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Settling into a Care Home

Our Dad was recently diagnosed with Alcoholic Dementia, he was taken into the hospital at the end of November where numerous doctors did tests etc and unfortunately this was the outcome. He spent a few months in hospital and although he was very confused at first, he settled down and was quite content there.

However, as he was physically fit there was no need for him to be the hospital any longer. We all agreed for his safety (as he is a wanderer) that he would need to be in a residential care home, as he lived alone in a flat.

He has been in Holmer House for just over 2 weeks now. We are struggling trying to settle him in and explain what is going on. We have been very upfront and honest with him, however his ability to take in new information disappears within the space of minutes and we are constantly repeating ourselves.

He is understandably very anxious all the time and we are finding it very difficult to calm him. We visit every weekend, the last 2 weekends he wanted to go out, so we took him out. The first weekend he seemed very happy to be out, but still didn’t understand where he was living and why. This weekend, was a complete nightmare, he was very emotional and extremely confused and couldn’t retain any information.

My questions are:

How long should we expect it to take before he settles into the care home?

Should we be taking him out at the weekend-is this making it worse?

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we can calm him down so he is less anxious and frightened?

My sister and I are the only family he has and we are really stressed about all of this and just want to do the best for him.

Many Thanks

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submitted by Babs on Tuesday, 10/09/2012 - 2:18pm

Any chance that his doctor might want to put him on an anti anxiety medication to help ease his transition into the new home living environment? Also does your Dad have any friends who could visit him during the week, even for a few minutes to help decrease his feeling of loneliness in this new environment? It has to be difficult to adjust when your mind can't comprehend and ability to remember just isn't there. Maybe just having friends and family around him to induce the feeling of safety would help.... Babs

submitted by boomergran on Thursday, 02/16/2012 - 3:52am

Hi, tashy. I'm new to this forum, but not to caregiving, as my husband has vascular dementia and lives in a locked memory care unit.It took him several weeks to settle in, and even now he sometimes asks to come home. In the beginning, I visited him every day, until my therapist recommended that I take 1-2 days off each week. When I stopped going every day, he began to make friends and settle into the routine of the facility, and is now mostly content.There is really no point in explaining to your dad why he's there. First of all, he may not understand that he is impaired. My husband has a condition called anosognosia (http://alzonline.phhp.ufl.edu/en/reading/Anosognosia.pdf) which means that he has no awareness of his disease. This may also be true of your dad. Since he may not believe that he's ill, he will not be able to understand why he can't be in his own home. Many caregivers use "therapeutic fibs" or "loving lies" to distract their loved one from questions about how long before he can return home. In my husband's case, I told him that he could come home when his diabetes is under control. Others may tell their loved one that the house is being painted/fumigated/carpet cleaned or any of a variety of excuses, and that they can go home "next week." Since dad will not remember what you told him, you can continue using this for as long as necessary. At some point, he will forget, and "home" will be the facility where he is now.I'm sorry you and your sister are going through this. I know it's difficult, and the choices that you are having to make are all bad. Do continue to visit, though. Ask the care home about taking him out. You may find that he's fine when you aren't there. On the other hand, you may also want to take into consideration that any change (such as outings) can be confusing to him.I hope some of this helps.

submitted by 4Annie on Wednesday, 09/05/2012 - 1:50am

Hi Boomergran.  We're just going through this process at the moment, having to come to terms with placing Mum in a care facility - the one thing she made my brother and I promise never to do!  It's hard enough having to do this for a parent.  I can't imagine what it must be like to make this decision for a spouse.  My heart goes out to you for what you've needed to do.I found your reply a great relief, as I've been agonising over whether to lie to my mother or not.  Every day is a clean slate for her, so it would be very easy for me to say "I'll be back tomorrow" and "You can go home when you're better".  But just the idea that I'm lying to her, even though there's little else I can do, is hard to reconcile.  I don't want her to be in a facility.  I want her to be home among family, but it's blindingly obvious, after just over a week of caring for her in our home, that my own family can't survive such an arrangement.  It breaks my heart that she is the one who will lose out in all of this.I hope to God that, as with your husband, my mother settles in to her new home and becomes contented.Thankyou.  

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