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My wife is in assisted living, should I bring her home on a trial basis?

My wife has been diagnosed with mild dementia. She has been in assisted for the last 18 months. She has had a steady improvement and everyone at the unit would agree. I try to take her out to lunch after church every Sunday. She enjoys that, but at the end she is begging to come home. I believe she would do well at home but I can't get any support from anyone about this. I have suggested to my wife that I bring her home on the weekends to see how she would do, but then she would have to agree to go back to assisted living on Monday. She won't comment on that either way. She can hold a conversation as well as anyone. She can order things of the menu and talk about just about everything that we have done in the past. This is breaking my heart that I can't give her a chance back home to see how she would do, but I don't get any support about that. Does bringing her home on a trial basis for an extended period of time make sense? I would not release her assisted living unit until I was satisfied I could take care of her.

Status: Open    Oct 12, 2015 - 08:21 AM

Dementia, Senior Living Communities

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Expert Answers

Oct 12, 2015 - 11:11 AM

I want you to look at this in two parts. What do you believe would be best for your wife and what is best for you as a family caregiver. Caring for a loved one is a lot of work and without support you can become run down. If you enjoy going to Church and that is a big part of your life you need to think about if you are able to take her with you or would this mean that you couldn’t go.

There are agencies called private duty that can help you with caring for your wife at home. You don’t have to utilize them all day but it would be a good suggestion that you have someone to help or to be there when you are unable to. This would include going to the store or out with friends. Family caregivers sometimes become very isolated when caring for someone with Dementia because they don’t feel comfortable taking that loved one with them to some or all events.

Contacting the local Alzheimer’s association could be helpful to gather resources to help bring your wife home. Everyone is a little different if your wife is like most you need to think of having the same schedule with the same people helping each day or week. A schedule of days you are planning on going out of the home would help set a schedule for someone to help you in the home. If you are able to take her with you I would still suggest that you make time for yourself. We have a family that we have cared for almost 5 years now that the husband goes out golfing or to lunch with friends once a week. He requires no other assistance than just a 4-8 hour respite day for himself. Starting with the local Alzheimer’s Association would be a great start for finding resources or google private duty agencies in your area. Most of them have a 3-4 hour min however you can find those that will just come out for 1-2 hours if that is all your require.


Oct 18, 2015 - 09:58 AM

I think bringing her "home" on weekends would be very confusing.
Often when a person with dementia says they want to go home it means they want things to be the way they were before. "Home" can mean safety and comfort not just a place. It may also mean when you are out on Sunday when she says she wants to go home it actually means the Assisted Living facility that she now calls home.
It is possible that the "improvement" you are seeing in her is just you observing from a more relaxed prospective. You do not say why she is currently in Assisted living for the past year and a half but if there were problems that resulted in your decision in placing here there I can almost assure you that the problems still exist and may be more pronounced now.
Even if things are better now and you could take care of her yourself or getting a caregiver to come in while you are at work or out doing shopping or seeing friends the situation will get worse and you may have to make the decision in another year to place her again in an assisted living facility. This would result in another move for her, another adaptation that she would have to make, another routine that she would have to get used to.
While it is difficult enjoy the visits you have with her while she is at this current facility. Be a loving, caring husband and enjoy the fact that your visits can be relaxed and pleasurable and not as a caregiver.

Jun 18, 2016 - 04:12 AM

I would like to suggest that your wife is doing better because she is in assisted living. I know this is true for both of my parents. They receive the proper medication at the proper time. They are fed three well prepared meals daily. They had been in a double room for couples, but are now in two separate rooms close to each other, and are both more independent because they rely less on each other. They have both had medical crises, but there is someone available 24 hours a day. They follow a routine. They dine together in a common dining room with other people for their meals. While they both have only mild cognitive impairment, there have been far fewer medical crises in the two years they have been there than the two years prior to their move. I had tried to keep both of them in their home but it had become dangerous for them. They were unknowingly non-compliant with their medications regardless of the fact that I managed their medications for them, only taking over each evening enough of their medications (of which there were many) for the next day with the appropriate times written next to each. They were not making good food choices. My father became unsafe to drive, and my mother was a very high fall risk. They each had many medical conditions. I had thought for a very long time that what was happening in their home was a temporary situation, that things would go back to normal again. It took me too long to realize that this was their new normal. But they have stabilized and even improved while in assisted living. They need differing levels of care and they get them. Looking at the years ahead, they will continue to decline, but I firmly believe that their decline will be at a much slower rate than if they were still at home. Their physician has told me that he often sees improvement when his patients move to assisted living for exactly the reasons I have stated: the proper medication at the appropriate time, three well prepared meals, 24 hour assistance appropriate to their needs and someone available during a crisis. So I would suggest if you want to see more of your wife, in addition to taking her to lunch after church, take her shopping or to the local museum, or wherever you think the two of you would enjoy spending a few hours. Do what you can do together now, because she isn't going to get better than she is right at this moment. I wish my parents were still able to do those things.
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