Is it beneficial for an Alzheimer's patient in a long-term care facility to have overnight outings with family?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 02, 2016
Plynn52 asked...

There is a conflict between two sisters regarding care of mom with alzheimers. The mom lives in a long term care facility. One sister wants to continue to take mom out for a few days ( overnight) while she is still able to walk and enjoy. The other sister feels that mom is too confused when she returns and it is not beneficial ( there are some control issues here) As a nurse, I have seen no ill effects from these outings. Is there any literature to support the benefit of taking the mom out for these outings which she enjoys...other than "common sense"?

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.

There is no written literature (that I am aware of) specifically supporting either point of view although many Alzheimer books refer to this dilemma and authors support professional caregivers who suggest there should be no overnight outings or at least they be kept to an absolute minimum. This is related to the behavior of the resident upon return to the long term care setting. Although the parent may appear to have a pleasant time during the outing, the aftermath of the visit is most often detrimental to Alzheimer (AD) folks leading to increased confusion, agitation, and sadness that lasts for many hours or, in some cases, for days. The joy of the visit must be weighed against the upset of the return. If the resident returns to the facility with no apparent negative episodes, then there is no reason to negate the outings. Staff who works with their mom, must be the people to whom the sisters address the question. Encourage both siblings to accept the advice of those doing the daily care as they are the only ones who can judge the emotion related to the return from out-of-facility visits.