Does my mother need "closure" about having to leave her home? -

Does my mother need "closure" about having to leave her home?


My 87 year old mother had lived alone since my dad passed away in 2005. She fell & broke her hip while shoveling snow in Dec, 2010. This was sort of the beginning of the end for her. Since then she has been in & out of the hospital & nursing home for several medical reasons. Last summer she began talking about this "grit" that kept growing in her hair & down her forehead. She started scratching her head a lot. She also talked about this piece of plastic that kept growing out of her elbow.

On 08/31/2011 we got a call @ 10 PM from the med alert company. My mother had pressed her med alert pendant button & needed help. When I got there she was frantically scratching her head & saying that the "grit" was taking her over. Not knowing what else to do I took her to the ER. Several doctors diagnosed her with early dementia & said she should not be living alone. After 3 days in the hospital she went to a NH for rehab for some mobility issues she was having. While there she went through a series of C Diff infections which delayed her discharge until Dec 2011. She has been living with us since then.
After I told her that the doctors feel she would be safer, etc. to continue living with us, she became depressed. She is somewhat better now. However her dementia is slowly getting worse.
She has not been back to her home since that late night on 08/31/2011. Should I take her back for a few hours & let her go through the house & pick out pictures, personal items, etc. to bring to our house? Or by doing this do I run the risk of bringing back her depression?

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The house my mother lived in is not the "old home place". None of us 6 kids ever lived there. My parents moved 7 times during their married life. The more I think about it, I wonder if in this case the house represents independence to my mother. Sort of like when a parent has to give up driving, it is not the car they miss, but the independence that the car represents. Fortunately my mother never drove so we did not have to deal with that issue.

When my mother told my brother & sisters that she would not be able to live at her house again, it seemed that her main concern was that this would put an end to our family meals at holidays, etc. I am almost done building an "apartment" in the lower level of our house for her. It includes two bedrooms, large living room, kitchen, bathroom laundry room & large storage room. The kitchen is designed to duplicate the kitchen layout in her house. We have already had two family meals there with almost 30 people attending. So hopefully as time goes on she will see this as her place & will have a sense of independence.

LindaGS, I really like your idea of bringing items to my house to sort over. My mother has decision making issues anyway, so I'm sure it would be overwhelming to actually go to her old house & have to make all of those decisions at one time. Thank you for your idea.
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What about the house? Is is decaying? Are there things that need to be attended to or did you all really lock it and leave?

My grandmother did not want to move, she loved her stuff, she was overwhelmed and was grateful when I told her I would sort her house and get her her stuff.
I went through it room by room over a period of 4 weeks and she came on Mondays. I made a card table in the living room and on Mondays she dealt with the things I brought her to sort. She felt good about the limited amount of stuff she got to decided about and she built trust that I was making good decisions about all the regular household items. At the end of 4 weeks I had emptied all but one small room. We put a dead bolt on that room and rented out the house. When money made it so we had to sell the house she was much less aware and the one room only took a long weekend with all the relatives to deal with. She ended up with plenty of photos and things with the 4 monday car loads of things she wanted.
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Dear nancyh, In similiar situation where my son also lives in my mothers house.
It does make her feel better about it. Really makes you think cuz I wouldn't want to leave my house either. That's a good one where you say, I wish I had a time machine. My mom lived in her house for over 50 yrs with 7 kids so there's many memories. I do take her there occasionally where she see's a great-granddaughter named after her. It makes her feel good that its being taken care of by family. For anybody it makes it better if its family instead of strangers.
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I think it depends on the person and their mental state at the time. There was a period of time there for us, that we were afraid to take my mother-in-law back to visit her house. We thought, what if she refuses to leave? Do we forcibly remove her? How much worse would that be then? But now, 2 years later, it's not worrisome to take her back. My son and his wife are renting her old house, and she loves knowing that he's the one living there. Our son and his grandpa had a special relationship since we lived next to them for awhile, so she's happy about that. She still talks about how she'd love to 'go home again' and I always agree with her. I tell her, 'I wish I had a time machine that could send you back to your house when you were your happiest' and we both sigh. That's what she wants, to go back in time to when her husband was alive and her boys were living at home. I don't blame her.
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i know that not being at home was the end for an old friend of was her home where she lived all her life.think about least let her say goodbye to it on a more lucid day.
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Wow, I was not expecting your view point. I have considered your thoughts all afternoon & have come to the conclusion that you are exactly right. I have taken my mother to eye doctors trying to make her eyesight better, to hearing specialist trying to make her hearing better, and so on & on. Your comments made me realize that she is probably as good as she is going to get & I should be satisfied that I have done & am doing all I that can do. Thank you fro the bottom of my heart!!

Your story is one of the many beauties of the wonderful website. There is always someone who either has already or is dealing with a similar situation. Thank you for your answer also.

Both of you have helped me make this decision so much easier.
GrandPa Hiker
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My story is similar to yours. My 88 year old dad had been living alone & we saw him every 2-3 days. He lived 50 miles away. Then dad had a stroke & a leg infection & was hospitalized. After he was released dad came to live with us. Because of the stroke dad has no memory of where he lived before & his dementia was worse. We have chosen not to bring the subject up unless he asks questions. I do think it's best not to take her back to her previous home, but to start fresh where she is now. Fortunately my dad has continued to improve & has gone from a wheelchair to using a cane & has gained 4 pounds. My dad has Alzheimer's & some days the dementia is really bad. My heart goes out to you, this is not an easy journey for you or your mom. You are a loving & compassionate daughter. Good luck to both of you!
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My instinct is to say don't take her back. The idea that fully functioning people can get "closure" and sew up grief and loss tidily is, in my experience, more of a hope than a reality. Someone with dementia, who has deficiencies you may not even comprehend, would seem to have a much more difficult time with "closure."
Not to be presumptuous, but maybe it's YOU who needs closure? That you've done all you can to make her comfortable and more happy? It seems a possibility, at least. I know I spent a bunch of time making arrangements to make my Dad "come to terms" with things, or say goodbye to some aspect of his previous, independent life. And in retrospect, it was about making myself feel better. Please forgive me if my guess is wrong.
At any rate, I wouldn't take her back unless you have professional advice that this is in her best interest. I know so many of us are rooting for you, for you both, actually.
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