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My mom has insisted on me picking her up (I'm 6 1/2 hours away) and bringing her back to my family for Christmas onto New Year's Day. She has been in the ALF now for seven months and is still adjusting. She has always insisted on spending the holidays with us and I've always concurred. I'm worried that if I bring her into my home (consists of three floors), I'll have a very difficult time driving her back to her ALF. I want to spend the holidays with her and entertain her but my mind goes into all of the "what if's"... Any suggestions/input?

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Sunset, I'm sure you've been a model child, living up to mom's expectations.

Thing is, I'm hoping that mom's expectations were within the bounds of reality when she (and you) were younger and she was in her right mind.

If mom is paranoid, having regular UTIs and losing it on a semi-regular basis, and if you are no longer 21, fit as a fiddle and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, why would you do something so foolish as to drive mom 7 hours each way to an unfamiliar place. It's a textbook "things NOT to do with a dementia patient".

It's OK to say "no, I can't possibly do that" to your mother. She will get angry, huffy, weepy. It doesn't matter. The plan you've outlined is NOT safe.

My mother attempted to grab the steering wheel from my husband, totally out of the blue, on a 15 minute trip from rehab to AL. If I had been driving (we were on a 6 lane highway) I would not be writing this right now.
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People with dementia are in no position to "insist" on being taken on long trips.

I'm a big believer in "patient driven care" which means that the patient has a autonomy. But that autonomy does not mean that everyone else needs to throw caution to the winds and kill themselves to make a bad plan happen.

Mom can be autonomous to the extent that she can ask for her CARE to be arranged in a way that suits her. She cannot INSIST that unsafe things take place.

I'd tell her that the doctor thinks it unwise. Or simply that you believe it's too long a trip.

Don't let your fear of your parent's anger drive your decision making processes.
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sunset38 Nov 18, 2019
Thank you very much for your reply. This is tough because my mom does have dementia, depression, paranoia and anxiety. Day to day, I never know what I'm going to get on the phone with her. This has been super tough and I've always let her have her way and I have ALWAYS lived up to her expectations.
Her problems are all mental and emotional. She is physically healthy, thank goodness.
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Have your holiday early or late, and determine when you will take some family who are willing to drive that far away to stay with mom. Find a hotel near her, and stay a night or two, and make it special... You never know what will happen next year.

It's tiring, I understand.... I have ma and aunt 2 minutes away from me. So I pop in..
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Can you find a place closer to you for her to live?
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sunset38 Nov 18, 2019
I can't. Money/funding is the issue! I found her a wonderful ALF that she can afford (in her home state that she's lived in for over 45 years) and I have all of the financials working in her favor at this time. I am constantly reminding myself that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. I wish we could live in the same state, I really do. It stinks but unfortunately it always boils down to financial situations. There'd be way too much risk to relocate, too many factors come into play. So sad....
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FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS.
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Is there a way you can spend a few days with her? The AL will have a dinner where family can join in, probably. Moms was held before Christmas because of some residents being able to spend time with family on Christmas. That way you can tell her you came to spend Christmas with her in her new home. Bring her gifts and some goodies.
Christmas is on a Wed. Maybe you can go the weekend before. Take her to a nice place to eat.

My brother lives 7 hours away and no way would have taken my Mom that far. Like mentioned, my Mom too lasted about an hour at any one time.
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Sunset, you have your answer. If it is not broke, do not try to fix it or even change it. Unless, you possibly want to start over again.
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NO! You may never get her to return. What about driving what family is available to visit her sometime soon.
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sunset38 Nov 17, 2019
That's what I am afraid of, never getting her to return! I am pretty confidant that's she is still adjusting and it's been such a LONG and DIFFICULT road to this current (pleasant) situation and I don't want to "mess" things up!!! Ugh, the holidays. I love them but it makes the whole family experience difficult at times like these.
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Even the 6-1/2 hour trip can be a challenge with a dementia patient. Before you really consider making a couple of long trips and having her home over the holidays, I would try a dry run a little closer to the AL. Maybe you could pick Mom up from the AL for dinner out, a drive around town and then check into a hotel with a ADA suite? If Mom can handle 24 hours away from the AL well, then I would consider the holiday trip to your home.

