What is the best approach to take when trying to speak with your mother (whose dementia is moderate to severe) about leaving her own home in Illinois and living with us in Maryland? My mother still insists on living alone, continually refuses an in home caregiver, and should not live by herself. Currently she is staying with me and my husband, enjoying her visit, but deflects any real discussion about moving in with us. I would appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank you.
This is unfortunately a very common problem for children who want to help parents who can no longer take care of themselves. What a wonderful daughter and son-in-law you both are to want to bring your Mom into your home to provide a safe, caring and stable environment for her. Since she is already staying with you I want to ask: Does your Mom ask about returning home? Instead of bringing up her moving in, can you just have her there without the discussion?
For me, I was always wanting to discuss things with Jim when he no longer could process what I was talking about, but I was expecting him to be his old self and be part of the decision making. If your Mom doesn’t want to talk about it, but isn’t asking to go back to Illinois, just don’t bring it up. Have you already moved some of her things to your home in Maryland? Does her room have the same bedding, photos, comfort items? Do you have her favorite chair to sit in? Is there a senior center that offers activities for those with dementia she could go to and feel active?
Moving is never easy, even if you aren’t suffering from a disease that causes confusion. She is trying to hold on to her life, her memories and it can be a scary process to lose yourself. She may never voice acceptance of moving in with you, but you know in your heart you are doing this for the right reasons. Reminding her of how much you enjoy her company and how much you cherish your time together may not be enough to make her agree, but it is worth a shot.
I wouldn’t bring up the fact she can no longer care for herself safely. This will only cause her to get defensive. There are many examples of this situation working out smoothly after a rough start and there are the same number where homes are remodeled, parents move in and eventually out. All you can do is try to do what is best and hope it works out.
One last suggestion if it is agreeable for you and your husband….can you and are you willing to get a lap dog for her and tell her it can only stay at your home? So many dementia patients are attached to their pets and will follow them just about anywhere. This may help her feel more at home in her new surroundings. Good luck and let us know how the move goes.