Mum in care home- thinks she is alone now....

Discussion in 'Middle - later stages of dementia' started by Emac, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. Emac

    Emac Registered User

    Mar 2, 2013
    Mum has been in a care home for six weeks, now. It has been a mixed experience in terms of how she has settled and how satisfied we have been with the care home. However by far the worst part is that the carers report that she is upset and needs reassurance in the mornings because she thinks she and my Dad have split up! She previously lived at home with him. Dad visits every other day and takes her out for a couple of hours and she sees my sister and I 2-3 times a week.

    We have tried to continue some of her normal activities, hair dressing appointment, and a night out with friends at the local golf club at the weekends. However on Saturday she thanked me for taking her to the toilet and said that she needs help because she is alone now and its good she has the girls( I think she means the carers) to help her. She was quite matter of fact about this. When I said that she was still with Dad and he visited most days she said. 'does he? I don't remember that but that's good'. She is obviously trying to make sense of the changes in her living circumstances. She has figured out this is not respite this time, as she told the carers I live here now I am not going home (and as far as I can gather no-one actually gave her that information).

    I find this completely heartbreaking and I am not sure how to respond or what to tell her. Sometimes she thinks I am a carer and seems unaware I am her daughter. Any thoughts?
  2. Mrsbusy

    Mrsbusy Registered User

    Aug 15, 2015
    It's quite common for sufferers to forget people who are related to them or mix them up for other relatives, even their own parents. If she doesn't recognise you when you first arrive you can just reminder her by saying its me mum , name, remember your daughter the one with the ? Hair, or six kids or whatever. She may not still remember you but will realise you are familiar to her in some ways.

    As she us concerned about not being with dad anymore can you not take a photograph of the two of them together whilst he visits her and put it in a frame for her. That way the carers can show it to her when no family are about and ask her questions etc to remind her he has been to see her. Even if he took a plant in for her room and put a tag on it to say much love from xxxxxx your husband. The carers would no doubt comment about it to her.

    It's early days yet by the sound of it and she seems to be settling in nicely compared to other people's stories on here so sure things will get easier for you.
  3. Emac

    Emac Registered User

    Mar 2, 2013

    Thanks Mrs Busy for your reply and suggestions. Over 100 people have read this and nobody else had responded. Maybe it does seem like she is settling in nicely compared to other people's stories but she's my Mum and it doesn't feel like that to me. :( I don't care that she doesn't remember me, but hate the idea of her crying every morning because she thinks she and Dad have split up.(Maybe because it feels a bit like that for me too!) I have put photos in her room of the four of us and her and Dad. The picture of her and Dad is often hidden in a drawer when I visit, perhaps because it upsets her, but I like the idea of the plant. I will suggest that to him. Thanks again.
  4. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    hi emac
    so sorry I did read your message late last night and wasn't quite sure how to respond. I understand your dilemma - your mum has superficially settled really well but is still really distressed at a particular time of day. It seems that it might be important to get her through that part of the day but I can't think of a good suggestion other than that your Dad makes his visits in the morning for the moment and possibly a little more often to see if that helps her as it seems awful to start the day feeling so badly even if she is not quite sure why she is upset.

    She is likely to feel quite alone if she is used to living with someone and then suddenly after many years she is just her in her own room and I have often wondered how people cope with this change. However poor the memory is, the feelings that someone is missing don't change. This sounds a bit strange but I know that some people have found that a small very soft cuddly cat or dog (or whatever your mum likes) - it is a distraction for her and something that the carers can make a fuss of to try to comfort her too.

    just a thought
    Thinking of you x
  5. Mrsbusy

    Mrsbusy Registered User

    Aug 15, 2015
    How about taking a photo of your Dad holding the plant before he takes it into her, so if she sees that as well as the plant it may remind her everyday.

    I completely understand that you are upset about her as its easy for me to say whatever but when you are living it everything is so different to endure on a daily basis.
  6. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
    My heart goes out to you. Such a hard time for everyone, this adjustment period.

    Photos are a good idea, also I'm sure the care staff reassure her as much as she can be reassured with the dementia taking control. Sounds to me that she is having morning sundowning - sundowning can happen at any time of the day or night.