As to Mom not wanting to return to the AL after the visit, you need to be ready to tell Mom you are not _able_ to care for her in your home beyond a few days of max effort. What's the reason for Mom being in AL so far from her only child? Are you planning on moving closer to her at some point? If not, could you consider an AL closer to you? There will come a point in your mother's dementia journey where she will not be able to cope with a 6-1/2 hour trip or adjusting to a new environment. Maybe this holiday trip could also be used to move your mother into a closer AL so the return trip isn't so long? If her AL was an hour away, wouldn't you be more confident of occasional home visits being easier?
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sunset38 Nov 17, 2019
Money is the reason for her being so far from me. I found a really great ALF near her home that she lived in for 47 plus years that she could afford. There's no way that I could work that deal in the state that I'm living in, unfortunately. I plan on visiting her several times throughout the year and we talk on the phone every day. It's horrible that we're so far away but there was no early financial planning for an ALF but somehow I made it work to where it's affordable, it's really a blessing.
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Taking a dementia resident who's still adjusting to an ALF to a different home for a week is not a very good idea for a lot of reasons. How are you going to manage her care 24/7 for all that time? Incontinence issues and bed wetting? A new bed with no bed cane, toilets with no risers, showers with no grab bars, etc etc etc. I'm sure your home is not equipped like the ALF nor do you have a team of care givers on hand to manage her care, medications, showers, brief changes, linen changes, middle of the night bathroom trips, and about 100 other issues you've not even thought of. How far has her dementia progressed? My mother is moderate at this point and suffering insomnia quite often which keeps her up during the night for hours on end. Your mom will be in a brand new location she's unfamiliar with, which heightens confusion big time. She can easily get disoriented and overwhelmed, and then what? She will be very far away from her doctors and care givers so you would have to get her to the ER if there was a medical problem. Just too many what ifs for comfort, in my opinion and experience. Not to mention she may refuse to go back to her place at the ALF! Or it may cause extreme distress and anxiety, setting her adjustment period back dramatically.

When I bring my mother to my home for a holiday, she's wanting to leave within an hour, worrying about all sorts of things and not wanting to use the unfamiliar bathroom at my house. I have to pull up all the rugs, move furniture, get my step son and my husband to wrangle her up the 3 steps to the front door, and so on.

This year for Thanksgiving, I made reservations for brunch. Mother will come if she's up to it. Christmas will be a short get together at my ranch style home and then driving her back to the ALF 4 miles away. Just a one hour outing exhausts the life out of her truthfully. I could not fathom driving her in a car for 6+ hrs one way. No way.

Best of luck.
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I would discuss it with her doctor, and see if it is wise to take your mother to your home for the holidays. Maybe shorten the visit to 3-4 days. She apparently will need 24 hour supervision. Is she able to climb stairs? Will family members be able to help? Need more information about your mothers condition. Is she comfortable with your family?? Is she aware of her surroundings? Lots of questions, but to be able to answer logically need more information. It would be wonderful for your mother to spend Christmas with you and your family.I hope things work out. Wishing you and your mother many special blessing this holiday season.
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sunset38 Nov 16, 2019
Yes, she knows my family really well. We've always spent the holidays together and have enjoyed it. My family can help but they will probably get quickly worn out. My mom can walk up and down stairs, no problem. I do worry about her getting up in the middle of the night and possibly getting confused, lost or upset because we live in a different house now from the last time she visited. The main factor would be medication management, probably. Also, I'm really worried about her not wanting me to take her back to the ALF which means 24 hour, 7 day a week care. I don't want her to become sad or let down....
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