Is it advisable to bring Mom to my home for short visits?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 15, 2016
Farside asked...

Mother is 90. She fell and had a TBI (subdural hematoma) in Dec 2009. Currently in an Assisted Living facility, treating for dementia -- since April 2010. She wants her house and car -- both of which are gone. I want to bring her to my home (daughter) to visit, but the last time I did it set off a torrent of "I want to go home" emotions. Question: Is it advisable to bring Mom to my home for short visits, or am I causing more emotional pain for both of us in doing so? Sole caregiver here.

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.

Dear 'sole caregiver' (and all the others caring for an adult with cognitive issues who wanted, many times, to ask this same question): Having a parent or other close family member who has difficulty living in the present means making frequent decisions that often feel counter-intuitive. Will my loved one think I am abandoning her? Will she feel imprisoned if I don't take her out? Will she think something negative is happening and I am hiding it from her? Am I breaking promises that I made long ago? There are so many questions that arise when we, as carepartners, must make difficult choices concerning the best possible care for our family member.
With that said, I strongly advise against taking a resident out of a care facility for short visits or over-nights. Most always, the anxiety AND confusion created in the cognitively-challenged person far outweigh any positive reaction to the outing. Because an elder with a progressive dementia such as Alzheimer's has difficulty storing information and has little concept of time, removing this person from a comfortable surrounding produces a great amount of stress and stress-related behaviors. My husband, who had a mixed-dementia of AD and MID, would stand in the middle of our home living room and announce, "I want to go home". I quickly learned that what he was attempting to impart was his feeling of being confused and unsure of his surroundings; he was not feeling safe or secure in a world that was confounding him. I would take him in my arms and tell him I loved him. I would often take out a favorite photograph album and gaze with him at familiar relatives and celebrations therby defusing a potentially negative scenario. Frequently, carepartners want to take a loved one to a once-familiar environment where the carepartner herself feels more at ease; it is not unusual for that to be a previous residence and time when dementia was non-existent.
It is best during each occasion of troubling decision-making to ask yourself, "Am I doing this for me or for my loved one"? We, as carepartners, envision the cognitively-challenged person as they once were - acting, processing, living wthout dementia. We know how this person would have reacted or felt or opined before the disease and it is difficult, at best, to comprehend the unique responses of our loved one in this altered state.
Your mom's reaction to the outing underscores her comfort in new surroundings and her desire to remain in a new contentment of the place she now inhabits. Visit her there. Interact with her there. Be in her world. AND do take care of YOU!