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Father wants out of memory care
Donna TX
Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 1:57 PM
Joined: 3/13/2019
Posts: 1

We placed my father in MC in January.  He was "diagnosed" with Alzheimer's just a month before by his family doctor.  He's lived alone since my mother died in 2001.  He was never close to my sisters and I while we were growing up.  It has always been about him and his needs.  Always.  His whole focus these past 18 years has been on finding a girlfriend/someone to marry him.  Preferably significantly younger.  His next focus was on his money, car and house. (Interestingly enough, since being in MC, he has not once asked us about his house, car or money.)  We (my two sisters and I) spoke frequently to him on the phone and never once did he ask about us, our lives, spouses or his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Yet, he is our father and we will always do the right thing in seeing he has the best care possible and the support and love of his family.   He did an excellent job of hiding his symptoms from us.  When we finally understood what was happening, even AL was not appropriate.  He had to be in a lock down-type facility.  He has been labeled an "exit seeker".  Every visit is filled with constant talk about "getting out".  How it's "not going to work" for him.  Asking each person if they have room for him and can he go home with them.  His grown grandchildren don't even want to visit because they feel to guilt ridden at having to say no.  We want to take him to a neurologist for testing and a true diagnosis but are afraid to remove him from the facility for fear it would be a horrible fight to get him back there.  Same for family gatherings or just a lunch or ice cream outing.  Has anyone else experienced this and how did you handle it?  Do they eventually accept their new home?
D in law
Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 2:57 PM
Joined: 4/24/2017
Posts: 517

Maybe in another couple of months.  Sometimes they get diverted to exit seeking by doing something else.  Like having a job at the MC.  Sometimes they will always want to go home. no matter what.

I just accepted whatever came in the present and did my best to acknowledge, "I know you want to go home, I'll see what I can do about that" and change the subject.

I would give him more time to adjust to the environment before trying an outing.

I wouldn't worry too much about the children/grandchildren visiting.  No guilt or obligation required with this disease.   You did the right thing by placing him where his needs can be met.

MN Chickadee
Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 3:18 PM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 749

My mom was (is) an exit seeker at MC. The first month it was constant. She paced, she set off the alarms constantly. She would phone us to come get her, asked to go home with strangers. She has been there 4 months now and it has improved. Not 100% yet but better. The first 6 weeks especially felt like two steps forward, one step back with any improvements. Regarding taking him out, I would wait until he stops exit seeking so much. Unless it is an urgent medical need I would wait. Getting an appointment with a neuro often takes months anyway so schedule it out for a few months. I would hold off on taking him out to lunch or coffee because returning might be a setback. 

When we visit we try to time it so when we leave something is going on (a meal being served, an activity, her hair cut etc. Bonus points when it's ice cream social time.) So then she has a distraction. She often is on to us and it is hard, I know. But you get used to it. We often say let's go use the bathroom before lunch or wash hands. Act like we are staying for lunch or whatever it is. I go in and use the restroom first, then tell her it's her turn. While she is in there I tell the aide where she is and leave. I know how wrong that feels but for us it's the calmest, kindest way. Her memory is so bad that 5 minutes later she doesn't remember I was there. If your dad's is better, hopefully the staff is well trained and can redirect him. I also tell whichever staff member  is her favorite or best at distraction what time I plan to leave and signal them when I'm getting ready. They can swoop in and distract and provide some extra attention. There is another gentleman at her facility who does exactly what you describe your dad doing. It's just what some people do and I know it is very hard to watch. I'm sorry. We found a handwritten letter (and photocopies) telling my mom she was where she should be, the doctor "wanted her to stay there a few days" and we would see her soon. The staff would refer to that letter alot when she got confused and agitated. Therapeutic fibs are ok. Tell him it is temporary. Maybe the doctor wants him there for observation for a few days (either for memory or maybe he has some other health issue like high blood pressure or a bad hip.) When he is asking to go home it's ok to tell him maybe tomorrow or next week and then change the subjetct. 

Some PWD will not be happy. Some would not be happy anywhere. My mom was becoming increasingly unhappy at the home she wants to go back to. You have to keep telling yourself that what is most important is that he is safe and cared for. Sometimes happy isn't possible, but I would say it's too early to even think that now. This really can take a long time for adjustment. My mom continues to make small improvements each week that passes. Good luck. 

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 3:37 PM
Joined: 3/13/2019
Posts: 1

My story is very similar to yours. I placed my father in a locked assisted living in late December. He hates it there. He wants to go home (which is 10 hours away). I guess it's a blessing that he cannot find the door because he is blind. The first time he left his room since arriving there was this past Saturday when I asked him to go to lunch with me in the cafeteria area. He leaves me around 10 messages a day and calls me even more, most of which are angry and nasty (i.e. threatening to sue me, making up stories about things we've done to him, telling me there is a drug ring in the facility - none of which are true). I learned that I can block him, but still get his messages. I try to only talk to him when he is in a good mood. Often, I quickly change the subject when I notice that he's headed down the path of no return. Last week, he was taken to the hospital for confessing to three people on staff and the Sheriff and EMS when they arrived that he had a plan to commit suicide. When he was evaluated at the hospital, it was deemed that his threats were manipulation tactics, which I am well aware of. Senior Psych Services is supposed to see him either today or tomorrow. I want him to have the care and dignity he deserves as he ages, but I'm really struggling with how to deal with him.
Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 3:49 PM
Joined: 3/13/2019
Posts: 1

Donna, I understand how you feel.  My 82 yo mother also hid the progression of symptoms well.  I lived 1 1/2 hour south of her.  Older brother in FL younger brother, intellectually disabled.  Due to our very troubled relationship all my life (she narcissistic), I was not visiting frequently so had no idea just how bad it had gotten.  If not for my younger brothers caseworker, it would have been even worse.   And it was VERY bad. Older brother made trip from FL, we told her we were going look at some AL facilities.  She was very combative. She was fine in her home, we were not going to put her away and scheme how to get her possessions!  With ALF cooperation we had lunch and started to leave one by one.  When just my brother and I left jig was up.    She screamed, yelled, cursed us, threatened to get an attorney that night and sue the hell out of everyone.   Worst night ever.  We were told to give it a few days, then return.  

When we did she was on anti anxiety meds, and much calmer.  That was July 2018.  She was a high risk runner, needing to wear sensor, until about December.   She has one good friend there, but her “reality” is she is just visiting and will be leaving any day.   She will not hang up clothes or unpack.   I have to secretly do her laundry and return to packed after.  She seems to be able to cope with living there only if she believes it is temporary.   She is happier because of antidepressants, is well fed and safe.  When talks of her house, I deflect and say it is being taken care of for her and her possessions are stored.  So it might get easier for you, but it is a steep learning curve.   Good luck.

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 3:57 PM
Joined: 4/29/2016
Posts: 16

My partner of 34 years was placed in memory care about 6 weeks ago.  He is always plotting to get out like your father.  Unfortunately now he is using verbal abuse against the staff as well as ramming some of them with his walker.  (kind of like he was treating me and his daughter when we were taking care of him.  The facility is going to give him a psych evaluation and give him a different medication for agitation.  Hoping it works..And yes he is very self-centered.  So hope you find a solution!


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