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They are in need of assisted living because my dad has begun wandering outside night and day. My mom realizes they need to move in to assisted living, but my dad doesn't understand. The assisted living person is urging us not to allow my parents to go home again (a six hour drive). My brother and I are uncomfortable with keeping them here through deception or coercion, even for their own good. We would like to allow them to go home, pack up their things, say goodbye to their friends, and return. Is that a bad idea? Their health is good otherwise.

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With your Dad unable to input to the decision-making, it's up to your Mom, your brother, and you. I could tell you one horror story after the other about families who made the cognitively impaired person an equal contributor (and even the leader) in the decision-making. Your Dad's opinions (feelings) will be very strong and forceful because he is no longer able to understand consequences. That is often how families wind up yielding to the parent against their better judgement..."he REFUSED to move (accept help..stop driving...etc.). So, though it sounds like your decision is made, going home might create an opportunity for back-pedaling. But, it would be very beneficial for your Mom to settle things, say goodbye to neighbors, etc. Only you can determine whether it's worth the risk of your Dad returning home.
I agree with spiritspry, let your Mom select what she's taking with them and move. You and your brother can then go back and clear out the house. Recent research has shown that it's not so much the sentimental attachment to things that makes it hard for seniors to move, it's the overwhelming task of sorting through them.
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I went through a similar move with my Father this past summer. Though he is not wandering, he shows significant signs of dementia. I flew across the country with my Dad and helped him choose the things that were most important to him and that he wanted in his new apartment. He was able to say goodbye to all of his friends. My sense is the goodbyes were really important for everyone. It also allowed him to give things to friends and neighbors knowing that they really appreciated him. As an example, one neighbor cried she was so happy to get Christmas lights because they had given all of their away in their move to the retirement community. Every situation is different, but it sounds as though your Mother can at least help with the decisions on which personal items and furniture are important to help them feel at home and comfortable. One person where my Dad now lives was not able to bring his most prized possessions and pictures from his home and he brings this up constantly. Also, we let Dad keep more things than would fit in his now smaller living space. These things are in storage and my guess is that we will give them away a bit at a time as he realizes that he does not need them. Giving up so much so quickly is very hard so anything you can do to soften the process is helpful. If I could do it again, the one thing that I would do differently would be to let Dad leave the house with his prized possessions and then clean out everything else later. It was hard on him to see so many things carted off by Goodwill. One final thing. . . take care of yourself during the process. For me, it was as emotionally exhausting as physically tiring.
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Sounds like hard choices. IF safety is an issue and dad should NOT drive home...you and brother will need to take action (at the very least drive them home yourselves and arrange for in home help and supervision). In any case do some of the legal necessities now while you can. If you arranged for their 'visit' to the AL site I assume they have memory care, hopefully continuing care, and you have checked it out. If your parents chose it because it is near you--then they need to discuss what they are looking for and if they need to keep looking. You can help with that. Good thing you are aware now--no surprises. Good luck.
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Best not to do this without their consent, unless absolutely necessary. If they are at the point where this is a necessity then it should have been done some time ago. Let them see the place and make up their own minds. If one of them has memory issues or you don't feel they are safe at home that is another issue and they should be persuaded to move right away or, possibly some help arranged at their home until they are ready to move. If you force them to move against their wishes they will be much more apt to hate the place and be unhappy there.
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Is there a possiblity your mom could go back with help from you, and do some of the things that you are concerned with? Could Dad be left with family while mom lets you know what to pack and what to throw away. Your mom may need to say goodbye to some friends....
I don't know that dad would understand what all is going on, but maybe mom needs to tie up some loose ends.... just a suggestion... let us know things go for you and your family....
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I understand your wanting to make this transition as easy as possible on your parents, unfortunately when you start dealing with the effects of dementia, things don't always work out the way we would like. Do you or your brother have POA for your parents? If not, then whatever they are doing currently or do in the future is what they want and there is nothing you can do if they decide to live at home. So let's put that aside for a moment. Your mother realizes that Dad needs more help now, probably more than she is able to give herself, so that is important in getting Dad to understand the need for the move. No one likes to leave a place they have lived in for many years, have made many memories and friends.....their place of comfort. It's traumatic especially when there are mental status changes in place. They are not going to be able to take all their possessions with them and asking them to separate them into the "take" and "don't take" piles is also traumatic. When we moved my mil closer to us 3 years ago she had 60 years accumulation in a 2-story home to move to an 800 sq ft home.....I gave up and weeded out the "junk" over time. My suggestion is to leave the parents where they are, telling mother she can be confident that you and brother will take care of their possessions, and move everything to them. You are not using deception or coercion, but keep in mind that when dealing with the symptoms of dementia there is no longer the ability to rationalize or make correct decisions all of the time. As we age think of the brain as a giant doily, thought processes reach one of the holes and cannot go any further or may jump around to another "thread". Learned behavior starts to fade and unfortunately there is no new learning. It's sad to see our parents reach that stage in their lives but it sounds like you and brother have a lot of support in the staff at the ALF and since they deal with the elderly daily they are in a great position to offer advice. I wish you luck with this move for your parents.
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weasel, I hope the asst. living facility has a 'memory care' unit either attached, or really close by. Eventually if your dad lives long enough, that will probably be what he needs. Otherwise you'll be move them again, and that's a pain. And what if you DO take them back home and let them pack, and they find out it means they have to leave? Are you going to drag them out of their house kicking and screaming? Is that even possible to physically force them out? In a perfect world you would discuss logically with them that this was the best thing, but as we all know this is NOT a perfect world. Good luck whatever you decide.
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I would sit down with your Mom and see what she is comfortable with. Maybe they could move into AL now and this will give you a chance to make some plans/strategize logistics to facilitate the move, etc. Can you arrange to get some important and dear items for them (yourself, sibling, neighbor?) from the house and ship down to you in the meantime? Sounds like AL might be good if they are offering and your parents can settle in, relax and get their bearings for such a big move. If your Dad is confused; maybe you can even have him stay and in a couple weeks or month take your mom back; arrange a luncheon with friends, etc. to say good bye; take some pictures/videos and create a little album or slideshow so that your Dad and Mom can enjoy in their new home. Just some thoughts. Good luck!
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