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Our family has an aging grandmother in nursing home. She has advanced dementia and originally refused to go to a home but after being in a hospital after a fall, the doctor, seeing her demential state, agreed to send her to physical therapy/rehab and then onward to a nursing home. Anyway, my question is: every once every few days, my grandma will have the home call us and she'll want to talk to us and ask that we come pick her up immediately. She'll say things that she's taking part of a conference in some foreign country and now that it's over, she needs to be picked up. Or she'll say she's stayed at this nice lady's home for a while now and she has to go home because she doesn't want to overstay her welcome. She says she'll wait for us to come pick her up. What should we say or do in response to this?

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I would ask the desk not to allow the call. The people at the facility know how to handle the situation. You can just say "ok Mom be there in a little while". She won't remember.
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Unfortunately, this is just one of the heart-wrenching duties of the family with a member who suffers from, as Nancy Reagan said, “The Long Good-bye”. In my mom’s SNF, I would regularly pass by a lady who was on the phone in the hallway pleading and crying to be “sprung”. This same lady would also been seen playing bingo, using a little knitting loom and chatting, laughing and engaging with the other residents and singing along during their monthly music programs.

My mother had so many phantom lives while she had dementia I couldn’t keep track of them all. She was a famous actress who worked onstage in New York and her room was her Chicago apartment. She knew me as her co-star. I played along. Apparently, I was a good co-star! It didn’t do any good to try to set her right. The next day she was a secretary who was having an affair with her boss. Go ahead a fib to her as much as you have to. It’s the only way.
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So sad, so sad. Sometimes, I wonder if it is better to leave the old people at their homes with less care and die sooner but happier, than to have them in NH, AL, to live longer but miserable until the end.

Sunnygirl has good suggestions. I'll add mine. If your grandmother mentions overstaying at the nice lady's house, say the lady LOVES to have grandma, and will miss grandma terribly if grandma leaves. She insists that grandma stays another week or two.

If grandma mentions overseas conference, shower her with compliments, saying how important a person she must be, and ask her if she's enjoying it, and maybe distract her with some other oversea stories and questions. If she still asks about going home, say you're arranging the airline ticket for her, and it will take a couple days, in the meantime, she should enjoy her stay at the fancy hotel she's at and live it up.
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You'll probably get a lot of responses on how to handle issues like this. To me, keeping a LO happy and content, as much as possible, is the goal. If I can help relieve her worries, ease her anxiety and put a smile on her face, then I will. I would tell my LO that things had been worked out, resolved, taken care of and that everything was fine. She was so happy and thanked me profusely. AT first when she asked about leaving, I would say that paperwork was in the mail and things had to be processed and signed by the insurance company and the doctor, (the physical therapy had to be completed, meds adjusted, etc.) but, then, we'd get things on the calendar. Any day now.....Of course, she would forget the entire conversation and we would go through it again later, but, it always brought her comfort to know things were in the works and that she was doing great. I saw no reason to burden he with sad news that she could not help or even remember.
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