Does changing things in the house confuse people with Alzheimer's?

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My dad completely renovated their kitchen after 50 yrs, new colors, new cabinets, new floors etc. During the renovations, my mother who has middle stage Alz, called to tell me she had moved to a new house. A few days later she didn't recognize my father and called to tell me my father had left but a "nice man" had moved in and was taking care of her! I think the new kitchen has confused her. Now my father has renovated the bathroom, changed out rugs for wooden flooring and is continuing to change the house. He won't listen that this is really confusing to my mom. Am I wrong to try to get him to stop? Or should I just let him do what he wants, after all it is their house.

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There are wonderful answers here from this compassionate group. I agree with the overall feeling that while the change isn't necessarily right for your mom - it's rather like moving her from place to place - your dad has to stay sane. So my first thoughts were this isn't good. However, I've modified that after reading some of the wise responses. If remodeling helps your dad and in the end he's a better caregiver, then I'm not sure you should try to intervene.
Perhaps he realizes that he will eventually need to sell the house and he's more likely to get his money out of it if it's updated. He obviously needs something to do, and at least this is productive.
If this starts to truly agitate your mother, he may have to let the remodeling go for awhile. If your mom just thinks is new but isn't overly bothered, maybe it's not doing too much harm (it can’t be positive but what is perfect?).
The downward spiral for your mom is going to happen no matter what is done or not done. Yes, this could be hastening her decline. However, two people's lives need to be considered.
I wish there were a clear answer, but with most things concerning dementia, every day is different and every person is different. I'd talk with your dad and ask him to watch for agitation and anxiety. If the remodeling isn't pushing your mother over the edge in that way, then - considering that this is likely good for your dad - maybe it's as okay as things can be.
You're are good person to be considering both of them and not blaming your dad You are right. It's their house and that means his as well as your moms.
Take care of yourself and try to keep balanced. We are with you.
Carol
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Sounds like your Dad is planning ahead in case the time comes to sell the house. He's doing all the remodeling that is important to buyers.... nice he's doing it now so that the family can enjoy it.

But I understand your concern about your Mom and how changes can confuse her. I don't really think a new kitchen had her think she was in a new house... it sounds more like it was the Alzheimer's next path. Otherwise she would have recognized her husband as he was still the same person.

This could also be a coping mechanism for your Dad to keep himself busy. It's sad as for couples where one partner had memory issues, this isn't the retirement they had planned.
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My hunch is that dad should not be dissuaded from fixing up the house...The reason is that mom is going to be confused no matter what is done or not done in the house. I empathize with your concerns, believe me.
Perhaps there is no "ideal" answer.

