My grandmother was placed in a Assited Living last week...

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 12, 2016
Aud1380 asked...

My grandmother was placed in a Assited Living last week directly from the hospital. They did not tell her she would be going there because she wants to live at home. She does have dementia but it is in the early stages. The facility advised no one should talk to her or visit within the first 2 weeks. I find this ridiculous and believe she will think she is abandoned. I know she cannot go home but I believe her family should be there for her. Can you let me know if this is a normal request?

Expert Answers

Kay Paggi, GCM, LPC, CGC, MA, is in private practice as a geriatric care manager and is on the advisory board for the Emeritus Program at Richland College. She has worked with seniors for nearly 20 years as a licensed professional counselor, certified gerontological counselor, and certified geriatric care manager.

Making the transition from living independently in the community into assisted living can be difficult, even when there is no prior medical crisis and when there is no dementia. With the two factors it is much more complicated.

You said "they" did not tell her; I assume this would be her adult children. They probably acted on good advice. You are correct that, if asked, your grandmother would have wanted to remain in her home. This the preferred place to live for all of us. People with dementia use their familiar environment to provide internal structure that they can no longer provide for themselves. They do not have to remember where things are because they know where they are; they do not need to worry about not meeting others expectations for dress and bedtime and getting up and eating right because they are alone in their own world. It is scary to adjust to living in a new place, so most refuse if asked.

Since your grandmother has already spent several days in the hospital away from her home, this is this best time to relocate her. She has to go somewhere, she already has her things in a suitcase, she is used to being in a strange environment - so the transition into assisted living is slightly easier than if she were to go back home first, get used to feeling comfortable there, and then have to move again.

The next part of your question is related. Your grandmother is not going to be happy about being relocated into an unfamiliar place. Most of us take out our anger at the people closest to us; with older adults, this is their family. It can be very damaging to the family relationships when an elder says cruel things to a loving caregiver who is trying to do the best thing. It is better in the long run for those words not to be said. The best way to insure that the relationships stays intact is to advise the family not to visit until grandmother has gotten over her anger, misses her family, and is less willing to risk the loss of the relationship by saying unkind things.

This 2 week guide is arbitrary. You know your grandmother better than the staff at the facility. If you feel that you can visit and provide both of you some comfort, then do so. You were not part of the decision making team, so you are probably a safe visitor.

Remember that you and your family members need to preserve a positive relationship. If your grandmother is unkind, leave. Tell her you love her and that you will come back on a better day. Things will improve and the time will come when she will not remember how she came to be there. Be patient. Everyone is trying to do the best thing, and it is hard to know.