I moved my mom into an assisted living facility about four weeks ago, in another state, near me. Every time that I am with her, which is almost daily, she says that she needs to have a talk with me. That is when she tells me that she wants to go home, and that she misses her friends, and why can’t she just pay for someone to stay with her around-the-clock.

She is healthier now than she has been probably in the last two years, and walking way more than she has in the last two years, so I know that part of this is because she feels so good. Because she feels so good, she wants to be around her old friends, and not around all of these “old people“.

I know that I am not supposed to say things like “remember we already talked about this”, so that I don’t frustrate her, but her asking the same question every single day is such a huge downer on me. Especially when she cries!

We have taken her to the beach, to waterfront restaurants, etc., But I’ve gotten to the point where I can tell she is not even focusing on the beautiful scenery and weather. All she is focusing on is how she wants to tell me about how she wants to go home.

So, my question is, is it wrong for me just to bring it up when I first get there every day? It’s almost like I’m to the point where I would rather just bring it up and tell her that I know that she’s unhappy, but let’s just go enjoy the day. I’m just so tired of trying to please her and make every day enjoyable, and then at the end of the day she sends me down the road of total unhappiness. I absolutely hate it when she cries.

I am such a newbie to all of this, and I really am trying not to make her feel like she is an invalid or that she is losing her mind, but at the same time it is really sucking the life and happiness out of me, and I feel like I wonder if I’ve done the wrong thing and should’ve just let her stay at home and do what? I don’t know? Die? :-(

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I feel your pain. All the care makes them better and in their head what are they doing there, they don't need help look how good I am doing. Such a catch 22.

Are you sure she means her last home or is she wanting to go to a different home?

I would not see her every day. She has no need to make friends, you will be there. She can't adjust because she's not having to live there and make it work.

I know it is hard, but you need to back off and let her learn to live in her current home. Hopefully, she will even look forward to seeing you when it's only a day or 2 a week.
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NekkidFish Apr 2019
She absolutely means her last time. She moved into her condo about 17 years after her husband died, and that is where she has called home. Her friends come over about four times a year and play cards with her, and she has always been a part of a bunco group.

But, in the last year her friends have probably only come over about three times, and she is only gone to bunco twice, because she was so sick and unable to do anything.

In her mind, she thinks that she has money falling out of her ears, which is not the case. She also thinks that her friends and family back home will be there for her 24/7 to take care of her, which is not the case. But, in her mind they all love her so much that they will take care of her.

I have always been a very strong and blunt, shoot from the hip kind of person, because of her. And right now, I am wondering if I should just go to my normal place, and not listen to all of the normal advice, which is to appease her and not upset her. Clearly, that is not working for me. Or her.

But, I am going to do as you say, and try to step back a little bit and give her some room to maybe find her own way there. Thank you so much!
You should not visit every day. In doing so she will not make friends because she will just sit and wait for you
also what could you possibly have to say every day. Going there will become a source of dread for you
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Next time, before going to visit your mother, stop by the activities director's office for a chat and ask for your mother to be nudged out of her room and invited to participate in one activity per day. Most ALs have their activities planned months in advance. Ask for the month's calendar of activities and select for your mother things that you want her to attend.

Perhaps the activities director will help your mother get a Bunco group going. I wasn't familiar with Bunco but I read that it involves 12 or more players, which is quite the social gathering at her age.

We also planned grand adventures out for my FIL. He, like your mother, was never present in the moment. He looked lost and pained. If your mom wants to go to the beach then she can tell you so and then slather on the sunblock.

My husband was blunt with his dad and told him more than once because he forgot, that his doom and gloom attitude was stressing us both out. I'm not sure being blunt with a woman who cries easily is the best course of action. I think that your daily presence is making her fixate on her old life, which she cannot have, and the crying is incidental. I also think that there's a good chance that your mother will adjust to AL if you give her the time and space to do so.
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Please, please realize that you can not make her happy. You will be so disappointed in the end if that is your goal. We are responsible for our own happiness, every one of us. Just a heads up.

With my dad I focused on enrichment activities. I knew he was safe, fed, getting his meds, and warm or cool. So what could I do to help him feel needed, viable or relevant. We actually had him spend 5 days pulling sockets, baseboards and nails just to help him feel productive. We even brought one of his new friends to "work" one day. They both had a great time, had a nice lunch with the crew and were worn out and contented at the end of the day.

We had to think hard for things for him to do, but it was worth it. The only problem we almost had was when my dad handed a screw driver to his blind friend and said take off the face plates on these electric plugs, @&$÷hawaSTOP, those are live plugs and you are asking your blind buddy to unscrew and remove. Thank God I was paying attention, that could have been a tragedy. That was the day that I knew his executive function was gone.

