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My mother who was a minister's wife in an evangelical church for 30 years moved from W VA, to Maine 13 years ago to be near us, her daughters who are no longer of that faith. Now that she has had to move to assisted living for memory reasons, she longs to be in a facility that is connected with her church and faith.
Unfortunately the only one is in Pennsylvania about 500 miles from Maine.
She wants me, her daughter and POA, to help her do this. She says she'll miss us but that being where she has people of her faith around her will make it worth it.
Currently someone either my sister or I, or my daughter, or two other caregivers,
visit or take her out every day, sometimes twice a day, because she is so unhappy where she lives now. Her current location is a facility she had chosen herself, but refused to go to until she had to do so due to her confusion and memory loss.
In New England there are very few Christian based facilities so moving to a place like she wants and remaining closer is not really an opton.
Has anyone else had to make a similar decision? If so, how did it go?
Thankyou for any advise you can offer.

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I sympathise. My mother is currently sitting in a similar place, metaphorically speaking, with her arms folded and her lips pursed, refusing to have anything to do with the other residents and biding her time until Sunday when I go to get her after my first week off in - where are we? - fifteen months?

Well, in my mother's case it was up to her - she could choose to have a nice sociable time and meet some people of her own age and maybe share/halve some of her troubles; or she could button up and waste the week.

In your mother's case, of course, it's much more important because this is her future quality of life on the table.

I think Ba8alou is really onto something with getting the people on site to try to involve her more. Your more detailed description makes it sound less of a spiritual gap and more of a hankering after past, busy times when she was at the centre of a bustling community. Well! - she could be again!

I don't know if you'd share this, but I have a slight feeling of dissatisfaction with my mother in that she always brought us up to 'think of others before ourselves' - Brownie Guide style - and see what we could do to help. And now? Not a murmur of sympathy out of her when she sees other people in far worse shape than her own. I do understand that it must be terrible, for example, to be on a Stroke Ward or in an outpatients' department and see what fate could potentially have in store for you; so I do make allowances for her natural anxieties about her own future; but even so. Even if you are eighty- or ninety-whatever and getting uncomfortably close to the exit, surely you owe it to yourself to put whatever faculties and abilities you still have to the best use you can make of them, don't you?

Easy to say when you're not in that situation, I suppose. And out of simple respect for my elders I'd hesitate to read her a lecture on charity and reaching out. But maybe a gentle prompt to think about what she could do to help her neighbours..? If it shifts her perspective a little, maybe it would also do her own spirits some good.
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Judah, are there activities in this AL? Is your mom ever there long enough for the recreation staff to get her involved? When my first went to and independent living facility, she perceived herself as smarter, more cognizant and more aware than her neighbors. She saw herself as a kind of "ally" of the staff who could help out. This is a very basic part of mom's inate sense of superiority which in truth is a cover for a very fragile ego and terrible anxiety over being found to be less than perfect. When we moved mom in, we made her apartment as nice and as homey as possible, but we didn't respond to emergencies like the sink backing up ( you've got staff to do that mom), nor did we visit more than once a week. If your mom is placed in the right level of care, talk to the social work and recreation staf about how to get her involved. If this is the wrong level of care, let them help you figure out what she needs. The "best" facility is the one that meets your mom's needs.
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Thanks all for your kind input. Today she had dropped the topic of moving, but not the topic that she does not want to be with "those people who do nothing" all day long. AL)She cannot sit still or be quiet very well, is very hard of hearing and tends to patronize the other patients who she perceives as more sick than herself. She practically begged me not to take her back this evening even after being out with me for 71/2 hours. I believe what she really wants is to be around more healthy people who will help her but mostly just wants to do what they are doing with them.
She keeps asking if I can't find her a better place than the one she is in which is one of the best in the area. Her body works well and she has some good social skills that fool even us at times into believing she is more competent than she is. I don't think the staff gives her as much attention as others too because she seems like she is doing well. But her lonliness is palpable.
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This is a heartbreaking issue. I will chime in that my mom, who is of the Catholic faith, as are my two brothers, is more at ease in a NH facility that was originally Catholic run; it still has pictures of the BVM and the Popes in the hallways; there are religious services several times a week and visiting priests and nuns. I believe that she has had great peace of mind since she got there than she has had previously. That being said, she is also 10 minutes away from one of my brothers, so when she gets taken to the ER, he can be there. Your mom has a fatal disease which is not going to get any better; in the next several years, she will have health crises that will require hospitalization; elderly, demented patients in hospital ALWAYS get better care when there are advocates nearby. As POA, the steering wheel is in your hands. I think you have two choices: either refuse to move your mom, explaining your reasons to her as gently and lovingly as you can and see if you can get the local evangelicals to come visit her OR; move her, again, with her best possible understanding that you can't visit, can't respond to emergencies, etc and hire a Geriatric Care Manager with evangelical credentials. If your mom is as spiritual as she sounds from your posts, she may really be ready to "go" and not wanting to involve you in the end game, precisely because she loves you so much. Please let us know how it works out. Best to you, Barbara in Brooklyn
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Judah, as we age and are closer to death, we also want to be closer to God. Please remind her that Jesus is in her heart, where ever she is. If He is not in her heart, He is not in Pennsylvania either. Find Him within.
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Not sure this will help but dementia does take those living in Assisted Living facilities to the phone, repeatedly calling family members. My father would call my brother, a CPA, 15 times or more. None of us want to medicate our loved ones but PamStegman is correct. Aricept (is that the name of the med?) helped dad for a little bit but still there was memory loss. Strong will could keep her from taking it but worth a try.

