How do I decide what is the best environment for my mother?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Glo asked...

How do I decide what is the best environment for my mother-- she has Parkinson's dementia and is confused, irritated and unhappy living at home with a full time live-in aid? She constantly tries to run out of the home and sometimes calls the police for help saying that she wants to get out and go home. I have to get over there frequently to try and calm her down - my life is not my own now. My fear of a facility is that she will get worse mentally and physically.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

This sounds like a tough situation.  I know that you are at your wit's end, as you are trying to keep your mother in her home, but this is clearly not working out for either of you.  The reality is that your mother doesn't sound like she really even knows that she is in her own home at this point.  My concern is that she "constantly tries to run out" of her home, which could mean she is at risk for wandering.  This could be dangerous, and it should be taken seriously!  I am sure your priority is her safety, but even with 24 hour care, she is still at risk for wandering away.  She needs an environment where she can wander freely in a supervised area, so that she cannot get into harm's way.

Also, as her caregiver, you need to think about yourself.  You sound stressed, and the situation is getting worse despite all that you have done.  The reality of the situation is that her dementia is going to get worse, so her care requirements are going to get higher.  This is a tremendous burden for anyone.  It is time to get some help. 

With these things in mind, I really think that is time to place your mother in a facility where she can get 24 hour care and be able to wander safely.  There are many Skilled Dementa Units that offer this type of environment.  You should contact a social worker or an Elder Service agency (look at your local government) to see what facilities they recommend.  Then, go tour them.  Spend some time choosing something that is a good fit.  Due to your mother's dementia and Parkinson's Disease, I cannot recommend an Assisted Living facility, as she is too risky due to her potential to wander.  Many nursing homes have this type of unit and would be able to take someone like your mother.

Many people are afraid that their loved one will decline once being placed in a nursing facility.  However, in your situation, since your mother is not doing well in her home, she will probably improve with good care and a stable environment.  Staff at these special facilities are usually very good at taking care of people with dementias, and this may actually help your mother to do quite well.  As her Parkinson's progresses, they can also help her with mobility issues, which is an added bonus.


Community Answers

Nccaregiver answered...

Have you considered adult day care? The greatest benefit of adult day care is that it provides a safe environment for your loved one during the day and they can still come home at night. Adult day cares like Active Day offer therapeutic programming specifically for clients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Your mother will have a productive day, with meals and health care supervision. You will have peace of mind. Good luck.

Patrn answered...

My Mom also has Parkinson's - Many types and variety of Assisted Living care and private care homes exist. Some have Memory Care and are locked for safety. I suggest you work with a senior housing and care expert such as . It is hard for even healthcare providers to be on top of the variety of resources that are in the community. Go look at a few places. Also talk to her doctor some Parkinson's medications can actually increase confusion her dosage may need to be changed. Involve her neurologist in her current behavior it can greatly help.