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Reply with quote  #1 

My mother has recently been moved into an assisted complex.  She agreed reluctantly after a fall left her in rehab with a fractured pelvis.  She is 89 and had been living alone far from any relatives.  She is now in a lovely apartment in a first class facility which provides her with the help she needs (transportation, cleaning services, medication help, etc)  She hates it; she wants to go home.  She cries, she wheedles, she complains.  I'm at my wi's end.  I truly feel she is in the right place but she has me on a big time guilt trup.  I have no other relatives to help.  Anyone have any suggestions, anecdotes or words of wisdom?

Reply with quote  #2 
Joann. Hello!!   At your wit's end, you have  friends here who understand that.
Since you truly feel your mother is in the right place for her,  you have done all you can FOR her.  She has what she NEEDS.
You cannot provide for her everything she WANTS.   It's up to her to choose to accept, adjust, adapt and enjoy her life...or not.  You are NOT responsible for her  'happiness'...or not.
There are very few elders who WANT to be in a AL or NH.  Some choose to make the best of it:: some choose misery .

Please dump the guilt.  You have done NOTHING 'wrong".  
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Joann

My Mom is presently in a rehab and has a few weeks left until she makes a move into AL.  One thing that I've prepared myself for is that it's going to take time to adjust.  Like Redneck said--it's up to her. 

My only advice is to chill out with multiple visits and, if she calls to complain, cut the phone conversation short.  I'm sorry if this sounds mean, but she's got to be left to her own devices to settle in and when we're constantly there, it's almost like a reminder of her old life.

Is she safe, is care provided--that's about as far as our responsibility can go, the rest is up to her.  Hopefully, she'll begin to adapt and make some buddies.  Just remember it all takes time. 

When I start feeling the guilt buggies, I remember the worry and anxiety I experienced with Mom living on her own.  She fell in her apartment and it could have been a lot worse than a broken shoulder.  We shouldn't have to live our lives waiting for the next crisis.

Reply with quote  #4 
Drop the guilt trip right now.  You are doing the best for your mother and that's all you can do.  Under the circumstances, she at 89 needs help and cannot live alone anymore.   Your goal now is to keep her safe and out of harm's way and that's exactly what you're doing.   I'm sorry she's unhappy living at the AL, but she's safe and taken care of and that you should not feel guilty at all.  You're a good daughter and you're taking care of mom.
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Joann, welcome to the board (if you are new).

I have heard that it takes awhile to adjust to senior living or AL or NH. In the meantime, you just have to listen to her moaning and groaning (or not!!!), and just keep reminding yourself it's the best thing for her. Try to dump the guilt if you can.

Granted, some elderlies never adjust. Which is a shame. they can't make the best of a situation. 89 years old is no spring chicken! My mom is 74. I know she thinks she's going to stay in her house until she dies. But if she starts falling and hurting herself, or starts burning up the microwave or toaster, well, she may have to go somewhere too, and she's not gonna be happy! That is going to be a baaaaad day.

To me, it's just a fact of life, you know, of getting old. You can do it gracefully and peacefully or you can be a pain in the rear!! Many choose the latter.

Hang in there, and feel free to post any time. We sometimes don't have magical answers or solutions, but we sure can relate.

'daughter' (beth)
billie jo
Reply with quote  #6 

joann, you are going to have to find a way to dump the guilt [easier said than done.] you say she is in a lovely facility but won't adjust. maybe she will eventually, maybe not, but you really have done your best. some people cqan't and won't adjust [this can be sad about every situation faced by humans, job transfers, school changes, divorce, financial losses, health...everything!] if she refuses to adjust that is a mindset of hers that you can't change, she is safe, cared for by people who know what they are doing and are hired specifically to handle these problems of the elderly. please find some peace in your heart. you deserve it. hang in there and god bless. she will be fine, [whether she admits is or not.] ask the activties director if she can make an effort to encourage your mom in planned activities and socialization.

Reply with quote  #7 
hi Joann,

Any transition for the elderly is difficult, your mother is not in a unique situation.  I think it could take up to a year for her to feel like this is her home.

At first I was so upset that my Grandmother was having a tough time transitioning. I busted my butt making sure she had EVERYTHING she needed at all times so that she would see how great it was that she had moved near me in Assisted Living. Nothing was ever enough, because she missed her home.

I got so upset one day with her that I told her if she wanted to move back home, fine but I was certainly not going to help her do it. I told her that being in AL was the best and safest place for her and that I helped her mover there because I care about her not because I want to make her suffer.  I told her that it is not my fault that she has the health problems that she has and that AL is the best option for her out of the ones available to us.

