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Dad recently had to go into memory care and won't talk about anything else but leaving. My father was diagnosed with early onset alzheimers and was living at home until recently. My mother (primary caregiver) would not retire early and is still working full time. Being left alone all day was becoming too much for him, he was getting very angry with her being gone and asked to go into assisted living. We moved him in at the beginning of June. He left one day and got lost, my mom picked him up and brought him back. Last week he did it again, but this time he was brought back to the center by the police and we've put him into memory care for his safe being. I know he will continue to wonder despite his pleas that he won't and it is for the best to have him in there. However, he is still physically fit and the only thing he likes to do it walk - he wants to be outside. The staff go outside and walk with him during the day, but obviously he isnt' free to come and go as he pleases anymore due to the incident. We don't have even a minute free during out visits with him since that he isn't begging, pleading or yelling to get out and 'be free.' Most of the residents in memory care are for more advanced then him and sleep most of the day or are not mobile so he is lonely with no one to talk to and no ability to go out and walk as he pleases. I understand his pleas, but know he has to stay. However, this is so hard on my mother and myself when we visit since the whole time it's asking to come home or get out. My mother can't cope and doesn't even want to go see him anymore. Redirecting his attention doesn't work for more than a couple seconds/minutes at best. Does anyone have any thoughts or advice on how to react/respond to his pleas or how to better redirect his attention? His tears are unbearable. Please and thank you.

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One thing I discovered with my mom and FIL is that when they demand to "go home", the statement goes a lot deeper than the idea of going home. Neither my Mom or Dad-in-law were truly cognizant of where "home" actually was. My mom believes she could go back to living with her parents in the 1920's. The behavior you're describing is part of the whole picture. People with this condition often believe this is something you've done "to" them and not "for" them. Walking away when the tantrums start is great advice. But be prepared that it's something you have to do for yourself. The tantrum will become worse as you walk out. The staff knows how to handle it and they will. If the staff already takes him out, they are aware of the situation and trying to help. You can try to redirect the conversations about going home, but it probably won't work. When I put my mom in a facility, 80% of my feelings about it were guilt. It's something you need to come to terms with. Speak with your family doctor, look for a local support group, talk to the social worker at the facility. By no means give into his demands and bring him home, even for a visit. And ignore Snowquail. There are some issues there, too.
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Medication doesn't have to mean life as a zombie. Granted, my mother wasn't physically violent but she was very angry and very verbally abusive. Mom was also having major meltdowns, screaming - and I do mean screaming - yelling, swearing, trying to escape and other tricks like laying down on the floor - claiming she fell and also making wild accusations like the DON of the NH was sexually abusing her and everyone was stealing from her. Mom also said I was stealing her pain meds - kind of hard to do as the nh had them - and I was paying off my brothers to get them to go along with the nh placement. All in all the situation had become unbearable. I was able to get mom in to see a geriatric Psychitrist - telling mom a therapeutic fib that she was being evaluated for a new drug to help with her memory loss. The Psy did a complete medication overhaul and over the course of a month meds were slowly stopped and new ones started - it needed to be a gradual process. At the end of about six weeks total my mother was more her old self than in quite a while - mentally at least as she still had physical health issues. The change was so pronounced that I video taped her rolling herself around the home in her wheelchair, chatting with people. When I emailed the video to my brother he couldn't believe the improvement! Try to get a good geriatric psy to see your father for an assessment and recommendations.
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I agree with having him evaluated for some kind of anti-anxiety med that might help now. True, he will get worse and that is so sad to watch. Also, what he is thinking of as "home" may not even mean living at home with your mom. I imagine he is a lot like my granddad who would also wander if left unattended. All the houses on their street looked the same from the front and he would wander into ANY home--which the neighbors were so used to him, they'd chat with him and lovingly guide him back to HIS home, but he felt that wasn't his home. We never did know what 'home' he meant. Grandma kept him home until he became violent (SUCH a change for him, and heartbreaking for her)..and he passed after a few weeks in the care facility. This was almost 40 years ago..I have no idea if he took anything stronger than Valium, to just keep him calm.
This is just one of the many phases of Alzheimers. When I lived very near my grandparents I would take Grandpa on wandering walks with my baby in the stroller. He had no idea who I was, but he could walk for hours, sweet man. And it gave Grandma a break. You could try that, getting family members to take turns just walking with him. That might take an edge off the crave to wander.
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Snowquail your answer proves that you have literally no clue about caring for the aged and ill. I hope the original posters ignore your answer, and look to the other very helpful recommendations that others have made.

