I am the daughter in law, but doing all of the research. My FIL was placed into a retirement home and doing wonderful, happy as can be. My MIL had to go to a geriatric care unit first to get her meds leveled out before she goes to the retirement home that my FIL is in. My MIL is an animal hoarder, has dementia, and the house basically needs to be condemed, but until her Dx, we could not get her out of the house. My husband did last weekend, and she has been in the care unit for a week, but as of today they have her drugged because she keeps trying to leave to get to "her dogs". The social worker in the unit, keeps "changing the subject" when she brings up the dogs (which she will never see again, as well as never go back to her home). Am I right to say that she should be told what has happened with the dogs (given to a rescue) and she is not going home, (in a nice way) then deal with her reaction to that as opposed to not dealing with what is really going on and drugging her and confining her to a wheelchair so she doesn't try to break out and set off the alarms.

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Sunnygirl and Veronica said just about what I was thinking. I would simply say, "Don't worry. They are being well taken care of until you're feeling better." I would say the same thing anytime she asked. She may find it comforting to hear. We know she most likely won't be feeling well enough to leave, but it will cushion the blow of losing them. It won't feel like the door was closed completely. Over time she will not think about them as much.
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I think you need to sugar coat things a little. I certainly would not tell her the dogs had gone to the rescue, instead tell her they are being taken care of while she is in the hospital. As far as home is concerned tell her it is being taken care of. At this point you say she is being drugged and confined to a wheelchair. This may be necessary till they can stabilize her but have they suggested that she does not have any visitors till she has acclimatized to the new environment.

Sunny girl that was a very insightful post. You absolutely hit the nail on the head.
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Um. If you look at this strictly from your MIL's point of view...

Her husband's been disappeared, she's been locked up and drugged, her dogs have been given away to the rescue centre, she'll never see her home again; and you're worried about the ethics of lying to her?

I assume this all happened because things came to crisis point and your FIL was at risk - so I'm not throwing up my hands in horror or anything; but it is quite a lot of blows to land on a frail old lady with dementia all at once.

Let the crisis pass, get the care plan under way, and then do all the truthful explaining that you think your MIL can cope with. Just for now, the key thing is to get her stabilised and settled.

To think about for later - how many dogs? It isn't possible to arrange for them to visit her in the facility, I suppose? - a really understanding foster family might go along with that, if you asked them incredibly nicely.
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You say that your MIL has dementia and will be going into a special care unit, right? And that she's a hoarder? Hoarding is considered a mental health issue, but, since she also has dementia, that adds a whole other dynamic to it. I'd read a lot and pass that on to her husband, son or whoever is making decisions for her. I'd consider a lot of factors before just providing her blunt details. She may not be equipped to handle it.

Have you read much about dementia and how people who suffer with this often are not able to process information. And, even if they do get the information processed, they often forget it soon after and you have to keep telling them the same story and they keep getting upset each time as if they never heard it before.

There's usually, a lot of discussion around here about telling dementia patients the truth that might upset them, but, to me, I question what benefit there is to be gained.

With my LO, I never give her information that will upset her or make her sad. I see no point in it. The idea that the dementia patient will process the information as a normal person, accept it and that's that, is a fantasy and not likely to happen. I'd read a lot about other people's experiences and then let her husband decide.

Often, I think that unburdening this sad news is more about the family member wanting to get things off their chest, but, IMO, I question how doing this really helps the patient.

My LO loved her cat more than anything. She was totally obsessed with the cat and lived for that cat. But, after she got settled into AL, she forgot that she had a cat. Until that happened, I told her that I was caring for the cat and that he was super happy. I took photos, so I could show her, but, the cat had to be returned to the NO KILL rescue that she had adopted him from, pursuant to her contract. Not longer after her admission, she forgot about the cat.

The memories will fade, so, even if you tell her, she'll eventually forget about them and what you told her. So, all of her pain and distress over it, really nets no gain to the patient, imo.

I hope you find your answers. I'd also look into medication for people who suffer with anxiety. Medication is not the kind of thing from yesteryear of drugging old people to stay in a wheelchair. Medication has its place if properly prescribed and administered, as is done in many long term care facilities.

Also, telling people who have dementia that they are not going home point blank, isn't likely to help much with her state of mind. Often helping support her with redirecting the conversation to things about her therapy, meals, doctor's advice, insurance and how she's getting better every day, etc. I found that whatever makes my LO feel good, happy, is best, because no matter what you say, eventually, she will forget and ask you over and over. I'd read more about this online with various websites and you can also go to You Tube Teepa Snow videos on dementia. She has some great ideas for dealing with dementia patients.
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