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Dad is in rehab, extended stay as his dementia has gotten worse and they can not find a place for him. Last week we had to stop him from trying to ram his wheelchair through the front door to escape 😖 He has always spent Christmas with us and our extended family, however this year I have no idea if we could get him back there if we pick him up for the day. Any ideas?

Hi there,
I agonised over taking my parents to my home for Christmas Dinner last year. They both have different forms of dementia. Friends and relatives looked at me with shock and horror when I told them of my plans. In the end my husband and I along with my grown up son decided to spend Christmas morning with them, then leave when they sat down to dinner in their nursing home. It was the best thing I could have done! I worried in advance that they would be annoyed at not coming home with me, but everything went smoothly and there was no fuss. We didn’t mention our own plans for dinner and just focused on them and their day at the home in conversation. Hope it goes well for you.
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Reply to Els1eL
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Hi. My uncle at 74 died from Alzheimer’s. He was fine at 70. Those 4 years were extremely difficult on his wife , who did bring him home from the care facility for holidays. He did not want to go back when dinner was over. So she suggested that we celebrate at the facility with him. That worked out much better
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Reply to Erinm60
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When my mom, with dementia, went to a nursing home, I made the mistake of asking a friend to host her for Thanksgiving one year. She was disoriented and upset and two days later was 911-ed to the ER complaining of chest pains. I believe it was an extended panic attack. I took her to the dentist once and it was the same thing.

After that, I didn’t take her out again. We participated in the Thanksgiving dinner they had at the facility even though she complained about it to everyone who would listen and embarrassed the hell out of me. We visited for Christmas, my grandsons set up a small tree for her and we gave her gifts. I got the gifts back on my next visit. After that, we didn’t bother to make any fuss at all over any holiday.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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GraceLPC Dec 18, 2018
Ahmijoy,
You were spot on that the root of the problem was a location and routine that was not familiar.,as in imprinted oner decades familiar, to you LO.
New environment, new people, are all a huge challenge to dementia patients. Think taking a 4 year old, who always had Christmas at your house or grandma's to Alaska or New Orleans for Christmas! Bad idea.
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People with dementia find change very difficult and confusing. For my mom who had Parkinson's and it's related dementia, it was best to keep her in her own environment. We still visited and took gifts. We ended up doing the same thing for my dad several years later when transporting him became more difficult. Because his birthday was just before Christmas, we planned a birthday celebration at the facility and invited all of the family and sometimes a few friends. This gave Dad an opportunity to see the family around Christmas time. My husband, children, and I would either visit him the day before or on Christmas Day and take a few gifts—items he needed such as warm socks or new slippers. He always seemed to enjoy those visits and didn't seem to wonder why we weren't hauling him out to our house.

By all means, visit your loved ones around or on holidays. Take advantage of any parties or meals that the facility may offer, even if you have to dig deep to gather some funds to pay for a meal with your loved one! You'll never regret having spent special occasions with your dear ones, and you won't have to feel guilty about not taking them from their "safe place." They'll be happier, and so will you.
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Reply to busymom
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I know it may disrupt your normal plans, but it might be easier on everyone for you to visit him at the rehab facility for a few hours on Christmas Day. They probably have some special lunch or dinner planned that may include family members, or that you could pay a nominal charge for. That’s how it worked in Moms rehab and now her NH. Or many of these places have small Family dining rooms that you could book and bring lunch or dinner in with some of the family. It’s sure not a Hallmark Christmas, but I can foresee that bringing him to your house sure isn’t going to be either.
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Reply to rocketjcat
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Celebrate with him at the Facility. It will be better for everyone. We brought my FIL home once. He was scared and confused and it was hard on everyone to see him that way. The next year we all went to see him the day after and had a small gift exchange there. He was much happier and it was less stressful on all of us.
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Reply to EllensOnly
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The response is pretty unanimous. As it is so close to Christmas, you may not be able to reserve a private room for setting up dinner with just your family, so plan ahead for next year.
Next, remember older and deeper memories last longer, smells are strong memory triggers. So even if the facility provides the food, bringing in warm rolls, a special bread or dessert the family had. A vase of fresh pine or evergreen boughs will fill the room with the smells of Christmas. I had a small pine in my front yard and cut branches and put them in a vase to bring that fresh smell...much better than flowers.
Keep expectations low. The time will come when he just remembers you as 'those nice people who visit him and treat him so kindly'. The point is you are there to make his Christmas special! So anything that brings comfort and joy achieves the goal!
Also, call ahead to be aware of NH rules. Can you bring in homemade gravy? Is a real wreath allowed.. fire Hazard as it dries? Ask about a private room. Can you bring a family tablecloth, S &P shakers, etc. for the table. Also beware of food and beverage interactions with medications.
A final thought. My Grandma seemed quite zoned out at the luncheon for their 65th wedding anniversary. Then my cousin, her grandson, who came from across the country to be there, pulled out some old B&W family photos. Some had names, date, location on the back...others did not. He slowly started going through them asking for help with who was in the picture, and what can you tell me about them. It took about 10 minutes, no pressure on her. Sometimes he would flip the picture over and say, Oh, says here this is ..... at ......, Wow, I never knew about that..Or I heard stories but never saw a picture.
After about 10 minutes, she started coming to life, first recognizing people, then elaborated by sharing stories about them. The exchange was mostly one on one, but then he would bring someone else at the table in. Invite them to have a look, sharing a piece of the story GM had just told. All the photos were from her early 20s or younger.
One photo, one story, one picture, all driven by her recall and joy of story telling, made that event. She was still a little surprised when the anniversary cake came, but GM & GP cut it together.
She didn't recognize everyone. Many of us she had not seen as adults, only had known from photos sent from afar.
She always loved sharing a story, and the family saying, which came based on her gift was....
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!
Now my story is true, her's, well maybe she filled in the gaps or embellished, but there was truth and cherished memories brought to the surface there too.

Merry Christmas!
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Reply to GraceLPC
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Ahmijoy Dec 19, 2018
Wow, you are specially blessed to have a cousin like him!
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I haven't dealt with dementia, but I feel, that underneath all the symptoms of dementia, lies the human heart, which I also feel can still be touched. I would strive to find some way have him be able to connect with the family. It may be in a much smaller fashion than before, but it would mean a great deal to him and ultimately to you.
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Reply to HappyWill
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Forget the holidays. Neither life with Alzheimer's nor caring for one is a picnic--sounds like he's headed to the nursing home.
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Reply to cetude
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Wow you all have been so helpful! Thank you, maybe a visit with Hubby, myself and the grandchildren to celebrate at the rehab would work. Not going to get expectations up but will try ❤️
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Reply to DixieCz
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