Will moving severe Alz age 83 to new home shorten life?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2016
Jg in uk asked...

My mother is 83 and in late stage alzheimer's. My youngest sister wants to move her to different smaller home (unfamiliar surroundings) as she wants to sell Mum's house for the money! I don't want to play god and I believe moving her from her home of 25 years is immoral and unethical as I believe it will shorten her life. Is there any literature/academic research to support my arguement? Thank you.

Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

There is some evidence that relocation of individuals with dementia may result in increased mortality, increased falls and worse health status. However, there are other factors involved as well. Who is caring for your mother? You or your sister? It is possible that your mother would receive better care in a smaller home if she is not isolated.

Community Answers

Brenda avadian answered...

Moving your mother with severe (late stage) Alzheimer's will shorten her life.

Consider this--at this point in her life, she can no longer think enough to understand where she is. Yet, at a deeper emotional level she feels safe.

If she's receiving care at home--I hope so!--leave her where she is as comfortable as she can be.

Having noted this, also consider who is her primary caregiver. Is it your younger sister? Does she feel pinched because she is caring for your mom at home with not enough income?

Your primary focus should be your mum. However, if you're unable to help care for her then support the primary caregiver with whatever means you're able to ensure your mother feels safe and is well-cared for.

On a personal note. Once my father's Alzheimer's progressed so far that my husband and I felt we were getting dementia trying to keep up with his care, we moved him in the only secured care facility available nearby. A few years later, a nice homey assisted living community opened. I wanted to move him there since we were paying privately. Kind and knowledgeable caregivers asked me if I wanted the move for my father or for me? I wanted to move him more for me. Then I realized his condition had declined enough where the move would yank him out of familiar surroundings and upset him. He stayed put.

Merrily orsini answered...

There simply is no "one size fits all answer" for whether to move someone or not. When Alzheimer's has progressed to the point that the person is not aware of place or time, then location is less important. Certainly there is much evidence to support familiar surroundings as beneficial. However, many times, when a person in a late stage dementia wants to "go home", that home may be a home from childhood or from early marriage, and not the home the person had last. I would get a professional assessment from a geriatric care manager and/or a geriatrician to determine what is in the best interest of your mother.