Mom is 86 and has dementia. My brother and I moved her into an ALF against her wishes when she was no longer safe in her own home. The facility is located one hour from me and is six hours away from her home. My brother and I share caregiving duties. He takes care of Mom's legal and financial business plus takes care of her home which is near where he lives. He faithfully visits her every two to three weeks for a weekend. I take care of Moms medical issues and manage her care at the ALF. I visit her every other day and take her to appointments, church, and on outings. My brother and I work very well together, keep each other informed, and are supportive of Mom and each other. We are very close.

When we were preparing to take Mom to the ALF eight months ago I told her that her home would be left as is and maintained, which we have done. It is paid for and costs are minimal. She was very upset to leave home. She kept saying that Dad (deceased 1988) built their home in which they raised their children and where they planned to live for the rest of their lives. Even after eight months in ALF she still doesn't understand why she cannot live in her home near her friends and extended family. This greatly saddens me as well because I understand her desire to be in the home she lived in for 70 years. We tried using round-the-clock caregivers before moving her to the ALF but the cost was prohibitive and she did not like having strangers in her home while she was sleeping.

While preparing to move to the ALF, I told Mom I would take her back to her home for visits after she got settled into the ALF. I imagined going back for a weekend visit every 4-6 weeks. I am still working full time but I don't mind making trips back home. The problem is that it has taken a long time for Mom to transition into the ALF. Even though she gets great care and likes her caregivers she has still not accepted the ALF as her residence. She still wants to go home. The first three months in ALF she would pack up her walker with clothes almost every night and roll it to the foyer where she was expecting me to pick her up to go home. She fell four months after moving and broke her hip. I stayed in the hospital/rehab with her 14 hours/day for a month. When she returned to the ALF she seemed to be more accepting of the situation but still asked to go home. Her dementia has progressed and she is less mobile now, relying more on her wheelchair.

That being said, should I take her home for a visit at Thanksgiving. We can stay in her home and I will arrange for extra help with her while there. She can see that her home is the same and visit with neighbors and family. I talked with her geriatrician and her said it could be good or bad for her. My brother and some close friends think it would undo a lot of progress that has been made in her transition to the ALF. I am left with the final decision. I promised her that I would take her back for visits before she moved and it would break my heart to not follow through. I also made it clear that she would have to return to the ALF afterwards. She said she understood.

Has anyone had experience with this situation?

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You promised. You shouldn't have. Oh well, we all make mistakes. Don't compound the mistake by satisfying your need to live up to your promise at the risk of Mom's happiness and comfort. Forget about the promise and do what seems best now.

If it was a trip of a half an hour, I'd say maybe it would be worth a try once, and then to decide from there. But a 6-hour trip each way? Oh my! And it will be more like a 7 or 8 hour trip, with every break taking a long time. That is a lot for an elderly lady with mobility issues and dementia.

I think the most likely outcome will be a setback to her acceptance of the place she really has to be. And that could mean she'll cry or nag or plead the entire trip back. This is why the distance matters!

I suggest two alternatives:
1) Bring the special occasions to her. My mother loved it when we brought in tablecloths, nice china, a centerpiece, and traditional foods. Another lady I know really got a kick out of seeing her grandkids playing games in the room they'd reserved in the NH.
2) See if pictures help. Since it was no longer feasible for my mother to visit my house, I took pictures of my house plants and outdoor decorating. If it turned out to be upsetting to your mother to see pictures of her home, you could easily stop looking at them. If she enjoyed it you could put them in a scrapbook or have the photo shop make a little book of them, and you could often reminisce about memories of each part of the house.

Your heart is absolutely in the right place! This decision needs your head, too.

Good luck! And please let us know what you decide and how it works out.
Helpful Answer (14)

Bocadebo...Don't take your Mom home. Several reasons...
1 the trip is a bit much. There can be a lot of confusion when in a car for that length of time.
2 There is a good possibility that when she says she "wants to go home" she does not mean the physical home that she left. Many people with dementia will associate "going home" to a time when they felt well, safe, comfortable and with friends. It is not the "home" with 4 walls and a roof.
I don't know if you do this now but when you talk to her about the
Assisted Living place she is in now refer to that as Home..when you go out to lunch or for a walk..say ok, we are going to go home now. When you take her to the Doctor, on the way back say..I am going to take you home now.

