Mom to the nursing home

I am looking for advice for how to proceed with my mom.

Mom will be 80 this next month. For years, she has struggled with crippling RA and the steady drumbeat of impending alzheimers. Recently, the symptoms of the alzheimers has gotten dangerously worse and we know that she needs to be in a care facility. All of the arrangements are in place.

I have sought advice on how to actually get mom to agree to go. Unfortunately, if she agrees right now, in 15 minutes, all is new and no agreement ever existed.

I truly don’t want to have to take the draconian options of forcing her there. I have been advised to provide a therapeutic lie to get her there. I really despise both of these options.

I suspect that rationalizing with her is not going to be very effective.

Has anyone found an actual good way to do this?


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Since this is basically asking for advice, let’s move it over to IMHO.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

I had to move my mother into an assisted living facility last year. With her it was fairly easy because she wanted to move out of my house and live on her own in an apartment (not exactly a realistic option when she doesn’t even know what year it is, what state she lives in, etc). So we told her that we were getting her an apartment and took her to the facility. Once she saw the place she refused to get out of the car, but then the staff came over and talked to her for a bit and they were able to get her inside. Once we set up everything in her room she was happy.

Of course, the next day she was complaining about how she didn’t like it there and how she wanted to live on her own in a real apartment, but that’s the way it goes with dementia.

The one bit of advice I can give you is just get her to the place, somehow. You don’t have to lie, but you can tell her the truth in a way that she might go along with, at least long enough to get her into the car. Once you get her to the facility, the folks there will be experts at getting stubborn people with alzheimers, dementia, etc. out of the car and inside. They’ll make it as painless as possible.

I’m sorry you have to go through this. It sucks when someone you love withers away due to some form of dementia. As difficult as it is, you are doing the right thing.

mom we’re going out for a burger.

it sort of doesn’t matter. as you say you might have an agreement that is forgotten in a few minutes and you haven’t got there yet.

getting her engaged with people there in talking, music or crafts is important. they might forget where or why they are there but it’s enjoyable. it could take weeks to develop this comfort.

photos, favorite comfortable chair with pillow and reading lamp might help. new place with familiar things.

Does she know anybody at the facility you’re looking at?

Unfortunately, she doesn’t really know many people other than my wife and I here where we are now. She is familiar with her current caregiver, but in 10 minutes won’t know who they are.

You know, it is my mom. I shouldn’t be telling her what to do because I AM the kid. I hate the idea of lying or tricking her. I keep hoping that we can just talk it out, but I know better.

It just sucks and I feel for anyone who has to deal with this stuff. I guess my parents dealt with it with their parents, it was just transparent to us kids.


It’s really tough. Have you asked the facility their advice? My parents are moving into a retirement home (holy crap this week!) and I was very impressed when I asked about transition counseling and all - they have one specific person who will be managing the whole thing, so it’s not different people, and this same person will go to the hospital with them if they ever need to go and manage their transition back home if they have to come back via rehab or whatever. I’m sorry you’re having to go through this -make sure you take advantages of all the resources at your disposal.

Maybe it would help to remind yourself that your real mom, the one who raised you, has got something in her brain that’s interfering with her ability to take charge, so you have to. And your real mom would really appreciate that if she could just be herself for a minute.

I’m so sorry you have to do this, but really, she needs to be safe.

We’re looking at the same thing with Mom, but sibling in-fighting is keeping it from happening.

I do know what we did with Granny. Took her for a long day trip, and home to “new” home. Yes, she was annoyed, when she remembered it wasn’t “home” and the adjustment had its bumps, but went surprisingly well.

A scene I’ve seen many times and been part of a few at Grandma’s home is “when can I go home?” “You’re home, [name], you live here.” “Oh, I live here?” “Yes, [name], you live here.” “Oh. Oh, OK.”

My own Grandma only gets occasional tongue-twists (she’ll say neboda, niece, where she means neta, granddaughter) but she took months to accept that she’s better in the home, although she actually went there voluntarily and signed the papers herself. Whenever she asked “when can I go home?” or complained that “at home, I could do whatever I pleased!” we’d go all Socratic-aggresive on her “oh, so at home you’d… what? Not eat all day unless somebody nagged you? Here you eat five times a day, Madame Olga and Miss Lina* tell me you eat all your food! Is the food bad?” “No, no, it’s very good, today we had lentil soup, I like lentil soup.” “Who will cook your lentil soup in your house, if you have problems walking around and the rest of us work or live away and you won’t let the caretakers use the kitchen?” “Bah!”

  • two other residents who’d like to take care of everybody if they could

I don’t have an answer, I’ve never had to do this. Yet.

But maybe a few little white lies on why she’s needing to live in a new place(just for a while you know) are better than the risk of her health being damaged by not being in a supervised situation.

I once worked part time in a nursing home. I was a kitchen worker. One day I was walking down a hallway to a special needs dining room and a lady in a wheel chair stopped me. She tugged at my sleeve and said she’d heard I’d been fighting with my brothers again, and we needed to have peace in the family. Poor woman, I guess she thought I was a family member. But if I tried to explain to her she was mistaken she would just have been confused, and unhappy. So I hung my head and said “Yeah, I know. I’ll talk to them and see what we can work out.” And the old lady wheeled herself happily away. It was a lie, sure, but I don’t feel guilty about it.

My grandparents and my aunt went through this.

One thing that helped was, at least at those facilities, was that some furniture (comfortable chair) and lots of family photos and other things at home were moved there, so once they were in the room, it already felt like “home”.

I know when I went to visit, it really did seem like almost a “mini-version” of their living rooms, with tons of their nick-nacks and photos and blankets…even I felt like I was visiting them at their home.

