Should we let mother in law with early dementia return to her old house (of which she is still part owner)?

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She's been in AL for 2 months. The problem is we are clearing out her house to sell it. She says she wants to
"get stuff". Before we moved her to AL, she had two months to gather the items she wanted. She did nothing. We had to make the decisions on her things for her and moved what we could with her. She has all that she needs and then some. We are considering taking her to the house once it is completely cleared out and cleaned up, so she will know she can't "go back". Is this a good idea? We don't want her depression to get worse. We are constantly dealing with her demanding to go to the house.

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On a side note regarding vacant houses, anyone out there who has a parent's house sitting but not being placed For Sale, please contact your parent's insurance carrier.... many of them with not cover a vacant house.

I checked with my insurance carrier, and also checked with the insurance carrier who is in my office building regarding vacant houses. Both said the same thing, as long as I had notified the insurance carrier that the house is vacant and we plan to sell the house, they will cover for any damages. If the house sits too long not going on the market, the carrier can cancel the policy.... then you may or may not be able to purchase what is called an "investment property" policy.
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Aria, going back for sentimental reasons is often not wise, but, it depends on the situation.

Have you consulted with experts about the sell of her house? Just in case she is anticipating Medicaid, you might look into how the funds from that sale could effect her eligibility.
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Windy, best of luck to you. It isn't easy. She lived in the same house for over 60 years so change is more than difficult for her. We just have to keep in mind that we are doing our best for our parent in spite of the complaining, the crying and the tantrums. Yeah, not easy.
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Aria, good luck to you guys. I'll be in the same situation with my dad soon. I'm really dreading it.
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Thank you all. These thoughts are very helpful. Eyerishlass, we did take photos of inside and the outside but didn't want to show them to her yet because we fear it will trigger the "wanting to go to the house to get stuff" tantrum yet again. We took all of her photo albums to her and she seemed happy to find pictures of the house in them. Hoping that suffices for a while. Windy ... we will keep bobbing and weaving and pray she forgets over time.
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My feelings are not to let her return to the house for a 'visit' either, however, there are family members that think otherwise. I will have to convince them it will likely cause backsliding. Even my own 82 y.o. mother, who does not have dementia, believes my MIL should never return to the house. Whether the house is staged for resale will not make any difference because she is so attached to her stuff and we have disposed of almost all of it now. She will be devastated to see an empty shell. She told us to take what we wanted, then she complained that people were taking things without asking her permission and accusing people of stealing. In reality, no one wanted anything and no one stole anything at all.
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Hit "send" too soon.

Anyway, at some point my dad got it in his head that he wanted to move back home (he had moved 700 miles away) and he wanted his house. We tried to explain to him that it wasn't really his house anymore and his reply was that he would pitch a tent in the backyard and live there anyway. He was totally irrational, not at all like my father. But he could not get it in his head that the house was on the market. There was no silverware, no towels, no sheets on the bed (just staged dressing). My dad kept telling me that he was going to buy an airline ticket and come back and move back in. I had to hurry and find a rental house within 1 day because my dad was flying back and didn't or couldn't understand that he had had nowhere to live.

My dad didn't have dementia at this time, he was just completely irrational regarding "his" house.

My advice would be to not take your MIL to her old house. What if it sparks an obsession and she decides that she can move back in? This happens. And if she's chomping at the bit to see her house now how is she going to feel when she sees it all cleared out? You may have a meltdown on your hands.

Take some nice photos, that's what we did with my dad's house. My dad appreciated them and we all moved on. It might be too much to expect someone with dementia to move on if they see the house in person.
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I went through something similar. Both my parents crashed at the same time. While both were in separate rehabs mom suggested it was time they moved to a retirement community. My brother and I had been trying to figure out how to suggest this do when mom suggested it, I jumped on it so fast I practically hurt myself! I found a place, set up the move - mom and dad had three weeks at home prior. I gave them a huge pack of post-it's and told them to stick one on anything they wanted to take. In spite of regular reminding, when moving day came they hadn't stuck a single post-it, so my brother and I had to choose. Sure enough after a few weeks they wanted to go back to the house to get more stuff. I had been offering to take them in the first couple of weeks - they said no but now wanted to go on their own. By this time my brothers and their family's had gone over the house several times to get what they wanted. To my dismay they did so like a flock of vultures - honestly, vandals would have shown more respect. So I tried to dissuade my parents - but they went one day on their own without telling anyone. Needless to say - after 50 years in this house, dealing with their new circumstances, this would have been depressing enough as it was. After seeing the tattered remenents of what was left behind, both parents were angry and depressed. They pick up a few meaningless items and left. Of course hindsite is 20/20 and I'd handle it all differently if I had the chance to do it over...
But I'd say - try not to return your mom to her house. I can not foresee anything good coming of it.
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After my mom died my dad put their house into our hands with the instructions to sell it, get rid of anything we wanted and get the house on the market. So my brother and I did this. After my dad signed the real estate contract we went about bringing the house up to code, repairing things, replacing items, and the real estate lady topped things off by staging the house beautifully.
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I agree with Windy, do not take Mom-in-law back to her previous house. This could backfire on you with Mom-in-law missing the house so much that she would want to move back in. In her mind she might think she can move back her furniture and buy what she needs. Then you are back to square one.

Knock on wood, my Dad left his house and didn't want to look back. If my Mom wasn't there, he didn't want to relive memories of her falling, etc. It's time for a new family to enjoy the home.
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