You might want to remind her that her home is heaven. She won't remember probably but that is how she was taught. One who follows her spiritual beliefs would constantly encourage her that she has run the race and her reward is coming. Patience and prayer remains her lifeline. Dementia is such a fooler. Just because she sounds as though her mind is processing correctly, it isn't. Your acceptance and focus of this condition caused by dementia, not your mom, will help.

There is nothing easy about her condition. My father in an AL was standing in the dining room with his Christian friend when the squad came to take him to a Hospice facility to stabilize his condition then to return. He looked at his friend when the ambulance came and said "That's for me." He knew. He passed in their facility, which shocked us all. He passed over last year and I will spend the remainder of my life trying to process. And yet, there is a time for everything. Countrymouse may be on to something. But even then, you are dealing with dementia. Prayers for you and your family.
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"I am homesick after mine own kind…"

I'm so sorry for how your mother is feeling. It sounds like a wavelength matter - the longing to be with people you don't need to explain things to because their cultural landmarks and spiritual values are the same as yours.

But 500 miles is a long way, and if it doesn't work..? Heck of a risk to take; impractical to give it a trial run; very difficult.

Why not contact her church yourself and talk this through with them? Ask them what they can do to help her. Just as guesses: they could nominate a couple of pen friends (who could send her letters by email, so she'd get them quickly); they could offer her regular phone calls; they may even know of individuals in your area who could offer some kind of outreach visits. They may not be able to do anything, of course; but if you don't ask you don't get. The worst that can happen is you're no further forward.

I wouldn't dismiss this as hankering after her youth and her marriage, though. Does she give any details about what makes her so unhappy at her current facility?
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This is really hard. If she were to move. would she make all those phone calls to members of her faith? How would they/could they support her needs?

Financially, can she afford to move on a temporary "respite" basis, while holding her room where she is now? I'm not sure if a month would be enough to see a clear picture but it might be more prudent than taking a permanent step.

I am not in a faith community and know only a few people who are. It is possible, I suppose, that being in that kind of facility really is more important to her than being near family. If that is the case, I'd try to respect that decision. But I don't know a way to tell a true rational decision from one fueled by dementia.

Many persons with dementia want to "go home." That includes many who are currently in the same some they've lived in for 20 or 30 or 50 years! There is a yearning to go back to some point in the past when they were fully themselves, before the dementia starting changing them. As other posters have said, this may what your mom is really longing for.

