My mother, who lives three hours away, loves to visit me for a couple weeks. My sister, who lives next door to my mother and is her caregiver, says that when mom gets back home, she has behavior problems. Mom’s doctor has suggested that it might not be a good idea for mom to visit me. I’m having a hard time understanding why my mother shouldn’t visit if she wants to. Please advise.

Your situation reminds me of the old saying, “Don’t sacrifice the good for the perfect.” Your mother may be having some transitional issues when she goes back and forth, but it sounds like she is also happy to spend time with you.

It’s hard for me to give a definitive answer without having more information, but my instinct is to keep doing what you are doing and evaluate the situation every few months.

To be more proactive, find out more about the behaviors your sister is talking about. Are they serious enough to warrant this change or does your mother bounce back after a day or two? Is something specific triggering the challenges? Could a small change—like making sure mom wears her favorite sweater, listens to her favorite music, spends time out of doors, or gets her favorite meal on her first day back home—could ease the transition?

Or could the problem actually be the relationship between you and your sister? Perhaps you both need to be sure that you are on the same page about care for mom and engaging her with consistent, supportive care. Sometimes family members like your sister, even when exhausted or stressed, don’t want to give up control to another person in the family. Stress to your sister that you want to maintain your relationship with her over the long haul and that it is important to you to spend time with Mom, while giving your sister a break. Consider asking another family member or trusted friend to mediate if the conflict grows.

When mom’s dementia worsens, it will be harder—even impossible—to move her from place to place. But I sense that day has not arrived quite yet.

46 thoughts on “Should Mom Stop Visiting Me If It Causes Her to Have Behavior Problems?

  • Sylvia

    Very good suggestions and advice 🙂

  • Carol

    I think it’s great that she wants to visit you! You don’t want her to forget who you are! Recently my Aunt who has dementia broke her ankle and had to be hospitalize and the moved to a nursing home. He behavior changed too for the first few days. I really think it’s just a matter of getting used to her surroundings again.

  • Beverly Meidow

    I would suggest that if your Mom coming to visit you causes her stress and confusion when she returns home, that perhaps you can go and visit her every other time.

    I believe that when our loved ones have alztheimers (my Mom – now deceased) that a person has to do what is in their own best interest.

    It is unfortunate that your sisters routine is upset after your mothers return; however, she is also having her own needs met, having your mother live next door.

    Share whatever time you can with both your Mom and your sister. Do what is best for you.

  • Sue Shoultz

    I found that the person that has the blunt of the care gets the most sarcasm from the person they are caring for. Best thing I did was go in a room cry remember where these actions are coming from and go back smiling. It hurts but they are not the person they were and do not realize what they are saying or doing. I would not stop having my Mother come to visit. One day you will be looking into blank eyes that do not recognize you.

  • nancy.ann56@hotmail.,com

    If it is a huge problem for the mother what about visiting her at her home instead of her traveling to your house.Just a thought.I hope things work out.From one Caregiver to another.I look after my Mother and live with her also,plus her now deceased husband passed away with Alzheimers after almost ten years in a home.I hope for the best.
    Yours Truly
    Nancy Foster

  • Pam Proffitt

    My mother had this horrible disease along with Parkinsons which I think they have decided is just one form of this kind of demintia. Alot you just have to play it by ear there are so many stages. Just never disagree with her about anything. My nephew died from cancer when Mom was sick and we didn’t even tell her because she wouldn’t remember tomorrow. I don’t think any two cases are alike all you can do is make sure she has the best caretaker you can find. We were lucky and the same one stayed with Mom the whole time. I thank God for that. Alot of praying will help.

  • ada

    With Alzheimer’s or any terminal disease, the family getting along i and working together iss number one. AI wish I had that when I needed it

  • Debbie Benefield

    My heart goes out to you and your family. My husband is having dementia early. We are about to travel from Washington to Arkansas because his mother has not seen him since 1074. She is in her early 90s. His only sister also lives there. My husband gets very anxious about the commute. But deep inside I know that this visit is most important and maybe their last time to see one another. While one still knows who you are it is important to be there often for your strength later when that has progressed to not knowing who you are. You will need those memories.

  • Debbie Benefield

    My heart goes out to you and your family. My husband is having dementia early. We are about to travel from Washington to Arkansas because his mother has not seen him since 1974. She is in her early 90s. His only sister also lives there. My husband gets very anxious about the commute. But deep inside I know that this visit is most important and maybe their last time to see one another. While one still knows who you are it is important to be there often for your strength later when that has progressed to not knowing who you are. You will need those memories.

