Mother in care wants to return home

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by grang, May 1, 2013.

  1. grang

    grang Registered User

    May 1, 2013
    Manchester, England
    Hi, I'm new to this forum, and I just wondered if anyone has any suggestions how to convince someone in a Care Home for their own safety, that they can't return home, when they can't remember the reasons for being in the Care Home in the first place. My Mother had numerous falls and obviously couldn't cope when left alone in her own home, so we reluctantly had her admitted to a Care Home. Every day, she asks the same question "when am I going home again?". How do I convince her that she can't, when she can't remember any of what happened previously?
  2. Butter

    Butter Registered User

    Jan 19, 2012
    Welcome to TP grang. I am sorry to hear about your mother.

    Sometimes, the best and kindest way is to distract a person. To give vague answers. Residents are often not going to understand or agree with you - and trying to reason with people who are unwell can upset them without helping them.

    My mother was determined to leave her CH. We would say things like:

    So-and-so is visiting .... you want to be here when they come.

    We have to see what the doctor says.

    Let's see how you get on.

    I have also read that you can say something like: You have to build up your strength first.

    I know is is very distressing. I hope your mother comes to accept her situation. But I know it is not always as simple as that.
  3. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
    Hi welcome to TP. You found us. That's good. You had the need to find us, that's not so good.

    Tell mum of course she can go home, you will sort it out, but it has to be tomorrow before you can do anything.

    White lies. Comfort lies, bending the truth, what ever you want to call it. So long as mum feels there is a possibility that she can go home, that may calm her.

    There is the other argument that the "wanting to go home" is wanting to go back to when it was safe, where everything made sense, and was normal. So it could be a possibility, that when she asks to go home, she doesn't actually mean the building, but could mean she is feeling vulnerable.

    Compassionate communication (sometimes you need to have your halo on to use it) can be something you can use

    It's so hard isn't it. You have now done the easy hard bit, you joined Talking Point. You will get so much support, understanding and hopefully you won't feel you are "the only one" now.
  4. 1954

    1954 Registered User

    Jan 3, 2013
    welcome to TP but sorry you have to find us

    It is best to distract. Don't tell her the truth as she will never accept it. Tell her what she needs to hear. Don't tell her she will not go home as she will get agitated
  5. grang

    grang Registered User

    May 1, 2013
    Manchester, England
    Thanks for your replies

    It was so unfortunate. She has been suffering recurring water infections, and she had no idea where she was when she first went into care. Now that it is being treated she is rational enough to complain about her situation, but her memory is so poor that there is no way she could be left alone. So it is a real "catch 22" problem where she can't understand the problem, but finds the solution unacceptable.
    Thanks again.
  6. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    North Derbyshire
    Little White Lies are the answer. My mum was the same.

    Some tiles have come off the roof, they are coming to look at it next week.

    The boiler went on the blink. They are coming to assess it next week.

    We have to wait till the doctor has sorted you out with your legs/hip/eyes/ whatever.

    In a few weeks, she will stop asking. So they say. My mother never did. But she did forget which house she was talking about, and when she told me 71 St Mary's Road I realised she was going back to her childhood.

    It's dead hard to lie, but it's the only way to save them distress.


  7. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    Hello, so sorry you've got all this worry. To be honest, you can't really reason with someone with dementia - not past a certain stage, anyway. And particularly in this sort of case, when they simply can't remember for five minutes - even if they accept it when you tell them - that they couldn't manage at home at all. So there isn't much point in trying - you'll just go round in futile circles.

    Distraction may help, but it doesn't work for everybody and certainly didn't with my mother in exactly the same circumstances. What many of us here have done is to tell whatever little white lies (or moderately fat grey ones ;)) will keep the person happy for the moment. (or at least a bit happier). E.g. 'It's just till the doctor says you're a bit better/stronger,' or 'It's just till they sort your medicines out,' or whatever you think might work and suits your own circumstances. 'The doctor says' will sometimes work when all else fails, and certainly shifts the baddie-blame away from you.

    If your mother's short-term memory is already very bad, she will probably not remember that you've said exactly the same before, so you can often 'recycle' the same one over and over. Mine certainly didn't remember - heaven knows how often I used the old tried-and-tested.

    Some people fret themselves that it's 'wrong' to fib to anyone like this, and of course none of us likes it, but sadly dementia changes all the rules and you just do whatever you have to to keep them as contented (or fret-free) as you can.
  8. zelana

    zelana Registered User

    Feb 11, 2013
    N E Lincs
    As the others have said it's a case of saying whatever is necessary at the time. We used to tell my Mum that the doctors wanted her to stay for a bit longer and she seemed to accept that.
  9. poll1

    poll1 Registered User

    Jun 15, 2009
    Hello, Grang - we are in very similar situations. My mum went into permanent residential care on Monday and I am already learning that with others and generally, while she is not happy, exactly, she is reasonably calm and manageable. When I visit, however, its a trigger for all the anger and frustration she feels about not being able to go home. Like your mum, she has no insight into her own condition and wouldn't have the capacity to remember if we told her the facts, but she isn't yet so far gone that she doesn't realise she's being fobbed off. The big fat fib here is 'It's just while Dad's not well; the dr thinks it wouldn't be safe for you to be at home together,' but in truth she's not having any of it.

