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  1. #1

    How do we tell mum she isn't coming home

    We finally agreed we had to take mum to a care home (which so far is proving really good). She was very aggressive at first, threatening suicide and punching me, but has calmed down somewhat.
    However she believes she is only in the home for two weeks and we're at our wits end as to how to tell her (truth or white lies, whichever anyone else has found best) that she is staying there .......we (my 80 year old dad who has health problems, and myself who moved back home to look after them both) simply can't manage her at home any more.
    She has been at the C.H. less than a week and has already packed her suitcase ready to leave.
    Does anyone have any advice please?

  2. #2
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    Nov 2011
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    Hi Ros

    Hard one this. If it were me I would use a series of delay tackics like decorating, leaks etc for her being delayed going home and the time would get longer and longer.

    I am sure others will have far better suggestions as they have actually had to go through this which - I have not so heck what do I really know

    However I wish you luck as the immediate road ahead is going to be bumpy.

    Very Best Wishes

  3. #3
    I have had the same scenario with my Dad for 6 months! He is still under the impression he will be going home.
    I used to try and explain on a daily basis but this just got Dad agitated.
    He has a daily plan of how he is to escape, he's packed his bags more times than I can count.
    I no longer tell him he will be staying there, I just listen and agree with planning and try to divert the conversation. It's heartbreaking at first.
    My advice would be to keep stalling.

    In one of his moments of clarity my Dad once said to me 'I have to keep being 'p*ssed' off, its the only thing that keeps me going, please don't take my hope away'.

    Dad currently resides 1/4 in our reality and 3/4 in his own. it's that 1/4 when he's still with us that still needs the hope. When he's in the midst of his dementia reality he doesn't ask to go home and is relatively content.
    I am only able to cope with any of this because I know if my Dad could see himself now (dementia free), he would accept his situation and his dementia.

    I hope you find a way to settle your mum. It can be a long, exhausting and guilt ridden journey, I really hope yours isn't.
    good luck x
    I know what I'm going to do..... I just haven't found out yet!

  4. #4
    Hello Ros, I am sorry to read about your mum. I think it is quite usual for people to behave like this to begin with, your mum may begin to recognise her surroundings as the days go by. Have you been able to take some familiar things in for her, to make her room feel more like home?

    To be honest we told my FIL little white lies, I wasn't happy about this but when I spoke to the NH manager she said that none of the residents were ever told they would not go home. We always said it was for the doctors to decide and that he wasn't well enough at that moment. I am still not completely happy about this, but we couldn't have told him otherwise.

    Very best wishes to you, I hope your mum settles very soon, please let us know how you all get on. x

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by choccy View Post
    I am only able to cope with any of this because I know if my Dad could see himself now (dementia free), he would accept his situation and his dementia.
    ...and he would say you are making the right decisions on his behalf. That's a good way of thinking through and resolving these sort of problems.

  6. #6
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    Feb 2012
    I agree wholeheartedly with all the other posts and in my own case, I am telling Mum that there is a major plumbing job to be done in her flat in London before she can go back. My sister is accusing me of "lying" and refers to the dear old Mental Capacity Act - past wishes etc. as if a demented persons past wishes should be to be in residential care!! I challenge anyone, professionals or otherwise to tell me how you deal with a situation like this without telling white lies.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2012
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    I always think -- you can never be absolutely sure someone is never going home -even if the home ceases to exist the family may transfer the home to somewhere else in their own minds

  8. #8
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    Mar 2009

    I agree that it's kinder not to say outright that you're not coming home. When Dad first went into the Nursing Home, the manager told us that we should say that he was convalescing, and would be able to go home when he was better. That's sort of true: if he were to make a full recovery, there would be no reason for him to be there, it's just that I know that won't happen.

    Now that the dementia has taken such a strong hold, Dad doesn't talk about going home at all. He often tells me that he's just come back from Manchester, or London, or been to his Mum's house, even though he can't get out of his chair. Some days when I visit, it turns out that we're on a cruise, which is nice! Quite a few residents go out and about with their relatives, out for meals or to the seaside which is only a couple of miles away, but Dad has never been well enough for that. The home has a cafe in the gardens, and Dad doesn't know that he hasn't been anywhere different. He's always pleased to see that a lot of his friends are there too!

    I hope things get easier for you soon. In Dad's home, one or two residents still ask to go home, but for most people, that phase seems to pass.

    Love and hugs,

    Sue xxx

  9. #9

    Thanks for all your advice

    Thanks for your advice everyone. I guess we'll bend the truth and see how that goes.

