Mar 24, 2011

Alzheimer's Patient to visit out of town family?

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I received this question from out reader Cyndi via Email. I then sent the question to Carole Larkin. The interaction below took place via email.

Cyndi is an Alzheimer's caregiver. Carole Larkin is a geriatric care manager.

Hello Bob, I am having a hard time finding an answer to a question I have!

I am the main caregiver for my 77 year old mother in the middle stages of Alzheimer's. My younger sisters do not live in town. So, we are trying to plan a visit where my mom could spend a couple of weeks with one of my sisters.

I plan to fly there with my mother, get her settled in, and then leave her with my sister (so I can get a little reprieve from the day to day challenges of caring for my mom.)

Anyway, I've heard that moving an Alzheimer's patient from their "normal" surroundings can cause hallucinations, something they may never recover from. Is this true and should we not go ahead with the visit?

Thanks so much... Cyndi

Carole Larking responds via email to Cyndi:


The answer is: taking people out of their normal environment is risky, but sometimes can be done depending on the person. You just never know.

Having hallucinations from the move is an old wives’ tale. Hallucinations happen from a physical change in the brain( a biological reason) not from changing environments.

That said the norm is that anxiety goes way up!!! They REALLY WANT TO GO HOME FROM THE MOMENT THEY GET THERE. If it was me, I’d bring your sister to your house to be with mom and you go away!

Cyndi follows up via email:


Thank you SO much for the quick response!! It was my mother's neurologist's office that told us it could cause hallucinations...and they went on to say that if that should happen, they may never go away! Meaning, if things did not go well and we brought her immediately back here, she could continue with the hallucinations!

Glad to know they are considered old wives' tales. Although, I do understand how it could bring on severe anxiety.

Trouble is, bringing my sister here and my husband and I go away, won't really work either...we have several special needs dogs/cats that I can't leave! So..looks like I won't be getting a break! :-)

Maybe need to consider utilizing possible respite care from her adult day-care provider. Really thought a trip to Maryland to visit her grandchildren might be good...guess not!

Thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it!

Carole Larkin responds via email.


You can’t take your special needs pets to a “special needs vet” for a few days? Really? If not, then yes do respite. Some memory care communities do it overnight and weekends, maybe for a week or two. Better to have mom with professionals trained in coping with anxiety. Sister still could come and visit with mom there! Think about it, there might be other options you haven’t thought of yet!


Does anyone have experience with a situation like this one?

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,390 articles with more than 272,100 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room