Question: About six months ago I moved my 90 year old dad in to a Board and Care home. He had a mild stroke and has moderate dementia. My mother is very frail and was not able to care for him, and she did not want someone living in the house as a caregiver. We have been taking dad back home once a week for a visit. Recently he has become very upset at having to return to the care home after a visit and seems confused for a few days after. He has never really understood why he needs to be there as he does not realize how much care he really needs (he suffers from incontinence and is not able to walk unassisted etc.). Is it not advisable to take him to visit his home? Would it be better to take him to a neutral place, for a drive in the country or to my house instead? My mom is upset if I don't get him out of the care home but I don't want to add to his confusion. Thank you for any advice you may offer.
Dr. Amy: Your father is not alone. Many people find the move to a care home difficult and confusing and want to ‘go home’. Taking your father to places other than his old home may make it easier. I encourage you to try different outings and see how things go. This will be a trial and error process, so do not be discouraged if the first outings are not a complete success.
Is your mother going with you on these visits? Perhaps you can both stay with your father for a while in his new home after your outing. You can also make his new living quarters friendly and familiar by bringing things from back home, like family photos and other items that he would find comforting. Since many types of dementia are progressive, you may need to be open to changing your plans and approaches as time goes by. The decision to move a loved one to a home can be one of the biggest decisions in your life—and one that is full of emotion for everyone involved. You sound like you are managing the transition. If either you or your mother feels the need to talk about the move to someone outside the family, I encourage you to do so. There are dementia support groups in many communities, and the Alzheimer’s Association can also make a referral to support nearby.
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