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Should We Move Mom or Keep Her Where She Is?

Answered by Karen Garner

October 13, 2015

My mom (86) lives in a small town (Quebec, Canada) in a Residence/pre-nursing (has a suite) home for a year now because my dad (87) couldn’t take care of her anymore. She was diagnosed more than 4 years ago but for me had the disease before that.

My mom’s family gave us a lot of trouble when they heard. They never believed that she had Alzheimer’s Disease until now. Never visited her when she was home but some phone calls 2-3 times a year. Now they visit a lot but complain about different things.

They don't have any program for activities. If they have one, she doesn't want to go. All her life, she quilted and was pretty much alone and she didn't have the need to have a lot of friends.

She lost a lot of weight (15 pounds) since last year, but eats pretty well. She has tremors in her hand now, has auditory hallucinations (has medication), start to be unbalance, start to have a little bit of a problem of swallowing, incontinence sometimes and is very tired. They go help her to dress and she has 2 baths a week because she stopped washing herself. She has visitors almost every day, twice a day sometimes. I go stay (5 hour drive) with her 3-4 days every 2-3 weeks. That way I saw the progression since the last 6 months.

The peoples (2) who take care of the residents (11 peoples only) are good for mom. Since the summer started to go for a walk with her. She cannot do quilting, knitting, coloring anymore. Doesn't listen to T.V. because she cannot follow the conversation, so doesn't do much and feels lonely.

My mom's family thinks we should move her from there. Many people say that if we do that she will get worse. Another place where we could place her, if available, has 8 beds for people with Alzheimer’s and has some activities.

Having to place her devastated us plus my mom's family questioning our decision on top of it. What should we do? Should she stay or move to another place with more activities?

Dear France,

I am so very, very sorry you are going through so much turmoil on top of having to burden so much pain watching your Mom through the stages of Alzheimer's disease. I know firsthand the guilt and second-guessing that goes along with the responsibility of making such stressful decisions. I admire your tenacity for continuing to make the trip to visit your Mom and make sure she is looked after properly and for worrying so much about her happiness.

I would like to ask you to take her family and all of their comments out of the equation. It might be hard to do, but focus on just her and where she is in the progression of the disease and the current home she is in. What is your gut instinct? Would your Mom all of sudden be able to quilt if you moved her? Or become social? Probably not.

It is likely, she could progress with her symptoms if you were to move her. This is common, but each patient responds to change differently. Would she still have visitors daily? Would you still be able to visit the same amount of time?

It is very important to remember your Mom is not going to be the same person you remember, or her family remembers, from years past. I urge you to focus on her happiness and her health. It is most challenging to make these decisions while feeling pressure from others. The final thought I have for you: Make the decision based solely on what is best for your Mom in your mind for the right reasons and if you can look back 10 years from now and know you did the best you could at the time and can live with that, you will have done the right thing.

Good luck and please let us know what you decide to do.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. November 5, 2015 at 09:27 am
    Posted by Carol knighton

    Your mum is lucky to have you , I work in care and I've seen firsthand relatives good intentions . To start with they don't understand dementia and that your mums world is so much different to theirs . You mum can no longer be in their world but that doesn't mean her world is without purpose. Her care will be person centred and her understanding and mood can change in a flash. If your mum is content and she will be used to her care staff, I'd leave her be . Moving will confuse , are the upset family going to have more physical attendance .... I very much doubt it . XXXX
  2. November 4, 2015 at 06:15 pm
    Posted by Pamela Jephcott

    Hi Karen, Aren't families the first to criticise when something like this happens.? People like you get on & do the hard yards while the useless ones do nothing but complain. It happens in all families, do exactly what you are doing & you will NEVER have regrets. Your Mother is very lucky to have you as a daughter to care for her needs. I can't say whether to shift her as I live in Australia & don't know Canada, she appears to be comfortable where she is so I would leave well alone. It's a hard road & mistakes will be made, do all you can for her with love.

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