On another post, I talked about the conversations I had with my GM about how AL could help prevent the need for her to ever go to a NH, preventative maintenance if you will. She would get regular meals and be looked after.

I feel for you Joann, maybe you should talk to your mother about how her reactions to AL has really upset you. You did not give her a fractured pelvis, you are just trying to make sure that she has what she needs. You are only playing with the cards that the both of you have been dealt.

Reply with quote  #8 
Hi Joann,

My mother has been in an AL for over two years.  The adjustment has been slow for her.  She still talks about going back to her former independent living.  It has been a long process for me, and for her, but I did manage to drop my guilt and I am at peace with where she is.  It is a beautiful place.  She is well cared for.  She has her furniture there, which is important to her. 

Some things that have helped me to drop my guilt:

1.  I remember what it was like for her before she moved to AL.  She had many health problems.  She was isolated.  She would call the nurses in the middle of the night with all kinds of problems.  I think she was scared and alone (she lived in a retirement community independently at the time).  She was eating rotten food that had been in the refrigerator too long.  She did not have a social network.  Her grooming was terrible, spots on her clothing, etc. 

2.  Although she claims to not like AL, she is not isolated anymore.  She eats dinner and usually lunch with friends.  She has only had one doctor appointment all year, and that was only for a physical exam required by the facility.  There have been no more ER trips to the emergency room of the hospital.  Her grooming is fine.  Life is easier for her.  She does not have to go out anywhere. 

3. It makes the best financial sense. 

4.  I live with the peace of mind that staff is checking up on her day and night, monitoring that she is getting her meds when she needs them, showers and grooming when needed. 

It is not an easy path.  And, what has made it harder is that once she settled into AL, she improved so much that she did not get that all the improvements were BECAUSE she was in AL, not for any other reason. 

It has also helped to have her doctor talk with her and remind her that this is the best option for her as well.   There are a lot of other threads here on this topic that may be helpful as well.

I would say to give it time.  Its just something you have to work out on your own level.  It just has been my experience with my mother and my friend's elderly parent situations that there is always somewhere else they want to be.  For a friend's mother, she always wanted to go back to the house on the hill, somewhere she lived many years ago.  I think that is part of mild dementia, and it is more a longing for the past when one was younger and more energetic and healthier than anything else. 

You have made the right decision, and it is important to stick with it.

Take care.
Mary E.
Reply with quote  #9 
Hi Joann,

Do you think that your mother is just having a difficult time with the transition or do you think she is really falling into a "situational depression" which is a true depression brought on by events.  If so, maybe her doctor could prescribe a mild anti-depressant to help her over the initial adjustment?

I know meds are difficult for people of this age to tolerate.  My mother has been looking for something to help her and has tried prozac (which she says doesn't help) and zoloft which is making her very sleepy all day.  But hopefully there may be something to help.  Otherwise, just make sure you don't become too over-anxious yourself at this difficult time. Just know in your mind and heart that your mother is safer now than she'd be back at home - it is the right decision for both of you - as difficult as the transitional period can be. 

Mary E
Reply with quote  #10 
I also wanted to point out -something that gracenotes also said - that sometimes even when the elderly are in their own home, they are not necessarily content and happy.  This is why I wondered in another thread about "an old age crisis".  My mother is 90 and in her own house with me and my family next door, seeing her each day, taking care of her house and grass, etc. and STILL as I said in the above post, she is looking for a "magic pill" to make her happy again.  She doesn't have much of an appetite and has lost weight, but I know I'm doing everything possible for her. 

So, don't spend much time thinking that she'd be happier at home.  Sometimes, the traumatic event of a hip fracture brings them to a realization that they are finally, really old and dependent and it is THAT which is making them unhappy, not just the place where they are.  Also, they think of that home they had as their place of former refuge - before they were too infirm to be safe there - so they are unrealistically wishing to go back - not just to a physical place - but to their younger life.

Cat Lady
Reply with quote  #11 

Change of any kind is usually very hard on our elderly.  We had to move mom several times over the years and it took 6+ months to settle down.  Even then she often wanted to go home (where ever she remembered home to be).  Takes time and lots of patience on your part.  Hang in there.

