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My mom had a long history of hospitalizations in the 1970s & 80s, and kind of been a professional patient a lot of her adult life. When I told her that the doctor said she had to stay to get well, that seemed OK. I told her she had been very seriously ill, and was there to recover. She never argued with that at all. She had old experience with that, so it was not frightening to her or strange.

I tried to leave at a transition point in the day, like others have said. At the start of lunch, or time to go to PT, or snack, or other activity. There is something else to take their direct attention so you can disappear into the background and have it not be a big deal.

Be aware that your timing can make a huge difference. I couldn't get there too early or mom wouldn't be awake and had not had her meds. I couldn't get there much past 3:00 or mom would be sundowning and a real pistol to deal with. Go at different times and you'll figure out where the sweet spot should be most of the time.

Some of the problem is how WE feel about leaving. Part of us wants to actually stay and continue some kind of care activity - on some subsconscious level. I say that having had a very difficult mother who engendered no warm & fuzzy feelings from anybody. It's hard to let go and let others. But you can do it. This whole caregiving game is about conflicted, difficult, complex emotions all at the same time.

Don't flog yourself all the way back home. Don't "should" yourself to death either. If you get ambushed by some surprise emotions, and it doesn't all feel fine & dandy, it's OK. I used to pull over somewhere safe and feel the feelings. Just let it out and have a giant box of kleenex ready. Then go do something productive and good for you after. Claim allergies for the red eyes.

My cats seemed to know I wasn't OK and I would get "cat scans" for a long while after I'd get back home.
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How the loved one handles the departure depends on their progression. At one stage, my loved one was anxious and kept begging me to return the next day. Of course, she would forget the next day that I was even there. How I would approach it is that I would explain to her that she had a memory problem, she couldn't help it, but we were working to make her stronger and more healthy at the assisted living facility. I would tell her she didn't recall that I was there everyday, but that I was and that I would be there in a minute if she needed me. That seemed to calm her, but only for the minute. She would forget it minutes later.

Now that she is in Memory Care, I don't go every day, though I do call throughout the week and chat with her on the phone.

When I leave her after a visit, I say I'm going to go back to work, run errands, etc. and that I will see her soon. She seems okay with that. If she asks when I'll return, I'll say in a few days or the next week, but that I will call her. I try to make her feel comforted in the moment, since the conversation will not be remembered by her in 5 minutes. I also say that she is looking well and is progressing. I tell her her hair looks nice and that I'm impressed with her progress. I say as many positive things as possible to help build her confidence.

She doesn't recall when I've been for a visit and she would not think to read a card or note that I left, so I tape photos of us together at a visit in her room. Since the photos disappear, (she or others could be losing them) I'm now having them laminated and secured firmly in her room, so they can't be lost or destroyed.
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My sisters and I are now facing this with our mother, 95, moderate dementia, in a nursing home for a year and a half. She has been content in this place, but lately she is confused about where she is. It is really heart-breaking to have to leave and have her want to go with us.

All we've come up with so far is to time our leaving when she is with someone else. The sister who visits in the evening leaves when the aides come to get her ready for bed, for example. This afternoon I was with her until the waitress came for her supper order in the dining room. Leaving as she is settling in for bingo is fine.

This is a tough one, and I'll be watching this thread for more ideas myself!
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I honestly don't know, as whatever you say might not be remembered. Same with when you next plan to visit.

Perhaps you could just say how much you enjoyed being with that person today and that you look forward to spending more time together.

I'm a big proponent of leaving greeting cards that someone can read repeatedly, at any time, with words to the effect of those I wrote above, and signed by "your loving daughter/son, wife/husband..." It might help the person by giving comfort if he/she doesn't realize that you were there or thinks you haven't been to visit in awhile.
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