Interacting with Alzheimer's patients at Mom's new assisted living facility. Any advice?


We just moved Mom into a nice, new assisted living facility that specializes in Alzheimer's patients. Mom has shown various stages of dementia over the past two years, but her memory has improved since she has been on Aricept. She still has "bad days" and occasional delusions. Mom prefers to sleep in and stay in her room, and is annoyed when Alzheimer patients walk in "looking for their shoes" or "asking if she swallowed a baby today," or just stare at her and start touching her stuff. She has taken to locking her door, but what is the polite/correct way to respond to the other residents when we pass in the hall? (Some of them never stop walking the halls and knocking on all the doors all day long.) We only picked this facility because Mom got kicked out of two prior nearby assisted living facilities "for safety reasons" (i.e.multiple falls and pretty severe injuries to herself), and she absolutely refused to move to a nursing home. Rules here are very strict (no food in rooms, no heating elements, no OTC drugs (even though doctor's orders okayed them), so the adjustment is pretty hard. What's the best way to talk/deal with the other residents so as not to hurt anyone's feelings and/or make them angry?

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Even vitamins and Tylenol have to be prescribed by a dr

My mom has been in memory care for 3 months - she's scared of the other residents who are late stage and get quite violent - one man in particular lives directly across the hall from her and comes into her room constantly sometimes naked - the facility will do nothing to prevent this other than say keep her door locked - she's nearly 93 and is unstable even with a walker - if he hits her it would be disastrous- memory care is awful

As for the other residents I make friends with as many as I can so my mom will think of them as her friends and not strangers to be afraid of
Some never have visitors and are looking for comfort; others just need a smile and a hello there - as everywhere in life - follow the golden rule
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Treat them as real people. Treat them as you would want your mother to be treated if she were walking the halls. (She might be some day.)

The book "Creating Moments of Joy" by Jolene Brackey may give you some perspective on life in a memory care center, and some ideas about interacting with the residents.

There is a lady at my mom's nursing home that repeats herself three times as she goes along, has a soft voice, and some kind of slight speech impediment. She'll say, "I used to I used to I used to work in work in work in a bakery a bakery a bakery." You can bet that she doesn't get a lot of people having conversations with her. I always listen very carefully and respond as best as I can to what I think she has said. It makes her day! She loves me and is very nice to my mother.

As I walked in a few months ago a little old lady in a wheelchair motioned me over. I figured she was going to ask me to take her home or to the bathroom or ask where her husband was. Instead she told me how much she admired the embroidered pants I had on. Made my day! I later learned she was 102 and had lived on her own until recently.

I guess what I'm saying is the residents are all people, and each is unique. You are busy enough dealing with your mother. You can't be a visitor to all the other residents. But when you pass them in the hall, treat them as you would hope other visitors would treat your mother.

Certainly don't hold it against them that they wander, that they don't always recognize the boundaries between "mine" and "yours" and that they have lost their social filters. They cannot help any of that.

Perhaps because I try to be helpful, sometimes residents assume I am an employee. They see me bring my mother coffee and also serve the ladies at her table, and they shout at me to do something for them. If I have time I do it and then kid them about expecting a visitor to wait on them. Or I tell an aide that the gentleman at that table needs some help. I never get offended over it.

Don't be surprised that if you are nice to the residents they may expect you to do things for them. You certainly don't have to do them! But recognize this a pretty normal reaction in their world.
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The doctor has to provide a written order for OTC's and all medications have to be kept at the nurse's station. To give an example, during flu season, residents at an ALF were sharing cough medicines. Some had severe interaction with prescribed drugs; all were confiscated for safety.
Report inappropriate activity to the Head Nurse. They have interventional methods they can use. Keep the door locked.
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One of the things my dad mentioned after he moved into a memory care facility is how lonely he was. He told me that no one would talk to him. This made him feel very sad and alone. He did not understand why people would not talk to him.

He also told me, when they did stop to talk, they would not give him time to get his words out. It takes him longer to form sentences and thoughts than it does most people.

When I am visiting dad, I try to make a point of saying hello to the other residents. If someone reaches out to me or wants to talk, I will take time and listen to them. They don't always make sense (at least not to me), but I go with the flow and can usually engage them in a conversation for a few minutes.
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