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Mum wants to go home to "say goodbye to the house"

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by SitsThere, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. SitsThere

    SitsThere Registered User

    Jan 7, 2013
    It's been one long learning process over the last few years. Advice here has always helped a lot. So I am wondering what TP thinks about this: After a difficult move into a nursing home, triggered by a hip fracture last September, and a slow process of adjustment, Mum (who is on Aricept) has since the beginning of this year apparently become very accepting of the benefits of being in a safe, comfortable place where she sees family constantly. She has been saying for about two months that she expects she won't now ever go back to live in her house which is 200 miles away. However, she now says that she wants to go back for one final visit to "say goodbye". We are thinking about trying to accomplish this as a short one or two day trip and it is quite a logistical challenge for her and us. My worry is that in spite of what she is saying now, with her present levels of confusion she will find the emotional impact of this farewell visit too much to handle and we will be back where we started 6 months ago with mum angry and rejecting of all efforts to move her, or to arrange care for her at home.

    I know that we can stall her more or less indefinitely without too much difficulty, but mum herself is now saying that she thinks she wants to sell the house; and there is only a finite amount of time in which this goodbye trip will be possible, both because of the need to sell and because of mum's physical condition - she is pretty frail now although still mobile.

    What would you do in this situation ? Should we make it happen for mum or should we try to delay until she no longer asks ? She last left her house one morning in September thinking she was going to see the GP and as it turned out due to the fall she has not been back there since. Sympathy makes it seem that we ought to let her see her home one more time, but logic says that this will be too much for her to handle and undo the sixth months of settling in at the nursing home. Advice please if you have a moment to spare.
  2. meme

    meme Registered User

    Aug 29, 2011
    with all the possible ups and downs and fall out from this trip, I think it would be a wonderful thing to do for your Mum...goodbyes are important to us all....
  3. lin1

    lin1 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2010
    East Kent
    Hi. Untill I read the distances involved a 400 mile round trip is quite a distance, I thought it would be nice to give your mum the opportunity, providing she was well enough and it wouldn't upset her or cause problems when it was time to return.

    Perhaps a few love lies and if you have one give your mum a nice photo of the house
  4. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    Yes, a set of photos or a video sounds like a better idea. Such a long trip for an elderly lady on an emotional journey doesn't seem to bode well.
  5. Angela T

    Angela T Registered User

    Jul 13, 2014
    Yes it could be upsetting for her, for you...

    Is she asking repeatedly to see her home ? My mother said she wanted to see her flat again - we said "We'll take you soon" and she has not mentioned it since.

    My mother's CH was close to her old flat, so we did not have a long journey to consider, like you do. But we remembered how reluctant she had been to leave her flat and were scared a visit would reactivate all that. Alzheimer's is so unpredictable - she could have suddenly decided she wasn't leaving her flat again, and we didn't feel we could cope with that.

    We are going to take photos of each room and show them to her if she asks again...

    It is so hard, but we have to decide what is best - because our mums can't.
  6. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    The Sweet North
    With all the logistical problems to sort out, and the risk of things going very wrong with your mother's reactions, I would not do it.

    And there is nothing to say that two weeks down the line she wouldn't be asking to 'say goodbye' to the house again, perhaps having completely forgotten about the trip.

    Sometimes we have to accept that where dementia is involved, keeping things simple is best in the long run.
    I would personally go down the 'white lies' route, so not denying her the wish outright, but postponing it indefinitely or until she forgets about it.
  7. Onlyme

    Onlyme Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    Mum wanted to see her house one last time. She then started describing it and I realised it was her childhood home in a different town. I am still told I stole her house (not that one I didn't) and she wants it back.

    Before taking on a 400 mile round trip make sure you know where she is expecting to go.
  8. Caroleca

    Caroleca Registered User

    Jan 11, 2014
    Ontario canada
    I don't think I would consider it. It is far too long of a trip especially when the outcome is unknown. Best of luck with your decision.
  9. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Wigan, Lancs
    Would she remember that she had been? You could make this long trip, and then a week later she might say she had never been. If it were me I don't think I'd risk the upheaval now that she's relatively settled.
  10. chrisdee

    chrisdee Registered User

    Nov 23, 2014
    Not a good idea, I do not think I would do it. Alz is too unpredictable, the outcome and the journey is too uncertain and fraught with risk I think. As someone else said, Mum might be thinking of some other home. You could get there and she might deny all knowledge! but maybe I thinking of my Mum.
  11. SitsThere

