult or even impossible for these patients to process new information (faces, activities, surroundings, sleep patterns etc) but with a little help and supervision, they are able to function by doing what they have always done, seeing what they are used to seeing every day, and interacting with people that they feel they know even if they don't remember names or roles. If there is any way to maintain her current situation by enlisting neighbors, friends, near-by relatives, and home care professionals trained in this kind of care, give it a try. Your mother is not resisting help as much as she is fearful of change. BTW-you might try short visits to Adult Day Care if offered by the ALF you would have her enter. Depending how far along she is in the dementia cycle, doing this now might help ease her fear of change. If she can meet with the same people for a few hours a day they will become part of her long term memory and the move--if really necessary--will be a lot easier on both of you.
Ezcare has made an excellent point. A move from familiar home surroundings for an elder, especially with cognitive impairment is intimidating and traumatic.

Interestly enough, the Dept. of Health recognizes this and has labeled it "Transfer Trauma" - and it is documented that moving these vulnerable elders contributes to a decline in health and wellbeing. Although we often like to think of our parents as being difficult, it is good to have a reminder that this is a huge issue that is often overlooked when family is pushing for a move to Assisted Living because of a family caregiver's burnout, need to work, or inability to take on the extra responsibility.

The site is for caregivers issues - and I have been one for my mom for almost 7 years, so no judgement is intended on anyone else's choice. But I have noticed that sometimes our elders - the reason why we are on this site do get a little lost in the discussion of "What to do with them". Take a deep breath and consider all of the options, not just the ones that are traditionally presented to us in our society. Care in their own home is possible even if you cannot do it yourself. Just a thought.
Top Answer
Unfortunately, staying in their own home is not always possible for seniors. My heart desperately wanted to see things remain as familiar as possible for my parents. For months, I agonized about the situation, and consulted many many many social service agencies, service providers, and such. Regretfully, there were many factors working against my parents. Their home was very large, and very old. It acquired many safety hazards over the years, and required large amounts of money and time to repair. This was not an option, as my parents also acquired large amounts of debt, due to their failing health and judgement. They also had a huge yard to maintain, and a big dog they could barely care for. Mom wasn't feeding herself or Dad properly. They had driving issues; became lost, and had multiple wrecks, when they could no longer drive safely. Dad became angry and aggressive, and began wandering about the neighborhood, and into people's houses. (He could have been shot!) Mom had major depression, and addictions, and slept a great deal, and wasn't caring for her husband. They were constantly fighting, with one threatening to hit the other, and the other was actually doing it. Dad's behavior escalated, and cost him dearly; by being placed into a Psychiatric facility for stabilization, due to cognitive dysfunction. Because they had so much debt, there was no money to hire Caregivers. Their two daughters lived far away, and could not oversee their care, unable or unwilling to move their direction. Friends could only do so much. Their extended family helped some, but also had serious health issues. One daughter had her own debt, and had to work full time just to pay her own bills.

Dad behaved most inappropriately with neighbors, and with his own grandson, so moving in with us was definitely not an option. He needed 24 hour surveilence in a Nursing Care facility equipped to handle his growing issues. When they become a threat to others, family cannot always care for them, even when the desire is present.

Not many are financially able, emotionally equipped,or physically capable to give 24 hour care for another, even for a dearly-loved parent or spouse. And even it they were, burnout is a common symptom, often ruining the health of the care provider, due to stress, fatigue, isolation, and many other factors. Many are in the sandwich generation, trying to raise young children or teens. Trying to do both is difficult, indeed, and each generation feels the effects. Those of you who do it know exactly what I'm saying. So I defend and support you who have also had to seek alternatives to keeping your loved one in their own home, or live in yours. It is not possible for everyone, and we don't need to feel guilt if it isn't. Some people are just selfish, but that's a different story.

I applaud you if you can meet your loved one's needs in a manner they prefer. I applaud you if you choose to sacrifice your gifts, talents, time and energy in serving the needs and desires of another. I applaud you who do the best you can given the many options available. To care for another is no easy task. To sacrifice ourselves is no small thing. And it's not always acknowledged or appreciated. People have differing motives for what they do, and for the choices they make. Are we our brother's keeper? Morally, and Biblically, yes, ultimately. But how we choose to help another should not be dictated by the personal preferences, convictions or choices of another. Why, even the Good Samaritan sought the help of others. God is our judge. To him, one day we will all give an account. He sees the motives of our heart. His opinion is the only one that matters.

As for this dear person, lelanjian, who asked the question about their mother moving into an ALF, let's not be too judgemental. We don't know their particulars. I think lelanjian was asking "HOW," rather than whether to or not?

While two commenters made legitimate points about best case scenario arrangements, I know from personal experience, that is not always possible, and I don't apologize for my position or sharing my opinion. After all, it's just an opinion. Not everyone will agree with me. God bless you who do the best you can for your loved ones, no matter what you or they choose. Let's be a little kinder and more sympathetic to one another, can we?

Oh, BTW. Both my parents are doing much better after moving them from their home. We found some wonderful places for them especially suited to their particular needs. Dad is thriving in his new environment, and actually loves the attention and care he receives. And he's close by, so I can visit as often as I want, which has been a blessing to both him and my family. Mom's new physicians and environment have improved her health, outlook, social circle, and attitude (mostly). She struggles with many health issues, but is actually doing better than she EVER did in her own home. (Long story.)

So, please be sensitive to Caregivers and elders. What works for one, may not work for another. Just a couple more thoughts. Take care.

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