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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Watson

Should We Bring Mom Home For Thanksgiving?

3 generations of women

“So, I'm trying to figure out whether we should bring Mom home for Thanksgiving. We have always been together as a family. So, as you can imagine, it's a really hard decision. You see, mom has Alzheimer's disease.

And recently she was placed in a memory care facility. She's doing really well. Mom is very comfortable. Furthermore, she seems to have acclimated to her new home, new friends and her new family.

But the thought of not having her in my home on Thanksgiving when the whole family is there…well it's really hard. I'm not sure what to do because I don't want to confuse mom. I want to make sure that she's well taken care of. Most of all I want her to be happy and to know we love her.” Sarah daughter of Doris

Here Is What You Need To Know About Holiday's With Alzheimer's

This is a big decision and each family situation is different so there are few questions I would suggest that you ask yourself before you make the decision.

1. Do you regularly bring Mom for outings away from the facility where she is living?

If the answer is yes then I would also ask you, how does Mom do when you bring her for outings? Does she have a good time? Is she confused when you bring her back? Does she get agitated while she's out or when returning to the facility? The key is you want to make sure that Mom is not only going to have a good time when she's out but that she's going to be comfortable when she returns.

My mother-in-law used to love going out on little outings. We would take her to get her nails done. We always took her to the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Or we would take her out to have a hamburger or fried chicken. Sometimes we were just go for a drive in the country. We even took pictures lying in a field of bluebonnets! And she loved every minute of it.

But as she progressed in her disease it became more difficult she became more confused. Furthermore, she became agitated. I think it was the confusion that caused the agitation. When it came time to bring her back home to the facility where she lived she would get really agitated and confused.

"Why are you bringing me here!" she would cry! "I don't understand what's going on! I don't live here!"

"After a while we could see that the fun outings were no longer so much fun. So we decided to bring the fun to her. We started doing fun things at the facility. I would bring in cupcakes and have a cupcake party with all of the ladies that were there. I brought coloring books for everyone and we sat around the table coloring together. You have to get a little creative. Pinterest and you tube can give you some great ideas." K daughter-in-law to Pat

2. How many family members will be present for your Thanksgiving dinner?

This is important. I mean really important. Large crowds are often uncomfortable and confusing for somebody with Dementia or Alzheimer's. Even though they are family, you have to remember mom may not realize these people are family. Mom is used to being with just a few people in small groups. Now suddenly you put her in a situation with 20 or 30 relatives most of whom she doesn't recognize. She's probably going to get agitated. Anyone who's been around anyone with Dementia or Alzheimer's knows that you do not want to increase the likelihood of agitation.

Furthermore, a lot of family members may not understand about this disease. as such they could make the situation even more uncomfortable than it already is for Mom.

If you do decide to bring Mom home to see everybody for Thanksgiving here are a few suggestions.

Bring a caregiver to stay with Mom for the day. If possible hire one from the facility. Have someone Mom knows and is comfortable with to stay with her during the day. This caregiver can be by her side the whole time to comfort her.

Can you imagine being in a large room with a lot of people who act like you're supposed to know who they are, but you don't?

It could be quite scary. Having somebody by your side that you're comfortable with that understands your disease and knows how to help you would make it a lot easier. If you are the one hosting Thanksgiving dinner you cannot be this person. You need a designated person. And it needs to be somebody that Mom is very comfortable with.

You also want to have a safe room. Set up a a place that's quiet where Mom and the caregiver can go. This will allow Mom to calm down, decompress and get away from the crowd for a while. Having a place to retreat can make all the difference between a happy experience or not so happy experience.

Educate all of the family members and friends about Mom’s condition.

Ask them to introduce themselves when approaching her. Make sure that they don't say something like “you remember me, don't you?” It is also important that no more than one or two people approach mom at the same time. Remind them not to ask too many questions? Plan to have Mom attend the event for only a couple of hours. That is probably about as much as she will be able to handle.

A better option may be to have family members take turns visiting her at her facility. Again, a few people at a time. And remind them to introduce themselves. Your holiday will be different this year, no matter what you choose to do. By following a few of these guidelines you will be able to have an enjoyable Thanksgiving Day with your family.

Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.

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