Thus, when you are not there and they might have more lucid moments, at least the surroundings will not be so strange or foreign (or bland).

Sorry you have to go through this - never easy to do - but piece of mind and safety is about all you can hope for now.

When my grandmother had to go to a nursing home, no deception was needed because she was mentally fit but could no longer live on her own. She actually didn’t mind living there, because there were always other people around, and planned activities. I don’t think she had Alzheimer’s; she simply experienced a gradual decline in her ability to take care of herself, and eventually this was what had to be done.

We had this problem with my mom. We had her on a list with a retirement place and twice they had openings which my mom turned down. If you turned down three, you were off the list. Then she had a stroke, so we brought her to the home after the hospital. If your mom needs to go to the hospital for any reason, you might get the doctor to tell her that she has to go. This is not really a solution as she will likely still refuse. You will bring her to the home anyway. She will scream at you. You will sob. You will lose sleep. This is what you were trying to avoid.

I wish I could tell you that there was an easy trick, like putting down a trail of candy to the retirement home or some magic words that would make the scales fall from your mother’s eyes, but I can’t. My own takeaway from this experience was to remember it when that time comes for me. When you rage against the dying of the light you are raging against those who love you, because those who don’t, leave.

Write yourself a note, as you will certainly forget.

24 years (wow, did I really just type that?!) and counting working in residential aged care. This is the best advice you will get. Man up, grit your teeth and do the right thing for your mother.

Absolutely engage the facility staff beforehand. As another poster said, we are very used to dealing with this common situation.

Absolutely prepare her room with her own belongings and bedding beforehand. You could also check whether she is allowed a small fridge in her room so she can keep a stash of favourite snacks and drinks. It helps alleviate some of the loss of control over her regime if she can help herself to a snack when she feels like it.

In terms of actually getting her there, have a think about how bad her dementia is right at this moment. Does she always know where she is or does this fluctuate? If it’s got to the point where she is frequently disorientated, you might find that you could persuade her to visit to “look at the place” and then once there, simply tell her that’s she’s sleeping there tonight.
If she’s still fairly with it, maybe you could tell her it’s for a period of respite only. Another idea is simply to arrange one or more respite stays first. Then when the time comes for permanent placement, she may be more accepting or she may not even realize that you have been extra late picking her up this time.
It’s going to be hard and you might just have to tell a white lie at some stage. If you accept that it’s for the best, you will also accept that you are the one who will be most hurt by it. And that is how it should be.

(And once she’s there, visit lots, take her on outings to the shops, coffee, just back to your place, feed the ducks, or for a drive, and enjoy her company without the worry of caring for her!)

It may help you to understand that a very high portion of people in full time care, firmly believe they were deceived/tricked/lied to, out of their home. Even though the greater number were, in fact, sat down at a family meeting, and with loving care swayed by their children, for all the right reasons, to take this step.

Once in care, if there are any dementia issues, that’s the first thing they’ll forget/twist. In addition they’ll hear it from other residents and it will get in their heads that way!

My point is, even if you avoid the ‘therapeutic lie’, to get her into care, there’s a really good chance she’ll end up seeing trickery where there was none anyway!

But, in time, with visiting often, and remaining upbeat and loving, she’ll let that drop too. It’s the nature of dementia, I’m afraid.

Do what you need to do to keep your Mom safe. And don’t beat yourself up about it, you KNOW you’re doing what needs to be done. Leave it at that and focus on making her comfortable, where she is!

It may also help to think of it this way - almost nobody puts their parents in a facility too soon. Quite the opposite. No matter when you do it, you should have done it a while ago.

My mom (as an only child) was faced with the exact same problem last year. My 90-year-old extremely independent grandmother’s dementia and short-term memory loss finally made it too dangerous for her to continue living alone, yet she refused to even entertain the thought of a nursing home. She had to be admitted “against her will.”

When a bed came available at the nursing home she had to get my Nana there the following day. What she did was get my Nana into the car on the premise of going shopping. Then they stopped at the home under the premise of “I just need to drop something off with my pastor - they’ll show you where you can wait for me.” My Nana’s spidey-senses were tingling…I think she knew what was up. My mom went to sign the paperwork then came back and said “Okay listen. The doctors have discovered a problem with your medication so you need to stay here for a few days until it gets sorted out.” (Which wasn’t complete b.s., my Nana had been refusing (or forgetting, or both) to take her daily medication.)

And then my mom had to turn and walk out - with my Nana yelling after her “You get back here right now!!” - and leave her in the hands of the professionals. It was very stressful and heartbreaking. At the time my mom said “If my mother hates me forever that’s fine, at least I know she’s safe now.” (FTR: My Nana was only mad for a few days. She understands now.)

After a couple of weeks my Nana settled into the nursing home and is content there now. She’s getting regular hot meals and the staff are wonderful. My mom’s constant stress level (worrying about my Nana all the time) is pretty much gone.

It’s difficult at first but it’s worth it to know your loved one is safe, fed, getting their proper medication and being cared for.

This is so true - it took the involvement of Adult Protective Services, a legal guardian, a court order declaring them incompetent, and a care manager (who was brilliant) to get my parents into a home. And yep, we lied like rugs to get them there because it was obviously way past due.

My mom was having a swallowing issue so we got her out of the house on the premise that she needed to go see the doctor - which she did, it just so happened the doctor was at the nursing home. Fast forward a week, and we then persuaded my dad that he should go visit my mom. So that’s how we got him there - no way, no how were either of them going to agree on their own. It was absolutely nuts, but I felt better than I had in a long time knowing they were safe and getting good food and care.

In reading these posts I’m very grateful for the fact that both my parents were able to live at home until their deaths.