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When mom can't come home


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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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. June 20, 2016 at 11:43 pm | Posted by FLo-ster

    Dr Amy, why would you want to keep your visits brief when the woman has dementia and is forced to share her living space while dealing with memory problems?.... I am all for making people feel better but there has to be a solution. A working solution... Don't be brief with your mother. That is your mother. She took the time and energy to not be brief in raising you. GIve her a private room that way the transition is better and then you can have long visits where she feels comfortable when you leave....


    • June 27, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Posted by Lynne

      What if the family cannot afford a private room? Don't compare raising a child with dealing with an elderly parent who has dementia. It isn't the same thing at all.


  2. June 20, 2016 at 11:16 pm | Posted by FLo-ster

    Dr. Amy I do not agree with your reccomendations... get her a fully private room and the transition will not be so bad... the mother spent her life independent at one point and now you have her with strangers. That will make the dementia worst having her around a stranger she has to share her living space with.. don't you think?


    • June 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Posted by Lynne

      What if the family cannot afford a private room? Don't judge these people until you have walked in their shoes.


  3. March 6, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Posted by Judy Harrington

    My family and I will be making plans on put my sweet brotherin a home .we love him so mush .and it kills us to do this.but we cant take care of him the way he need.but you can believe we will watch him ever step of the way we will be there to feed him change him put him to bed .we hate to do this but we will bring hem home.take him a ride any thing we can do to help him be happy.its a ba . d situstion


  4. March 5, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Posted by cindy

    I wanted to share my story as well, our story started out like yours but we had bad experience in placing her in a large memory care facility, she was saying the men are coming at night.. She was constantly sick, her room was a mess, her clothes and items were missing we paid 5500.00 a month, She would ask me not to leave her there. It was a beautiful redone Emeritus very pretty, the fact was she was given a bath once a week. Her clothing always missing, served frozen food for dinner still frozen and never enough help, We moved her to a private residential community and she has never been sick, its real food, and has two care givers to six clients for 4000.00 a month, Keep an eye on your mom and make sure u know who is taking care of her.


  5. March 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Posted by Kathy

    My late Father-in-law was in this situation. He had a few falls trying to walk with his walking frame, so he was strapped into a chair (comfortable reclining type on wheels) & lost the ability to walk. We (all the family at various times) used to visit & feed him meals & take him (in the chair or a wheel chair) for walks outside in the garden, but he kept asking to be taken home. as he needed two people & a lifting machine to go to toilet or get into/out of bed etc it just wasn't possible to go home :(


  6. March 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Posted by doris ezell

    my mother died in 2001. i live in another state. i visited her as often as i could and called almost every dayn until she pulled the phone out of the wall. my brother and sisters took turns i feel like she was waiting until i got there even though she was in a coma.staying with her so she stayed home. before she died she stayed in hosp for over a week. everything shut down and she was in coma but would not pass on. she had 107 temp. and nothing worked. everyone concluded that she knew i was not there and was waiting on me. we traveled there and i held her and hugged her and told her everything was ok and she could go and to tell our loved ones hello for us. she was in a coma but tears came from her eyes and i wiped them which still bothers me and it wasn't but a an hour or two till she passed . my husband now has dimentia but he thinks it is just memory loss. i feel he could not take it if he knew..


    • March 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Posted by doris ezell

      this somehow got all mixed up on my laptop i tried to edit but could not i hope you can make some sense out of it.


  7. March 5, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Posted by Lucrettia Estep

    My sister and myself was also taking care of our dad with dementia for about 6 years or so. We both worked, her day and me nights.we had pretty well moved in with him because our mom had passed and he didn't want to live with either of the years passed and the disease grew worse unfortunately dad and I was in a car accident that put him in hospital and myself not able to work.when the hosp. Decided to release dad it was to a care center for rehab.i worried when he was back on his feet he would be asking to go home and what we would do, but thank the LORD it was never mentioned. He seemed content for the time he had to be there and we stayed with him most of the days and into the late evening with him until he went to sleep. Took him for short rides when he was able. He enjoyed that. Unfortunately in sept. 2012 he had a spell with pneumonia and couldn't seem to be able to get over it. He passed on nov. 5 with my sister and I by his side. Deeply missed. Loved him so.


  8. March 5, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Posted by Billie Wilson

    My mom was also in a home with dementia and would ask the same question. My reply to her was that she had been sick so she had to be there to get better. I also told her that as she got better they would move her to a better room. She understood this and tried very hard to do everything they asked of her. It not only made my visits easier but was also easier on the staff and my mom. Then I would bring up happy memories from her past and just keep things moving on from there. This really helped my mom. Hopefully it may help others


  9. March 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Posted by Lizabeth McClure

    My mom couldn't come home either. She had dementia and had a stroke that led her to stay in a nursing facility. She lost movement on her left side and her left arm froze to her chest. The stroke prevented her from wandering off, and we had to make sure she wouldn't fall out of bed. Because the nursing staff failed her needs repeatedly, I moved her close to my home so I could be there almost 24 -7. She always voiced that she wanted to go home. I told her she IS home and that dinner was almost ready.I would be there to feed her and eventually get her ready for bed. I took care of her every need plus pampered her and even snuggled with her in her bed. We sang songs and took walks in her chair. She came to my home every chance we could get including every holiday. I was there with her before work, after work, evenings and weekends for 2 years. Unfortunately I wasn't there when she passed. It kills me this day. I cry a lot just to think I wasn't there when God called her home. Miss her


  10. March 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Posted by Cheryl

    I, too struggled with a similar situation. I eventually learned when the subject comes up, try to redirect. If that does not work, I would tell my Mom the Doctor indicates she is not strong enough and needs to stay a few more weeks. This has gone on the better part of a 18 months. Of course, each situation is different, depending on their Stage. I wish you the best in coming up with a solution. Talk with Social Worker for suggestions, other families in similar situations or help line. They helped me tremendously when this first began.


  11. March 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Posted by Kathi

    My grandma was the same way or worse. She threatened to kill herself if we left her there. A few months later she said it was the best decision we ever made. She says they take such good care of her there. Know that it's only temporary and Remind her God is always there with her. He promised to never leave her or forsake her. Praying for you and her.


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