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How to respond to Mom's Requests for Me to Take Her Home
Dave Cahail
Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 6:47 PM
Joined: 6/24/2018
Posts: 41

Frequently, Mom asks my siblings and I about going home. We have continuously told her to talk to the assisted living / memory care doctor where she resides about it as that doctor (and a previous doctor) have made it a requirement for her to have 24x7 care due to her vascular dementia (she also has mobility issues and uses a walker). She is less demonstrative about asking to go home than she used to be fortunately but it still wears on us. She doesn't like the doctor at the assisted living / memory care facility as Mom thinks she doesn't give Mom enough attention and that the doctor has also told her she needs to stay at the facility due to Mom's care needs. Mom of course doesn't agree - I can do everything I could do before. Besides telling Mom to talk to the doctor, we also deflect to other topics. 

I made it possible in both 2015 and 2017 for Mom to go home with some help after hip surgery and rehab. When I had to bring her back to rehab in late 2017 after it was obvious she wasn't taking care of herself and couldn't make decisions (obvious Sundowners Syndrome), I told my siblings I cannot take Mom home again. We moved her from rehab in Jan 2018 to the assisted living / memory care facility where she is now.  

I am curious what other caregivers are telling their LOs when they ask to go home. Just looking for some other responses to use.

I am also thinking I need to pullback on my contact and visits with her to every 10 days or so, specially since I have made it possible in the past for her to go home. But given her care needs, it just isn't possible even if she was willing to have someone in her home to provide the level of care required. 

Thanks for your assistance.

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 6:58 PM
Joined: 5/9/2018
Posts: 87

I have the same issue (although I do not have any siblings).  I would be curious to see what responses you get as I could use similar suggestions.  My Mom has begun to resort to screaming about going back to her house (she uses a walker and also has mobility problems).  I will be following your thread looking for answers.  If I speak with my mother on the phone and she brings the subject up, I usually say we'll talk about it tomorrow and she forgets although for the past week or so she has become more adamant about going home.  The guilt is terrible but I know that she is safe which is most important.
Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 7:29 PM
Joined: 10/24/2018
Posts: 1090

A) don't use what I used. 3 years ago when the move from her sunny peaceful widow's apartment to AL happened, we told her straight up, because she has a bull hockey detector the size of the Titanic, this is home now. Complete fail. Adjustment took a year. One year ago, move 600 miles from AL to AL/MC, she is still as good detecting the manure, I refined it a bit. "Can you learn to call this home?" Shades of Jane Austen!

Now, of course, "home" is something else entirely. She's no longer angry, but yearning, and not quite sure of where home is. You are not there yet, sounds like. 

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 8:14 PM
Joined: 5/16/2017
Posts: 596

My mom frequently said she wanted to live somewhere else.  I would tell her ‘the doctor says you cant live on your own.  You cant live with me or (other siblings), because we are not home enough.   You come up with a plan about where you want to go + who you are going to live with + I will help you do it’

She did not have mental abilities or even the capability to use the phone so she was at a loss as to how to proceed. 

I would sometimes say to her, I know the whole situation is shi**ty, but there is no alternative. 

My mom was mainly non verbal for the last two years of her life, which of course meant an end to questions about leaving 

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2019 8:55 PM
Joined: 3/23/2018
Posts: 3

My mom has been in AL for about a year and a half.  She has Alzheimer's and had really declined fast at that point and clearly couldn't take care of herself.  She was really fuzzy mentally and the transition was fairly easy because of that.  And we told her we needed to get her better and stronger.  Well she GREATLY improved because of the wonderful care and they figured out she had a UTI that caused the sudden decline.  But as she healed and felt better we just kept putting it off because it was such a good and wonderful situation.  We told her she was doing better and that time would tell.  And then, I started taking her out and home for day trips.  We would visit and water her flowers and pick up a few things and it was enough! She really enjoyed the best of both worlds.  Over time she has stopped even asking about her home and doesn't recall really living anywhere but the AL house now.  It is her home.   I was terrified the first time I brought her home, but we had been doing little errands and making outings so it just became one.  My mom has made every part of this terrible disease so incredibly easy for all of us from the very beginning, though.  She asked to see a doctor.  She decided to give up driving.  She handled the legal and financial decisions early.  Now, she is so limited and yet still so incredibly calm and settled.  I am so fortunate.
Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 5:11 AM
Joined: 8/12/2017
Posts: 250

You're on the right track, defer to someone who is not on site.  Let her know you are on her side.

I'm sorry, Mom, I'm working on it.  I know.  I'll talk to / I have a call into the director.  We'll get this sorted out.  In the meantime, your doctor wants you to get some rehab here.  And the food is pretty darn good.

Deflect and repeat.  Eventually she will forget how she got there.

