As I go to leave at the end of a visit mom's starting to ask several questions, (primarily in the day visits) like "You're taking me with you right? Can I come home with you? You're leaving already? Are you just gonna leave me here? Where are we going?" etc.. It doesn't matter if we've just returned to the facility from an outing or I've been there for 2-3 hours because she doesn't remember. Sometimes she cries, other times not and other times, she will simply say "Ok, you should get going, let me walk you to the door" and hugs and kisses me goodbye. So its hard to be prepared for the unknown, but I'm trying to navigate through this journey as best as possible. There's no rhyme or reason to the behavior. She loves the staff and always says they treat her well. I try and time my a.m. departures with activities scheduled and have her join in the activities but she'll say "I'll do that later or I don't want to unless you do?" even though she's a very friendly, active person. I want mom to interact with the other residents, once she's in an activity she's fine and her friendly self. It will be a month on the 16th of September that mom has been at the Memory Care Facility, so it is still fairly new. I'm looking for any suggestions on how to deal with this situation as productively as possible. I will no doubt feel guilty no matter what I say/do but I want to give mom as much comfort as I can whenever I can. Thanks in advance!

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Well, there is no answer to control dementia and how your Mom will react at any given moment. She can't hide her feelings now, and let's it all hang out. And we know it can't be predicted. So there are two givens.
What CAN be predicted is that it is going to go one way or the other. One of two ways. She is going to be happy or she is going to be unhappy.
Now if she is HAPPY, we are ALL happy, and can get on with the day.

So we are left with just the ONE problem. It isn't the unpredictability that is the problem. The problem is that sometimes she believes she can come home with you, that there is a way she can, and she asks, and she may cry and be sad and hurt.
The truth is that she will not remember this for too long once you are out of sight.
However, YOU are hurting. And you DO remember.
So now we are left with you going to visit knowing that there is a 50-50 chance that this visit is going to leave you in pain.
And boy, here's where we hit the rock; because there is no answer.
Now that it is down to that one thing, you being in pain, helpless to help her, helpless to "fix it" for her, no MATTER that you can rationalize that she will be OK as soon as activities start, you will be in pain. The last memory of her will be that you hurt her because there isn't anything you can do to change this.
And hon, there just isn't anything you can do to change the times this ends with pain.
You can only have the excellent knowledge and perceptions you already wrote on this thread. There is nothing else left to you. Please try not to be so sad. Please remember that all our lives, while our hearts beat, there are times we are sad and afraid and unhappy and worried and helpless, and angry. We are those things as soon as we are capable of thought. We are them at age three when Mom leaves us with a sitter. We are them our first day of school. We are them all the way through our lives. We stub our toes and are in some pain all of our lives. No one can fix it. It's part of life.
Think of your Mom's long long life. Imagine the times she was afraid, in pain, lonely, worried, hopeless, helpless. Try to imagine a time she was NOT visited with worries. And most of those hurts were really not your fault (well, maybe when you were a teen; let me rethink this).
I am so sorry for your pain. But I can't fix it any more than you can fix Moms. I can't even give you a hug, whereas you can still give her that.
I am not much worried about Mom. Like you said, she is going to be OK. It's a part of life, pain. And Mom is so lucky that she is able to be fine and friendly and loving her activities. So many don't have that. So many just shrink into depression that never lifts. Hugs to you and your good heart. Try to comb out some good in this so it doesn't hurt so much.
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Thank you so much for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated!
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I think you're already there, more or less - the trick is in the timing. So get her settled in the dining room or the activities room or the tv room, handing her over to a member of staff, kiss her, say when you'll be back (roughly) rather than "goodbye" as such, then slip out and leave her to it.

It sounds as if it's the announcement that you're going that triggers her anxious questions and clinging, do you think?
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My mom is in memory care too and she likes to read. Her favorites are racy romance novels and gossip magazines. If I pull one out of my bag just before I leave i.e. "Oh, I forgot - I brought you this magazine to read," she can't wait for me to leave so she can dive into it!
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That's a great idea! She loves to look through any cooking (especially baking recipes) or gossip magazines. Thank you so much! I will try that at our next visit as I'm prepping to leave.
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What I find horrible is the inconsistency with behaviors. The not knowing what to expect. The ever changing moods and attitudes that come along with dementia. My mother is in memory care as well and while she never begs me to stay or take her home with me (thank God), she does drop hints to let me know she thinks it's 'terrible' that children put their mothers in places like this. She was fine with Assisted Living, but she 'doesn't belong' in memory care, which she DOES, she's just not 'as bad' as some of the other residents. Sigh. I'm sure you know the routine. We have the same conversation almost daily, about why she's in MC instead of her old apartment at the ALF, and it really does cause me a lot of anxiety in general, especially as the only child having to deal with ALL of it, 24/7. I feel your pain.

I take the dog to visit mother sometimes, which is a diversion. It keeps her mind OFF of the chronic complaining and sniping and ON the lovable little animal who's licking her face.

