How do I help my mom get over knowing that the nursing home is her "final" home?

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That's going to be a tricky conversation to have, maybe instead of taking that particular avenue, it might be more exciting to discuss some of the great things that are around her in the home, no more cooking, she still gets to have a bunch of her things with her, cleaning is a breeze, and so on.
Try to keep the conversation light and reassure her that you and others will be by to visit often. Maybe let her know that there she is in good hands where she is, and she will be making many new friends.
Even if SOME of it is an embellishment, the last thing anyone wants to talk about is their own "final" resting place, the nursing home is just the "next" place. just like when you moved to where you are, its a part of that whole circle of life thing.
I hope some of it helps

Explaining the reasons why she has had to make the move might help a bit. Getting her involved in as many activities as possible may also help -- regular hair salon appt in the facility, regular opportunities to dine and/or shop away from the facility, visits from family & friends, attending the home's religious & social events. You might want to help organize some card/domino games or easy craft activities initially, or ask a friend or family member who lives nearby to do so, until your mother feels she is a part of the social life there. I helped the home my parent lived in to revitalize an unused garden, clean & widen the paths and install garden chairs. It offers residents a natural setting to watch the birds, visit, and get away from 4 walls.

Tips for helping to make life in a 'home' more tolerable:
WOW---Such good ideas from Mariannette, I could not of expressed it better myself.

From my own experience, and what I have seen: Many of the residents in a nursing home facility that this is there final place to be...even if this is so or not.

Possibly having Hospice visit with you as well as your mom---would give you both the kind of support you may need. They are absolutely great to work with..

Good luck---and if possible, try to find the positive with a move to the nursing home...

As we age we DO think things like "this will probably be our last new car", "this will probably be our last move into a house", "this will probably be our last 'big trip'" etc. and then we down-scale ... and then we down-scale even more ....and so it goes. There is no denying that sadness goes hand-in-hand with these thoughts and actions. I imagine it IS sad to realize that the nursing home is going to be one's last home. When I reach that stage I hope my kids won't just say "Buck up, Mom. There are lots of good things happening here." I hope they will understand my sadness and allow me to talk about it (after all, it is a type of mourning). We mourn many losses during a lifetime and fortunate indeed are the people who have family and friends who are compassionate and who understand how these losses hurt. I have found that once a person has been allowed to mourn and to heal, then that person usually can start to see that there still are at least a few good things left in life. Yvonne, right now your mom may not be seeing many of those few good things but if she is given understanding of her sadness and is given love and reassurance, then gradually she may be ready to see some good points of living in the nursing home. I hope so for her sake and yours. But I don't imagine it is easy to come face to face with the fact that "the party is nearly over." I believe some people become very depressed at this point too so, besides your mom needing love and understanding, she would need medical help. Also, does your mom have someone with whom she can discuss spiritual matters?
Who's to say that the people in nursing homes, KNOW that they're dying? Now the families do of course, but unless a person has their wits about them still, and someone tells them that this is the 'last stop' I don't know why they would think that's what's going to happen. My grandma always said she didn't ever want to go to a nursing home, but when she got so sick that grandpa couldn't take care of her, she had to. She had her wits about her at first, but then started having small strokes that left her unable to talk eventually. He would visit her everyday, and talk to her right up to the day she died. But he never told her she was going to die, and she never asked. It was just a place that she had to live. And my father-in-law, while not in a nursing home, was still in an adult foster care situation and he was dying. He never once asked if he was dying, just kept keeping on there till he did die. My mother-in-law was in such denial about him being terminal, that she constantly told him she wanted him to come home. So maybe that's why he didn't think he was dying. I don't know. But he seemed to except the fact that he had be there, even though he didn't like it. Eventually he did tell her that he was sick, and it was probably for the best that he be there. As for my grandma, she and grandpa were assured by Christ five decades before, that they'll be in Heaven someday so they were unafraid to die. So I guess when it's my turn to go to the nursing home, and providing I sill have my brains, then it's okay to tell me that this is 'the last stop', cause I also am unafraid.
It's the process of dying that bothers me, not the end result I guess.
You can't fix this I don't believe. The only people I have ever seen happy in a nursing home was the ones that put themselves there. All the rest of them usually just talk bad about their kids, but it does give them all something to do.

Dad used to say we're all spiritual beings having a human experience. That's why when my brother Julio asked him at the NH if he wanted to be buried or cremated he said he wanted to be recycled. The NH was a transitional home; some kind of pit stop because he "wasn't done yet."

Even though he had already come to terms with the fact his body would soon be discarded, I was the one on a rollercoaster through the stages of grief. I was the sad one, and he was the one doing the comforting despite the air of strength and confidence I tried to exude and that he could see right through. I hate to admit it, but after so many years I'm still grieving.

But it's a kind of pain that doesn't hurt when I realize he's still here. He taught me so many not-so-new things and allowed me the freedom to take it from there. I did the same with my own children; and they're doing the same with theirs. And the beat goes on. He had this uncanny ability to see things for what they really are and talk about them so wittily that I'm still laughing. Most people thought there wasn't an ounce of seriousness about him and that everything seemed like a joke. Actually, it was his brand of wisdom that allowed him to think rationally during emotionally-charged situations that cloud most people's judgement.

Your mom might be sad because of the NH, but she's also sad because you are. Don't pretend; it weakens the bond that now more than ever needs to be stronger -- on both sides of the fence.

-- ED

You have ALL been so helpful with your insightful comments. Thank you to LCS -- it really is a type of mourning. My mom is my best friend and I miss so much of the day to day contact and rapport we had -- the talking on the phone and shopping together. Most days she has her wits about her, but there are many days where she gets confused and forgetful. This is natural. I miss my mom and the ways things were. It almost feels as if we have said goodbye already to the way life used to be. I know on the days that she is feeling cognizant that she misses her life as it was too. Thank you all of you again for sharing your thoughts. It helps to know we are not alone.
Yvonne: when I was little and got hurt I would look at my Mom...if she wasn't scared, then I wasn't scared. Some how I figured out that she would do the best thing for me. It may be reversed now, because whenever I have to have one of those "serious" discussions with my Mom, she looks into my eyes to see if I am frightened for her. Even if I am, I try to remain calm and speak to her in a very direct and non-emotional way. (this is not easy....I have to remember that this is unchartered territory for me too!)
One day, out of the blue, she said, "ya' know I'm going to live to be 90." I said, "God willing." and went on with our conversation. Not every fear that a senior expresses requires a heavy conversation. Sometimes they just need to know that they are alright or that you will be there for them wherever they reside.
I agree with all above. If you can keep your mood upbeat and talk about the possibilities at her new residence it will make the transition easier. And, yes, do allow her to mourn is natural and helps us move on to the next phase. I believe that we will never find a braver generation than this one...I do not think that I will have the courage that my mother possesses in her seniorhood.
I don't know what percentage of people know that they are dying but even when the doctor told my sisters and me that my dad was NOT dying, my dad insisted that he was. He knew deep down that he was right. He was not afraid of death - he was a farmer and had dealt intimately with the cycle of life for all of his 88 years. He was a great steward of God's world and he didn't rebel against whatever twists and turns came in his life. Physical death was a reality he accepted - he knew that he would live on one way or another.
But this topic was not really about dying but about being sad that the nursing home was going to be the last home. My hope is that Yvonne's mom has some GOOD months (years?) left yet. Nursing homes AREN'T coffins.

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