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My parents home is on a lake and has been the hub of our family my entire life. My Dad passed almost 2 years ago and my mom has been with me since. She has dementia and the summer after my Dad passed we tried to keep her at her beloved home with in home caregivers that she promptly fired. She hasn't driven in 3 years, doesn't cook anymore - even with a microwave, and has difficulty dressing sometimes. So we moved her into AL 2 months ago under the premise of giving her activities and friends to keep her busy vs. waiting for me to come home from work everyday. She is doing pretty well and actually becoming active in the community but she thinks she will be going home to her lake house come summer time. I just smile and say that I can't wait for summer and that it will be so nice....however, I know she will never live at the lake again. In fact, my sister and I even debate about taking her home for a visit due to the anxiety and struggle of returning her back to AL. I'm struggling with not telling her the truth but think it's in her best interest to play along. She stayed with my family for 1 night over Christmas, and she didn't want to stay more due to how hard it is for her to return to AL. Do I tell her now that she won't be returning home or play it out until summertime?

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I should play it out.

When you think about it, you can in fact play this out quite truthfully because all you're saying is "we'll see." We none of us know what we'll be doing in the summer.

And even if you turn out to be right and there never will be a right time for your mother to go back to the lake house, how will it benefit her to know that in advance? It isn't as if it's a reality that she MUST come to terms with in order to move on. It isn't stopping her adjusting well to the ALF or troubling her in her daily life. So she can continue quite happily with a return "home" being a nice theory for some time in the future - when she's better, or the weather is perfect, or Family Member has managed to find that special adapted vehicle that will be just the thing for her to travel in comfort... And if, come summer, she herself doesn't bring the subject up then don't feel that you must, either. Let it lie.

It sounds like a very promising sign that she herself didn't want to stay more than one night over Christmas. Could it be that she was sparing your feelings, and was keener to get back than she was letting on?
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Play it out - stall - let her dream like a 5 year old about the summer vacation. Don't cause yourselves and her the pain of her losses repeatedly.
You cannot reason with dementia. She cannot understand why this is no longer an option. The home she wants to return to is one where she is healthy and cognitively able to care for herself. So let her plan. Smile and redirect. It's therapeutic lying, but it is palliative care:) Be well yourselves. Bumpy ride.
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