    It's awful to witness and hear about, but I think what your dad is doing by visiting as he does, is a continuity for her. If she's anything like my mum, doesn't matter if I go daily or weekly, the time gap isn't noticed by mum, she apparently hasn't seen me for days if I just pop out of the room.

    This will pass for her, the upset and feeling of abandonment she is experiencing. You know she isn't abandoned so keep that in your logical thoughts. She is loosing her logical thinking, which makes it so hard for us to witness xxxxxxx

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  7. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    It is possible that "home" might no longer be that to her either. This happened with my Mum before whe went into full time care. That was the trigger for me as she did not know where she was anymore.

    Have you thought about leaving a jumper or jacket of your Dads with your Mum. She might remember he is coming back to get it and it might re-assure her. Or his favourite biscuits? What does she associate with just him? Maybe your Dad should spend some time with her in her room too rather than taking her out each time?

    I hope you can help her feel more settled but time might be the only thing for her.
    We are all here for you.
  8. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    Dear eMac, my heart aches with and for you :(

    This whole situation is so difficult to deal with - I think not least because it all feels so unnatural. The sadness for all of us, is that for our loved ones to settle, we have to let them go - a bit like sending a child to school, but without the joy of them coming come at the end of the day.

    My mum moved into a care home two months ago and I know she feels in some ways abandoned. She does know me, but has no idea of the length of time between visits. In fact, I've just put the phone down from the home.....they had to put her on to me as she had become convinced something had happened to me. I saw her approx 36 hours ago....For mum, routine is important. If I could, I'd visit for half an hour a day at the same time, but that isn't possible.

    It sounds as though you, your dad and your sister are doing your very best. It's all you can do in a very, very difficult situation. I can only say that my mum is more settled now than she was a month ago....I hope it's the same for your mum.

    Sending you (((hugs)))

    Lindy xx
  9. Emac

    Emac Registered User

    Mar 2, 2013
    Mun in care home...

    Thanks so much for all the helpful comments. You are right to say it's an adjustment- for all of us. Dad says he feels strange to to wake up in the morning alone, but of course he can remember why! I am trying to be logical and not just emotional. When Mum was at home with Dad she often thought her home was with her Mum and Dad and he had to drive her around looking for her 'home'- a familiar enough tale on these forums. The care home were between managers during her 4 week trial period, they 'forgot' to appoint a key worker, and the communication between them and us was poor- no-one seemed to have responsibility for her and it was hard to get information that wasn't contradictory. Feeling that I couldn't relax and feel confident that she was being cared for properly has just added to the stress of it all. I am sure it will settle down again and this will become the new normal for us all. I will ask dad to try some of the suggestions.
  10. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    I am sure this is all very stressful for your entire family and I'm sure it's been a very anxious time for you. You are right, that it is a huge adjustment for everybody.

    I know this won't be helpful but will say it anyway: six weeks is not a long time, and isn't long enough for any of you to have adjusted to the change in situation. Please try to give it some time before you give up. Of course you still feel emotional about all of this; you haven't had a chance to get used to the new "normal" yet. Try not to be hard on yourself.

    In addition for it taking time for your Mum to settle, and all of you to get used to her living there, it also takes time to build relationships with the staff. On the days you don't visit, is there a nurse or other staff person you could call or e-mail for an update? This might help you to feel more reassured about how she is doing, and the care she is receiving.

    Of course you don't want your Mum to be distressed and I think you have gotten some great suggestions here.

    (For what it's worth, my mother moves the photos in her room around all the time.)

    Have you considered: a family photo of all of you, labelled with everyone's names and relationships, attached firmly to the wall? Or a collage of photos? I have seen these in my mother's care home and had them suggested to me. The labels seem to be key, as they help act as reminders.

    Or a photo of your dad, with a note from him saying: I will come and see you soon?

    Or maybe have your dad hang up a family photo for her one day while he's there?

    I think others suggested everything else I had thought of. I especially like the idea of leaving an item of his clothing. She might find the smell and touch reassuring, as well as seeing it there.

