I am a new caregiver for my 90 year old mother, who has mild dementia. We moved her into our house in Colorado approximately 2 months ago from her home that she shared with my uncle in Las Vegas, Nevada. Recently, she has begun to say that she want to go 'home' to Las Vegas, which is not an option. I try to explain why she can't go home, but she keeps forgetting and sometimes gets mad at me. I am having trouble finding activities that she can do because she can't learn anything new and her interests are few. She doesn't want to have anything to do with the senior center in town and doesn't make friends easily. The only activity she enjoyed in Las Vegas was ocassionally playing bingo, but I'm unsure that she would be able to even do that any more. Aside from the dementia, she is in reasonably good health. Right now all she is doing is helping me around the house, watching television and reading. Any suggestions for me?

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Jinx gave you very good advice.

Many people with mild dementia want to go home, but it doesn't always have the obvious meaning. My husband regularly packed a little bag and waited for the bus or train to "go home" -- while living with me in our home! Some think the request is to go to a childhood home, but many think the desire to "go home" is really a longing for a time when the world made sense, a time before dementia.

Whatever it means in your mother's case, I think you can skip the explanations of why she can't return to Las Vegas. You can tell her how glad you are that she is here with you right now.

Many senior centers have bingo times, and there would probably be someone there willing to help a little. Don't give up on the senior center idea without trying it for several different activities. Go with her and stay the first few times.

With dementia my husband's job was folding towels. We use wash clothes as single use hand-towels and I have two laundry loads a week. These are easy to fold, comforting to feel when they are fresh out of the drier, and perhaps best of all are an obvious contribution to the household. We use those towels every day. Now my husband is gone and the job has gone to my mother (also dementia) when she visits. She loves doing it. She also sorts socks and folds my undies. She is still too "with it" to sort poker chips, but she is pleased to do something obviously useful.

Both my husband and my mother enjoyed/enjoy looking at photo albums.

If Mom still has the attention span and comprehension to watch television and read, consider that a blessing! When my husband got to the point where it was hard for him to follow a plot with frequent commercial interruptions I got CDs of some of his old favorite shows. With no commercials they were easier to follow, and shorter, too.
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Drag her to the senior center. Drag her out on walks. Lie to her about going back to Las Vegas "in a month." Ask her to stay longer as a favor to you. Don't waste a lot of breath explaining things to her.

Recognize how helpless and afraid and disoriented she feels. Give her lots of love and reassurance. I forget who it was who posted about telling her cranky mother, "I love you very much and I will do my best to make sure you are always safe."

Some people have things like towels to fold or poker chips to sort. No point to it, but it keeps the elder occupied for a while. People like to feel useful.
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