Hello. My mother is 85 and has dementia, uses a walker and wheelchair and is incontinent. She currently lives with my younger sister and brother in California. I live in Georgia. My Mom adores my brother and does not like my sister. My brother is moving across the state at the end of the year. Although my Mom wants to stay at her house, I know she will not be happy once he moves. I feel I would be the next best place for her and can give her the care she needs. This obviously would be a huge change. Has anyone out there moved their loved one across country? Any input would be welcomed!

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I will only say this b/c a lot of people are going to agree with me:
Don't do it.
If you must move Mom, move her to an assisted living facility near you, but not into your home.

At first, it seems like a great idea. Almost immediately you will find your life enveloped and consumed with elder-sitting. Even if your mom is in the best shape (and she's not) you are bringing upon yourself a complete change of lifestyle.

You have no idea what you are signing up for.

HOWEVER, this is just my opinion. You can certainly do what you feel is best, but an incontinent, wheelchair bound dementia patient requires 24/7 care.

Good luck.
Helpful Answer (48)

This is just a guess, but is your sis the hands on caregiver and your brother is not sharing those duties?

Parents, especially those with dementia have a tendency to dislike the child who is doing the bulk of the caregiving.

Before I committed to this, I would go to mom's house and give sis two weeks of respite. See if you can do what she does.
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I didn't move my mother across the country, but I did move her a few states away. She is becoming used to it now, but we've just traded her anger and hatred for my brother with anger and hatred towards me.

I agree with Barb that if your sister is the caregiver in the current equation, and your mom says she doesn't like her, just know that YOU will be the one she doesn't like when you are providing 24/7 care.

Bottom line is she is probably NOT going to be "happy" anywhere. That ship has sailed. She needs to be safe and cared for and you should look for moments of contentment and happiness and treasure those.
Helpful Answer (27)

OH boy....

I haven't moved old demented folks acros the country but may have to in the next couple of years. It depends on the level of their needs. It could be done in a car, an RV or a medical transport  service for some big$.

Keep in mind elders don't like change, especially with dementia.

Also your mom might be manageable now but this  only goes one way. It will get much harder very soon.

Take a few days and read the bazillion posts on this site about caring for elders in your home. Most don't describe pleasant experiences, many portray living h*ll, but some have been successful.

Study this long and hard. I'm responsible for my failing parents. I discovered this site a while back and learned a lot.  I may have to move one or both to a facility near me but I will not move my folks in with me and my wife.
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I just did this. I moved my mom from SD to NC and my life became very miserable. Very different climate-she hates NC and it's humidity, very different living arrangement-active mobile home park to a quiet neighborhood, from living alone to living with me and my husband. All of us were miserable. Her dementia was worse than anyone was aware of and she accused us of theft, driving her crazy to get her money (she has none), and trying to kill her. My health went down hill, racing heart, high bp, weight loss, all from stress of caring for my mom. The 24/7 Care was too much. She made too much money for Medicaid and we (my siblings and I) couldn't afford to give the financial assistance needed. Luckily I was able to find a small, privately owned, and affordable assisted living place locally to move my mom into. Based on my experience, I'm STRONGLY suggesting you NOT to move your mom in with you. I had a good relationship with my mom before and it eroded to where I didn't want to be around her. She's in a safe and secure place that is close to me and I can visit often. Everyone is much happier. My mom is very healthy other than dementia and could easily live for another 10-15 years. I barely managed 2 months and my health was at risk. Don't do it. Explore other options. Visit her as suggested to see what she is really like, but even that isn't a true picture. The move will be very hard on both of you. Make just one move and move her into assisted living or NH.
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Colberry, that is sweet of you wanting to move your Mom into your home. Are there any other family members at home with you who could help with Mom? Would Mom be able to afford to hire a caregiver to give you at least one day off each week? Or a caregiver for overnight duty in case Mom is in a phase where she cannot sleep at night?

Barb, above, had an excellent idea about you going out to be with Mom for two weeks giving your sister and brother a much needed break. Then you can see how 336 hours would be caring for Mom. Caregiving is extremely exhausting especially if an elder has memory issues and if you need to transfer Mom from the bed to the wheelchair.

As for Dementia, read these articles to get a better idea what kind of journey you will be facing:

Please read this article and the comment that follow it:

Oh, if your Mom is on Medicaid [different from Medicare] then Medicaid stops at the California State line. Mom would need to apply and be accepted in your State.
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My biggest question would be what your sister thinks. Does she feel it is a good idea? I found myself wondering why your mother didn't like her and wondered if it is because she is a caregiver or she is a daughter or if they just don't mesh. Do you think your mother would be happier with you. Another huge consideration is if you would be happy with your mother living with you. You wouldn't want to end up trading your happiness for her happiness, particularly if your mother is likely to not be happy.

I think the idea of assisted living near one of the children is a very good idea if your mother can afford it.
Helpful Answer (13)

It would be a HUGE change for everyone. Change isn't always bad, but it is stressful. Keep that in mind and plan for a period of time for each of you to decompress after the change, if it occurs.

Can your mother transfer herself from the bed to a wheelchair? For me that would be a deal-breaker if she can't.