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 8:24 AM
Joined: 1/17/2016
Posts: 913

Dave, what worked before may not work now or again.  If there is one thing I learned with this illness is how to be a good fibber and take pride in my lies bringing my mom comfort.  Watch some Teppa Snow if you haven't already.  My mom did the "take me home" deal repetitively and yes, it is wearing, but if you can switch it up then everyone wins.

I would tell my mom I was working on it.  I could never say that a doctor said she had to because my mom couldn't care less about "doctor's orders."  I would tell her that I have a meeting with their administration and I would let her know.  Just remember that your mom will not recall what you have told her so whatever BS feels right for you at the time is fair game.

My mom started to feel like I totally had her back since I was "working on it" and eventually she moved on to some other thing.  There will be lots of repetitive requests and I'm sorry you have to deal with it, but like I said before... I felt so happy when I would BS and she was cool.  I never lied before her illness.  I have another theory too and that is if they are still asking, they are still thinking.  My mom was still able to hold a decent conversation even moving into stage 6 and after having a stroke.  It can be wearing, but now it's 1.5 years after she's gone and as rough as the experience was, I feel good about my part.

As for visiting, you do what feels right and comfortable for you.  Mom will most likely not know if it's 5, 7 or 10 days.  I made sure to at least do once a week, but that was just me.  I was able to take my mom out to lunch and wheel her around a few shopping stores and we were able to bond better outside her MC.

MN Chickadee
Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 9:14 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1044

We blamed the doctor. The doctor wants you to stay here for a few more days, but it's pretty nice! Did you see they are serving ice cream this afternoon? 

Can you find something believable about her home that might prevent her from going now? It's being repainted inside, a pipe burst, the furnace broke etc. I'm working on  getting it fixed for you, but for now you can stay here.  Just stay here tonight for me. 

You're always working on it, it's always next week it might be ready. It's a hard situation, I know. Eventually it will pass and she will stop asking. 

King Boo
Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 12:54 PM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 3258

Deflect and redirect.  Some are more persistant than others, but for many it works.

"Home?  I don't know.  I'll have to ask the doctor (loose the diagnosis discussion, that isn't helping you at all).  "what's your favorite part about home?  The garden?  I like the outdoors too.  Let's get a snack and go outside now!"

"I hope sometime soon. You're getting stronger!  You have therapy now, let's go show them how you are walking!".

"I don't know, Mom.  I'd like to go home too!  It has my favorite food.  I feel like chocolate ice cream now, let's go to the dining room and get some........

etc.  It's a bit of an art, has to be perfected to what works for your LO.

Similar to how it goes when they ask for deceased family members.  "They're  not here now. "

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2019 1:43 PM
Joined: 12/17/2018
Posts: 289

Rockym wrote:

I would tell my mom I was working on it....  My mom started to feel like I totally had her back since I was "working on it" and eventually she moved on to some other thing.  There will be lots of repetitive requests and I'm sorry you have to deal with it...

Couldn't agree more.  I find the more my mother believes that I'm 'with her' on what she wants, the easier it is for her to relax.  Ultimately, it is the stress and confusion of their disease dictating the want to go home.  What they really want is to not feel so confused anymore.  Home was comfort and safety.  
I actually made a similar post to yours about a year ago.  I was sooooo tired of dodging the go home train.  I was told around that time that I needed to move my mother from her open door care unit.  They were tired of her and it showed.  They barely paid any attention to her and just did what needed to be done.  On top of that, they were losing money so they scaled back on activities and entertainment.  
Fast forward to 6 months ago when I moved Mom to MC.  NIGHT and DAY!!  I couldn't believe how happy my mother became.  In the last 6 months I've heard her talk about going home just from a a forgetfulness point of view - not a yearning.  She feels safe there, there is a lot more activity and they redirect her when she starts 'looking for something'.  
About a month ago, I was away and so was her companion.  The beast resurfaced.  They had to phone my brother (who doesn't live in town) so he could talk her down.  She was not a happy camper.  I've realized how important activity and distraction is to my mother and her happiness.  I knew it before but that really solidified it.  If she doesn't have enough activity / distraction to keep her focused on other things, she will become unhappy and feel unsafe.  
To that end, I've added even more hours for the companion to visit and 'play with Mom'.  I've also hired a musician for weekly visits and I'll hire another in February.  I've noticed that she will stay happy for hours after activity.  

Not everyone is the same, but I believe that the yearning to go home is a plea for something that they need to make them feel OK.  Try to look beyond the words to what they are yearning for.  And then, to the best of your ability, try to make it happen for them. 

PS - To help alleviate the feeling of being along, you might want to look into a Joy For All pet or perhaps doll therapy.  My mother's Joy For All cat has been an amazing help!

Best of luck

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