  10. #10
    I do think bending the truth is the way to go. I always tried to avoid anything that would upset my mother. Now it is all academic, as she is in the late stage of Alzheimer's and no longer speaks. But she smiles and laughs and seems contented.
    Carer and Volunteer Moderator
    When you've seen one person with Alzheimer's, you've seen one person with Alzheimer's

  11. #11
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    Apr 2012

    Keep your Chin up

    We have the same problem with Mum. She was beyond belief for the first two weeks, trying to escape, packing her case, running away. Now that the doctor , and you know how older people respect the doctor, has told her she can go home when she is better, all is calm. I expect there will be times when she will start up again but at least she seems to somehow understand that when she is better she will go home. Not to the home she has but in her mind she is going home to the home she had when she was in her 20's. It is so sad as Mum is 92. I agree this is the most cruel of diseases and at times you do lose faith but it comes back.

    Remember she is safe and in this day and age that is everything.

  12. #12
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    May 2011
    After 2 months of this, mum finallygradually stopped. She's been in the home now for 5 months and dosnt remember living with us before this. She still says she wants togo home, but I think she knows its not ever going to happen.

    When she was doing her bloody-minded bit at the start we used to just change the subject or when she was being really horrid Id say, this is why we cant have you at the moment because its making me ill (which it was). Id then leave, telling her Id come back when she was in a better mood.
    Yes, its awful, yes, it did get me down, and when I was not there, she was loving it.
    A bit like leaving a toddler at nursery school.......

    Its just rubbish, but persevere....

  13. #13
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    Dec 2011
    I'm going through this too, and have come to the conclusion that you can't ever tell them straight that they are never going home, because they can't understand why not and it will only upset them. Plus the "home" they are thinking of is usually not their actual home, but the home of their childhood or a safe time many years ago, to which it is impossible to return in real terms.

    It's often hard for relatives to take this on board, as it goes against all normal reasoning instinct (you hate lying and think that if it were you, you might be upset, but would like to be told straight so that you could come to terms with it); and we imagine that if we were being held somewhere against our will, we would be packing our bags too and that's an entirely justifiable response. But the fact is that normal reasoning doesn't apply. My mum was compulsively packing her bags in exactly the same manic and irate way for months before going into care, when she was still living in her own home. She had stopped recognising it and even then would often be sobbing or railing that she wanted to "get out of this place, I hate it here; first thing tomorrow, I'm going home!" It was no use telling her she already was home.

    Now she's been in care for six months; it's an excellent home and physically she is much better (has put on weight, eating regularly etc). I know she is well cared for, and when I'm not there, friends report that she is generally fine. But every time she sees me, she will say she wants to go home and asks "when have they said I can go?" I now realise this is unlikely to change, and that it would have been just as bad if she had continued in her own home (with the added risks of daily harm), so the only thing to do is distract her if possible. E.g. she thinks she's in a hotel, hospital, or convalescent centre. If she asks if I've been told when she's going home, I just try to say "when you're better" (which as the previous poster above has said, will be never), or vaguely remind her that she was feeling poorly, strange, or frightened before she came here, and just needs to be looked after for a bit. And then change the subject as quickly as possible, e.g. let's go and have a cup of tea, what's on telly, what's in the paper, oh look, there's the cat etc.

    The thing is, she doesn't have any concept of time, so doesn't know how long she's already been there; if she asks, I do lie now and vaguely mumble "a couple of weeks", because there would be no point telling her the truth. It feels awful, but if she only thinks she's been there for a couple of weeks, and might be going home any day now, when she's "ready", but not just yet, that can be extended indefinitely.

    I have heard other residents saying similar things; sometimes they get their coats on to "go", but because the corridors go round in a circuit and the unit is secure, they come back round in five minutes, think they've been somewhere, can be distracted by a cup of tea, and decide not to "go" again until tomorrow. The important thing, I guess, is not to take away the mental possibility that they could leave if they wanted to - but just not right now.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedelia View Post
    I have heard other residents saying similar things; sometimes they get their coats on to "go", but because the corridors go round in a circuit and the unit is secure, they come back round in five minutes, think they've been somewhere, can be distracted by a cup of tea, and decide not to "go" again until tomorrow. The important thing, I guess, is not to take away the mental possibility that they could leave if they wanted to - but just not right now.
    Is this a specialist dementia home? Because my mother's is designed like this, too - it was purpose built and IMO very well designed - plenty of space for wandering round and round.

    BTW my mother's been in her CH nearly 5 yrs now, and I still get, 'Can we go home how?' (not that she'd have a clue what she means by 'home' if anyone asked.)

    I have made up umpteen different fibs about why we can't go just now, but tomorrow, or a bit later on, once I've done X, Y or Z (all the excuses why I've got to shoot off just for a little while, fib fib fib...)

    I have also told her about a million times that I'm looking for a nice little flat for her, just down the road from me - when I find a really nice one we'll go and look at it together. If I were Pinocchio my nose would have gone about 6 times round the world by now.



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