She can’t understand

“You’ve been so good to me for so long; I just can’t believe you would do this to me,” my mom says. “You don’t love me.”

When I reach over to offer comfort, she doesn’t want me to touch her.

She’s been like this, on and off (more on than off), ever since I moved her last week into the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, a nursing home. It all happened very suddenly when an admissions officer called me on Monday.

“We have a bed for your mother,” she said. “She can move in today or tomorrow.”

There was no time to prepare my mom or myself for the move, or to get my sister Kathy’s help, since she lives in South Carolina. There wasn’t even enough time to decide whether or not this was the right place for her. She definitely had to go to a nursing home paid for by Medicaid; we don’t have money to rent her an apartment and hire 24-hour care. The question is whether this was the best place for her.

She doesn’t like it, she says. That’s what I was afraid of.

“I don’t know how I’ll make it through the night. You can’t leave me here.” She weeps, incessantly, and there’s no way to console her.

I let her grieve for a while, but then I try to distract her. I take her off the dementia unit and walk her around the facility. We look at the birds and the fish, and the art. The place is massive, and there’s lots to see. She seems to be enjoying herself, almost.

“Hey, we better get home,” she says. “It’ll be getting dark soon.”

“It’s okay, Mom,” I say. “We have plenty of time.”

But I can put her off for only so long. As my departure grows nearer, there’s no avoiding her confusion and distress.

“Why can’t I go home?” she pleads.

“Because you’re going to stay here for a while.”

“Only if you stay with me,” she says.

“I’ll be back tomorrow,” I say. “I promise.”

She’s lost in tears.

She can’t understand why I’m keeping her from her home. She can’t understand what she’s doing in this strange place with people she doesn’t know (people she’ll likely never know because she can’t remember them from one day to the next). And she can’t understand why her life has been taken away and why her daughter doesn’t love her anymore.

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About daughter3

My mom has Alzheimer's disease. She's 88 and lives in a nursing home. She has three daughters. I'm her youngest.
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8 Responses to She can’t understand

  1. Chrystal says:

    Can you convince her she is staying in a hotel for a while? Perhaps say that her home needs to be sprayed for bugs or something? That helped with my Dad when he would get anxious about wanting to go home. We’d just say “you need to stay here another night or two, Dad…”

    Good luck with helping her settle into her new space.

  2. I’m so sorry. Alzheimer’s disease is torture sometimes. Mostly, I guess…. I have a good friend who has Alzheimer’s. It’s been very hard to watch him sink deeper and deeper into his illness. You’re not alone and I thank you for reaching out. .

  3. Nancy says:

    Beth, We were so hopeful. How sad for you to have to handle this. You had no choice because of where she was before but it is so painful and difficult. I am so sorry. Nancy

  4. Barbara Glickstein says:

    Sending you a virtual hug and words of loving support. This transition is not easy for her or you. You have her all of her best interests in mind. All the best to both of you.

  5. Ilene Winkler says:

    Beth, I’m so sorry you and Mom are going through this. Try to remember you are doing what is best for her, although it doesn’t feel like it right now. Can you try telling her the doctor said she needs to stay there until she feels better, it wasn’t your decision?

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