My mum aged 93 has lived with me and my husband for the past seven years. It was never a perfect situation but when she sold her family home my twin brother and I agreed she could spend six months with each of us rather than have the worry of home ownership. Then he died suddenly and she obviously remained with us all the time. She’s been fine up until about four months ago. She had her own room, toilet facilities and pottered about although on a walker with painful arthritic knees making cups of tea, although I of course fed her. Then she declined. Two falls. Her knees give way and she’s wobbly on her feet. She now can’t make drinks for herself and in the last six weeks found it increasingly difficult to go to the toilet unaided.
She and I discussed respite care for when we go away and this was put in place. Then she developed a chest infection and ended up admitted to hospital last weekend very poorly with pneumonia. While she was in there she told me she wanted to live in a care home permanently as she felt she needed more support and to find one for her. I agreed. She’s not safe in our house now moving about, in fact the hospital say she needs a two person help for her personal needs and her needs now greatly outweigh what my husband and I can give. In fact I’ve had two episodes of acute bronchitis (sitting here with the second one) with the stress of all this.
I approached a lovely home and they went to the hospital and assessed her. I told Mum what had been arranged and she seemed very happy and yesterday the hospital discharged her into their permanent care.
We are away until Monday trying to babysit for our daughter who needs to work for a few days so I wasn’t able to be at the home when she arrived (I wasn’t expecting her discharge so soon) but our neighbour went to greet her.
The home and neighbour say she is confused and thinks I’m coming back tomorrow to take her home. She’s being awkward about what she eats and yesterday refused to leave the lounge area for the night. Today they managed to gently persuade her to go to her new room but still thinks she’s coming back home.
I’m beside myself. I’ve talked to them and told them what she likes to eat. The chef has visited her and will do so again. I’ve told them whatever she says she’s staying there. She asked me to secure a home place and I carried out her wishes. I cannot have her back home with us. I’d be worried about the constant falls and her safety even when I pop to the shops. Besides the strain was too much and our marriage is beginning to suffer.
Can anyone who’s been through this advise how to ease her into accepting she asked for it and it’s not changing. She’s obviously muddled since her pneumonia. She’s usually so sharp. Do I sound harsh? I love her but I love my husband and as she’d actually asked for this I’m frustrated she’s seemingly forgotten. I wondered if the fact she was originally going into respite has meant she’s forgotten this is her new home. Any advice gratefully received.
Thank you for your answers. I’m so grateful. I feel so down about this turn of events and it helps to feel not alone. Our GP (primary care physician) is linked to the care home so I’m sure will visit her. We live just up the road from the home so popping in will be easy.
Thank you for advising me not to say “but you wanted this” to her. I really feel like saying it because I’m frustrated but I know it won’t do any good. I’ll try the soothing approach and we are going to take a lot of familiar items there. Again thank you.
As others have said, just be patient and hope that mom comes back to her previous level of clarity. Gently remind her that this is the safest place for her right now and you're glad she's in such a good place to take care of her. And be sure to take care of yourself - this is stressful for you too. You're doing the right thing and it will just take time to settle out.
Your mom has had a recent decline and certainly needs to be checked out by her primary care physician, who will recognize the change from her previous level of functioning.
But right now, the move seems to have uncovered some confusion, which may be attributed to simple disorientation, or it may be that she's actually developed some dementia. Or, she may be displaying the symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection. In elders, these infections can cause symptoms like delusions and confusion.
The thing you can't do right now is expect her to be reasonable. You've probably entered a new phase of caregiving. Can you get in touch with her doctor and ask her/his advice?
Gentle reassurance is your best bet right now; "mom, you're staying in the care home right now, so you can get stronger and so we can get away to help Debby with (the kids, whatever). We'll come visit you there soon".
Don't say things like "don't you remember that YOU asked to move?", even though that's what you feel like saying!