Is it normal for a person with dementia to suddenly forget where they have lived for the past ten years after returning from the hospital? - AgingCare.com

Is it normal for a person with dementia to suddenly forget where they have lived for the past ten years after returning from the hospital?

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My mom is 82 and has been having increasing dementia issues for the past few years. Nine months ago, one of my sisters moved to live with her in the house she has been living in Green Valley, AZ for the last ten years. About a month ago she had a fall and ended up in the hospital. After the hospital, she was in a rehab center for a couple of weeks. Since returning home, she has taken a sudden turn for the worse. She is becoming incontinent, but the strangest thing is that she keeps insisting that the house she returned to is not the house she remembers. She thinks she is living in my sister’s house and not in her own house and keeps asking to be taken home. She insists the “old house” was up at the top of the hill (in the center of town) and now she living out in the boonies at the bottom. Is this usual for someone with dementia in the situation I described (brief hospital/rehab stay)? What might have triggered this? Could this have been a result of the fall and not the progression of her dementia as such? Although the CAT scan she had done did not show anything unusual. I know this must sound like a naïve question, but it is so strange to me that she doesn’t recognize her own house after being away for such a short time. My heart goes out to her in her confusion and I wish I could say something that would jog her memory. I was just wondering if anyone else has had an experience like this and if you have any advice on how to best deal with it. Thanks!

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Thank you! I will definitely pass this info on to my sister and she is planning to register on this site too.
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Alison has your sister contacted the Area Agency on Aging? Or the Program for all inclusive Care for the Elderly? Both are a wealth of information and help to determine next steps. It is very difficult to negotiate and find all the resources available, these two agencies can help. Also if your dad was a veteran put in a call to the Veterans Administration. They have a program called Aid and Attendance that mom may be eligible for.
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Hi, Gladimhere! Thanks for your reply. It helps to know this is a common problem for people with memory issues.

Since mom returned from rehab and has taken this turn for the worse, my sister has hired a home care giver to come in three hours a day, but that probably won't be enough. Mom has been very resistant to people she "doesn't know" coming into the house (this was before she was in the hospital though), but now she seems to have reconciled herself to the fact she needs more help. My sisters and I (there are four of us altogether) are trying to decide what to do next. The problem is that we all live far apart (I live in Russia, for instance). The closest sister, who lives in TX, was able to visit and give the sis looking after mom some respite for a a week recently, but this will not be regular. They are in the process of applying for Medicaid for mom since none of us are financially well off and home care (or any other form of assistance) gets very expensive. We are still feeling our way in this situation and trying to do what is best for mom. Not easy, as all who have dealt with this problem, know. I am grateful to have found this website where there is so much support and information. Thanks again for your reply.
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Alison, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's ten years ago. She will be 90 this year. I cared for her and her mentally cognizant hubby in mom's home of fifty years for four years. She had lived in her home for fifty years and often did not recognize it. She wanted to go home. And like Jeanne said do not try to convince mom she is at home, instead sis should do like Jeanne said. Tell her how happy she is that mom is able to visit then redirect her.

Is your sis getting help? Is there a day care near that would give sis some respite time?
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Thank you all for your answers! It really helps to hear that this is a common thing in people with dementia. I particularly understand what Jeanne wrote about how the person with dementia are trying to make sense of the world they now find themselves in and want to be able to rely on their memories. My mom often repeats that she just doesn't understand how things "got this way" and how stupid it all is. I can imagine! For a person who has been in control most of their lives and very independent and headstrong, it must be very frustrating and confusing to find herself so needy. Thank you all again for your replies, they have been very helpful.
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Oh, very common. My mom's sitter said she used to walk her around the very small house and say, 'this is your house, this is your bedroom, this is your bathroom. You don't need to go in the basement,' and we put signs up on the doors. Mom often said the house wasn't hers, she was just here visiting and wanted to go home to her own house!
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Allison the short answer is "Who knows"
Everything that Jeannie and FF wrote makes perfect sense. The only other thing i would add is that at the very end of life when someone says they want to go home it may mean going home to heaven
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Alison58, one thing to note for the future, it is very common for an elder to say they want to "go home" and it is believe the home they want to go to is their childhood home, not the last place where they had resided.

I noticed that with my Mom after she had a serious fall with head trauma, she thought the long-term-care was a motel and that I had a room down the hall... and she was upset with my Dad because he wouldn't wait for her so that they could both board the bus for a sightseeing trip.

Then my Mom said she wanted to "go home" but when she kept asking if the cattle were out and she wanted me to call one of her sisters, then I realized she was relating to her childhood home where her parents ran a dairy farm [said daily farm closed decades ago and Mom's sisters had all passed on]. By the way, my Mom [98] had age related memory decline prior to her fall but the head trauma caused her to accelerate into final stage of dementia.
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Many persons with dementia want to "go home" even when they are, in fact, in the home they have lived in for years. This happens even if the person with dementia has not left the home (that is, no hospital stays or long visits).

Nothing about dementia is "normal" but this sudden desire to "go home" is extremely common.

Your mother thinks she is in her daughter's home. My husband thought he was in a hotel. Both of them want things to return to normal for them. They want to go where the world makes sense and they can rely on their memories. They want to go back to how things used to be.

I tried to convince my husband that he was at home. I showed him items we had purchased together, things we had gotten as wedding gifts, albums with our pictures -- and he agreed with all that, but he still wanted to go home.

It would have been much better (I later learned) to reassure him and comfort him and distract him than to try to convince him.

Perhaps your sister could say, "And I'm SO glad to have you here with me, Mother! Your house has plumbing problems and it will be worked on next week. While you are here with me, let's make sure you are comfortable. Do you need another blanket on your bed?"

If Mom doesn't think she is in her own house, nothing you can say or do will change her mind.

This is a phase that will go away by itself in time. For my husband it lasted several weeks and then only came back when he was extremely tired.
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