    SitsThere Registered User

    Jan 7, 2013
    Well it's clear what TP thinks - 8 out of 9 replies are not in favour of the idea. However, and to be honest against my own instincts, I've accepted that this trip is going to happen and it will be two weeks from now. We are going to try to make it a very short visit and not to stay in the house overnight. Mum insists that she just wants to pick up a few things. The nursing home staff think she can handle it. What could possibly go wrong ? :D I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
  12. Pottingshed50

    Pottingshed50 Registered User

    Apr 8, 2012
    Like Onlyme , our Mum for years now has not recognised the home that she lived in for over 40 years and 'home' to her is in Harlow in Essex where she lived with her Mum and Dad , so dont beat yourself up too much over this. There again if your Mum has a good memory of present day things may be it would be a good thing, but there again it is the journey there and back, could be very traumatic for everyone.

    I dont envy your position.
  13. jimbo 111

    jimbo 111 Registered User

    Jan 23, 2009
    North Bucks
    My wife , suffering with Alzheimer's and other ailments was so often 'hankering 'for our old home where we lived for 25years So many memories .bringing up a family etc.
    It was not possible to take her there , but she was very happy to view the house and all the neighbourhood on Google Street view
    She had many happy memories of 'who lived here and who lived there ,and she loved the 'full frontal 'view of our old home
    If your home street is on Street view its worth a try even though you don't get a view of the interior
    We both used to enjoy a 'trip' round the neighbourhood of our past thanks to Street view
  14. Onlyme

    Onlyme Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    OH had to take his mum on a 2 hour journey. When he came back he had a whiskey which I have never seen him drink!
  15. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    The Sweet North
    What a great idea, jimbo.
  16. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    #16 Sue J, Mar 11, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
    Hi Sits There

    Well done on following your instincts somehow dementia can make us doubt those and can add to the list of things that dementia takes away.

    Just wondered if you have the time and space if it would help to make up a special photo album of memories of the house and home that your Mum yearns to say goodbye to. Memories that you both share so it is not just her saying goodbye but you too and may 'dilute', for want of a better word, her sense of personal loss due to the dementia. Just a thought.

    Wish you all the best for the farewell visit.

    I misread, I thought it was YOUR instinct, not against it.
  17. meme

    meme Registered User

    Aug 29, 2011
    good luck and looking forward to hearing how it goes...
  18. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    Near Southampton
    Great thought Jimbo.
    To be honest, I'd do that anyway, as a trial before making the journey.
    Then, judging by your mother's reaction I'd either go ahead or forget the idea.
    It could be that that isn't the place she's thinking about and so it would save a journey for nothing.
  19. mancmum

    mancmum Registered User

    Feb 6, 2012
    Revisiting old home

    Took my Dad back to his childhood family home and he found it very disorientating. Somebody has filled in the boating lake, closed the railway station and the pier has gone. There was clear tension while he was there.

    Once we got back he forgot all about the trip despite there being photos up of it on the wall.

    Almost within days he was saying how much he would like to go to xxxx for a holiday because it was so long since he had been.
  20. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    My brother took my mum back to her old town to see friends and her church, effectively to say good bye.

    She had been 'snatched' away from her home in effect as she got 'lost' in Derby driving from Hertfordshire to visit me for Christmas in Cheshire. After rescuing her from the police station everything unravelled over the next few days and we realised she was firmly in the grips of dementia, and her house was such we couldn't let her stay there and weren't prepared to risk letting her go back, getting inside and closing the door on us.

    Once she was settled in her assisted living (extra care) flat, my brother took her back 'home' which she wanted to do, although didn't repeatedly ask about. I was worried she would struggle with the journey and the need to rush to get to the church service all her friends went to. My brother stayed in a B & B, and she was disorientated in the morning, but got to church, he then took her back to house, but she didn't' ask to go in and they visited some neighbours.

    We are glad we did it and she talked about it for a while, a week or so later she said she wouldn't want to go again, she had been and said her goodbyes.

    Don't know if this will help you, but is my experience. Mum was able to cope with a 3.5 hour car drive each way, and whilst her short term memory was shot to bits, she could remember this for a bit as she had wanted to do it. I think not wanting to go into the house really does relate to her situation (the house was in a real state, through years of neglect and hoarding - mainly pre dementia) as once there she remembered how awful it was. I made my brother do it as I was scared it wouldn't' work out (and was short on time). He did have concerns if she had gone into house, she might have refused to leave and also our wholesale clearance (which was necessary due to state of house) may have really upset her, and as it happened neighbours were in and could be visited.

    I think not staying in the house overnight is the right way to go, and like my brother you need an exit strategy to get her out of the house.

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