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Dad's in assisted living but wants to visit the house...

So, back in March (after going into the hospital for blood clots, we moved my 91yo dad (Parkinson’s, depression, moderate cognitive issues) into assisted living (which, fortunately, is partially covered by longterm care insurance, as Dad is nearly out of money). Unfortunately, stepmom (88, cancer) is ‘not ready’ for AL, so is staying at the house (but visiting frequently). He constantly tells her he wants to go home to the house ‘he built’ (and also thinks she’s having an affair). She’s wondering about taking him to visit the house for the day, but is worried (as am I) that he just might sit down in his favorite chair and refuse to go back to AL. Thoughts? Anyone with experience in this area? I'm going out to visit him (I'm in Michigan, he's in Massachusetts) in June and am expecting this issue.
Status: Open    May 12, 2016 - 07:43 AM

Senior Living Communities, Dementia

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May 18, 2016 - 06:40 AM

You are in a very tough spot, and you are not alone. Numerous families find themselves in this exact situation. There is no right or wrong answer, which makes this situation especially difficult. You are weighing the hope of making your father extremely happy by giving him what he wants, a visit to his home, with the repercussions it could cause. You should also consider whether there are safety hazards at the home, as a fall could have major consequences. Further, if he gets to go back home once, he is going to want to go back again. Is this an activity that could be sustainable? Or is it only going to make his longing for home worsen?

Maybe your family tries to bring home to him - make a home-cooked potluck meal, watch his favorite shows together - whatever he would do at home, bring it to his new home!
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By tedm on Jun 05, 2016 - 12:11 PM | Like (1)  |  Report

A few years ago my M.I.L. began to obsess about wanting to drive her car again. So finally one day we let her - of course I rode in the front seat, very quiet day, etc. She drove out of the parking lot, down the road about 100 feet, turned back into the other lot entrance and parked again. Since then she hasn't asked about it again. I think she realized then that this was going to be the last time. If I was in your shoes I would indulge this request but I'd also make sure to have some strong friends on tap just in case he didn't want to get out of the chair!

By stacya on Dec 24, 2016 - 04:21 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

Wanting to "go home" is very common in people with dementia but the "home" is more a feeling of being where they are supposed to be or being with their own parents than the "home" they recently shared with a spouse. My best advice is for your step-mom to postpone a visit home when he asks as it could do more harm than good for him. There are a number of articles online that cover the topic of "wanting to go home".

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May 23, 2016 - 12:24 PM

My mother lives in Assisted Living and continues to want to visit her home. My siblings and I had the same fears that you expressed. We waited a long time before we "found the time for a Sunday drive." She wasn't emotionally ready to see the house and we were afraid that she would not leave if we went for a visit. The first time or two we took her for a Sunday drive and drove past the house and other places of interest (church, friend's homes, the place where she retired from, my house to see the flowers, etc.). We never got out of the car, we just did a drive by. We continued to talk about all of the work that was involved in living by yourself. Eventually, she agreed to sell the Family Farm to my brother and he restored the 150+ year old house. We took her to see the renovations and all of his stuff in the remodeled house. With her stuff put in storage, it no longer felt like her house but she enjoys visiting his home and she knows that she can't maintain the farm like my parents did for years. By the time she got to go inside the house (3 years later), she had adjusted to AL and no longer talks about going home.


May 14, 2016 - 04:32 AM

I have the exact same situation with my parents. My dad has been in assisted living for 1 year and a half after suffering a brain injury from a fall. We had the same fear and therefore he has not been back to the house. Family gatherings that were once held at the family home are now held at my home or my sister's. We tell Dad that he is in ALF for safety because it's not safe for him at home due to possible fall hazards. We also visit almost everyday and church members visit regularly which probably wouldn't occur if he were at home. His quality of life has improved in other ways that would not be the case if at home.

May 16, 2016 - 08:00 AM

My dad has been in assisted living for almost two years. He resisted moving there. Due to alcohol abuse, repeated falls, and a friend stealing $60,000 from him I was granted both guardianship and conservatorship. He talks about going home every time I speak to him. 4 different doctors including a gerentologist and a psychiatrist have examined him and all have said he must be in assisted living. The house was in deplorable shape from hoarding and cats. I had the house emptied and cleaned. I don't know if it would help him to see the empty house.


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