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My 82 year old dad was recently diagnosed with dementia. He was in the hospital for 8 days and then transferred to a very nice memory care facility. He calls me every few days and asks to come home. He says it’s a “nuthouse” there and everyone is crazy. He sounds so rational when he calls. He also sounds like a child and it makes me feel so incredibly sad and guilty. Prior to going to the hospital, my once very clean and well dressed dad stopped showering and changing his clothes. He was eating cold beans and chili out of a can. His refrigerator was full of rotten food. He left his propane on and almost killed himself. Luckily, I stopped by and shut it off. He was so messed up he just stood in his kitchen in his underwear unable to say multi syllabic words. When he finally went to the hospital he was hallucinating, but still sounded reasonable.


I know he’s safer, healthier, cleaner, and better off, but when I hear him beg to come home I don’t know what to say. I can’t go see him because of COVID restrictions. He can’t live with us because of his dementia. Anyway, what do I say to him? What can I tell him to reassure him he’s in the best place?

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You will have to accept that you cannot fulfill the wishes of others at all times, and this is one of those times. You are a human being, not Saint. I think it is more semantics here in what you are saying to YOURSELF. You will have to change "I should be able to do this; he needs me" to "I cannot do this, no matter how much I wish I were able, and that hurts".
I used to tease my bro. He was in better mental shape than many at the assisted living. He would complain and tell me of incidents and we finally decided he was in a 60s commune for the aged. Always an issue, always a community meeting, always a bicker with sides taken, and etc. He formed friendships. He made his way through it and said "It's like when I was younger and in the Army. I didn't like it, but I was determined to make the best of it". And he did.
You will have to come to some gentle acceptance for yourself first. Then tell Dad that you are so sorry, but he cannot come home, that this is home now for him, and you will visit when you can, and you hope it will get better for him.
There is no answer to the end of life when things are taken from us one at a time, our balance, our abilities, eventually even our minds. It is sad and you have a right to feel sad. But you didn't do anything to anyone, so guilt is out of the question. Not an option.
So sorry for the hurt for all.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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ArleneClaire Jun 30, 2020
Thank you for the kind words. You are correct. It’s just difficult. You are correct in that what I say to myself is important as well. I want to “fix” things for my dad. And I have because he is now safe, clean, and well-fed. I guess I never thought he would get dementia. Again, thank you for your reply.
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How long has he been there? It can take many months for adjustment. It took my mom about 6 months to settle down. In the early months she would call and cry and scream for me to get her out of there. Now she has formed friendships and wants to redecorate her room. She says she is lucky she is in a safe place. So you hang in there and be kind to yourself.
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Reply to MammaDrama
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ArleneClaire Jun 30, 2020
Thank you for that information. He’s been there since June 12, so not long.
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Just change subject! Only if you want to be 24/7 caregiver....& not have a life then take him home..but be aware he’ll fall a lot, be incontinent, get lost if going out for a walk...maybe leave stove on & forget...maybe become violent...if you hire home care, they don’t show up & you have to change his diaper...& make several $$$$ changes to your house for him. If that’s the life you want, go ahead! I would just change subject & say that you’ll talk tomorrow or see him on weekend. Don’t you dare take him home! You will regret it .. Hugs 🤗
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Reply to CaregiverL
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I am so sorry..My story is the same. Mom, 86, did all your dad has done..She even lost 20# from throwing food away..kept spoiled food in cupboards...She was transferred from the hospital to a wonderful memory care unit the end of April. She has regained her lost weight...looks so clean..Smiles more often, and is safe. She still at times asks “when can I go home? The people are crazy here”. At times she cries. This is all part of dementia. I kept telling her about Covid...then slowly when she had some clear minutes I told her gently...she had not been safe alone. She just this past week asked me “can we afford this? Can I stay here?. I reassured her that she can afford the new place. I finally am seeing some acceptance. My counselor told me “you are not responsible for your moms happiness..you are responsible to keep her safe, comfortable and well fed. That helps Me on my moms sad days..Stay strong..this is best for your Dad...
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Reply to Sadinroanokeva
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It's really tough when our LO sounds like their old self and we want to help. But, the reality is that they are not that way consistently. They may sound normal, but, that may be for only 5 minutes a day. The rest of the time we would be attempting to provide care to a person who resist, who is agitated, and cannot be soothed or kept from harm. I'd try to remind yourself of this.

I'd also consider that sometimes people who have dementia say that they want to go home, EVEN IF THEY ARE IN THEIR home. So, bringing him into your home may not change that. He may still be very restless and think you and your family are crazy people. lol Delusions are common.

