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My husband and I have cared for my mother in law for the past 14 years. We put her into her own home next door to us after my father in law passed and she has been quite happy living here. Over the past 5 years or so she has developed dementia and it has gotten to the point that we had to take away her car keys last January when she came to our house at 9 PM barefoot and wearing cotton pj’s. It was below freezing outside. She had the car keys in her hand and said she was going home to California but could not get the car to turn off. She hasn’t lived in California since 1964. What happened was she had turned on the windshield wipers and couldn’t remember how to drive (thank God for that). That episode really scared us, and my husband and his sister began looking into a better living arrangement. We are moving her into a very nice assisted living place next week but I can’t stop this horrible feeling of depression that I have over having to put her there. I’m sure we are doing the right thing but I don’t feel good about it. I never expected this when we moved her here. I assumed she’d live out her days in her house doing the things she enjoyed and that’s how it would be. Life sure throws a monkey wrench into things, doesn’t it.

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Desert, yes it can be quite normal to feel depressed after caring for a love one. But one now has to think that moving Mom into a nice Assisted Living that she will now be safe, not wandering the streets at night, and have a higher level of care by Staff who is familiar with her health issues.

My Dad was in a senior facility and he really enjoyed having so many people wait on him :) He had weekly housekeeping, weekly linen service, and all his meals were served in the dining room menu stye... and he loved that food. And what he really liked he was around people of his own generation.

My Mom [98] refused caregivers or even the thought of downsizing to a 55+ community. So my Dad [94] was her caregiver, and vise versa. Their stock answer was "we can manage".

My Dad never expected the senior facility to look like a hotel. Dad adjusted quite quickly, but I do know there are many seniors who it will take months to adjust to a new residence so don't worry if that happens with your Mom. And do not think about bringing Mom back to her home. That would not be in her best interest.
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DesertRose, let us know how your Mom-in-law does in her new residence.

As for elders walking out of their facilities, it all depends on the facility itself. The one my Dad was in had a Receptionist at the front door and none of the residents with memory issues were allowed out the front door being alone. After hours the building was secure. Only way to enter the building was by using a code, and a code to leave the building. Even the elevator was coded.

Ask where your Mom-in-law will be living what is the routine at night regarding locking the front door of the building, etc. And what do you do if you need to visit Mom after hours.
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Oh bless you. Yes, I think it’s very normal. My mum moved to a home two years ago and I literally broke my heart. It was necessary and she has settled well. I think it’s a grieving process and send you love and strength as you get through it. xx
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Freqflyer thank you for the response. It helps a lot. I had to laugh at your comment on how much your dad liked being waited on. I think my mother in law will share that same experience. 😊The center she is going to sounds a lot like the one your dad was in, so I am feeling better about it. I think she will be fine and I know this is in her best interest.
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Yes, it is normal to feel depressed when someone you care about is going into assisted living or a nursing home (LTC). Caregivers sometimes feel like they have failed the person that they are caring for because that person will now be cared for by someone else.

As for elderly residents walking out of their facilities, it definitely depends on the facility itself. Most assisted living facilities have a code that you need to use to enter or leave the building. Sometimes the receptionist will be the person who activates the door release from their desk.

Unfortunately some facilities post the code on the wall right next to the keypad. The elderly can be sneaky and I know of a situation where a resident memorized the code and used to let himself out because he wanted to go to a local bar and watch a game with his friends. Since it was a small town, he routinely walked to the bar while living at home and saw no reason why he couldn't do that while living at the assisted living facility. Curiously, he couldn't find his way from the dining room to his room at the assisted living facility :)
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I recently had to put my dad in nursing home. With His dementia he has 'combative' episodes to where he refused to take meds, eat, or go to doctor with me. After 2x of calling 911 & hospital visits to regulate meds. Im sure I'm doing right thing too but it doesn't help me sleep at night. I also cried for long time when I gathered his stuff to take to him.
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It’s depressing because every elder transition is depressing. Don’t let the dichotomy of “I did the right thing but I’m depressed” trick you into thinking you did the wrong thing. You did the right thing. Unequivocally. MIL needed a higher level of care, and you & your husband gave her exactly that — by matching her with professionals.
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Desertrose7, you are so right when you say life throws a monkey wrench into things. My parents were going along just fine at 88 and 85 until my dad started exhibiting signs of dementia. It was probably coming along gradually, but it seems like he went off a cliff pretty quickly. We moved him to a memory care facility and he did pretty well. I didn't feel as much guilt as some because I knew in my heart it was right for him. As for security, his facility had two levels of security. The inside door from the main facility to the lobby opened with a code. Sometimes a determined resident would muscle out when we opened the door to leave. They didn't get far, though. The door to the outside could only be opened by the 24 hour staff. Good luck to you and try not to feel guilty. You've given a lot of loving care and you're doing the right thing now for you MIL.
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Thinking of you on this one. I moved my parents in because my dad's dementia had progressed to a point where it wasn't good for either him or my mom to live a few states away alone. We found a good community program called PACE and that largely allowed him to stay in my home for another year because he went to an adult day care program. In the last 2 months of his life, his dementia made it such he needed hospitalization and then nursing home stay. It was tough to make the decision to move him to a nursing home, but it was so much safer for him and really did give me peace of mind not just for his care but for my mom as well. It is never easy to make the decision because there's sometimes a disconnect between heart and mind. Our hearts want to keep them at home for as long as possible but the practical considerations make the facility the best choice. There were times I felt that I failed him because he had to go to a facility, but in the end I knew it was the responsible and loving thing to do. Best wishes to your family. Transitions of life are hard.
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Of course it is normal.

You must be a fantastic caregiver to be this upset. I am sorry it has come to this for you.
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