Holiday from care home?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by nessy22, May 24, 2015.

  1. nessy22

    nessy22 Registered User

    Nov 22, 2014
    Should I even be thinking about taking Mum out of her care home for a holiday this summer? Her memory seems improved a bit lately due to Donepezil ( I might be imagining this though) but her awareness of her situation has also enhanced. She hasn't settled in the CH after 5 months, and I get the constant 'what did I do wrong to be in here' questions which I can't really answer to any satisfaction.

    I live abroad but visit Mum most months and feel racked with guilt that I am not closer and don't have the courage to bring her over to stay with me.We missed the opportunity for her to come out after my Dad died ( she had cold feet ) and I realize now that she must have been incredibly lonely in spite of having lots of friends, some of her mood behavior might've been the start of Alzheimer's which I didn't appreciate. All in the past now:(

    Mum recently has been saying she would like to come over for a holiday and I wonder if I should even be considering this unless she stays permanently. As an alternative I thought that a holiday in the UK might be better option with my OH, visiting her old childhood haunts but avoiding going back to her home ( not sold yet ). However taking her back to CH could be a heartbreaking disaster.

    This has been nagging at me for a while now and I am not doing anything about it. Suppose I know what the answer is but just wondered if anyone had tried this and had a good experience.
  2. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    My gut reaction is no, don't do it., but you know your mum best.

    I took my mum away for a couple of nights before she went into a CH and tbh, it was like Groundhog Day. Really, really hard work. :(

    After that, I took her on outings, and once she moved into the CH I'd take her out for a drive in the car or into town in a wheelchair. But she was always happy to get back to the CH. If she'd kicked up a fuss about returning, I don't think I would have done it again.
  3. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    If you are going to fret and feel very guilty, then maybe just taking her for a couple of nights somewhere close by in the UK would help to make your mind up. Though you would almost certainly need to share a room with her and be prepared, as Chemmy says, for it not to be a restful experience!

    Not quite the same, but against CH advice we brought FIL home for a couple of nights his first Christmas in the CH. Having lived with us for quite a while he had been very familiar with our house and we had naively thought he'd enjoy it, since he always had pre dementia.

    The CH was absolutely right - he was confused and fretful much of the time - he was under the impression that it was his own house and he should be doing this or that job, and all the extra people were simply too much. It was during that time that he first started asking where his wife (dead some ten years) was.
    We did not repeat the experience, though I dare say we would have felt bad if we had not given it a try. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way...

    However that experience meant that I never even thought of trying it when it came to my mother, who was pretty bad when she went into the CH anyway, and was no longer at all familiar with our house since for years she had refused to leave her own house at all. I would take her out often, though, for a drive and a cup of tea and cake or ice cream somewhere nice. I was always afraid at first that she would refuse to return to the CH, since she had not settled very well, but on our return she always seemed to have forgotten where she was, or that she lived there. By the time I would get her back to her own cosy section, though, it would seem to be dimly familiar again.

    Not sure any of this will have helped! Good luck, these things are so hard and make you feel so heart-torn.
  4. Miss Merlot

    Miss Merlot Registered User

    Oct 15, 2012
    #4 Miss Merlot, May 24, 2015
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
    No, don't do it.

    Whatever appearances of improvement she might be displaying at the moment will likely unravel completely over the course of the trip - let alone the return to CH again...

    It will be seriously draining for you as well...

    MIL is in assisted living and still more or less coping within her own four walls, but even back in 2012 when she was less far down the dementia road, she (and we!) would be pushed well and truly over the edge by any overnight stays - both run up to and duration.

    Now the most ambitious we get is a matinee at Les Mis every few months, which counts as a huge treat in her world... Cause she's not been to see it since 1986 apparently! ;) Good job it's my favourite musical too!

    We find a musical is good as a day trip as over the course of the performance she is captivated, so we can give her an extended day out while really only having to cope "directly" ourselves with getting her there and back again and a nice dinner afterwards...
  5. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    I too had my mum stay with me for a week-end just before she went into a care home as I was wondering whether she could live with my husband and I. That week-end was enough to tell me that I couldnt do it. She was up all night fretting about "noises in the kitchen" and was really confused, so much so that I had to cut up her food for her as she couldnt remember how to do it.

    Now that she is in a care home she is much calmer. I think they respond to the routine of the home and with having people around them all the time - night and day. I could not take her away from the CH, but I can take her out for lunch and outings to the sea-side and she can cope for a few hours, but she is always glad to come back to the care home (she thinks its her own home).

    Is your mum incontinent? Requires help with dressing? Resistant to personal hygiene? Find out what the care workers have to do for her. You may well find that there would be a lot for you to do if she were away from the care home. Plus she is likely to be a lot more confused.
  6. Delphie

    Delphie Registered User

    Dec 14, 2011
    Hi nessy :)

    My advice would be to take your mum out for a night during your next monthly visit. Find a nice hotel and plan to do something not too demanding, and just see how that goes.

    If she's very confused being out and about, if the return to the CH is very stressful, if she simply doesn't get all that much pleasure out of it, then I personally wouldn't arrange anything longer or further away. If, on the other hand, you have a lovely time, then consider what else might be possible.