Grace + Peace,

Bob
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Don't worry about it, care taking is super hard for a man he just needs things to do to keep his sanity. My husband is late stage six but still ok enough to manage with meds and compassion, but for me I don't get out at all, so although my deep cleaning days are over due to being close to him, I recently decided to start taking my carpet up in the family room, because it needs replacement and I get stir crazy. My husband never realized I did it & just acts like it's supposed to be like that. I move things all the time. He just maneuvers around it and tells me "what a nice house", don't sweat the small stuff it will drive you bonkers.
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There are many reasons why Dad may be suddenly be making these changes, some of which have been mentioned. Others may be due to concern for his wife's wellbeing. He want to make things easier for her. He also may have plans to sell the house and find something that will be more user friendly to him in his own declining years. Another worry may be Mom's future care, and he may want to be able to pay for a nicer nursing home if she needs it down the road.
Men rarely share their true feelings especially with close family members so i would leave him be and wait for openings when he feels ready to talk. he may also be in a bargaining stage where he feels if he makes the environment perfect Mom will get better. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things and he is taking care and keeping himself occupied rather than sitting on the sofa in front of the TV feeling sorry for himself
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Has made no difference in my mom's case. She's lived with me for several years, first to a house that was very similar to hers in layout and now to this old place (she sometimes actually thinks this house is her childhood home). It's made no difference whatsoever in mom's ability to figure out where anything is, particularly the bathroom. In both houses, she has asked me several times a day, every day, where the bathroom is (and I pretty much need to lead her and now stand there to be sure she's actually on the toilet). A few times, I have found her in the morning sitting on the floor right next to her bed, saying she couldn't find her bed, or actually sitting on the edge of the bed, unable to figure out how to find the head of the bed where the pillows are. (Had we left her in her home where she and dad lived, I figure it would be the same story, so I don't feel bad about moving her in the first place). Putting her into a chair or the car can be difficult some days - she will forget which foot to put into the car first, then how to sit in the seat. There are constant reminders now that she will evidently lose nearly every skill she ever had and every time it happens, it still comes as a bit of a shock to me. As others say here, you learn not to sweat the small stuff.
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I heartily agree with twopupsmom. Your father is staying home to care for his wife and he is needing to do something. I wrote a book to keep myself from going crazy with the frequent behavior changes and skill loss of my husband. Adult children who live far away have such a hard time "getting" the day to day struggles of a devoted spouse when Alzheimer's disease enters the family.
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Thanks to all of you for your tips and experience, especially Thomas0611. I am right in this now, and have gotten used to new disassociations from reality by my Mom to myself and now to her house. (I live with and care for 24/7 in her home.) For the past few months, she has really advanced into true medium dementia stage, and some days I am her deceased sister, instead of her daughter (at least I'm not a stranger yet). She is also convinced that we live in another house in another city that is identical to her previous home (which is her current one, where she's lived since 1972). This is regardless of whether I have cleaned or moved or changed anything in the house; I believe that it is the natural progression of the disease. I have become almost as housebound as her, as I learn and understand her new stages of dementia, before I reach out again for SKILLED caregiving respite. She really cannot be left alone anymore, and every day is a new surprise, it seems. Not sweating the small stuff, and laughing inwardly at the absurdity of some things, really helps, as well as learning to take naps when she does, as rest really helps me keep my sanity some days.
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Working in an Alzheimer's facility I can say that a change in living arrangements can definitely make changes in their personalities and behaviors. It's a very individual thing, though. For some, it might make almost no difference. For others it might completely upset their world and make it very difficult to care for them. Whatever your Dad's reasons, he has done big changes already and looks like he won't be swayed from continuing. It could be he's wanting to sell soon and wants to get as much as he can out of it. It could be that he does need to keep himself busy to keep his mind from dwelling on problems. Maybe he's in a little bit of denial about the situation. Whatever his reasons, it looks like your Mom has justified the 'change' in her mind in a positive way, so at least she's not trying to escape the situation and 'go home', so that's a good thing. Alzheimer's is a progressive thing, though, whether there are changes or not, so keep a close eye on her for any tendencies to want to wander out of the house. That's when it can get dangerous for her.
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I agree with OldBob on this one. Mom is going to be confused no matter what. And as the dementia progresses she is going to be more confused and confused about different things.

Even if keeping everything the same were proven to be ideal, we do not live in an ideal world. We may need to send our loved ones to a day program, so they spend part of their day in one environment and part in another. And for the sake of others in the household we may need/want to put up holiday decorations, changing the environment and then changing it back again. We may need to update plumbing. Our loved ones may need to go to a care center.

My mother's nursing home always puts up seasonal decorations. Right now they have huge cheerful flowers that some residents made in craft sessions. Providing things new and different to look at can be positive stimulation.

Just saying the persons with dementia don't do well with change does not create a world in which change doesn't happen.

NJCinderella, I'd also suggest that you consider the needs of both of your parents. Your father's need/desire to make these changes is no less valid than your mother's concerns, even if she is the one with diagnosed impairments. It sounds like Mother is making sense of this change in her own way.

And if you could determine, somehow, that the progression of the disease was caused or triggered by the changes to the house, what then?
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