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Should be tell Mom she is being moved to the memory care wing before the move, or just move her things while she is at an activity?The staff at Mom's Assisted Living facility has decided that she should be moved to the secure memory care wing. She does not wander, but spends a lot of time sitting in the public area near the nurses' desk "people watching". Their reason for the move is that she will have a smaller "community" in which to participate in activities and meals. The downside is that she will be moving from an apartment with a separate living/kitchenette area and bedroom to just a room which is smaller than her current bedroom. She will need to give up more than half of her furniture.


The staff does not want to discuss this move with her in advance, and does not want us to mention it to her. Their plan is to take her to an activity, move her things and then take her to the new room after the activity. Mom has never liked surprises, and I expect that she will be angry about this fourth "downsizing". I am concerned that she will feel even more isolated in the smaller environment. Last month we had to remove her phone because she was making repeated phone calls to me, my daughter and her elderly sister, and she remembers that she had a phone and wonders where it is and when she will get it back. I am concerned that she will wonder where her furniture went and why she can't go back to her apartment. Of course, on the other hand, she is unlikely to remember that we discussed the move with her, so maybe the staff is right. Has anyone gone through something like this? Any advice?



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Scrimble, thank you for your excellent suggestion. I am going to speak with the staff and let them know that this is going to be the official excuse. Mom has always wanted to control everything, so blaming the move on some uncontrollable event means that there is no one to yell at. Hopefully she will adjust and soon forget about her apartment, but until then, it will be undergoing repairs. I am also hoping that the change in environment will cause her to forget about having a phone. Could I hope for a win-win here?
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Scrimble that IS a brilliant way to handle the transition to a new apartment in memory care! I'll have to remember that for future reference!! We all learn so much from each other on this site. Here's one more excellent example of the wisdom of many caregivers working together!
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I hope this can help! I know this site and particularly you, GardenArtist, have been an integral part of keeping me grounded and sane during my adventures into this ever changing chapter of my life with mom.
Akdaughter, I hope and pray this new move goes smoothly. Please ask away as much as you want for ideas regarding this move. It was quite interesting and I was more anxious about it than was necessary.
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Scrimble, that's a brilliant idea! AK's mom's room could suddenly become unsafe to live in, for whatever reason. While she's at an activity, a water main could break, a gas leak could occur, a dangerous electrical problem could arise, the roof could leak, the walls collapse, undesirable critters or insects could invade - blame it all on uncontrolled situations and no one then takes the blame, but rather the accolades for removing her from an unsafe environment.

Maybe even a welcoming party could be had for AK's mom when she moves into her new room.

Along the way, the room could be determined to be unsalvageable, and no other rooms in that wing every become available. Or, if AK's Mom won't be in any other part of the facility, the excuse could be that her whole former wing was damaged and will be under repair for some time.

I'm so glad you posted with this brilliant suggestion!
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I reread your post and my mom is very similar to your yours. Angry at everyone. She used to call moving companies and call me up to 10 x a day. Just take a deep breath and know you are honoring your mother and caring for her needs. Hopefully a broken pipe or somwrhing that would require loud repairs for a long period of time would allow her not get too suspicious. You are paying a lot of money for the facility, they have dealt with this before, and it's just hard for us because the words and actions of our moms hit us emotionally and wear us down. Stay strong! It will be ok!
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I had to do this exact thing. My mom was hiding things then blaming the staff, her walker was "stolen" but the "police caught the bad guy with it down the street, and mental decline. However, she LOVED her two bedroom AL apartment and I knew this was doing to tough to downsize to a small studio like apartment less than 1/2 the size. My mom is very suspicious and asks the same questions over and over expecting different answers. So it was a stressful time. She HAD to be moved though for her safety and well being.
So this is what we did and it worked but all the staff have to be on board.
She was taken out for a few hours by a friend ( companion care giver). While she was out, we moved only the most important and necessary items to her new room. We decorated the walls with her pictures and some new ones as well. We somewhat made it look more "fancy" if you will but not overwhelming. Then when she returned, we were NOT there! The director met with her and the friend and say her down in the special events room and said there was a leak her apartment and all her belongings had to be moved to another one for the time being. He upsold the new apartment and personally gave her the tour of her MC living area. She wasn't too upset. She still to this day asks who put all the pictures up and I tell her I'm not sure. It takes time and when she had her moments of being upset about the different room, I would reassure her that " I would look into it but for the time being it is one of the nicer places they have" then redirect about an event from her grandkids, etc.
You are doing the right thing. Just make sure everyone is one the same page, make a story that will appease her to some point, and stick with it. It's for her safety, well being, and your sense of sanity of her being cared properly.
Get your moving crew set up, give them their jobs, have one person decorate, one person be the contact while she is out of the facility for the time crunch and let the staff be there to comfort her when she returns. They can redirect and help her. You can visit the next day? Maybe if you can wait that long and it should be ok. It's not a bad thing to fib if it is in the best interest of our parents safety and health. She will be happy there. My mom is much happier in MC with more activities and attention.
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Bumping this post up so more people see it and respond.
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I haven't gone through anything like it, but really am sympathetic to your dilemma. I know you've gone through so much trying to work things out for her, and this will be a major step that could make her even more upset.

I agree that she's likely to be angry, and she'll probably direct that toward you, making your life more difficult. Furniture issue notwithstanding (you could say you sent it out for cleaning), she will be aware of the smaller environment. There's no way that can be disguised.

Trying to take the emotional factors out of the dilemma, I'm thinking this might help:

Givens, based on personality, history, predictable behavior, etc.:

1. She will be angry and you will feel her wrath.

2. There's a good possibility this hostility will not abate at all, and could even get worse.

3. Whether she knows ahead of time or time, there will be anger that might even increase and provoke more antagonistic behavior toward you because she'll see you as responsible.

4. It's unlikely given her dementia that there's a way the situation can be explained and/or rationalized.

Solutions:

1. Telling her and allowing her to vent now.

2. Not telling her about the move, anticipating that she'll be even angrier when she sees and concludes that you've taken action behind her back.

3. Take the approach that the emotional factor is a given, can't be modified, changed, and/or controlled, and focus more on the safety issues.

4. Tell her that you and the staff want her to be able to enjoy herself more and can do that within an environment of less people, less visitors, etc. I'm not sure that would make an impression though. She'll probably resent the move one way or the other.

Are there any real solutions to this dilemma that protect both of you and allow her to segue into a higher level of care? I don't think so.

What would then be the solution with the least impact (a) for her and (b) for you?

I'm thinking that maybe this is a time when you might have to just step back and let the staff take the brunt of her anger. Continue to do chores and errands such as laundry when she'll be at activities and minimize the contact; it will only serve to exacerbate her and frustrate and cause emotional pain to you.

On a separate level, do you agree that the more secure memory wing is appropriate? Do you fully support the staff's conclusion?

I wish there were some better answers to a situation like this.
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