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My brother wants to move my 91-year-old mother, who has stage 5 or 6 dementia, from California to Hawaii next year. What is your advice for us?

Answered by David Troxel

October 16, 2013

My brother wants to move my 91-year-old mother, who has stage 5 or 6 dementia, from California to Hawaii next year. He is successor trustee of her trust, but does not have a durable power of attorney. Three of her five children think it is better to keep her in her own community, where she can go to the same church and the senior center and see her grandchildren and adult children. If he moves her, they will never see her again. What is your advice for us? Won’t this move have a terrible psychological effect on her?

Whether to move a parent is a question many families face. Years ago, experts strongly discouraged interstate moves because the change was thought to be too disruptive. Now we know that surrounding the person with loving care and a rich environment after the move can dramatically lessen stress and smooth the settling-in process.

However, what you are describing is a significant move. I would love to learn more about your brother’s reasoning. Is Hawaii a place your mother has lived before, or wanted to return to? What kind of support system would she have?

The telling part of your question for me is that three of five of her children don’t want her to go. Even if your brother had the legal authority to carry out the move, I would recommend that your family continue to dialogue and perhaps seek a trusted friend or family advisor to help mediate the disagreement. Based on what you have said, I would lean toward letting her stay where the majority of her children live and where she has a good social network.

Sometimes Alzheimer’s brings children and families together, and sometimes it tears them apart. Take the long view. What do you want your relationships to be like after your mother has passed? My guess is she wouldn’t have wanted her disease to cause estrangement. Work towards a compromise. Perhaps your mother can keep her current home and visit Hawaii.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. March 27, 2016 at 09:09 pm
    Posted by Connie

    I wish someone would tell my loving sister this recently dad moved to her house . By far not like his own home he was so used to. In my heart I know his home is where he wants to bel
  2. December 1, 2014 at 07:11 am
    Posted by philip

    my mother was at greymouth hospital new Zealand for over 6 years they made her move to another place and passed away less than a week later many thanks to the scum that did this I must say
  3. November 5, 2013 at 11:37 pm
    Posted by Cathy

    My mother passed in January. She was in the end stages of Alzheimer's. When she was moved from one hall to another totally threw her off. She had been in the same room for a couple of years, and due to some major changes in the facility where she was living everyone on that hall got moved to the other side of the building. She kept wanting to go back to her old room. They get use to the same routine and same people. And when that changes it completely makes a major change in them. Do not take her out of her current environment. It will only make her Alzheimer's worse.
  4. November 5, 2013 at 07:26 pm
    Posted by Denise Humphrey

    My mother eats so much,she is always talking about eating.She eats heavy meals and always says she is hungry when in fact she is not.she eats fast and is messy and she is always in a hurry to do nothing,I can't seem to help her she is so it if control,and she has diabeties which does not help her blood sugar levels.i could go on with all her problems but it take up most of this space.little support from other family members.

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