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Am I doing the right thing by not answering her calls (10 times yesterday)? The RN says its better not to contact her for the first several days, so that she will learn to depend on the staff instead of me, but I feel horribly guilty! I did talk to her yesterday morning, she seemed much calmer, but was still asking when I was coming to get her. I just didn't answer her calls for the rest of the day yesterday. She hasn't called today yet, I'm praying that is a good sign. Somebody with experience tell me what you think. She's 82 with vascular dementia. She has been living right behind me in a tiny house, but I just can't let her be by herself any longer, and she is resistant to having in-home care. Tried that before, and she just wouldn't answer the door to let them in. She thinks she is absolutely fine. ???

We all lose when dementia is involved. There's no rhyme or reason to it, and we have to stop applying our rules of normalcy to a condition that KNOWS nothing of normalcy at all, you know? It may seem 'cruel' to not take calls from mom, but in reality, she has to carve out HER new normal right now at the AL, and that means relying on the staff to help her and not on you. Take the advice of the RN and let her calls go to voicemail. Speak to her once a day, if need be, and that's it. Otherwise, you'll BOTH suffer with the endless questions about 'going home' and all that. You'll need a pat answer for her when you do need to address that question, and a good one is this, "When the doctor says you can go home, that's when we'll discuss it mom." In other words, she's in AL at the doctor's orders, so it's on HIM she's there, and so that's where she'll stay until he says otherwise.

Remember that she's there for safety reasons, as my mother is (94 and living in Memory Care) and so we don't have to worry that they're in grave danger. My mother is always angry at me about SOMETHING, too, so that's fine. Last night she told the CG to tell me she was 'sleeping' at 8 pm when I called b/c she was pissed about something else, as usual. That's fine, as long as she's okay! That's the goal: Keep them safe & secure and tell any white lies necessary to keep it that way.

Good luck; I know how tough this all is. I hope your mom adjusts well and settles in to her new AL soon!
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agingmother4343 Apr 14, 2021
Great response! Thank tou!
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YES, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY DOING THE RIGHT THING, as long as the facility has asked you to refrain from contact as your mom takes the first difficult steps of adjusting to her new environment.

”Guilt” means deliberately ignoring the plea of someone for whom you could fix a problem by becoming g involved in it. YOU CAN’T solve her problem. You tried alternatives and none of them worked.

If you have chosen her placement with love and concern for her welfare, you have done fine. Be at peace that she is in a safe place where she will be cared for.
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bbooks5720 Apr 13, 2021
Thank you, for your response. This is a wonderful forum. Thank you all for helping me feel better about my decisions.
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Call the facility for updates each day. They'll be happy to let you know how she's doing, and that'll help assuage your feelings of guilt until you can talk to her directly again.
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disgustedtoo Apr 15, 2021
This was going to be part of my answer - check in with them to tone down YOUR anxiety!
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Sad as it is to not be able to do for mom what SHE wanted, if she wasn't accepting of in home help, and she was probably burning you out--you did the right thing.

Guilt is for someone who did something wrong, which you didn't do. You did what was necessary-and there will be an adjustment period.

Cut back to as many phone calls as YOU can handle--likely mom is unaware that she has overstepped bounds with that.

The RN has a lot more experience with this than you have had--let her lead you into this new 'norm'.
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bbooks5720 Apr 13, 2021
Thank you. This is so hard. It helps to know there are people out there who have survived this and much worse.
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My mom has vascular dementia as well. It was really hard putting her in MC last August during the lock downs of the COIVD. My mom was unsafe because she thought she was fine to drive still. She suffers from delusions and hallucinations too. When her mind thinks she's done something or seen someone, there's no convincing her otherwise. I'm sure you are going throug some grief as well. It's hard to keep an eye on your LO, then nothing. I also grieved for my mom too. She'll never be the same. Yes, calling 10 times is too much. Don't feel guilty not calling. The main nurse will call if there's a true emergency. My mom suffers from sundowners. I always talk to her around that time to settle her mind. Otherwise, she panics thinking she needs to go home and fix dinner for my deceased dad and us kids who are 50 and older. Mornings are always good because they are more lucid. However, evenings are most lonely for them since activities of the day are done. That would be a good time to check in. It always helped me sleep better too. You can always call the nurse on duty to check how your mom is doing as well. Now that most places take visitors, I can now go sit with her some evening as get her through the sundowners. It's tough stuff and I wish the best for you and your mom.
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JanisLW Apr 15, 2021
My mom had sundowner also. All her anger and bad memories would pour out in the evening. We found a secret that made a big difference. We made her place 'home to her. We put her blanket and quilt she loved on her bed. Brought over and hung her favorite pictures on the walls. Brought her clock and put it beside the bed. Her favorite chair and knit afghan were placed by bed and the light she used. It made a big difference and helped bring home to her.
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My mother (in Memory Care) was much the same. I would answer her calls at least once a day. I told my mother she has to stay there for a while because they can take good care of her and make sure she is safe. I'm not sure if she was convinced. Some people don't know they have dementia. They think they are capable of taking care of themselves. Try to be positive and joyfull at all times with her. When you visit, make the time quality time, as much as you can. Take her to places she enjoys, like a restaurant, or park, if you can. People with dementia talk of going "home" but for them it really means being the way they used to be, independent, in their own private space and doing things on their own.
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Moxies Apr 15, 2021
It is so helpful to clarify what home means to anyone who is sick and disabled. Sadly, many cannot go back to the old days, and it is wise for their caretakers to realize it and help them to do so. I hadn't thought of that in exactly that way myself, but it feels absolutely right.
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OK. Here's my experience. I HAVE been in constant contact with the facility. I have called my Mom once per day since she's been there (I couldn't completely follow the RN's advice) and other family members have been calling her once per day also.

