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For any of you that recall my past posts, let's start this with an update. My 91 year old mom is finally in a memory care unit! Not only that, but she's in the one that was my absolute top pick - it has a five star rating, mom's geriatric team raves about this place, and I thought we'd never get her placed there because she'd be Medicaid pending status (I've found the best places prefer private pay patients) and there was a waiting list a mile long. However, miraculously 3 beds freed up at once at the same time the psych hospital contacted the facility looking for placement (mom was hospitalized at this time). They said yes and we moved her in 3 weeks ago! We are incredibly blessed. This facility is awesome, the people are awesome, it's homey and the grounds are beautiful.


Anyway - this will be mom's first holiday in a nursing home. And to be clear, when mom had the ability to make decisions on her own, she refused to even talk about elderly apartment complexes, assisted living, etc. She wanted nothing to do with elder communities at all to the extent that she once told a geriatric case manager that she didn't need those place because she had a family and they'd take care of her. Now she's at a stage of dementia where her comprehension skills are very low and answering the question "when can I go home?" is virtually impossible. I've tried to keep it simple and positive and tell her "when the doctor says you're better." But she simply doesn't understand what that means and just goes back to talking about the various nieces or in-laws that she can go live with if we won't let her move in with us.


Some of our visits to the memory care unit are good ones, but then others are not for all the usual reasons - she forgets how frequently we've visited previously, she misunderstands what a nurse tells her and holds grudges, she doesn't like having to comply with the daily schedule (getting dressed, bathing, etc).


Our last visit was a very emotional one for her. She was intently focused on making a plan to get her out of there, so I'm nervous about visiting her tomorrow for Thanksgiving. I'm worried she'll know it's the holiday and insist on us taking her with us when we leave. I don't want to not visit on the holiday. But I also don't want to upset her or spoil the day with a confrontation, especially with the kids in tow.


Fingers crossed that she doesn't realize what day it is but in the event that she does, do any of you have advice on how to handle holiday visits with dementia relatives? Do you make a big show of the day or try to downplay it? Longer visits or shorter ones? Any advice on how you handle these special days of the year would be appreciated.

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Tomorrow will be my mother’s first Thanksgiving at the memory unit and I have been struggling on how to handle it. I am opting for “it’s just another day” Early morning visit to get her up and to breakfast and I am out of there till Friday morning. Tomorrow for me will be a gobbler bowl from Wawa and honestly I am looking forward to it.
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I'd be very low key too. Have multiple topics to discuss, so that any comments that need redirecting, you will have a ready way to change the subject. You might call before going to in order to check on her mood. I'd try not to be nervous about her wanting to leave. She is in a secure memory care. She is safe and can't leave, so, I'd try to relax some. I know it's difficult. I recall the first night that my LO was in a secure MC. I was finally able to get a good night's sleep. If it helps, sometimes, the comments about going somewhere else do stop as their progression continues. It might not always be this way.
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The memory care unit approached us a week ago to confirm that we wouldn't consider taking mom out of the facility for the holiday. Frankly, they had nothing to worry about. Mom doesn't want to be there. She wants to be living with us or another relative, and have all her care needs met by her family. Last thing I need is a confrontation and battle with her in the parking lot of the facility when I try to return her. Or to have her refuse to leave our house! I could absolutely see one of those scenarios playing out and the facility agrees, so she's not going anywhere.
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Normally, the MCs have a Thanksgiving dinner you can share with your loved one. See if you can do that with your mom; it's a great way to celebrate the holiday without turning it into a 3 ring circus by having to take her home or out to a restaurant, etc. If they don't, you can bring some food over there and share a meal together, that's another option. But I'd downplay the whole day if it were me..........holidays are for those who are in are good enough mental and physical health to enjoy them and understand what's happening.

Best of luck!
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