  • Jodi

    We have experienced the same behavior problems with my family taking Mom out of her environment. She does much better if family and friends come to her instead of taking her out of her “comfort zone”. For the caretaker as well, the days following the visit away and the more confusion it has placed on the patient is not worth the problems it causes.

  • Dee Cantrell

    I am a caregiver along with my daughter. We care for my Aunt who has vascular senial dementia. It is hard to take her away from home any more . You have to think of the care giver in all this because shes the one who wil get the brunt of her reactions. I’m sure you want to see your mom but you might be the one who needs to visit.

  • Pam Hughes

    My mother has transition issues when anything at all upsets her daily routine. Always has since the Alz started. Her sundowning worsens, she’s more agitated and cranky, she has night tremors and crying spells. It takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get back to normal. But I think it’s worth it for her and for me as well. I take pictures of her adventures and she pours over them several times a day. It helps a lot. I wouldn’t take those experiences away from her….. ever!

  • cm

    I found that changing the routine can be very upsetting.

    They feel safe at “home” so if possible my suggestion would be for you to visit her at her home/safe place.

    Everything should be light and pleasant and loving!

  • nancy roellig

    The primary caregiver should determine when mom visits or not. She is the one who has 24/7 responsiblity and it is not an easy thing. If leaving for a couple of weeks gives the caregiver some free time, great,but if it’s not worth the free time when mom returns. well////

    I agree that that problem is not with mom, who lives in the moment, but with the power struggle between sisters

  • Arlene

    My experience was different. My mom, when at home, did not think/feel she WAS at home. She kept saying she wanted to go home. Once she deteriorated to having to be placed in a nursing facility, when we visited her there she would get extremely upset when we left unless some of the staff distracted her. It’s hard to know exactly what to do in a situation like the one in this story. Maybe the out of town daughter should visit her mom and see how mom does after she leaves. If mom is better than when she visits away from home, then the daughter should visit mom at mom’s.

  • Marti Briest

    Jodi has a good idea. Another idea would be to have a family member accompany her back home (how does she get to you in the first place?) and spend at least the first 48 hours gently easing her back in to her environement and routine.

    If she is earlier stage, perhaps shorten the visits to 1 week instead of 2.

  • Jill


    I know on Christmas when we have to take Mum out of the Residence from 10 and not return her till 7 at night she gets confused to where she is and why. She doesn’t understand why she can’t just visit for a couple of hours then go back home. She lives in a private Senior’s Residence and does very well as long as she isn’t gone for more than a couple of hours. So Christmas is always hard on her and us because she doesn’t want to be here. The reason she has to be gone so long is that it is privately run so gives the owners time with their own families.

  • Ellie

    I would agree with Jodi. My husband is now living in residential care and I learned very early that it is better for friends and family to come to him, rather than the other way around. Disruption of their routine can cause significant problems with settling again. The same goes for special occasions. Change of environment or routine must trigger some deep rooted emotions or memories.

  • Robin

    Our problem is the somewhat the opposite. When I visit my mother at the facility she wants to go “home” with me. She thinks I live at her old homeplace and hasn’t made a scene yet but is beginning to beg to go home with me. A few weeks ago she shocked & scared everyone by attempting to run away. We realize that she probably will try again.
    At our family gatherings we make every attempt to arrange for her to be included and she enjoys the hair dos, nice clothes and all the attention so much. Although its difficult for her to recall everyone if its small shes has a wonderful time but we have noticed that after a few hours she announces that shes ready to go home and take a nap. So when she returns she appears to welcome getting back to the care givers, her room and her friends at the assisted living and appears content for a day or two.

  • Nicole Girard

    Being a former caregiver to my mom for 10 years, whom in her last 5 years had “dementia” I truly beleive that mom should be visiting who she wants, when she wants even if upon her return she is different. I’ve left my mom go with my brothers whenever the opportunity arrived. It gave me a break which I really appreciated. Yes she was hard on me at times, but I knew this was not her doing and it was the other person in her. When taking responsibilities of a caregiver you must take all the ups and downs, if you don’t think you can handle it then let someone else do it .Nicole

  • Doug

    Is the problem REALLY mom’s new behavior, or is it the sister’s perception? If the sister who mom goes to visit does not notice “change of residence” issues when mom arrives, I doubt that the other “back to residence” issues are real.