Last night when I talked to her, we actually had a good conversation. She's still a bit confused, but seemed to be settling in. I think the RN actually gave me pretty good advice. It's probably been harder on me than her.

I talked to her about expressing her needs to the staff, and she seemed to understand that they are there to help her.

It's day by day right now. I am experiencing some sort of weird guilt/relief sort of thing where I went from doing LOTS of stuff for my Mom and constantly worrying about her safety day and night, while working, having a husband and 2 daughters one of which still lives at home, to nothing. I feel bereft...I think that is the proper word. I want those of you who may think I'm heartless to understand that I cannot properly care for my Mom anymore. She's in a good place where they can support her needs and she is safe.

This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life, and it was not made lightly.

Thanks to all of you who have given me words of support!
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cweissp Apr 15, 2021
In no way are you heartless. You are doing what is best for you, your family and your mother. You are still her primary caregiver. Know that if anything happens the facility will call you.

You are a loving caring daughter who is looking after the best for your mom. It was a brave thing to do. You have not abandoned her, you have given her a better life - look at it as if you were dropping a child off at college.
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You are doing the right thing by transitioning her into AL and by not currently answering any or most of her calls. In the future when she asks "when" can she go home, you can tell her a semi-truth: it will be when her doctor approves it because she can do all her ADLs on her own. This is what we tell my MIL and it usually "satisfies" her.

It may be helpful to have a few planned visits with her when her AL is having some event or craft or function and you can go to these with her. I find that doing things there will her force her to go out and be engaged with other people, which would be good for her, but also you must have tempered expectations that she may not do any of it when you're not there. My MIL eventually decided to never get out of bed again, even though she could, and now she physically can't. She's in LTC and really didn't need to be so soon. Such a shame because even with some dementia and memory loss she is a sweet and light-hearted person and the staff loves her.
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bbooks5720 Apr 13, 2021
Ok. Thanks. Yes, I really think this may be what happens to Mom. She is a very prideful, private person and has never had a lot of interaction with others. She has never had many hobbies, she used to play bridge, but no longer has the ability to keep up with the game. She's just bored and unhappy, and I haven't ever found one thing she will engage in. She will fold clothes and wash dishes. Haha! They are telling me she is out and about in the AL, but she's probably just looking for me. They tell me she is engaging with the other residents, but she's probably just being polite. She told me they were all elderly, and not 'her kind of people'. I'm so sad for her, and I pray she will get to the point where she can make a friend and be at least somewhat content. But I don't feel especially hopeful for that...thank you for your answer! Blessings to you!
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My Mom was in the last stages of her Dementia when I placed her. We told her she was going to a nice apartment and meeting new people. She adjusted well.

I see no problem in giving her a call in the morning and maybe one in the evening so she doesn't feel abandoned. My answer to her coming home question would be determined where her Dementia is. Do you feel you can say "Mom, this is your new home. You have so much more to do here. People to eat dinner with. New friends. Activities and entertainment" or a little white lie as suggested.

Yes she needs time to adjust. When u start visits, don't stay long. The word "home should not be mentioned even saying "well I am heading home" My daughter always said to Mom she was going to work. Satisfied Mom. Let the aides do the work.

The phone. This was one of the first things my Mom forgot how to use. She never got the nack of a cell phone even the simplest ones. So having one in the AL was not even a consideration. If she had one, though, phone calls 10x a day would not have happened. I would have eventually just let them go to VM. Calling her back if the message was important.
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bbooks5720 Apr 13, 2021
Mom has forgotten how to use the phone also. I had programmed my number in when she was still at home, so that she only had to push one button. Unfortunately, its still programmed in there and I didn't think about changing it before we left her at AL.
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The first three months are hell for a close family member, take it from me. But there is no other way to handle the situation. The patient is better off and will become acclimated. You will, too. Keep in steady communication with the facility is not only wise by keeping the facility on its toes but will ease your feelings of guilt, really your feelings of ‘doing nothing.’ You have done something. The right thing.
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