Is moving Mom to Alaska (where one daughter lives) from major Midwestern city (where other two daughters live) a wise idea?

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Our mother just lost her husband (our dad) of 50 years 2 months ago. She has moderate-bordering-on-severe dementia and Dad had been in very poor health through the summer. We convinced them to move from their paid-for, 2-story house (with basement) to an independent living apartment in a senior resident complex, but my dad died the day the lease started. We went ahead and moved Mom into the apartment, and our sister from Alaska stayed with her during and after the funeral for a week. When she returned to Alaska, we hired 24/7 caregivers to be with Mom to help her get acclimated to the new building. The intention was to scale back care to 4 hours a day. But it became clear her dementia was much worse than we thought. She can't be left alone; needs cueing for everything. My sister who lives here in town with us agrees with me (and Mom's doctor and elder-care manager we hired) that a memory-care facility is the best place for Mom. Alaska sister, however, insists that Mom needs to be with FAMILY only and that Mom should live in Alaska with her, her husband and son in their 2-story house on a steep hill (with a backyard that plunges straight down a cliff!). We are very much against Mom living in Alaska. Mom wants to visit Alaska but does not want to live there and has stated this multiple times. Alaska sister and husband are vehemently opposed to outsiders involved in Mom's care. We've invited them to return to our city and live in our parents house with Mom and then after Mom passes, the home would be their's to live in or sell, but they will not come back. I guess I'm looking for one person to tell me Mom living in Alaska is a good idea. By the way, it's frigid, icy, blizzardy and DARK in Alaska for at least 4 months a year. Then in the summer it's light for 21 hours a day! I've tried to reason with my sister and her husband in Alaska to no avail. The memory care facility we want to move my Mom into is within 2 miles of our houses and is top-flight. By selling Mom's house, we can probably afford 4-5 years of care there and then ultimately I'll return to work to pay the rest if that's necessary. Oh, final notation: I am in the process of asking the courts for legal guardianship of Mom. Not sure if Alaska sister will contest this. They are not in a financial position to hire lawyers and return to our city to contest at the hearing, which is late this month. I would appreciate anyone's thoughts on this: Is home-care at all costs (and in Alaska) better than a memory-care facility for an 81-year-old dementia patient?

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Thank you, Nancy H. Yes, in some ways I think I'm trying to save my Alaska sis from herself. She won't accept how debilitating it can be taking care of someone like Mom 24/7. She thinks they'll sit around the table talking about all mom's old memories while chopping onions for dinner that night.... oy! Yes, her intentions are good and honorable. She's just closed minded and resistant to all kinds of reason. We won't let that stop us from being good sisters who still love her. And while she's not talking to us (or talking to us very clipped and coldly), we will still keep her in the loop about mom and her care. She's still our sister and mom's daughter and we do love her. All the research and literature I've come across seems to show that the sibling dynamic is usually the toughest aspect of taking care of ailing, aging parents. And ain't that the truth?!
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Maria, the sister in Alaska most likely has good intentions and I understand her reasoning I think. But the fact that your mom's dementia is only going to get worse, and that your sister will be isolated and taking care of someone that is going to need more and more care, should be scary to her. Sounds like to me, that your sister hasn't thought thru this scenario to it's full conclusion yet. Most likely years down the road when mom needs the care that your sister can't give, and Alaska sister is on this website whining that her other two sisters WON'T help when she needs them, you all will all find yourselves in a mess. No, it's better to keep mom in the lower 48 where there's more sisters to take care of her. Alaska sister will find herself in a rubber room 10 years from now if you don't. Sorry about your dad by the way. ♥
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Thank you, all, for your comments and insight! There was never any doubt that we would NOT send mom to Alaska to live. I think I've just been trying to gather enough evidence to present to my Alaska sister to change her mind. But I don't think the top medical/scientific experts in the world would be enough for her and her husband. They believe what they believe (only family should take care 24/7 of family) and nothing will sway them. Yesterday, I was appointed legal guardian by the courts for my mom. Mom was there in the courtroom and charmed the judge (obviously, my mom is fine with me being her guardian, though "I can do everything for myself," she says!). When Mom told the judge she did want to visit Alaska daughter, the judge told her if a doctor says it's ok, then ok. The judge also told mom that Alaska daughter will find you if you can't go there. That about sums it up, right?! Today, mom moves into the memory-care residence home that we all -- mom included -- agreed upon. I know it will be a bumpy transition once again, but at least she will be in a place where they know how to take care of her and they won't lose their minds doing it. Thank you all. I'm glad I found AgingCare.com. I will be a regular visitor, that's for sure.
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I'm a newbie at all this but my take is definitely keep your mom where she is. She has said she doesn't want to go to Alaska, you know the house has dangers, and with the odd day and night cycles in Alaska can you imagine the amount of sundowning problems your mom will have? It could really mess her up. Also where your mother is now there are two sisters and lots of external support - in Alaska it'll all be on your sister and in time that could be a problem. It's interesting to me to read of a case where it's the adult child insisting family only at all costs...usually it's the parent doing that. I'd say choose what is best for your mom - that is the guiding star here and the answer looks clear.
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I think your mom's comment about being willing to visit Alaska, but not wanting to live there says it all. She doesn't want to move. Enough said.
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I am with everyone else in thinking this is not a good idea for several reasons

