Do you think it's acceptable to take a family member who has dementia out of the nursing home to go to a relatives house for a visit?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 09, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Do you think it's acceptable to take a family member who has dementia out of the nursing home to go to a relatives house for a visit? This patient does not walk up stairs anymore and uses a walker. She also gets very upset when she is brought back to the nursing home after her visit to the family member's house because she is confused. Should she leave the nursing home anymore?

Expert Answers

Helene Bergman, LMSW, is a certified geriatric care manager (C-ASWCM) and owner of Elder Care Alternatives, a professional geriatric care management business in New York City. She consults with nursing homes and daycare programs to develop specialized programs for Alzheimer's patients.

The decision about whether to take a family member with dementia out of his/her 'comfort zone' (whether it is from ones own home or a nursing home)to socialize will depend on many factors. If it is to visit with relatives who are aware of dementia communication and supportive, then it would be viable. If she can enjoy the visit in the 'here and now', then it would be advisable. If she can physically and emotionally cope with this temporary change, then it is possible. If her angst is so great when she returns to the nursing home, and the staff is unable to facilitate her readjustment, then it may not be feasible. Being confused should not be the deciding factor; being confused is the symptom of the disorder. The key is whether all her support network, her family and nursing home staff, can cope with her confusion and assuage the after effects of the visit.

Community Answers

Pdxscott answered...

I agree with Helene above. I'm an occupational therapist of 10 years specializing in dementia and I would say if it is severely upsetting for her to go back to the nursing home every time, then I usually recommend to not take the person out of the nursing home. They don't understand the change and why they are going back to another place when they were just "at home with family". At some point with most demented patients, it becomes to much to change their environment and they just don't understand.

Or, if the family is insisting on this, then you might have to have a "white lie" to get her back into the nursing home such as "oh, come back into this building with me, I think I left my purse inside, let's go look for it." At that point, the staff can talk to her about something else and distract her and redirect her as you slip out the front door and everything will usually be ok if the staff is well trained within a matter of minutes after you leave.

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Good Luck and Take Care,

Scott Kemp