I'd try to come up with some things to say to him that may appease him. With my LO, she grew comfortable rather quickly and thought of her place as her own apartment. She liked it a lot. But, before then, when she talked about home, I'd say that I had to discuss her progress with the doctors, had to get insurance forms completed, filed, processed, you know paperwork, but, all would be handled in time. Just hang in there and enjoy the good food and service. Of course, she would forget, so, I'd have to repeat it. I'd keep in mind that often the person with dementia is not being persistent when they ask questions, but, they have forgotten that they already asked it a dozen times.

I'm not sure what type of activities they have due to covid at his MC, but, later on, if covid is resolved, he will likely have more in the MC to distract and entertain him.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1
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It will take a while for him to adjust.
When he calls tell him..
"Dad we have to wait for the Doctor to tell us you can go home"
or
"One of the medications you are on has to be given by a Nurse and they have to make sure you are OK after you take it"
or
"They are working on your house to make it safe for you when you come home, it might take a little while"

What he really want when he says he wants to go home is..he wants to know he is safe. Tell him.."Dad you are safe where you are, we want to keep you safe because we love you"
Just keep telling him you love him, he is safe.
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I've heard it many times where elder believes that all of the other facility residents are the "crazy" ones, but they themselves are just fine! Elders don't really realize that the reason they seem fine is because they ARE in a facility and their situation is being managed in a controlled environment. I just had someone tell me last week that she felt she "should have gotten out" of the facility before covid hit. She honestly believes she's OK to do so and it's the other residents where she "understands" why their families put them there. Not her, however. She believes she's way too high functioning compared to the other people and tries hard to convince anyone and everyone of that. Nevermind the fact that she does not even remember all of the falls and crazy things she did while in her own home.
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Reply to Mysteryshopper
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Your father sounds like the situation we had with my mother. We put her in memory care too at facility recommendation but she was too high functioning for that facility and the residents scared her. AL would have been a better fit. We shopped around and found what they call in Illinois “sheltered care” which was perfect. Your father might have dementia but not ready for this level of MC. If facility is not connected to AL, check out other facilities with both levels. He might benefit from being re evaluated. Don’t be afraid to move him either. He will adjust especially if there are more people like him.
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Reply to dogparkmomma
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Say “Let’s see what the doctor says”, “The exterminator said we had to try at least 2 more treatments”, “they haven’t finished paving the street yet” and so on.

You really can’t “reassure him” because his desire to “go home” is happening because his brain is no longer able to assess and use facts to deal with his feelings and needs.

The sadness in this is overwhelming. I’ve cared for two generations of a loving, crazy, hardworking, wonderful family, and now with the last living relative. Hearing her literally crying for her mother (my grandmother) would cause waves of sorrow for all of them that I didn’t realize were even still after 50 years there.

But MANY caregivers deal with this particular symptom, and out of your love for your dad, you will too.

So in short, say whatever occurs to you in the moment that he asks, that maybe a comfort to him. He won’t remember, so he won’t hold it against you.

I haven!t seen my Oldest and Dearest since March 11. She has survived Covid (at 91!) and will be having her 92 birthday in a few weeks, and we won’t be together for it. Life is very hard just recently for all of us.
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Reply to AnnReid
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My mother lives in a Memory Care ALF also, and constantly complains about the 'stupid morons' she has to deal with, and how crazy they are. To emphasize her point, she uses her index finger to make a circle around her ear and rolls her eyes when describing another resident. She's made a nuisance of herself complaining to the staff about the other residents, insisting on getting special treatment when she HERSELF suffers from moderate dementia and is in the same boat THEY'RE in. I personally find it extremely irritating and condescending that she has zero empathy for others, yet expects to be carried around on a throne HERSELF.

When she gets delusional and starts asking about when I'm coming to pick her up, I remind her that she has entirely too many health issues for me to be caring for her at home. I'm simply not qualified, mother. Just her wheelchair alone prohibits me from taking her here to visit, never mind to live.

You can also let your father know that it's 'doctor's orders' that he live where he's at, and that you will speak to his doctor the next time he has a scheduled appointment. But until he gives the okay, dad has to stay where he's safe and cared for properly.

I know it's not 'fun' to hear the complaining and asking to come home, it's really not. In fact, it makes me not want to speak to my mother even more so than usual. But as far as 'guilt' goes, try not to take on that useless and self-inflicted emotion which serves no purpose. Our folks are in a place where they're attended to 24/7 by a caring team of individuals. They're fed, entertained, and catered to, which is more than most folks enjoy in their old age. It's more than I will get to enjoy in my own old age because I won't have the funds to afford an ALF.

Keep reminding Dad he's safe and cared for, that you love him, and will see him as soon as the covid restrictions ease up in his ALF.

Best of luck!
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