My 91 year old mother is living with me in Georgia. She was diagnosed with mild dementia about 4 years ago. Recently, I made arrangements to take a week off to work on my dissertation. To do that, I placed Mom in a Respite Care unit of an Assisted Living space. I also made arrangements for the ladies who would periodically 'sit' with Mom for me so I could grocery shop, go the doctor, etc. , to be there with her every day. So she had familiar faces. These ladies texted me every day upon arrival and departure with reports on Mom. She refused to eat, would not sleep in the bed because it wasn't hers, wouldn't drink water, cursed at everyone all the time. And the list goes on. When I went to bring her home, I was cursed out and she began to act as if she couldn't walk, didn't recognize places, etc. The staff said she kept wandering around, asking where she was. Now that we are at home, her behavior is a little off to me. She felt warm so I tried to take her temperature. When asked to open her mouth, she parted her lips and the look in her eyes was distant. I am not sure what to do. I can no longer handle this by myself. I am chained to the house for the most part. Mom can't afford assisted living and I'm told that her monthly social security income makes her ineligible for Medicaid. I am at a loss and its beginning to affect my health. Any suggestions?

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Who told you that her monthly income makes her ineligible for Medicaid? I suggest that if it wasn't a lawyer specializing in Elder Law and very familiar with Medicaid rules that you consult such an attorney.

It sounds like you've reached the limits of what you can handle at home. Dementia always progresses (gets worse). Most people with dementia reach a point (if they live long enough) where their needs are almost impossible to meet in a private home with a single caregiver. Apparently your mother has reached this point.

You can expect that when she goes to a care center, whether it is an AL, nursing home, or memory care facility, she will have problems during an adjustment period. You've seen this in the respite situation. But a week is simply not enough transition time. Once she moves into a place you will furnish it with her own familiar belongings and work with the staff to ease the adjustment. It won't be easy but it is necessary and it also is very likely to be successful.

Determine how Mom can pay for this care -- see a lawyer. Determine what degree of assistance she needs -- talk to her doctor and to people at various care centers. Pick out an appropriate setting for Mom. Do your best to help her settle in. And DON'T feel guilty. Mom's dementia is Not You Fault.

All of this isn't going to happen overnight, and the sooner you start the sooner you can move on to the next phase of caring for your mother.

Sincere best wishes to you. None of this is easy. Bless you for taking care of your mother and being her advocate!
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