What is the best way to get Mom to adjust to living in a retirement home?


She has very mild dementia, so thought the move now would be best. Mom keeps packing up and says she is waiting to go home. Calls her children to come and get her, rather than enjoying her new and more active surroundings

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My mom was the same way. Stayed isolated after moving to a facility. My dad was still alive, which made it easier to them to not make any friends. They became very isolated, just hung out with each other in their apt. and only went out to go to meals. The one thing they did was to sit at an outdoor gazebo on nice evenings with other residents and talk, but mostly I think those became gripe sessions. At 2 places they've lived, I've enlisted the staff's help to get them to go to activities, and sometimes it helped. In independent living, the staff is less likely to do so. After all, you're supposed to be "independent" even tho' you probably aren't cooking your own meals, cleaning your own apt. or driving. So they let those residents slide, especially if it's a large place. In a smaller place, the residents get more attention. My mom is in a memory care unit now for pretty severe dementia. She does all ADL's for herself, but staff has to tell her when to go to meals, etc. They are VERY good at getting her out of her room to go to activities. There is no way she could read or keep track of what activity is going on when since she doesn't even know what day it is. She cannot read a calendar anymore. Maybe your mom can't figure out what activities are going on and where to go? Tough to figure out when that starts happening, but that's the nature of dementia. Mild dementia never stays mild. I've watched this in 2 parents for 5+ years now. I've also decided that people with dementia are very unlikely to make new friends. They cannot remember each others' names even. My mom thinks the new couple who moved in down the hall are her friends from the 1960's who've been dead for 40 years, but at least she thinks she has some friends nearby, and it probably increases her comfort level. Otherwise, her only "friends" at her facility seem to be the staff. It's sad, but the staff is good to her. I have that to be grateful for. She is in a really good facility.
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In a wall posting you explain that you moved your mother into a retirement home in part because "she was not eating, bathing, or even talking with the neighbors anymore." It sounds like she was not taking initiative at home, so it is not too surprising she isn't doing it where she is now. Is she at least eating better, and bathing, wearing clean clothes, etc? I am wondering if independent living is enough support for her, or if she really needs more help, such as assisted living. Maybe I'm not understanding what this "retirement" home offers. If she'd stopped talking to neighbors, why did you think she would return to her former more outgoing self if she moved?

It is really hard to accept that our loved ones change and can no longer manage things they took in stride at their peak, isn't it? Mom went to China, and now you are wonderin how to get her to a simple activity in the community room. Very tough!
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With even mild dementia it may be difficult for her to take initiative to participate in the available activities. Is that something she would have done in the past? (My mother would not have sought out the social activities at any point -- just not her style.) If you think the activities really do suit her but she is just not getting involved, perhaps her children could come and do some of the activities with her for a while, to help her establish some habits and patterns.

How long has she been there? The adjustment may take some time.

Also, be aware that many persons with dementia want desperately to go home -- even if they are home!

Is this a facility with a full range of care levels? What is the plan for her as the dementia progresses?
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