Question: My mom, who has dementia, is in a nursing home. She thinks she will soon be coming home to live with me but the truth is she can't come home because I have to work. How do I help her understand? She cries and begs me not to make her live the rest of her life in a half of a semi private room.
Dr. Amy: This is a perfectly wrenching experience—both for you and your mother—and I am sure you must feel dreadful. If your mother’s dementia is fairly advanced, she won’t be able to process the facts of the situation, so it’s best not to try to try to explain. I encourage you to talk with the nursing home staff and ask for help in coming up with a plan. This can include your coming to visit at a time when your mom will be heading into an activity when it’s time for you to leave—dinner, exercise time, etc. When your mom asks when she will be able to come home, divert the conversation as much as possible. Talk about something related to home. Did someone do something funny? Can you remind her of a past family event she enjoyed, or hobbies she liked to do? And when it comes time to leave, be quick. Don't prolong the visit. Together with the nursing home staff, you can come up with other ideas. You won’t be able to take away all the pain, but you will be able to make life more manageable.
I send you strength on your caregiving journey.
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