1) moving her away from 2 daughters that have been involved with her care, to one who hasn't been, and likely has little idea of the amount of care she needs and will need. Rather than one daughter travelling to visit mum there would have to be two. Is there a financial issue or benefit seen by the AK daughter? if they don't have finances could the other two contribute towards the AK daughter travelling to see mum periodically? Just a thought about what might be driving this.
2) moving away from familiar surroundings, as has been said, would be very hard on her, and into a two story house with the backyard you describe sounds quite unsafe
3) living in the north is very hard on many people. The long cold and dark winters affect mood, and mobility. The summers can be nice but they are short and the bugs are HUGE!
4) moving to a place where the medical care she needs, and will need is likely less or not available. I have lived in the north for over 30 years, though not as far north as AK. and medical care is not as good as in the south. I looked up a major hospital in Alaska, and it emphasised rehab programs for addicts. It is only one example, I know, but makes sense to me. There have been very few resources for seniors in my community. The north is not a place where seniors go to retire, for good reasons, and I suspect that resources for seniors in Alaska are not as good as in the south. That could be researched further.

I hope you are successful in getting guardianship as it seems to me that you have your mum's best interests at heart. Wanting to have no outsiders involved in mum's care raises a huge red flag for me.
Do let us know how it goes (((((((hugs)))))) Joan
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I agree with others here. Don't move her, its not in her best interest and since they are in AK they probably don't understand the extent of skilled caregiving and time involved. I think it is best to do what the doctors and eldercare mgr have recommended. Good luck with court and PLEASE KEEP US POSTED on the outcomes. I may be going thru similar soon and would be very interested in how this goes for you.
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Thank you, Jeanne and JessieBelle, for your responses (and for reading through my unbelievably long post!). My like-minded sister is a physician (internist) and has made those same arguments (among others) Jeanne made to Alaska sister, but unfortunately there is no reasoning with her on this issue. Still we are determined not to let this hurt our relationship with her. I know she wants this because she is a loving and dutiful daughter. But it is so frustrating that she and her husband will not consider any other options and that they believe family only should be caring for a family member 24/7. I am, and still will be, mom's caretaker even if she is not living in my house!
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Amen to what Jeanne wrote. I, too, thought it a very bad idea, mainly because of the weather and the light cycle.
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Is home-care at all costs (and in Alaska) better than a memory-care facility for an 81-year-old dementia patient?

No. Moving from one Midwestern city to another Midwestern city would be hard enough on someone with dementia. Moving away from the two daughters she has had most contact with, to not only a new environment but a different climate and different night/day cycles would be overwhelming. This is not a good idea!

I give Alaska sister lots of points for good intentions and generosity. I hope this will not ruin your relationship with her. But what she is suggesting is not in Mother's best interest.

Who has DPOA and Medical Proxy for Mother? Good luck on the guardianship hearing!
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