  • Tracey

    Talk to your sister to determine the exact problem and how long it lasts. Is it so extreme that you should change what seems to be a pleasant time for you and your Mom? It is hard to say without all the info… Is this the time when perhaps you should visit your Mom rather than her coming to you? And, I also agree with the other paragraph – be sure it is a real problem concerning your Mother and not just one with your sister…

    When I went through these problems with my grandfather, nobody cared to help. It was left to me. Do what you feel is right for your Mom.

  • Pat

    We love having family come to visit Mom! However, Mom does poorly for a number of days when she has to leave her home. So the question is: at what point does Mom reach a point of diminishing returns in out-of-home visitation? The primary caretaker must have the most input in this decision–this person can best evaluate the toll out-of-home visits take on their LO. Good call, Jodi!

  • Pam

    People with Alzheimer’s and Dementias tend to get familiar with an area, and want to stay within that comfort zone. Talk with your sister, to find out what the behaviors are, and how long they last. If they are not destructive, or interfering with her comfort level too much, your mom might still be able to visit you at your home, but you might try to accompany her back home, and stay with her for a while till she adjusts to being back. As Dementia progresses, families find it easier to visit at their loved ones home.

  • cat-woman-57

    that sounds alot simpler than moving her from place to place. hopfully you guys will get into an agreement. maybe it’s better if you went to your Moms instead of her doing the travelling. give that a try and see if anything different happens after you leave. then you’ll know ones and for all.
    hope things will work out.

  • e redfern

    What we found, to our chagrin, was that we often played to our own tune, our own expectations. Yes, Mom would like to have Christmas at home. But things had changed. The washroom was one she didn’t remember, the memories about our dinner weren’t as clear, and it became obvious that sometimes we did things to satisfy us, not her. Her goal posts had changed, her memories were different. We needed to meet her needs, not ours. Circumstances change, love doesn’t. When we love them, we change how we love them and meet them at their level of need supply what they want.

  • annie bailey

    my thought on dementia ,all you hear is don;t do this don;t do that, don;t speak of the pass talk about to -day ,,,well if they can;t remember much about today ,what so wrong with the past ,it;s there special moments ,{and also this} so what the big deal if mom or dad gets up set ,,there are allowed ,,we all do it ,they looks after us when we were baby untill we let there house and how many time did we blow of our anger,i do know it very hard on the caretaker ,i have a sister who has it and when i visit her i play music a lot get her dancing act funny laught ask her quest

  • annie

    ,i think family member should not relie on one person to look after the matter ,i seen it happen on one family when there are 5 in the family ,,they all have homes ,they all have weekend off ,,take turns ,,my sister said to me ,they come here every sunday why can;t they just take me out some where,how true is that ,i know there are many stages ,its so sad,because we could have it our self ,bless the ones who have it and those looking after it by them self ,my sister words can be very harsh with most people ,them,having friend helps also ,,

  • Bernadette Boland

    My mother (God rest her soul) passed away thinking none except for one of her children cared for. The older sister took control and made life impossible for the other siblings with respect to visiting. All that time and energy could have been used so much better in spending time with my mother, rather than lawyers, fighting and confrontations amongst our family. My brother and I haven’t spoken to our sister in over 4 years since mom died. I hope you can come to an understanding where everyone could feel involved and loved, especially your mother.

  • Pat Ferrebee

    This is a progressive disease, sometimes it’s difficult as a family member to except the changes. As hard as it is , family members must first think of what it best for their loved one with Alzheimer’s. It broke my heart to have to place my Mother ( a retired Nursing Home Nurse) in a Nursing Home. She needed Consistant Care….her family visited daily ( VERY IMPORTANT ) . My Mom did not remember me, and even though I’m a RN ..and understand Alzheimers…she was more content having consistant surroundings. God Bless everyone dealing with this disease.

  • sharonballoch

    My Mom has that same problem, and the result is the same, bring the family to her not have her go to them. It is upsetting for her and takes weeks to settle back in even if it is just an afternoon at a friends house… sad but true,

  • Nancy

    I took care of my uncle who had dementia,it got to a point where i had to place him in a place for his safety,at the beginning it was hard to deal with, but as time went on i would bring him to my house for special occasions & he would be irritated & want to go home,which was the facillity he was staying in.Once back in his surroundings he would be ok.Do whatever it takes to make there lasting days as comfortable & happy as can be.