    I think it's always hard to know the best way to respond in a lot of these difficult situations, but if you can be calm and reassuring, that goes a long way.

    I'm sorry it's so difficult.
  11. CollegeGirl

    CollegeGirl Registered User

    Jan 19, 2011
    North East England
    Another suggestion - may be a bit daft but I'll say it anyway! Could your dad write some postcards or notelets with a cheery message, saying he'll see her soon, and post one a day to her (expensive I know!) or give them to the carers to give to her on the days he doesn't visit?

    If she struggles to read (sorry, I don't know what stage she's at - my own mam can no longer read properly) then they could read them out for her and chat about them, so that she knows at that moment that he is still in her life. If she forgets, the cards might help to remind her.

    No idea if this would work but just an idea!
  12. Emac

    Emac Registered User

    Mar 2, 2013
    Thanks again

    Lots of great ideas here. I had thought of the photo or a family tree in a frame, but this all happened so quickly I haven't managed to do everything. From Dad saying he couldn't manage any more to Mum being in care took under a fortnight, so we have been struggling to buy things for her room to make it nice, label all her things and get our heads around the admin and finance and procedures for the care home and social the middle of it all I was away for a weeks holiday and then my sister was away too.. and we had a few other family emergencies not involving Mum and Dad but with pets and other elderly relatives, so it has all been a bit manic recently. These things never happen in a quiet period of your life do they- mind you I am beginning to wonder what a quiet period would look like these days!;) Thanks again to all of you. I am feeling more positive and reassured that she will settle in time.
  13. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    The other thing i learned was the importance of body language. My mum can 4ead my face rather than understand what im saying most of the time. Faking a big smile set things off well. Best of luck. We are all thinking of you.
  14. notsogooddtr

    notsogooddtr Registered User

    Jul 2, 2011
    Only time will tell.Not wishing to be a Jonah but be prepared to scream for help if you need it.It's a tough job being responsible for another adult 24/7.I couldn't do it and salute all those who can and do.But I also worry about the impact on their health and the quality of their lives.Good luck,take care.
  15. Sailaway_today

    Sailaway_today Registered User

    Sep 18, 2015
    I've read your post and felt that there are some similarities with what we are going through at the moment, and I hope it's ok to add my concerns and questions.

    my mom has been in a home for 4 weeks, my dad died at the end of August and he was her sole carer, so we have had a steep learning curve on trying to care for mom and sort out all the funeral arrangements.

    Mom is convinced that dad has left and has not died, even though we have taken her to the grave and given her the order of service, and printed off the words that minister said. She is sure that we have shut her in this prison and is being very aggressive when ever one of us visits, one of us is trying to go every other day.

    It's heartbreaking not knowing what is the best thing to do and how best to deal with it all.

    She has had assessments from the Dr and the memory clinic who have diagnosed Alzheimer's dementia but keeps saying that none of them have any qualifications and why can't she live on her own, we have shut her in and left her.
    I've been made to feel so guilty "other people have their mothers to live with them" is what I had the other night, when I said I work full time and our house is not suitable the answer I got was " and I suppose you won't move"

    Any suggestions welcome
  16. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    This is really hard. some people advise not to visit. I just believe that when people go into a home it is like a bereavement, possibly worse and the worst thing that ever happens to anyone - loss of home, loss of familiarity, loss of all those nook and cranny memories, loss of independence. in fact the end of the world as they knew it. even when someone has dementia, they still have those feelings. It isn't surprising that they will then deny it and then become aggressive towards the people who are telling them that this is the new reality. I would be really aggressive too if my life as i knew it was taken away. So often this happens when there has also been a bereavement, often a life long partner. I can't even imagine how shattering this must be.

    I think that this is the time, more than ever, that they need some familiarity and the love and compassion of the family. Unfortunately it is true that in times of great pain we hit out at the people we love most. I don't think that changes with dementia, in fact Ido not believe that any of the 'feelings and emotions' change with dementia, why should they!

