Moving mother to apartment near us. Any advice on how to make the situation better/safer for mother and/or her family?

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My 91-year old mother currently lives in an independent living facility across town (20 minutes away). She has been there 7 years; rent increases annually, and for the last couple of years, she has not participated in any of the events/services at the facility, eats few to no meals there weekly, and now needs 6 hours a day of home care. Our family is considering moving her to an apartment (in a regular apartment complex) that is one mile away from our home. This would allow us to cut housing expenses so that if she needs more in-home care, we/she can afford it. I will be spending the night with her on a regular basis, and her move will allow me to move more easily between our home and mother's apartment.

My biggest concern is that she will feel isolated (although she doesn't leave her apartment now (except with her family or for doctor's appointments), she still has a sense of being with other seniors). She has moderate dementia and needs someone to help her get up and move around on her walker. Fortunately, she is not a wanderer, and she is very cooperative with us and her caregivers.

Has anyone else made this kind of arrangement for their parent/elder? Any advice on how to make the situation better/safer for Mother and/or her family?

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Your concern that she may feel isolated is sound. Also, the move itself could be disorienting. If she has dementia, she could decide to wander without any warning.
You've thought this all our carefully, but in the end, only you can decide. You'll have to guard against the issues you've brought up. That doesn't mean the move can't happen, but you may need to hire more in-home care to help her as she settles in. Then you can monitor her as she progresses. There are rarely right or wrong answers, so we are frequently left guessing - and hoping we are doing okay. Think through your concerns and try to stay ahead of the problems.
Good luck,
Carol
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freqflyer, I don't think Razorbackfan has been around since 2012. This was one of her last posts:
"At age 91, my Mother just moved into an assisted living facility. She was pretty unhappy the first few days, but the director recommended that we back off on our attention so that she could begin learning to trust the caregiving staff. We still visited her every night for about an hour or so, but the caregivers there showered her with attention the rest of the time, and she eventually began adjusting."
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Carol and Jeanne, thank you both for these thoughtful responses. We don't have a definite diagnosis for Mother's dementia. Prior to an event a few weeks ago, her neurologist described it as "mild cognitive impairment." Six weeks ago, something changed suddenly. CT scans didn't reveal a stroke, and the best guess is a TIA that left her with some weakness on the right side, more aphasia, and less memory. We know she has some small blockages in her brain so I suppose the dementia would be considered vascular dementia. The rehab hospital doctor felt she would do better at home, and miracle of miracles, she has!!! She has regained strength in her right side, she eats more independently (although she still needs prompting), and she walks independently. The thing is, she has become strong enough to get in and out of her chair by herself, so she is no longer relying on someone 'boosting" her with a gait belt. Now I'm terrified she will fall.

Family members in TN and AZ are looking into ALFs. We're trying to find the best balance of safety, happiness/contentment, convenience for family (because we do want to see her daily and want to be involved in "tucking her in at night," etc.) and fiscal responsibility. Her heart and general health is comparatively good so she could live a long time!

Thanks again for your encouragement. I appreciate the people in this forum so much.
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This sounds like a good solution. Having her closer will help a lot.

I read a tip once that I liked (though it didn't work for my non-responsive family members.) Ask friends and relatives to call her at specific times, like on a schedule. Either ask them to call "every Tuesday at 3:00" or ask them less frequently. But it sounded like a cool idea if the people you ask are willing to help out.

I'm learning that the phone can do a lot to help a loved one feel more connected to people.
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Have you heard of the SafeinHome sensors? My husband and I recently got it for my mother-on-law and it helps us know if she's home/away, if she took her pills, and even if she left the stove on. There seem to be even more the sensors can do, but we've just started with our main concerns. It was simple to setup and my mother-in-law doesn't seem to mind that we've put it in her home. She likes that we aren't asking her all about what she's doing/been doing as much as we can check remotely on the things that worry su most.
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Twenty minutes away is not bad ... one mile is certainly better. Exchanging paying for services/amenities she no longer uses in order to afford services she does need now makes a lot of sense to me. Another alternative to do that would be an Assisted Living Facility. That would avoid any isolation issues. It would also handle any wandering that may or may not come up. (My husband has had dementia for 9+ years, and has never wandered. Wandering is simply not characteristic of the type of dementia he has. Do you know what your mother has?)

A move -- any move -- holds risk of disorientation and stress. Getting all her familiar things in place before she arrives may help. People with dementia are moved all the time, in order to provide better care. Sometimes it is traumatic and sometimes not. And the disorientation can occur even without a move. My husband didn't recognize that he was in his own home early in his disease. Now he often can't remember where the bathroom is. Dementia's gonna do what dementia's gonna do, where ever you are.

My biggest concern is how temporary this move might wind up being. Maybe she will be able to function very independently for years, and maybe the disease will progress more quickly. Dementia patients do reach a point where they simply need 24/7 supervision. For a few years I felt comfortable going out shopping for an hour or so; now I will not leave my husband alone for fifteen minutes to pick up a prescription at a drive through.

Can she afford 24/7 care in an apartment?

I'd look long and hard at the possibility of assisted living, especially at a facility that has a memory care unit should that become appropriate. Or perhaps a residential foster home arrangement. Something that could be long-term even as the dementia progresses. Then you are not facing another move in possibly several months or a few years.

Money is obviously a factor here. Think through what she can afford and how long her money will last with the various scenarios you are considering.

You are obviously approaching this carefully, weighing the pros and cons. As Carol says, there are no right or wrong answers. There are huge unknowns. How long with Mom's dementia be at this calm level? How fast will it progress? Will she ever become a wanderer? How serious will her disorientation from the move be?

Give it your best shot. Make a decision. Move forward. Keep flexible and know you may need to make a different decision down the road.

I think your mother is very lucky to have you making decisions for her!
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Did you happen to notice, Nikole, that the person asked about (2 years ago) is NOT a wanderer? Not all dementia involves wandering behavior. Why are you posting this same response to old posts, whether it applies or not?
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Razorbackfan, give us an update on what you finally decided to do.... if it was getting your mother an apartment, how did that work out?
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jeannegibbs, thank you for the update. Happy to have read that Razorbackfan's mother moved to an assistant living facility. Sounds like the right choice.

I always wish some of the posters would follow up with us, to see if their decision was a good one or if new decisions had to be made :)
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Hi..I'm here to read about the suggestions for both parents and adult children. . Seems to be informative and interesting. . I read a post aabout throwing a mother under the proverbial lyrics bus..couldn't believe how cruel people are..thought that some of these comments w said more about the poster than the mother they attacked. .lol sad ..soon I will have to be a light to shine maybe ..I silently wondered if euthanasia was what will be upcoming in the next time election..If the comments here reflect our voters..lol
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