Angel
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My father was 59 when he was diagnosed and is 65 now. At his most recent assessment they rated him a '6' down from a 10 only a couple months ago. My visit with him on Sunday was rough and I reached out for help and advice. I found so many kinds words and advice. If I don't acknowledge your response, please know how truly greatful I feel for those of you who took the time to read my story and offer kind words and help.
Pamstegma & Hugemom - we walked away Sunday. I felt horrible doing it, but I could see the physical toll his words were beginning to have and I wanted my mom to know it was ok. When she visited him again on Monday, she said he apologized for his behavior and it was a much better visit. I know they won't always be, but that did seem to help.
Babalou - I'm going to look for that book :)
Churchmouse - I love the idea of the gym. I'm going to look into that, he used to go to the gym a lot the years before he was diagnosed.
Bluecube - your comment about his cat hit home. He misses his cat terribly, but we don't feel he can adequately take care of a pet to have one at the home. My father's cat is unfortunately very ill with cancer and doesn't have much time left anyway and he doesn't understand this. He wants to go 'home' to take care of her.

We tried a day program, but he refused to go :( and he hated the homes we looked at where the memory care wards had enclosed walking grounds. In retrospect, on the latter, I think my mom gave him to much say in the final decision, but I do really like the facility he is currently in.
For everyone that spoke of the concept of "home" for him - thank you. I agree. To some extent I think he would know he was "home," but unless my mother would retire to be home with his, I know he would go back to being as angry and frustrated being alone all day again. I realize he doesn't know or remember how upset he was about being alone or how agitated he got. I was starting to get worried he would become violent as I know this is not an uncommon issue with dementia patients.
I know our lives will never be the same and we face many more difficult days, visits and decisions in our future. Thank you again for letting me pour my heart out and for responding with such kindness.
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Medicate his anxiety. When he starts with the tears, that is a tantrum. You both leave when bad behavior appears. You have to, or it just gets worse. Been there. Done that.
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Are there any memory care places near you that have an enclosed garden where he could walk? My friend's husband was in one in Rancho Mirage, CA that had a fenced in flower garden. Those doors were never locked, they had figure 8 and 0 concrete walks. I was there one day and this lady would ring the doorbell, walk in, turn around, walk out, walk a minute, turn around come back, ring the door bell, etc. They also had fake kitchens, no stoves or sinks but had cabinets, with plastic dishes and dish rags. I saw women, wiping counters, putting dishes away and bringing them back out. It was a beautiful place. And what was even better was it was cheaper than the places in Palm Springs that cost more and didn't let the patients outside. He got good care from the staff also. Lost clothes etc. but all in all great care.
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Get him seen by a geriatric psychiatrist who can give you good advice on medication and behavior management. Yes, it's heartbreaking when there is a choice betwen keeoing him happy and keeping him safe.

Read Antul Gawande's book, On Being Mortal.
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My lovely former boss died of early onset Alzheimers last year. If we're talking about someone of approximately the same age, in his fifties or sixties, then we're talking about providing physical care for a healthy adult whose mind is falling to pieces. Is that really something you'd ask a loving daughter to witness round the clock? Have a heart.

I was going to ask if there was any possibility of finding a more specialist facility, aimed at a younger age group. I was also going to ask if there was a well-equipped gym nearby that KBR could maybe take him to for a good workout.
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I think that once a patient starts wandering as her dad did, it's difficult to get anywhere to accept them, unless it's a secure facility, due to the risks of them walking away and getting lost or injured.
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