An impossible wish, or a deeply held faith decision? I not only don't know, but I can't think of advice on how you can determine which this is. Does your mom's facility have a geriatric psychiatrist you could talk to about this?
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Windytown makes an excellent suggestion. A church may have a ministry to visit elders or paitients. I have a work colleague who is very religious, Baptist, he and his wife "adopted" an elderly widow, it is something their church organizes. They check on her frequently.
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I agree with the other posters. If she's making that many phone calls now, imagine what it would be like if she was 500 miles away! Not good for her or you and all of your family and friends.

You stated your faith is different than your mother's now. I wonder if there's a church in your area that practices her faith where perhaps you can talk with someone to come visit her. My point is perhaps she doesn't need a whole facility based in that faith. Many senior volunteers are more than happy to spend 'faith time' with those who seek it. Just something to think about before making such a drastic move when she is clearly down the dementia path. Home is in her heart and her memories. It's hard. Hope you have an acceptable outcome for everyone.
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I have to agree. Now with a little more information moving away so far is probably not a good idea for your mom. Who's she going to call to come to her when she's 500 miles away? I would imagine that she's looking to recapture what she had when her husband was alive. And like pstegman said, happiness isn't 'out there' somewhere.
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Your last message made me think it was not such a good idea for your mother to move. I have a feeling that she is looking for something that doesn't exist anymore. I hope she can learn to drink from the pool where she lives now. I know there are many people there who would love to have a friend living in the same facility.

There are varying degrees of dementia. That your mother calls so many times a day makes me think her thinking is not as reasonable as it once was. I hope that you are able to get her to settle in there and find new friends. Many centers have Bible studies that she might enjoy. There are probably many of the Christians, though I don't know how many evangelical Christians there are in Maine. There may be some people who she can share her Good News with.
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Mom refuses any additional medication, but is on medication to help her anxiety and another to help her sleep. She calls me multiple times a day and when I refuse to come she calls down the line until someone can come. Her MD and I are in good contact and he notes, that she is very strong willed and that she may adjust to the restriction of living in the facility, or it may actually break her spirit, and then she could die. She is almost 90. I just can't bring myself to emotionally abandon her though I do limit the phone calls to which I respond.
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Are you sure that once your mom moved to this facility she won't want to come back where her family is? Maybe once the newness has worn off? This would be my concern.

Another concern is her dementia. People with dementia generally shouldn't make life-altering decisions.

After my mom died my dad made the decision to move back to the south where he was from. He went about it very logically even going so far as to take a week or so to say goodbye to friends and family. He was down there less than a year when he realized that he was so homesick he wanted to come back. However we had sold his house, as he requested, after he moved and he had nowhere to move back to. I'll spare you the rest of the story but it was a mess to say the least.

Moving away from family and friends who are active in her life may not be the best move for your mom, faith-based decision or not. I would worry that she would get there, spend some time there, then regret it and want to be back among her friends and family. If this happens, would it be doable for her to move back? Only you know what moving her far from home will entail. Can it be undone on the (likely?) chance she decides she wants to come back?
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judah, I have a very spiritual brother and SIL. They consider their church family their main family. As you know, there are strong ties among people of faith. The main problem I see is that she may expect the people in the spiritual community to be like the ones in the church home she left. That may not be the case at all. The old saying "you can never go home again" runs through my mind.

I do understand her wanting to be with people of her faith. There can be strong caring bonds. But it may be that she is longing for the way it used to be and she may not be able to find that again. Does she know anyone at the facility? I wish there were a way to let her visit on a trial basis, then make a decision whether she wants to stay or not. Pennsylvania is not WVA, so she might not be happy there, either.
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If you are taking her out twice a day, she has not had a chance to make friends where she is. First I would pull back to once a week and force her to come out of her shell. Moving her 500 miles away will result in you getting desperate phone calls to deal with her unhappiness and isolation when she decides she doesn't like it there either. Her primary problem is not location, but attitude. If you give in, you will be moving her again and again. Happiness is not somewhere else. It is inside of you or not at all. Discuss her depression with her MD and fix it. Moving her will just make things worse, and you'll be too far away to deal with it.
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