Is it unrealistic to think I can care for my mother-in-law who has dementia?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 05, 2016
Sharen asked...

My dear Mother in Law has dementia she is 92 and is a Memory Care facility in Montana. My husband and I want to bring her here and care for her, are we being unrealistic?

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

Wanting to bring your mom-in-law into your home to care for her is a wonderfully unselfish thought, however there are many factors to consider that may outweigh the reasons to move her.

Here are a few questions that might affect your final resolution. 1. Is this move for her or for you? 2. Is your home familiar to her or would she have to adjust to a brand new environment (again). 3. Would you be able to provide the 24/7 care that she now receives on the Memory Care Unit? 4. Would you be able to offer the kind of increased physical care that she may need as the disease progresses? 5. Does she have relatives or friends who could visit? 6. If she is now socializing and participating in specialized activities, would you be able to provide this daily enrichment?

If you have answered 'no' to any of these questions, then I suggest you weigh this decision to see if perhaps she is receiving a quality of care that can only be given in a specialized program where staff is trained to deal with residents throughout the stages of dementia, where there are chances for interaction, where she has most likely bonded with some staff and other residents, and where the surroundings have become familiar.

Now, if the answers to these questions are all "yes", then by all means bring her into your home where she can bask in your love for the last chapter in her life.
I would recommend, before you make the physical move,that you bring her familiar belongings from the facility to her new room in your home. This will help to make the transition much easier. Be prepared that she may have a few difficult days following the move as her brain adjusts to this new environment. Whichever choice becomes your decision, do remember to take care of YOU.