JoAnn B
Reply with quote  #12 

Thanks to you all for your responses.  I 've had another hysterical phone call from her today.  Her life is terrible; God doesn't answer her prayers (to go home); no one will help her get out of there.  i've repeatedly and patiently explained to her that she is there because I want her to be safe and have the help that she needs.  She agrees but shortly afterward (her memory is failing) calls me again to ask if I will "let her go home."  I believe many of you are right when you write that the desire to return home is really a longing for the days when her health allowed her to be independent.  My mother has always been a social person who enjoyed the company of others, but she just doesn't seem to be trying to take advantage of the activities provided by the facility.  Is she just resisting?  Is she just trying to prove that this is wrong for her?  I live in NJ and my mother is in south Florida.  She will not come north and I have been flying back and forth trying to facilitate her recovery and her move.  I'm exhausted and the phone calls debilitating.

Reply with quote  #13 
I can't add to the wonderful advice already given.
You made the hard, yet easy, decision for the care of your mom and are doing a great job. My mom took about 6 weeks to adjust. Now, she enjoys everyone there, especially the caregivers, cooks, and some special friends. It wasn't easy, but I told her the same thing that you told your mom. Jeepers! 89 with a broken pelvis---what else were you supposed to do?

Most ALs ask family to stay clear for awhile to allow them to adjust. As for the phone calls, calmly respond that "everything is OK and tomorow will be a better day." See if that helps with a 'stock answer' that is positive and may help to suspend some anxiety. My mom was also put on an antidepressant and it is helping a lot. I'll find out the name of it because most of the residents there that use it tolerate it well.
Cathy w/a C
Reply with quote  #14 
JoAnn - you made the right decision - a couple of years ago, at 88, my mom broke her hip - the people in rehab said she couldn't go home alone, so she went to a very nice AL facility - hated it - I got the phone calls late at night, they weren't giving her medication, nobody talked to her and on and on. 

I felt terribly guilty, couldn't stand it, and after a month gave in which was a HUGE MISTAKE.  She went home and could do nothing for herself, couldn't bathe, carry things around, get in and out of bed, cook her meals, she had visiting nurses come and do PT, but couldn't remember the exercises and wasn't improving so they stopped coming.  She didn't even recognize her home at first.  One surprising thing, after about a month or so she said she should have stayed at AL - she didn't realize how hard it would be.

4 months ago at the age of 90, she moved into a nursing home - it wasn't safe any longer for her to be home alone & she wouldn't agree to in-home care - dementia, macular degeneration, hip pain, osteoporosis, etc.

It's the same thing all over again - she wants to know why she can't go home.  I don't think she will ever adjust - sometimes I get through to her, but the next time I talk to her she's forgotten, sometimes not - it's awful, I feel guilty, but now I know that what she expects home to be isn't what it is (if that makes sense).  And that she's in a safe place, has very good care and try to keep thinking that way.  The social worker there said to cut back on visits and phone calls - I'm trying - but its too soon to tell  if its going to work.

Good luck - it isn't easy.  Cathy

Jane in MA
Reply with quote  #15 
 I was in your same situation two and a half years ago.. but my mom was younger (just 78). She agreed after near death and a two month stay in a Rehab, to go into an AL, and even chose the one in her own home town (which meant I had to continue to drive 30 miles round trip).  As soon as she arrived to her nice big expensive unit in the AL, she hated it and complained every chance she could get. It took her about 4 -6 months to settle her down.

Like my mom, your mother probably feels like she can't make friends there. My mother knew everyone in town, having grown up there and taught school there, so she expected she would know many residents. But she did not and she forgot the time and effort it takes to MAKE NEW FRIENDS, since she already had plenty of long-time friends.  I think this was the hardest and lonliest things she faced. But sooner or later, she met a woman and became 'buddies', and soon a couple more.

She still grumbles, 2 1/2 years later, often about her friends!! They are like the odd couple.

Now, after an illness, she is in a Rehab/ NH and she hates it there. Same complaints. No one speaks to her! She feels so alone! Bla Bla.  She wants to go back 'home' to the AL and her friends. I said, "OK. Lets work on getting you well enough to go back to AL." 

Then she relaxed and has made a friend or two, and decided to go to the activities they have everyday. That was a week ago.

I asked her yesterday if she still wants to go home to the AL. She said she is thinking about it.

SO what I am saying is GIVE IT TIME. Stay away and let her make friends on her own. Ask the Activities Director to try to get her more involved. Hint to the staff that she is unhappy. (If she is private-Pay, they will do whatever it takes to make her feel like she is home).
Don't answer the phone all the time just to listen to her complain. And ask the staff how she is doing when your mother is not present. I'll bet you get a different picture than the one she is giving you.
Drop the guilt. Write down why you wanted your mother to go to an AL in the first place so that you can remind yourself wehy you thought this was the best choice a couple of months ago.


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