I bring goodies, primarily her favorite little Entenmann's individually wrapped coffee cakes.

I bring a new blouse with a matching piece of costume jewelry for her.

I bring a book or a magazine (she has a People subscription sent directly to her each week)

In other words, I bring distractions. Things to make her smile. Nothing's gonna 'fix' this, but things will temporarily make her happy, I suppose, and help her forget how miserable she tells me her life is. If I show up unannounced, by the way, she's doing JUST FINE and mingling, laughing, joking, and generally having a good time. It's only when I come around that the complaining and misery begins.

Keep that in mind............WE are their shoulder to cry on.

Best of luck!
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All great thoughts lealonnie1!! THANKS!!
I do take my small dog Babe, 1x weekly which is enough because as you may know many patients will undoubtedly want to pet or see the dog (all moving at the particular pace) so it's a long visit for the dog and me, (lol) But the residents and my mom love it so as long as its enjoyable for everyone, I will bring Babe for weekly visits.
I love the PEOPLE magazine going right to mom, I didn't even think of that. I will definitely being ordering something for her, I will look today as I decided I would not visit my mom this morning for the 1st time to give myself a break so I'm feeling anxious and I need the distraction (the irony of it- ME needing the distraction!!) I will keep all your wonderful suggestions in mind and in my toolbox. Thanks as always!
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How often are you visiting her? Maybe replace some visits with a phone call instead? I confess I have struggled with the visiting issue with my MIL who has almost no short-term memory. If she doesn't remember I was ever there, what's the point? I ask if her other sons have called her but she always says they haven't (they do call her often). I would never not visit her -- I do love her still and care about her. I also need to make sure she is getting the best care and I still believe the in-person visits benefit her in some way, but sometimes I think its more for my own self, to not feel guilty. You will need to work this out in your heart and mind as there is no one correct answer for everyone. May you receive peace into your heart.
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1x in am and 1x before bed, I live less than a mile from the facility and pass by it daily in my routine. I can't remember when in my life I haven't seen or talked to my mother on a daily basis (except for college maybe) so I think it would be more difficult for her and me to not see each other. She doesn't carry a phone conversation any longer and I don't think I've ever seen anyone using a phone there. I don't overstay and try and time day visits departures with activities. I also want to make sure she's getting the best care possible, and I can only do that by being present. In addition, my 2 siblings rarely visit so I know if I don't visit she may not have visitors and I won't know how she's actually doing. If I call and ask how she is they always say she just fine and maybe she is but, just maybe she's not. It's easier to just go and not wonder. At night I bring her a snack, we change into her PJs brush her teeth and look at photos and watch TV for awhile and visit. Everyday, I still see glimpses of the mom I've always known and loved and I want to enjoy those moments/seconds as much as possible as they are no longer going to be there at some unknown point- it's almost like seeing your child or hearing your child's last words or conversations rather than their 1st steps or 1st words in a way. Wow, I never really thought of it like that until just now. Am I doing this for all the wrong reasons? I'm a mess and I'm feeling bad because I decided for the 1st time that I wouldn't go see mom this morning, that I just needed to recharge for I just feel guilty over it. I am working on it! Thanks for your response, it was on helpful and on point.
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I agree with Countrymouse. For only being one month into this you are doing some great thinking and problem solving already. Way ahead in the learning curve. Pat yourself on the back!!!

I don’t know if this will work for you - or if it works once, will it work again... Your post got me thinking back 100 years when I was a teenage babysitter. I sat for a little girl who wanted me to lay down with her until she fell asleep. Problem was - when I laid down with her she would keep talking and giggling and it would take forever for her to fall asleep. Much longer than any teenager ready to raid the fridge and get on the phone could withstand! Sooo - I’d say to her after I laid down with her a couple of minutes “Sweetie, I just remembered I have to make a quick phone call (or whatever) I’ll be back in a few minutes”. And, of course when I’d go back to check on her in five minutes - she’s be fast asleep. Worked every time. Would something like that work with your mom - especially after handing her the recent copy of Martha Stewart Living?
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What a great idea! I will try it and let you know! Thanks!
I will usually tell my mom that I'm going to work and will see her later. It doesn't matter what time if day it is.
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Caregiving2 Sep 2019
I think that’s a great response. Easy to understand and accept.
After 2.5 years in an assisted nursing facility, mom still wants to come home. She always thinks she is in the hospital due to the medical support there, and she always thinks she has been there only a few days. Every day, she asks to go home. Every day, I have to face my sadness of not being able to take care of her at home. She is now 98 and has recently been in ICU with pneumonia and heart failure, and still survives that! Who does that at that age?

My husband and I (around 70yrs old) moved in with her for 5 years, of which that last year we both got sick, could not sleep, could not work - all due to watching her at night and day so she would not fall over and over, taking her to ER and doc appointments continually. And yes, the hardest decision for me was to place her in the assisted nursing home. It was either that, or our own health and ability to work for our retirement!