    I do think, though, that canary makes a valid point about routine. My mum seems 'better' in many ways now than when she was in the middle of her chaotic 'independence' back in her own home, but that's because she has lots of company and the attention of carers (who get to hand over to someone else and go home after a few hours), and a settled routine of food and activities, all in a lovely, calm environment that doesn't present her with any challenges.

    She can seem very switched on, but when I took her for a walk in the large care home garden to a part she doesn't normally get to, she very quickly became anxious and wanted to know where we were, where we were going, what time was it... so I imagine outings are beyond her now. I'm not brave enough to try!
  7. nessy22

    nessy22 Registered User

    Nov 22, 2014
    Thanks all of you for your very valuable advice and sharing experiences. When I am over we do go out a lot. I don't have a problem with Mum going back because she doesn't want to be 'late' incase she gets into trouble ( not at all the case ). Will talk to the CH about what they think. I like the suggestion about taking her out for a night ( sharing room in hotel of course ) sounds like good advice to try it out as it is 6 months since I last stayed with Mum. I think that a visit to a family ( supportive ) friend is a nice objective and pretty neutral territory. Alternatively, Miss Merlot reminded me how much Mum used to enjoy a concert so I will keep an eye out for something suitable.
    Take care all of you, Nessy22
  8. tre

    tre Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
    I do not know if it is in the right geographical area for your mum but the LSO does a few family concerts each year aimed at 7 to 11 year olds at the Barbican. I have taken my husband to these with great success as he always enjoyed classical music but now with the dementia will often hum along to the music which is fine at these concerts. Also they are of shorter duration which is good.
    I think there are family concerts in Birmingham too.
  9. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    My Mum has moderate Alzheimers, but still lives at home with Dad.
    Mum & Dad live in their own house behind mine.

    This time last year my sister and I took Mum to stay in a posh hotel for the night.
    We booked two adjoining rooms, but I was to sleep in the room with Mum.

    Not long after Mum going to bed, my sister and I were in the next room watching TV with the adjoining door slightly open. An hour later we could hear noises, next thing the door opening.
    Mum was about to go out in the hotel corridor in her nightie and no teeth :rolleyes:
    On seeing us ( thank goodness she recognised us" she said " where am I, how did I get here, and wheres your Dad"
    Got her settled into bed but the rest of the night I had to sleep with one eye open, and a chair propped against the door.
    Mum was awake at 5am, realised where she was, and that it was me in the bed next to her asking me to make her a coffee.
    However she didn't remember anything of the day before. Not even her sister coming to meet us at the hotel for afternoon tea.

    Even now, she keeps saying her and Dad are going to go on holiday... It's never going to happen :(
    I thought about taking Mum & Dad away for a weekend, but I am hesitant.
    Mums anxiety and confusion at being/waking up in strange surroundings in turn makes Dad worse.
  10. 100 miles

    100 miles Registered User

    Apr 16, 2015
    Hi Nessy,

    If you do go to stay in a hotel - I agree about sharing a room. And even then I would only recommend it if you are a light sleeper. And you put something against the door to give you and extra few seconds to act if she decides to do a runner in the night. I took my Mum away a year after diagnosis when she was mostly coping fine at home....but had to stop 3 escape attempts.

    At one stage I thought about a self catering break at Centre Parcs as the external doors to the villa can be locked with keys or a chain can be put on the door. It would also ease the problems with getting up and dressed in time for breakfast. But it may be too difficult for your mum.
  11. garnuft

    garnuft Registered User

    Sep 7, 2012
    IMO it would not be a good idea.

    I think sometimes we long for our expectations and hopes to triumph over adversity and so ameliorate the memories of the past.

    I think the best thing to do is accept what is 'now' and move forward with that, spend that time with your Mum in a way positive and reinforcing her life now, comfort and love are very important.

    It's harder, as it's easier to be distracted by outside input and activities but perhaps doesn't centre the purpose on the person themselves and their needs.

    My Mam got to the stage where she didn't care if she saw another lovely beach or glorious woodland, a lovely slice of cake meant nothing if she had the trauma of new circumstance as a side dish.

    But you know your Mum best, if it's the right thing to do, then I would do it but try to avoid your broken-heart or guilt being one of the reasons.
    Hard times. x
  12. DCzech

    DCzech Registered User

    May 18, 2015

    As well as taking my mother out for weekend days out, up to last year for four years I took her away for a 3-day break from the care home, but making sure it was at the most 3 hours away just in case she needed to see her own GP and I needed to get her back to the CH. However, last year her vascular dementia seemed to progress noticeably and I could see that the holiday away was not enjoyed by her as much as previous years. She was confused about her environment a lot of the time and looked weary, in fact she said she was "tired out". I am glad I took her away previous years as she so enjoyed the breaks and yet didn't feel sad to go back to the care home. Last year when we got back she slept for a day and when the GP visited her he said that it had been too much to take her away, even for a couple of days, and that only a ride out around the district where we live should be done in future. Every case is different though, isn't it? You can always try once and then be guided by that if you really think it will do her good. By the way, going away was still no "holiday" for me, as I had to be on the alert for toileting through the night, push her around in a wheelchair or simply drive her to see a beach, etc, where she then was unable to walk and so was I, of course. When my dad was alive he was too poorly to go anywhere so she was virtually trapped for a few years looking after him. I'll always remember the joy she felt at feeling the sea air after so long and being free to enjoy a break from routine. After last year though I now know that it will not be possible for a stay away when she would most likely suffer rather than enjoy it.

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