    So. I am having to find a way to allow all that anger to roll off me, accept that this is how it's going to be for a while, try not to argue and most importantly, not take everything she says at face value. She was in a temporary assessment bed in another home before she moved and hadn't a good word to say about it; now she's claiming that she was very happy there and complaining like mad about the new place in exactly the same way.

    It's an impossible situation and I'm very sorry you're having to face it. Here's hoping things settle down a little bit for both of us eventually.
  10. grang

    grang Registered User

    May 1, 2013
    Manchester, England
    I am so glad I contacted you

    Like the previous contributer said, my Mum is now saying that she would rather be in the Home she was in previously, even though she can't remember being there, can't remember not wanting to be there either or the reasons we moved her out of there. It was very smelly and unhygienic, they lost all her clothes and her glasses, and she was constantly dirty. The idea of constantly lying doesn't come naturally, and my Daughter finds it much easier than I do, so she is in charge at the moment. However, I do feel as though a weight has been lifted off me by just reading all your similar experiences, so a very big Thank You.
  11. bad daughter

    bad daughter Registered User

    Jan 26, 2013
    Just to say I agree with all of the above. My mother moved house two years ago and hated the new place from the minute she arrived there. Now she's insisting she loved it and can't wait to get back there. We use a combination of LWLs and distracting remarks, which don't always work in which case we just have to roll with the punches. The CH staff are fantastic in helping in these situations.

    Telling lies can be uncomfortable, but the alternative (telling your loved one that they are ill, won't ever get better and can't go home) is much worse in my book
  12. lilysmybabypup

    lilysmybabypup Registered User

    May 21, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi grang,

    Welcome to TP, where you can see, there is wisdom, acceptance, and empathy. Sorry about your distressing situation.

    All of these suggestions are excellent, and it's trial and error. It may not work all the time or even some of the time, but it's worth a try.

    I don't have any clever ideas but I'd like to ease your anxiety about it all. It reminds me of when I taught Kindergarten. In the early stages, mums would bring their child into class, and sometimes the child would become very upset when mum would leave. Mum would go home feeling wretched, lingering on the image of their baby in such distress, and feeling awful all day. What they didn't realise was that within minutes of mum leaving, the child was settled and happy, all forgotten.

    It would be the same in the afternoons, the sheer relief of seeing mum again would bring on a flood of tears. Or if mum was delayed for a few minutes, the child would be happily waiting with me, chatting and calm, mum would appear, and it was tears everywhere! Why did you leave me? Why were you so long?

    The moral of my long tale is, mum sees morning tears and afternoon tears and is left wracked with guilt and an emotional wreck thinking of their baby so upset all day. Meanwhile, the child was playing, singing and enjoying the day. Your mum may be so upset when you arrive, spend the whole time wanting to go "home" (as others have said, home can mean comfort and security, not their residence). And then really get upset when you leave. You walk away with that image and think she's distressed the whole time, and feel awful. I'm sure that she settles once you're gone, sadly, she probably doesn't even recall your visit after you've left. Dad has Alzheimer's and lives with Mum in their home still but I'm there every day to support Mum. He would say to her that I hadn't been there for months and when would he see me?

    Finally, I don't think of little white lies as deception, I believe it's living in their reality, and it really avoids battles and distress. It's an accepted and kind method of coping, called "Validation Therapy". When you agree with their version of events or reassure them they will go home very soon, you're validating their perception.

    I hope your mum settles soon, and you relax a little more about her situation.

    Take care, xxx
  13. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    More than likely. I know my mother would forget even seconds after I'd left. I once charged back literally five minutes later because I'd left something behind - anyone would think she hadn't seen me for weeks.

    Following on from this, in such cases (when they will forget so quickly) it's so often easier not to say you're going home when you leave, but just e.g. popping to the shops/dry cleaners before they close, you'll be right back. Again, nobody likes fibbing, but anything to keep them happy/save tears, anxiety and fretting.

    It has occurred to me that after so many years of all this (mother and FIL) I could write a Compendium Of Little White Lies, Suitable For Every Occasion. ;)
  14. lilysmybabypup

    lilysmybabypup Registered User

    May 21, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Oh Witzend, that would be so handy. And I also do the slip-out on the quiet with Dad. He's still home with Mum but I'm there every day, and when I would leave, if I said goodbye, Dad would ask where I was going. I'd say home and he said it was probably time he made a move to get home as well. But of course he was home. So then I would say I was leaving but I'd be back tomorrow and he needed to stay there so he wouldn't miss my visit. He was fine with that, but now I just quietly slip out the door and he never asks Mum where I've gone. If I'm not in the room I'm not in his mind either. Mum has a glass sliding door beside the kitchen, and I have to walk past there when I go out the door. I had just left, and 2 seconds later when I went past the door, Dad, who is virtually blind, asked Mum who is that lady? She said it's your daughter, she was just here a second ago, and he said, that's not my daughter, and she hasn't been here for months!

    You've gotta laugh or you'll cry!

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