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Just moved 85 year old MIL from IL to AFH for memory care.


When she was at IL she would walk to a grocery store 2 blocks way. Her dementia worsened and IL asked us to move her. We moved her in one afternoon into a care home so she will be safe and with 24/7 care.


She doesn’t comprehend the move, we made up some stories about why she can’t go back to her studio that she seems to buy into. However now she says she wants to go shopping, needs her credit card ( which we took away, on the advice of the care home ).


Of course she shouldn’t and couldn’t go shopping. The care home is in COVID lockdown under state order. But she doesn’t understand it.


It’s sad that she has no idea that because of her wandering behavior, she is being locked in MC for the rest of her life. Even without COVID restrictions, no one will take her shopping. We are remote caregivers. The rest of the family in the area is estranged and will not even visit, let alone taking her shopping.


She’s asking to get her credit card back so she can go shopping. She’s going to walk out to find a grocery store although she has no idea where she is. She doesn’t need to buy anything. She just wants to go out.


This obsession about shopping worries us. I feel this is a time bomb eventually will explode. She’s on relatively good behavior at her new care home but at some point this is going to explode.


Any advice? Similar experience?

This reminds me of the nursing home that was set up to look like a community -- https://www.countryliving.com/life/a39630/nursing-home-tiny-houses/

This is where so many of these nursing homes could get more creative to ensure their residents feel a small sense of normalcy.
I wonder if you could ask the nursing home people if they could set up a small "grocery store" in a spare room where folks could go to shop for a few small items like Kleenex, mints, combs, or an orange or apple to have with their lunch. They could issue a small community "credit card" residents could use.

Work with the nursing home to find creative ways to satisfy your mom's desire to shop or feel busy. Sometimes the best ideas come from the families.
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Ludmila Jan 21, 2021
She is in a care home with 4 other patients. We checked out bigger MC facilities and I didn’t see any “fake” shopping area.
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Ludmila, my mother just turned 94 yesterday & also moved into MC from the regular ALF section of the place she lived in for 4 years prior. She too can't just 'leave' the grounds, the doors are locked for her own safety. Of course the Memory Care doesn't take the residents out shopping, even when covid is not an issue. How can a MC possibly handle dementia & Alzheimer's sufferers out in a public place like a store????? Neither of our mother's need a pre paid credit card, or a credit card of ANY kind...........everything is taken care of FOR them where they're at.

They don't comprehend a lot of things anymore. Their world has been purposely shrunken down FOR them so things aren't so confusing any longer. Last night my mother called to ask me if she was coming to my house or if we were taking her out for her birthday? She does this periodically; she gets confused and thinks she lives with me; that she's coming here to sleep, and things of that nature. I just tell her that covid is at play, that nobody is allowed in or out of the building at the moment, and that's that. Restaurants are closed, too, and nobody's going anywhere. This has been going on since last March, so my stories to her have been the same since then. She will be vaccinated for the first round tomorrow, then again on 2/12 for the second round.

Unfortunately, as we all know, life won't be getting back to 'normal' for quite some time after all the vaccines are administered. We will continue to tell our mothers that restrictions are in place etc, when they want to leave their Memory Cares, and that's the best way to deal with things.

I don't know if things will 'explode' with your mother..........I think in time they acclimate to the new way of doing things. Also, as they decline, I think the need to shop and do certain things fades away. If not, you can always remind her about the virus and the restrictions that go along with it, which WILL continue for quite some time to come. Everyone's hands are tied with regard to that. As far as shopping goes, it's doubtful her MC takes them shopping ANYWAY, virus or no virus, but you may want to ask the Exec Director about their protocol on that, then you will know where they stand and how to come up with what to say to your mom down the road. In any event, the staff should be dealing with her questions on the matter of shopping!

Wishing you the best of luck in an ever changing and difficult situation.
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Sadly, if she's in MC, her shopping days are over. A grocery store can be a very confusing experience and result in sensory overload. So much to choose from, so many people, waiting in check out line, could result in anxiety and unpredictable behavior. The experience could be very embarrassing for her escort. I think her chances of “exploding” are more probable if she's taken out of MC than her not going shopping.
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jacobsonbob Jan 24, 2021
I'm blind in one eye, and I find certain areas of a supermarket somewhat overwhelming, such as the area in which vitamins are sold, with the thousands of rather similar containers.
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I do know that my mother's MC unit DID take residents out for various activities. It was optional, so only those who expressed interest were taken. Obviously that stopped with the virus, but it does depend a lot on how far along in dementia they are, and what activity is being proposed. No way would you just take them to a store and say have at it. There would have to be enough staff to monitor/follow those who did go.

Whether OP's mother's residence would do that, if/when it is safe to do is up to them. Every place will have their own protocols.