My mother moved in with my sister. Mom had dementia, used a walker and sometimes a wheelchair. She was not incontinent. Two of us each took Mom for a long weekend each month and a third sister stayed with Mom one evening a week. Two of us shared a week when caregiver sister and her husband took a vacation.

In general this worked well. The three of them got along. But mother fought taking a shower each and every week. She became more and more home-bound, even canceling hair appointments. Her health began to deteriorate and she couldn't transfer from bed to wheelchair. We placed her in a nursing home. She'd been with sister 14 months. It was sort of her "assisted living" experience.

We were all amazed at how much Mother blossomed in the NH. She willingly took showers. She loved having people around, especially men to flirt with. The trip to the hair dresser was just down the hall. She went to almost all the activities. (Our mother?? Going to crafts???) She had 4 or 5 visits from family per week. She was content.

In some ways living with my sister was great for Mom. In other ways the NH suited her better.

Here are some things to consider:
Can she transfer easily from bed to wheelchair to toilet to recliner? (My mother was a two person lift in the NH.)

Did you have a good relationship with her while you were growing up? (The past tends to creep in, with dementia.) How about more recently? This should not be one last chance to earn your mother's love.

Do you have a plan for respite? One person cannot, I repeat CANNOT do 24/7/365 care alone and retain her sanity. Figure it out well before the move.

Have you read any articles or books about dementia? Personally, I think that is essential. Know what to expect. Dementia always gets worse. Always.

How accessible is your house? Are there stairs (inside or outside)? Can you rearrange or remove furniture to accommodate a wheelchair? Will she have good space of her own, in addition to her bedroom?

I think BarbBrooklyn gave excellent advice: Go to California and do the caregiving, ideally for at least two weeks. And as Midkid suggests, check out assisted living near you. Even if you don't move her into one now, you may have to later. Be aware of what is available.

Please let us know how your decision process goes! We care.
Helpful Answer (13)

Are you married or single? Do you have children? Do you work a full-time or part-time job? Is your home setup for an old person to live there? Is it ADA accessible? Will your mother have her own bathroom?

Have you thought about the fact that California is a much different climate than Georgia and that she may not like living with so much humidity?

I completely agree with Barbara that before you do anything, you ought to give your sister at least two weeks respite and take care of your mom to see what exactly your brother and sister are dealing with. Your mother's dementia will only get worse and her needs will only increase.

I also agree with everyone who wrote that many old people are just not happy and there isn't anything to be done about it. If you think you will make your mom happy by moving her to Georgia (or you moving to California) you are fooling yourself.
Helpful Answer (13)

In 2011, my Dad called from Florida to tell me he'd had 3 minor car accidents and could no longer drive. When I told my new husband at the time, I cried, and he had no idea why. Now he knows. He and Mom were mid 80's at the time. I moved them to Colorado (I'm an only child) and found them a senior apartment with 2 bedrooms a few miles away from me. At the time, neither of them had dementia, needed walkers, were incontinent, etc. Even having them living in their own apartment caused a lot of extra work and headache for me; taking them grocery shopping, to doctor's appointments, etc. 2 months after moving here, Mom developed ulcerative colitis and nearly died, being hospitalized twice over a 2 month period. On Christmas Day at midnight, she was having an umbrella put into her heart due to blood clot situations. I spent that Christmas at the hospital with my new husband and the folks. A couple of years later, Dad fell and broke his hip and that's when everything changed. Rehab would not release him back to independent living, and due to having a catheter, he really needed a skilled nursing facility, but what about MOM? By then, she had recuperated from the UC but was showing significant signs of dementia. By no means ready for a SNF, but no longer able to really cook or grocery shop on her own, etc. I wound up getting both of them into an assisted living facility *ALF* 1 mile down the road from my house. I had to furnish it, and then figure out how to get rid of all their stuff in the apartment and move Mom in with him a couple of months later. Dozens of trips to the hospital, hundreds of visits to the ALF and the rehab, dozens upon dozens of calls and visits to doctors, specialists, urologists, hospitals..........exhausting and endless. And all this on top of a full time job. Dad passed in 2015 but Mom is still alive and kicking at almost 91, still living at the ALF in a smaller unit. She has progressive dementia, chronic neuropathy, vertigo, is completely and totally incontinent, and to say she's mean and ugly is a gross understatement. If I had her living with me, I'd probably swallow a bottle of pills with whiskey and call it a day. There is NO WAY I could even care for her if I WANTED to! How would I give her a shower in my standard shower stall? How would she get her walker (soon to be a wheelchair) around my house and up the stairs? How would I change her Depends over and over again every day? She has no idea what day it is, or how to use the phone, or to do anything much but COMPLAIN 24/7. Do you want this for yourself and your family members? Just changing the bed linens every day after your Mom wets the bed will be enough to drive you crazy, never mind the one million other annoyances involved with dementia, incontinence and old age. This isn't about 'love', it's about SURVIVAL! You can love your Mom and do lots for her while she's living ELSEWHERE, and that way, you can preserve what's left of YOUR sanity!

Think long and hard before making a rash decision which sounds good on PAPER. Reality is another matter entirely. At an ALF, you pay THEM to care for your Mom, to entertain her, to feed her, to clean up after her, to change Depends, to shower her, to hand out medications (which in itself can be a part time job!), and to provide social stimulation that you CANNOT.

Best of luck, you will need it.
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