    I was talking to someone in a care home a few weeks ago who had lost his wife (he did not have any memory loss) and come into the care home a few weeks previously because he was unable to cope with his physical needs at home on his own. He told me that no-one spoke to him about his wife, he had not been offered counselling or any other outlet to talk about his beloved partner of more than 60 years. I spoke with him and sat with him for nearly 2 hours, he really needed that acknowledgement of his feelings and loss. I wish i had been able to record the conversation.

    I'm saying this because you mustn't feel guilty, none of it is your fault, but she does need to work through the normal feelings of loss and of double bereavement - home, life, husband and your understanding and acknowledgement may help her to do that.

    Sorry to go on, not sure if any of this helps
  17. Emac

    Emac Registered User

    Mar 2, 2013
    Hi Sailaway- Of course I don't mind you adding your experience and questions. it helps to hear what others are going through. Fizzie I think you are right in what you say about the terrible shock of being put in a care home. Why would the person not be upset? The care home Mum is in have been concerned that she is depressed and want to make an appointment with the community psychiatric nurse. They may be right,she has told my sister that she hates herself for being how she is (I know I am not normal) and that she feels she has lost her life- which in terms of life as she knew it, at home with Dad she has! Anyone would feel the same dementia or not.

    It must be awful to have your Mum refusing to believe your Dad has passed away and putting pressure on you to let you live with her. My Mum hasn't asked for that but my Gran who also ended her days in care used to ask us. It just wrenched at the heartstrings and made us feel guilty, which made me want to avoid visiting her at all. So where does that leave me/you/all of us?

    I think I am realizing that it is up to Mum to feel how she feels and with help to work out how to come to terms with it, She has lost her home with Dad but now is never left alone, has stimulation and activities and regular visits from all of us. It's not all bad and is about adjusting and making the best of things. All we can do is be there, listen, be kind, take her out regularly and try not to let her unhappiness make us feel so guilty we stay away.

    Posting here and reading the experiences and the suggestions of others also helps a lot.
  18. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    You are so right, but don't stay away through guilt, everyone will adjust in their own ways but you all need each other xxxxxxx It is most difficult in some ways for your Mum, sounds as though she is aware enough that she is indeed depressed and the problem is with memory loss that the sufferer just keeps waking up to the same nightmare and some help might be useful for her to take the edge off and to help the rest of you keep going!!! I think memory loss in the family leaves us all in a different place - a world none of us wanted to visit but that we are stuck with. She needs the support of the family now more than ever, so keep plodding and come here whenever you need for support and comfort. Thinking of you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  19. Charlie100

    Charlie100 Registered User

    Sep 1, 2015
    Moving Mum to care home advice

    Hi my mum also has Alzheimer's Dementia, managed by my Dad extremely well but he died suddenly in August and we took over 3 children and our children did night times on a rota as she was scared to stay on her own!! She is now unsafe to leave in day time Mum has a dog who she walks continually (this has caused some issues), she crosses the road without looking, gets lost even at her local shops!! Her hygiene is awful won't shower and does smell at times we have found a home that we like and had assessment done even though they said there was a long waiting list after a week they have called to tell us they have a place for this Monday coming, the feeling of dread has now appeared!!! Have we done the right thing, etc
    We are all exhausted as we all work full time jobs too but the guilt is huge.
    We are worried about her knowing as she always says "I'm staying in my home" if we tell her before we go she will not get in the car!!!! Hoping that if we tell her once she is there we can just sit and talk with advice from the care home if needed!! We plan to take photos and her personal stuff with us
    Any advice would be appreciated x

  20. Emac

    Emac Registered User

    Mar 2, 2013

    Hi Charlie. Sounds to me like you are doing the right thing and your Mum needs more care than you can give. In a residential home she will be fed, be clean, have company all day long and be safe. I don't think anyone with dementia ever says, I'd like to go into a care home, but sadly that is often necessary at some point. What will happen to her dog? It would be great if a family member could take it and then would be able to go in and visit with the dog. Pets are used therapeutically in residential homes, something to do with all that unconditional love is very reassuring and the continuity of visits from her dog and even walks might help her settle. Keep posting. I am sure others will also have good ideas.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.