How can I make it possible/comfortable for my Mom to spend two nights a week with me?


My mom is in about stage six of Alzheimer's. She used to spend more time with me but is reluctant to stay anymore. My sister lives with her and is her caregiver, and she really needs a break. We sleep with my mom in fear she'll get up at night to use the restroom and may fall. She definitely needs 24hr care and we are committed to keeping her in her home. There are six siblings but only two of us caring for her. I love having her here at my house but now she gives me excuses as to why she can't stay. I want to insist but am not sure how to approach this. My mom has always been very controlling with my sister so I'm not sure if this is about the disease or always having my sister with her.

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My mother lived with one of her four daughters for a little over a year. During that time she spent one long weekend a month at my house, one weekend a month with another daughter, and the 4th daughter visited where she was living so the caregiver daughter could do weekly bowling. We all tried to provide respite for the caregiving sister.

This was not ideal for Mother. She likes all of us and there were no conflicts, but a change of location is hard on on dementia patients. We made the best of it, but I could tell it was a strain on Mom.

BUT it is what it took to keep her in a private home. During that year we all thought that in spite of the bumps in the road this arrangement was better than having mom in long-term-care. As Mom's condition worsened and it was increasingly difficult to provide her needs at home, we all agreed it was time for a nursing home.

Basically, she was OK at one daughter's home and visiting the other daughters during her need for "assisted living" but when it came time for "skilled nursing care," she was better off in a professional setting.

So ... my recommendation would be to continue providing respite care and spending time with your mother at your home as long as the arrangement is a better choice than a care center. It will NOT be ideal. Ideal is pretty hard to come by for persons with dementia. But as long as it is better than other options, keep it up.

However, I hope you will reconsider your commitment to keeping her in at home. I think a better and more realistic commitment would be to doing whatever is best for her welfare. As I visit my mother in the nursing home I am very sure that she is where she can get the best care. I am sad. I would like to bring her to my house even for a weekend. But that would be selfish. She needs to be where she is.
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I would agree that at stage 6 it might be too disorienting for your mother to stay at your place. But perhaps you and your sister could switch positions - you stay at her place with your mother and your sister "vacations" at your house.

It's refreshing to read a post in which 2 sisters are working together to care for their mother, and that you're trying to find a way to provide respite for your sister. This must be one of the rainbows of caregiving.
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I agree, it's a bad idea in general to take her out of her home, and especially getting up during the nights would be very risky - she could get completely disoriented and panic.

But kudos to you for trying to work out a break for your sister. If you're not able to stay, and you don't think negotiations with the other four (count them! Four!) would get you very far, are there memory care units nearby which offer respite care?

I'm getting an inkling that your sister might think any such idea is the thin end of the wedge and refuse to consider it? But it isn't - pick your home with care, and she'll get the week or so of total rest which she must badly need, knowing that your mother is safe and well looked after. The trouble with deputising to a family member, even a really nice one such as yourself, is that you find you're not quite "off duty" - you keep expecting the phone to ring or to be called back, so you can't really relax.
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Smile, can you stay with your Mom at your sister's house to relieve her? At stage 6 in ALZ or dementia, change typically isnt good for the patient. If you can pack a bag and fill in for your sister, perhaps she can take that much needed break.
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"Mom,sis needs a break. You and I are going to have a slumber party at my house tonight!"

Plan a few special things for her that she might like...a hamburger a movie...look at old photos...ask mom about her childhood...whatever.

I'd imagine she's got your sis pretty well trained and hates to start over. Ha!

Bless you for being persistent about giving your sister a break now and then.
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