This is harder than anyone ever imagines, but you will get it sorted out and find a groove that works for you and helps your mom.

Remember, you matter as well and take care of you.

My prayers are with you. Hugs!
Helpful Answer (6)
katydid1 Apr 2019
I'm sorry, but I burst out laughing when I read the part about the blind friend and the screwdriver!! While I'm sure you almost had heart failure at the time, it does make a hilarious story!!
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NekkidFish - You absolutely did the right thing by moving your mother near you.

She thinks if she goes back to her old place, she will be happy again. No, she won't. Her friends won't be there. Aren't they getting old too and having health problems of their own? You mentioned they only saw her 3 times the last year she was at her old place. What is she going to for the rest of the year (362 days)?

She thinks her health is good and she can go back to her place. No, it won't. Her health is good because she's here at the AL place. Wasn't there a reason why she moved to AL in the first place?

Are there interesting activities at the AL that she can attend? Perhaps, you can take her to some of them and be there with her to get her acclimated, maybe you can participate, too, then leave for a short time, then come back. The next few times, do the same, but take longer leave. Eventually, take her there then just leave. She needs to have social interactions with others besides you. You need to work towards the goal where she can keep herself busy without you, so that you can just come once or twice a week. Maybe she can eventually introduce you to some of her new friends.
Helpful Answer (5)

I'm a blunt person too and have no issue with it, if it works. The problem is that it really isn't helpful most of the time with someone who has dementia. I tried various things, until I got good results with my LO who has dementia. Everyone is different, but, with my LO, who worried a lot, fretted, cried, etc. I found two things that helped. One was medication for anxiety and depression . That helped her tremendously. So, you might explore it with her doctor. He daily med for anxiety and depression did not make her drowsy at all, but, improved her mood and she was content most of the time.

The other thing I did when visiting was have a prepared story that would address her fears, questions, etc. I would often take balloons or a treat as a way to celebrate that the issue she would be concerned about was being taken care of. I would say that I had sent the letter, filed the form, made the call and all was now well. It was being processed. She would be so relieved and we would enjoy the visit. Of course, this had to be repeated each time, as she would forget why she was there, why not going home, etc. For some people this may linger, but, with my LO, it lasted not even a year, before she thought her MC was home.
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I say you try to be nice but if that doesn't work feel free to go to blunt. Sometimes there is just no pleasing an elder. They like the thrill of the make suggestions and they shoot every one down.

You can't make your mom socialize. That is on her. You can't make her happy unless you want to spend 24/7 with her.

My father was very social and wanted to go to AL. Then got there and expected people to cater to him. That is not how it works. So he stayed in his room and got old. His version of socialization was monthly trips to the ER. This past month I realized he had not taken any trips there....turns out he finally got himself a girlfriend. Amazing change in him.

My father was the same...wanted to go back to his old town to look around. The problem is, things have changed. No one is going to remember him. He got my daughter to take him to the restaurant he frequented. They changed hands and no one knew who he was. Now he keeps asking about going to his old coffee shop. I just don't have a day to waste doing this only for him to find they don't remember him.

If your mom is healthy enough to live on her own then she can go back home....however if she needs you to arrange the entire move, then she is not healthy enough to 'move back home". I suspect the crying is done to manipulate you. She knows you can't take it. My grandmother used to threaten suicide when she didn't get her way. Then people would jump to appease her. My father tried that on me just once. To say I was blunt with him was an understatement.

I agree with the poster that says don't visit everyday. She needs to find her own way there.
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It was rough. Then the day comes when she decides to not talk or cannot talk due to the ALZ.... The guilt really starts to fill your soul.

You can't talk her out of it. It is impossible. So, you do the best you can.. Sometimes, it is best to not see her everyday, so she gets used to her surroundings and succumbs to it.

Best to bring goodies for everyone, treats, music. It's your moment, dance with MOM.

Don't see mom for a couple of days. That does not mean, you cannot call the facility and ask how she is doing...

So, take a break, she is in good hands, call facility every day and ask how she is doing.

Facility told me not to see her for a week. I could not handle that.

Be happy around her. If she goes into that go home go home thing, tell her that spouse just called, I have to go now, I will see you tomorrow.

Just be glad she is close to you. You can stop by and visit as long as you want, and do it over again the next day.
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No don't bring her home. It's much safer for her to be near trained staff, especially as the years go by. Getting her into the facility was a huge accomplishment, so hang in there. So many elders can't see the 'big picture' anymore, but they focus on going 'home' (until they realize that the facility IS their home). It will take time, sorry for your pain.
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Why not let her get acclimated to her new home? Going there everyday is just making it worse. You are trying too hard to please her, your guilt is driving you and this is not good for either of you. Give her a chance to make new friends, there are a lot of planned activities for her, but, if you continue babying her, she will never do anything.
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