    It isn’t you that your mother has difficulty with. Alzheimer’s patients need everything around them
    to be consistent & without change. They need the to know when & what is going to happen. Disruption tends to get them out of sorts. This is not abnormal. Speak with your mother’s Dr. & also become involved in a local Alzheimer’s support group.

  • Genia

    My mom is in the latter stages of dementia. It upsets her to change her routine to the point that she doesn’t sleep for days. This is really hard to deal with.
    I hope you guys can work out what is best for all.

  • SueEllen

    After caring for both my late Mother and husband as Alzheimer’s patients, we found it to be true that taking them from their “everyday” environment was quite upsetting to them. My Mother reached a point that she would become so confused when she would come home with me from the care facility, it would takes days for the staff to get her settled back in. After my husband went into 24/7 care he became settled there and content and ANY change was not to his benefit. Sadly, we have to adjust to what is best for the patients and look past our own wants during.those times….

  • Beverley Page

    I do not have anyone right now, but am very interested b/c my mother who has now passed had dementia. Such a horrible thing.

  • bonnyrogers

    just had to comment as something doesn’t ring right. The article does not indicate Mom has “behaviour” problems when she arrives why is it she has problems when she goes home?

  • lynne denne

    my mother, like so many others with Alzheimer’s did not adapt to change well and it created a lot of confusion for her. What I did not see is that the sister goes to the mom’s house to visit her in her own comfortable environment where she could have the best of both worlds ( a visit with her other child she loves and in the territory she is most comfortable in). If your sister is carrying the brunt of the responsibility for care giving, I can not imagine her not welcoming a “break” given her by a loving , and responsible relative

  • Dorothy

    My Mother is only willing to go to other family member’s houses if I go as well she doesn’t like to go anywhere without me.We visited a close relative and I noticed she was fine for a couple of days but any longer would have made her very upset. I’ve learned to adjust to her will and it is for my own good as I am her caregiver as well as her daughter. She doesn’t like leaving her home overnight at all. My family has been given a gift, a glimpse of who my mother used to be for the time being since she was medicated. She is happier and more involved, we are thankful as is she

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  • Gwen

    My mother has dementia and is in an assisted living place. I never bring her to my house, shes only ten minutes away…it seems to confuse and frighten her whenever she leaves “her home”. When we go for Drs appts, she cant wait to get back..she has no concept of time and thinks 30min. is half a day. I try to keep things as smooth as possible, no need toborrow trouble.

  • Delores.

    It is so confusing for them to keep changing their surrounding. They can’t adjust to changes all the time. My Mother does not like to even stay with me for a few days. When there is a problem with the house. She only wants to be in her home by herself. I worry a lot when she is only. But we have to respect there wishes. I just pray I make the right chooses. I know our Good Lord will lets us know when there needs a change. They worried about us growing up. Now we have to change roles. I love Mom so much I overlook her chooses. In the end she does give in.

  • Camie Callahan

    It is hard for a person living with dementia to leave their familiar surroundings. We would take my Grandfather out for a meal or a family gathering and be prepared to take him back home whenever he became antsy or asked to go back home. We would also know to keep the outings short and try not to disrupt his routine too much. If you do have your family member come to stay with you overnight and or for more days, try to keep the exact same routine that they have living with your other family member. It is so important to keep them on their familiar schedule.

  • Lorenzo Mejia

    Based on the seniors we deal with, it sounds like getting mom out for a 2 to 3 week visit is an awesome thing to do. It gives her added stimulus and opportunities for socialization. I agree with David.

    Lorenzo Mejia
    Qualified Dementia Care Specialist
    (Alzheimer’s Foundation of America)
    Acorn Home Care Services, Inc.
    Chapel Hill / Durham, North Carolina

  • Andrea Schott

    I have to be the mediator between Mom and my sisters. I have an older sister who hates Mom and lets us know she is unhappy with the situation. I am disabled and have to take care of Mom and be there when she needs a person to talk to. I cannot deal with having to hear that Moms life was so terrible and that she is unhappy. My sister does not make life easier for us and she causes so much stress in the home. I need new glasses and socks. What do I do to make life better for everyone else.

  • Tabatha Jenkins

    I have a sister that is in denial that her husband has dementia. He has got lost a few times. He always has a blank look on his face. He makes rude and makes embarrassing remarks on people’s attire. Not sure how to handle this. Family members have noticed his progression. My sister still stays he does not have it.

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