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When Home Isn’t Home Any Longer: Time to Move to an Assisted Living Facility

My mother who has dementia fell in July 2010 and severely broke her leg. She spent nine weeks in a nursing home where we had to have full-time caretakers to prevent her from putting weight on her leg so that it could heal. She was 88 years old at the time and my father (who also had dementia) was 89.

Since we brought her home she has insisted that she is not “at home” and has begun packing her clothes daily to go back. My parents built the house in 1965 and my sibling and I grew up in the house. There is no logical thinking and no amount of words that can convince her she is at home. Her family doctor gives her Namenda, Aricept, and now Seraquil and Lorazipam. Her anxiety has increased in the past few weeks and what used to be something she would start in late afternoon (Sundowners) she is now beginning this in the morning.

Do you have any advise as to how to handle this situation? Also, we have 2 full-time caregivers who switch out during the week. My siblings and I rotate traveling to her home on the weekends to give the caregivers a break and to check on mother, the house, etc,. Do you think it is important to put for mom to move to an assisted living facility where she would get more stimulation or to stay at home where she knows her surroundings even though she doesn’t think it is her home? Thank you.

Rhea, Jonesboro, GA

Dear Rhea,

I think a move to an assisted living facility makes good sense for your mom.  First, she’s no longer attached to her home of 47 years and the upkeep is undoubtedly onerous.  Second, she would likely benefit from being around other people. Third, the travel and caregiving that you and your siblings are doing would not be sustainable as the dementia progresses.  If all of you plan to continue visiting with her regularly, I’d suggest she move to an assisted living facility that is equidistant for all of you or closest to the person who will visit the most.

I also want to address the increased anxiety you’re beginning to notice earlier in the day than ever before.  I’d also strongly suggest that you have your mom seen and her medication regimen reviewed by a geriatrician. Family doctors are wonderful, but treating older adults is a specialty. Based on experience, a geriatrician might recommend a different combination of medication or different doses.  Also, he/she may be able to make suggestions on when/how to administer the medication to avoid the behavior you’re witnessing.

All the best to you,



{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Holly Murs March 5, 2014, 10:43 PM

    I agree with you Maria. An assisted living facility will definitely be beneficial for Rhea’s mom. A lot of people find themselves in this situation and feel bad or guilty when they transfer their parents to a long term care setting—thinking that they’re taking them away from a home that has a lifetime of memories. But in this case, I don’t think that Rhea will have a hard time convincing her mom.

    Also, we featured this on our Weekly Digest. You can read it herehttp://www.ltcoptions.com/weekly-digest-living-sandwich-generation-tips-successful-caregiving/. I’m looking forward to more of your practical insights on long term care. Thanks!

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