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Is a visit home from memory care ever a good idea?
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 2:23 PM
Joined: 3/10/2019
Posts: 145

We are in week 2 of memory care.  DH has good days and bad, but is pretty much always desperate to come home and visit our dogs. I don't think I can bring myself to say no--it just seems too cruel to deny him any further contact with them.  I know there are 100 reasons why a visit home is risky, but I was wondering if anyone had any positive experiences to share or any tips to minimize risk?  My main concern:  he will refuse to leave again.  


I should add that it's not a good idea for me to take the dogs to visit him.  They are hyper and rambunctious and would scare the other residents.  I want to find a trainer to work with them, but that will take a while.  In the mean time, he is so lonely.  On his good days he is still pretty high functioning at least part of the day, but none of the other residents in MC can even hold a conversation.  The staff are doing their best to engage him in activities, but he wants no part of it.  He just wants to come home and be with his dogs.  I spoke with the nursing director, and she thought visits home might be ok, but did point out that when other families take residents out, there are multiple people to help if things get out of hand.  In my case, it's just me.  And I am much smaller than he is.  

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 2:45 PM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 983

Not having pets, and not having a home to take Mom back to, this idea nevertheless comes to mind. Do the dogs ever walk/play at a dog park? Could they be persuaded to do so on the leash? It would be a fun outing for dad to boot. Neutral ground, nice weather, barks and licks and big brown eyes, etc?
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 3:02 PM
Joined: 6/21/2019
Posts: 686


You need to go back to your earlier posts detailing the events that caused your DH to be placed in a MC.

He appears to have Lewy Body Dementia. It got bad enough to place him there. You had hit the wall where you couldn't take care if him ay more.

I think you miss his presence in the house and the dogs are an excuse to bring him home "for a day."

If he decides he's not going back to the MC, and becomes physical, what are you going to do?

The MC told you you're on your own in bringing him back?

You have no idea what that Lewy Body Dementia is telling him.  He knows you put him in the MC. 

You really need to think this through before you remove him from where he's being cared for and you are safe.


King Boo
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 3:02 PM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 3233

Generally, a visit to the old home is seldom a good idea.

Those few situations where it  has been reported to be OK (emphasis on the very FEW, it usually upsets both the PWD and the family member)

have occurred FAR LATER after the initial adjustment - as in many, many months later.

What little gains have been achieved in 2 weeks are likely to be undone

It could be equally cruel to allow him to go home, get upset all over again and create a crisis situation where you cannot get him back.  BTW, seeing the dogs once is unlikely to settle things.  It's a new reality - what seems rational in the old world no longer works.  

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 3:28 PM
Joined: 10/9/2014
Posts: 1041

I agree that taking someone from an MC where they are being cared for, on the chance that things will go well is very risky.  The prospect that he could get very agitated, refuse to get back into the car, get upset, etc. when you attempt to return him.....very scary, imo. I would seriously consider the risk vs. the reward. I'd go for photos or better yet, focusing on other things.
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 3:51 PM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 2166

Bringing your DH home a mere two weeks into the adjustment process, when you have no one to back you up physically or emotionally, is worse than "not a good idea". Don't do it.

Perhaps you could bring the dogs for a visit one at a time and have the visit in the outdoor garden area of the facility.
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 4:11 PM
Joined: 7/17/2017
Posts: 403

I agree with the others here for the same reasons.  There are just too many things that could go wrong.  Perhaps you could take one of the dogs for a short trip, and your Dad could take a little walk with you outside and visit with a dog on a leash?
MN Chickadee
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 6:52 PM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1008

I strongly urge you give it more time before doing anything that may disrupt his adjustment like taking him home. Two weeks is a drop in the bucket in terms of adjusting to MC. Even if it goes ok and he doesn't refuse to go back to the facility, what does it really accomplish? The risks far out weight the benefit at this point. The MC adjustment takes immersion in the routine, staff, and surroundings of his new home. If it wasn't the dogs it would be something else. I'm of the opinion that it's actually not fair to the PWD to do anything to disrupt the adjustment like take them home. We are asking a lot of them, and to give in to our own  emotions and wistful (and understandable) wants and needs, and not be strong enough to do make the tough decisions isn't fair to them given their cognitive impairment. Easier said than done; I know how wrong it feels. 

I know how hard the first weeks are. I really do. I was in a similar head space and was talked down from doing things I shouldn't have by this forum. I can see now, nearly a year later, that what needed to happen was for me to give it time and deal with my own grief. It worked out as well as it could, but wow the initial journey was fraught with emotions. I desperately wanted to do something to alleviate my mom's distress, and I would have done anything because we were all in so much pain and I felt so helpless. Find other ways to bring him joy. Maybe take the dogs to the the facility's courtyard. Or bring videos of them. Or find someone else's well behaved dog to take for a visit. And sometimes we have to accept that the dementia won't allow joy right now. Doesn't mean that's forever.  We do our best. I hope after some time you two are able to find some moments of peace and joy. Perhaps after some more time you can take him on outings. 

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 10:25 PM
Joined: 2/4/2017
Posts: 512

Perhaps Therapy Dogs are welcome at his MC facility.  They are such a delight and residents love visiting with them.  It would give him something to look forward to since he's a dog lover.


Posted: Friday, September 6, 2019 1:54 PM
Joined: 3/10/2019
Posts: 145

Ok, thanks all:  message received.  Home visits are super risky and probably a bad idea at this point.  I think I am in bargaining phase of grief, when I just want to have a sliver of my old life back even if it's only for a few hours.  But I shouldn't trade my safety away to get it.   Will start with the dog trainer soon.

DH is declining so fast I have a feeling by the time the dog is trained enough to visit, he will have forgotten about the dog.  The awfulness never lets up does it...

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2019 12:01 AM
Joined: 8/24/2017
Posts: 7

It does not. I am sorry you are going through this. It is terrible. You might want to watch Sixty and me on utube.  It might help you feel a little better and please know you’re not alone.
Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2019 8:14 AM
Joined: 6/24/2012
Posts: 520

So glad to read this and that Cat, you now understand the risks.  I have been struggling with this for two years... not bringing mom here, even before putting her into memory care.  We know how much they 'loved' the dogs, or 'loved the whatever' and it works against our being able to make the right choices for them.  We want that photo in our mind of a great afternoon to hang on our memory wall.  My mom refused to leave my house and 'hid' under a pile of blankets so that we would not see her.  Ever since that day I don't bring her here.  She can't understand and is so forlorn about it, but it is kinder not to bring her here anymore.  
The truth is, we really don't know them any longer.  And they don't know themselves. So we have to adjust our expectations and live with the fact that their lives are not ever going to be what we think or want for them.  It's never going to get better.   

My mantra these days is "You can't make it better.  Just don't make it worse."