How do we help my mom, who has moved into an assisted living facility, "say goodbye" to her old home?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Ntiffany asked...

My mom has diabetes and was "forgetting" to eat and drink liquids; unfortunately she ended up in the hospital dehydrated and the doctor mandated that she could no longer live on her own. After a week in the hospital, she had some rehab in a nursing home for 3 weeks, then she moved into an assisted living home. When she left her home, she didn't know that it was going to be for good. We have moved some of her own furniture into her room. What is your opinion of taking her back to the house to say "goodbye"? I can see both sides of the coin here - saying goodbye would be a closure, but what if she wants to stay and refuses to go back to the assisted-living home?

Expert Answers

Donna Quinn Robbins is the author of Moving Mom and Dad and On the Road of Life, Drive Yourself. She helps individuals, families, retirement communities, and corporations make successful transitions through her company, Ultimate Moves. Robbins is an active public speaker on the topic of senior transition services and has appeared on NBC's Today Show.

I think it's very important to let her say goodbye as long as she is of sound mind and can understand that that is what she is doing. However, you mentioned she was forgetting to eat and drink. That is not a good sign -- have you had her evaluated for dementia? If not, that may be something to consider.

Once you are confident that her mental state is clear enough to handle the visit, it is important to communicate clear guidelines about what you are doing. Make sure she understands before the trip that you are going to "say goodbye," so that there is no risk she will think she is going back to her former home to stay for good

If possible, it would also be a good idea to have a non-family member -- ideally a staff member from her current residence -- go with you. This would make it crystal-clear that the visit was only that -- a visit -- and that the connection to her new home was not being severed.

Community Answers

Laural answered...

I think it's a good idea to have some of her items in her room, particularly anything that's very important to her, perhaps a trunk with mementos, or photo albums, or her wedding photograph. I feel they do two things - one, they solidify the truth that life moves forward, things change, but that doesn't mean life is over; and two, that they are her memories of happy times and they should remain that way, no matter where she's living.

Best wishes!