You are not alone in this situation. The only lesson this is teaching me (which at times I don't get) is that I cannot do more for her than I already am doing.
Boy! Your question/situation is exactly mine! I have been dealing with this aspect of her dementia now for 10 years. I am exhausted but continue on for her sake.

People say I feel guilty. I don't. What I do feel is an immense sense of sadness for mom's situation which takes away my joy and enthusiasm towards my own life. In 10 years, I have not been able to plan a vacation with my husband as each time I do, something of an emergency happens to Mom. I am a creative person yet it is so hard to scout out some time for my creativity as I know the shoe is about to fall and I have to run to support her during another crisis.

I am writing my experiences not to be negative, but to let you know that what I am learning, although slowly, is to make space for my self and my life even in this impossible situation - even if I have to combat the feelings of sadness for not seeing her that day. Not an easy thing, as Mom needs more and more emotional attention as she enters a new phase of dementia.

My heart is with you and with all of us caregivers who find themselves in this un-resolvable situation. May we all find our own core of joy and enthusiasm sooner than later!
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My mom has been at an AL almost 5 mo. Very similar , can’t remember who has been there ect . Still at 5mo some days it is the best place and she has everything she needs . Other days it’s a “hole” “ ok for a prison “ or “ if you have to be put away , it’s ok “ kinda place . If she wakes up too early she may call me to remind her where she is and no I can’t come get you I’m at work . She may get it in her head that my brother is coming to take her home and she calls him - she forgets calling . She can remember the street address to her home but not where it actually is or what the house looked like or her things . Most of the residents there always reference home at some point . I think it will lessen but there’s no place like home and as long as there is an inkling of memory in there somewhere I think it will surface . I always remind her that there was no one there to ck on her ( we tried hiring someone and she fired them ) she lives by me now and we can spend time together ect . Once upon a time her household was busy with visitors / family ect and she remembers that . She doesn’t remember sleeping in til noon , not getting out , eating nothing but sweets / fast food , sitting in the dark most of the time , not taking her medicine , no one but me or my brother coming by her house . It was one of the hardest things in the world to move her but she is safe and taken care of and she may not remember but she has new friends and participates in most activities . Sometimes it’s like when you have dropped your child at day care - they cry and complain but when you aren’t there they are having a pretty good time .
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Val622 Sep 2019
This sounds like my mom. She’s been at AL for a year. Sometimes i swear she’s bipolar. So angry at me one minute then fine the next. When I’m with her for a full day(usually Saturday or Sunday) she will run the full cycle. . Mean nice happy sad. Just this Past week she’s been telling me not to leave. When I do sometimes i feel like I’m losing my mind.
I LOVE being close enough to be able to drop in to see my LO whenever I feel like it, and my LO is TYPICALLY happy to see me and happy when I leave, LOL.
She has been in a very nice Memory Care setting for about 1 1/2 years. The only problem presently is that she appears to be among the higher functioning on the floor, and sometimes reacts negatively to some of the problem behaviors around her.
I ALWAYS have a “gee-I-wish-I-could-but-when-I-leave-I-have-to.......” speech ready in case I need it, and at this point she is willing to accept it and will sometimes say “Someone can pick me up later.” With her, I think what she remembers of “home” is the loving convivial atmosphere of many years ago, and not the house that she most recently worried about, fell in, and lived alone in.
I also think you have a positive and loving and most important, realistic approach to your mo5er’s situation.
Give it some more time and see if her adjustments are moving toward the positive. If not, consider speaking to social services about having her visited by someone who may help you offer her some counseling or even possible medical intervention.
A trained geriatric psychiatry physician’s assistant has been wonderful in helping us manage our LO’s comfort.
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Thanks for all the great responses and suggestions from everyone, it's so comforting to know you're all out there and that we all share a common thread of unfortunate circumstance (for lack of a better term) that brings us together in such a loving supportive way. I have been (so far) very successful using so many of all of your suggestions at leaving time... Pulling out a magazine for her one day a few minutes before leaving worked like a charm; she couldn't wait to open it and start reading! On another occasion I brought her a new costume jewelry set that will go with multiple outfits; she loved that and had to try it on before I left. I also departed one day with "I'll be back in a soon, I just need to make a phone call" (I came back 5 minutes later and she was already enjoying visiting with other residents. It was a wonderful feeling knowing she was no longer thinking about me leaving!) I always take some sort of edible treat with me for us to enjoy and always take pictures of us while I'm with mom.

I know so much of her is still in there although she can't articulate things like she once could. her feelings and emotions can be a roller coaster but they are very real and still need to be validated at times. like all of us.

Now, I obviously can't buy something new for mom everyday so she will be getting some things more than 1x; and the great thing is it will likely be brand new (to mom) everytime :) That is a blessing I am grateful for today!

Thank You ALL again for all your responses. they are greatly appreciated!!
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