If she might feel better having a CC in hand, options are a Debit card, with little or no funds initially (since it can't be used - but these may require being tied to an account with a minimum) or some kind of phony or canceled CC. She likely won't know the difference. Just "having" the card may help settle her down a bit. Perhaps get some of the "fake" money you can get online (they have some good ones out there!), so she can have some "cash" in her wallet/purse too. It might make her feel a little more "independent."

Trying to explain the lock down is going to be tough as well. Just before the lock down, I only told my mother there was a bad flu going around. They understand the flu. She said she wasn't sick, but I would periodically remind her the flu was still going around. For the most part she bought that.

Given that your mother only recently moved, it will take time (no way to know how long) for her to adjust. Various fibs about why she's there, why she can't go out, reassurances, etc are about all we can do. She won't retain what was said, so try various explanations and reuse those that work best!

I do like the idea of having a "store" in house, that they can "shop" at. It sounds like the place your mom is in is very small, so that's likely not an option, but perhaps they could incorporate a cart with various items the residents can "buy", small things that might appease the need to "shop." Think of those vendor carts in malls, etc or food trucks that go to various sites. They could have it available all the time or bring it in maybe during morning and afternoon snack time, so the residents can "buy" their own snacks and "needs."
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Seems in your situation COVID is the biggest obstacle in reality! What about a non-medical caregiver (companion) to spend some one on one time with her? Some of the facilities in our area are allowing my staff to visit ONE Client, go outside for walks, picnics, etc. We follow COVID smart rules but still try to offer quality of life. It's amazing what a few hours a week of undivided, one on one attention can do for a person with dementia! Of course, nothing is "solved", but nothing ever can be "solved" with dementia - but we can make things better for the moment. There is a lot of love and quality in that.
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This is an easy one - tell her the store is closed "today". And possibly give her catalogs and pretend you will order for her - but don't. Tell her the car is broken, or you can't walk (pain), etc. And never let her have a credit card. Pretend you ordered items. She will forget. Just stand firm and ignore the behavior.
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jacobsonbob Jan 24, 2021
If there are items she needs or could use, you could bring a computer and help her select an item from eBay, Amazon, etc. so she can have a real shopping experience. Of course you wouldn't want to give her unattended access to the computer, but perhaps this would allow a real shopping experience--except that she still can't go outside to a brick-and-mortar store.

I wonder if, in some cases, it is more of a desire to go outside. Depending on the weather (and the level of "lockdown"), perhaps the staff could take some of the residents for a walk (or a ride in a wheelchair) around the building so they can see grass, birds, trees, the sky, etc. (as cindybrownlbsw has suggested)--perhaps that would be sufficient for some, especially those who have always had an interest (or a career) in nature.
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Could you purchase items and mail them to her? Even leave the items in the store bags. Maybe she'll think she went shopping!!
Good luck!
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Mares1155 Jan 24, 2021
That’s a great idea!
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At some point she will get so angry she can’t get out but hopefully the
care home will know how to distract
and calm her. It’s all about being frustrated and fear of losing control
and Who can blame them .
hopefully when everyone vaccinated
you can hire private caregiver to take her out shopping /lunch couple times/week . You may even find someone at the home willing on their days off or ask suggestions.
might be idea to start looking now.
pity no family / friends nearby .
good luck
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Is there a way that they can make a small area of the Home into a "store"
Residents, not just her can "shop" for things.
Take items from lost and found or items left by past residents.
Cans of soup, shampoo, plates, all sorts of things and let the residents shop.
Eventually these items can be picked up from the rooms and put back in the "store" so they can be shopped again.
Just like many facilities have "cafes" where a resident can order a coffee or tea.
Or some have movie theaters and serve popcorn.
This might be a way to give another task or project to some residents.
If this is not possible then just telling her that the "Store is closed today" will have to be the got to answer.
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RedVanAnnie Jan 24, 2021
I love that idea.
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My mother is in MCF with moderate to advanced AZ. Pre covid I took her shopping on occasion. She was fine looking at everything in the store and after an hour she was tired. But she has a similar obsession about money and concerned she was not able to buy things and had no money so I made sure she had her purse and i put expired and cancelled credit cards in her wallet. The staff also told her she is at an all inclusive place so meals and everything are included. Obviously mom forgets and asks the same question a day or so later but after a few months, she stopped obsessing and only asks occasionally. They also had a woman come in at the IL near her who sold costume jewelry so I would take mom there as well. And got her MCF to “sell” donated costume jewelry and rsidents pay with fake money or poker chips. That is pretty popular but suspended with covid. But everyone is different and has different abilities so some residents are not able to go out to a store. My mom is physically very mobile and very compliant if I am with her so it works.
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