As for Thanksgiving...A lot of people at one time can be very confusing and frightening. A lot of noise, a lot of people that she may not recall. And that can be both frightening as well as she may be embarrassed by the fact she does not remember.
Most Facilities have a formal family dining room that can be used for individual family functions. Ask if you can reserve it for the week before or even after. Bring a good meal, a few family and enjoy a nice meal with Mom in a setting where she is comfortable.
She undoubtedly will have a Thanksgiving meal where she is and there will be plenty of people visiting because it is the holiday. So she will have plenty of excitement. Plan your visit for a day or two before or after
I found with Dementia one day is just like another. New Years Day, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving they are all just days like any other day of the year. If you want to make a day special make it special. It does not have to be special just because there is a pumpkin or a turkey on the calendar day.
Keeping things calm and routine will do more for her attitude than having a big "to-do".
Helpful Answer (9)

A six hour car trip X2 would be difficult in itself, add in the dementia and her desire to go back home to stay and I think it would be too hard both mentally and physically.
Helpful Answer (7)

If your mom doesn't yet understand why she can't live at home, I don't see how taking her back there will do anything but make her sad/angry and bring back all of her feelings of unhappiness about being in the ALF. I understand you wanting to make your mom happy, but I don't believe this is the answer. What if you take her home and she refuses to leave? What are you going to do then? Drag her back to the ALF? You said she took a long time to adjust. Why would you want to start from scratch with that again?

I understand that it's heartbreaking for you and your family that mom can't live out her years in the home your dad built. But it is what it is. We don't always get to live out our dreams. At this point in your mom's life, being safe and with loved ones around is what's important, not a house, in my opinion. So make a special Thanksgiving where she is now and make new memories and traditions there.
Helpful Answer (7)

NO don't take her back. It leads to real emotional turmoil on her part. Mom would cry for days. Sis kept taking her back and it totally blew up in her face.
Helpful Answer (6)

I wouldn't dare bring my mom back home and am even careful about what off ramp I choose when she's in the car with me as she asks why she can't go home
Tonight as we were walking down her hallway to her room in memory care - she said she hated the place
A few months ago she even attacked me when I brought back to her facility after dinner - it took every ounce of strength I had to pull her wheelchair in backwards with her dragging her feet screaming and swinging her purse at me all while yelling for help
I would love for her to be able to visit her oldest friend who is 95 1/2 but she lives only a block away and I couldn't imagine driving her even back to the neighborhood where she lived for nearly 70 years
This is heartbreaking - I know
Helpful Answer (6)

Try to put aside what YOU would love to see happen, and the good feelings YOU would get for making it happen - from what is actually the best decision FOR YOUR MOM, her adjustment to what must be, and to her peace of mind in the long run.
Helpful Answer (6)

Bocadebo, I really hurt for you and your mom. I and my 2 brothers are going thru this with mom. I go to see mom and she immediately starts asking for me to take her home. She too packs her items and drags them to the door of her memory care unit. I have to unpack & put them all back up each week or bring themhome to wash since she puts even nasty, wet stuff in with them. I have to take her in a round about, longer route to her doctor because she tries to jump out of my car when we pass the exit to her home if she is not medicated in advance. I know for a fact she will not leave if I ever make the mistake of taking her by there.

She has "escaped" from her facility several times and fought like crazy when they caught her on the highway which runs a few feet from the facility. Last time, it took 4 adults to bring her back inside cursing, spitting, kicking and swinging her cane at them! They have had to put an ankle bracelet on her and an alarm on her window which she opened and went out of. She is 87, frail, has fallen twice in the past 3 weeks and rebroke her left arm which is mostly metal and pins.

I promised mom I would take her home to visit but, the doctor said no, it wouldn't work and would only require extra meds to get her back to the facility and that wouldn't be good for her. I finally told her I was sorry, but I couldn't take her home since she wouldn't let anyone live with her and refused to allow us to help her, the doctor had turned her guardianship over to the state and we would be accused of abuse for taking her home and leaving her. She didn't believe me until the case worker confirmed it. She has been there nearly a year and still tries to get out but can't remember where her house is or who her family is at times. I do my best to see her every Sunday for a couple of hours. I've tried to take dinners down for us to share but, she refuses.

You will always feel a certain amount of guilt but, if our parents were able to remember, they would tell us NOT to feel guilty for doing what is best for them. I wish you the best.
Helpful Answer (6)

I think taking her home would only heighten her desire to go home permanently.

Can you plan a special Thanksgiving for her at the ALF, with you, your brother and perhaps other relatives and/or friends? I don't know whether to suggest bringing some decorations or something from her home, because it could just heighten her desire to return home.
Helpful Answer (5)

We went through this with my inlaws who have a lake cabin. My MIL desperately wanted to go back for a visit and FIL promised her he would take her. She does not have dementia but she has a neurodegenerative illness that keeps her in a wheelchair and she needs help with all of her activities of daily living. Not only would it have taken half a day just to get there, but also the cabin is not ADA accessible. A shower chair doesn't even fit in the tub. FIL could not have made the trip by himself. But the bigger problem was that once there, what were they going to do besides cry and bemoan the loss of their old lives? It would have been an emotionally-wrenching visit for my inlaws, which is why I think it's best to let your mom remember things as they were.
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