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Question for anyone. My mom has been in NH for 3.5 years. Has advanced vascular dementia. She daily cries and begs us to take her home. Obviously doesn't realize how long she has been there. We tell her 'a few weeks' if she asks. For quite a while what I've been telling her is that we will be able to take her home 'soon.' It's getting harder as she gets more and more persistent. Am I telling her the wrong thing? I don't want to give her too much hope but I also can't fathom telling her the truth, that she has to stay there indefinitely. It would devastate her and then she wouldn't remember anyhow and I wouldn't want to have to go through that type of discussion each visit. I feel terrible lying to her. I don't want to hurt her by giving her false hope but I also know if she doesn't have any hope, she will give up. She already told me from time to time she wants to kill herself. Anyone with experience with this type of situation. What is the proper thing to do? She now has atrial flutter with her heart and shouldn't be getting upset. I know crying is a big part of vascular dementia, but what can we do? Mom is 84.

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If her crying and requests to be taken home are increasing then maybe she needs to have her medications readjusted. It is possible that her vascular dementia has become worse and that her current medications are not as effective as they used to be.

I know that it is hard for you to hear your Mom asking to be taken home. My Mom used to cry every time I visited or every time we talked on the telephone. It tore my heart out to hear her cry:( The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner put Mom on some antidepressants and other mood stabilizing medications and that has helped a lot. Now Mom cries occasionally when I visit and rarely when I talk to her on the phone.

I suggest that you seek some counseling to help you cope with your Mom's health problems and the stress of this situation. Take care of yourself. God Bless!
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Teepa Snow has said that when someone with dementia asks to go home, they are often asking to go to a place in their lives where they knew where they were and when they had a purpose. They sometimes ask to "go home" when they are in their own houses. I don't think answering honestly is going to help. Good advice from other posters.
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No, it is not wrong.

I remember so clearly t he day I realized that I needed to simply appease my mother--not be candid or "honest." My mom would not remember anything I said for five minutes. So, why break bad news over and over?

You appease. That is not false hope in this situation. It is kindness. As a friend of mine recently said, with dementia, all the rules change.

Good luck and big hug!
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First, It is very difficult and heartbreaking to go through this. I have been a speech Language Pathologist for 30 years working with patients in varying stages of dementia.
There is something called Validation Therapy that works fairly well with this situation.
You can research it, but if can also find a support group for yourself, others may have excellent things that have worked.
The idea is, first to validate their feelings. Saying things like, “I know you loved your home.” “What is the first thing you would do if you were there? “
“How would you feel if you were home right now”

Then if they respond with any type of positive feeling, go with that. So, if they say “I would feel safe” “Or “I would feel busy”
Then respond to that.
You can say things like “I noticed that when someone (holds your hand, brushes your hair, hugs you, wraps you up in a blanket) you look like you feel safe.
Or you can ask them who her makes you feel safe? What do they do that you like.?
Then you can do those things with them.
If they only say negative things, you can say things like “I noticed when you were home you liked to rock in a rocking chair, or you liked to listen to ____music, or you liked to fix things.” Then you find and do something similar with them.
If you say “This is your home now” that is very distressing as it isn’t their home.
Instead find the emotion(fear, anger, confusion, boredom, restlessness, etc). Then find what activity they used to do they enjoyed, and replicate that.
If you go online you can find things like busy aprons that can keep a person’s hands busy. It is an apron with built in zipper, a Velcro buckle, a large button, etc that a person can fiddle with if they are anxious.
You are the best person to problem solve this, because you know your loved one better than anyone. Look at Melissa and Doug toys-they have wooden fruit to slice with a wooden knife, and a variety of activities like that.
I really hope this helps a little. It is a kind validating way to interact. Memory books with pictures of favorite tools, garden produce etc can also be comforting, but you have to go through it with them. You cannot just hand it to them.

One more thing, the further into the dementia a person gets, the more creative you have to get. If they are restless and can walk,just walk with them holding their hand if they will let you. If they are non responsive, you can use mirroring, music to help them feel safe. No matter what they are doing, they are communicating something.
No matter what please do not discount what they are communicating with things like “You can’t go home@
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Going home may also mean that she wants to be in a place with her other loved ones that have gone before her, maybe your dad. Hope is what keeps us all going...for a better time and place. Taking her to a geriatric psychiatrist is someone who can help her. Maybe she needs her meds adjusted or placed on a mild antidepressant. Maybe when she asks to go home, you can say that you understand . God bless her and you. You are doing a great job by just even visiting because it shows her that you love and care for her. The best to you and your mom. Hang in there...things will get better. And when all is said and done, you will have no regrets because you did all you could.
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One more thing: YES to the correct meds. My mom mad e a huge recovery on the right meds and she was most certainly not "out of it." She still beat me at cards!!!!!!!!!! Without mercy!!!!!
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I wasn't totally honest with my MIL. I would ask her if she wanted fruity ice cream and give her yogurt because she would only enjoy eating it if she thought it were ice cream. I adhere to the eight limbs of yoga, which states that the principle of non-harming overrides all other principles, including the principle of truth.

The question then is which is less harming: letting your mother know that she won't be coming home or telling her that she'll be coming home soon, when it's clearly not soon.
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My mom never asked to go home. But over the course of 4 years with vascular dementia, her agitation would increase every few months and her psych meds would need to be upped to keep her calm.

Definitely get a behavioral health specialist to see her.
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Marcia7321 - you are right - I love Teepa Snow and she is so good with this stuff. I forgot about that issue of 'going home'. How true it is. When my mom fell and broke her hip, she was in a facility for 40 days - she wanted to come home then as well, obviously. When we got her home, she started asking me about 'going home - this isn't home'.....Thanks much for the reminder.
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You are not wrong to tell fibs to her....You are doing so lovingly. If she is able, you may be able to take her for ride in the car a couple of times a month..Other times you may say the doctor is on vacation for another week and when he/she gets back you will ask when she may go home. Show her a scrapbook of photos of old times at home. Bring her favorite cookbook or recipe and ask her some questions about how to make it. Is there a wedding album? If so, bring it and ask questions about the photos in it. Make up different stories of when she can go home in a few weeks, but not just yet.

Read easy stories to her...Read the religious things she remembers, as for example, Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.)

When she jumps back on the "go home" wagon, listen politely and then say something like, "Guess who I saw at Walmart yesterday...."

To me, the ball is always in the court of the caregiver...Bearing in mind that the burden of the patient is very distressing to the patient, be thankful for the good years and also that God has given you a servant's heart to care for yur love one..

Grace + Peace,
Bob
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