My Mother-In-Law still refuses to sleep in her bed.

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My 87-year-old mother-in-law was moved to a senior living facility over a year ago after she fell and was diagnosed with early dementia and doctors recommended 24/7 care. She has never adjusted to living in the facility and has refused to sleep in the bed because it will mean that she's going to stay there. As a result, she has developed circulation problems in her legs and a stooped back from the constant sitting. She refuses to participate in social activities with other residents and sits in her chair waiting for someone to take her home. The nursing staff believe that she should be told that her condo has been sold and that she is not returning home. However, her sons believe that if they tell her that they sold the condo, "it will kill her." She becomes upset when family members visit because they will not take her home. She has no major health issues and could continue like this for years. We live far away and are only able to visit every 2-3 months. Should we tell her that the condo's been sold and hope that she will accept her "new" living arrangements or continue to avoid the issue?

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LADY:

Sounds cruel, but I'd tell her it had to be sold to pay for her care at the SLF. For now, this is the only home -- and the only bed -- there is, so she might as well make herself comfortable. She'll hold a grudge against you for a while, but will eventually accept it. ... Be empathetic, but remain firm.

-- ED
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Good luck. See if there is a volunteer base that helps at the AL and if they have any younger kids and see if you can set up one with your mother in law to "hang out" with her.

I wish you the best and keep up the good work!
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When we visited last July she responded to our teenage son who was able to get her out of her room and playing bingo for the first time. Unfortunately, after we left, she stopped socializing and retreated back to her room. The staff thinks that she would be better off living near us because we would be able to visit her more often. However, my husband does not have POA and the brother who does insists that such a move would "kill her" and refuses to consider it. Of course, the same brother was convinced that she wouldn't last 6 months and she's been there over a year. We'll keep talking to the staff and see if there's anything else we can do to help her.
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I feel for you. I understand what you are going through. Is there any of her friends (even if they are from years ago, that live at an assisted living in the area). I work as a sales/marketing for an assisted living and deal with these situations ALOT! Try to find something that one of the AL's have to offer that she cannot refuse. Because of her dementia, it has to be something from her past, such as playing card games or knitting. See if you can schedule a time when they are doing that activity or if there is one of her friends set up a lunch with them. There are many options but it sounds to me that if she is early stages of dementia, it will be extremely difficult but she also should not be in a memory care unit if it is just beginning stages. Many times there is no one for her to socialize with because most of the others are mid/end stage.
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She lived alone and refused to get a Life Alert. She fell during the night and was unconscious on the floor when she was found the next morning. She did not remember the fall and denied that it ever happened. She was moved from the hospital to rehab and, unfortunately, believed that she was going back home after rehab. Instead her children, following the doctor's recommendation for 24/7 care, had her moved to assisted living where she promptly went on a hunger strike and had to be rehospitalized. She was disagnosed with mild dementia and moved into the memory unit of the same facility. She had refused to discuss moving into assisted living for several years and unfortunately the decision eventually had to be made for her.
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Did your family bring her to the AL she is living in? I know that it can be extremely hard if the person did not decide on the place. Meaning think of moving her to a different place because she doesn't like her current one. Take her to look at a couple different ones (do not mention still having the condo--make it like shopping). Let it be her decision. Hopefully this may help.
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...hmmmm, if the "family" does not want to be pestered with her requests, why won't they let her live near you? She is confused about her surroundings, which may or may not change. But to not visit her because her behavior is challenging isn't good for her.
Is it possible for the family to go get her for outings or Sunday family dinners?
I don't want to judge, but your family members who are leaving her alone because it is too "stressful" may need an empathy adjustment.
I hope your family finds a happy medium. If she isn't being visited by family who lives closer, perhaps you could reintroduce your offer to have her live near you. I say this because the elderly, whether they live at home or in a facility, need someone who will visit them often and advocate for them.
You are kind to be concerned about her.
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Thanks for your suggestion about the reclining lift chair. We'll look into it when we visit in a couple of weeks. We ruled out home health care because she had become increasingly paranoid and we felt that she would not allow "strangers" to stay with her in the condo. The only family member living nearby is emotionally and physically unable to care for her. We offered to move her closer to us but my husband's siblings did not want her living so far away from them. Of course, they seldom visit her because it's too stressful for them to deal with her repeated requests to go home. We find it difficult to keep pretending that she's going home soon and we hate the thought of her spending day after day waiting for someone to take her home.
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It is amazing how strong willed one becomes in seniorhood. My Mom always finds a way to get what she wants...it is amazing.
If your MIL has Alz. I am not sure if it would register if you told her her condo is sold. Her main discomfort is with being in a new environment "all alone" as she pereceives it. She is harming herself physically thinking that some one will rescue her. In the meantime, she is not getting socialized or used to her new place.
Several years ago, my Mom had a bout of sleep apnea. Since then, she has slept mostly sitting up. This has caused so many health problems for her including severe curvature of the neck which has caused problems with swallowing. She is in denial and thinks that something else is causing these problems. I have learned that no amount of logic or reasoning with her will change her mind if she is set on something...unfortunately, it ends up being something I have to deal with or fix.
One suggestion: get her a reclining lift chair. They are more comfortable, allow her feet to be elevated, and help her stand.
Second, is it possible for her to live in a home environment with some in-home help? Maybe she just wants a place that feels more like home (don't we all?) I have been doing a combination of paid caregivers along with my assistance. So far, it is working...not sure for how long.
Good luck...there is just nowwhere to go when you are painted into a corner...
Lilli
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