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The next time I do go, if she starts getting hysterical again, what should I do? Is it possible it would be better for me not to even go and just keep in touch with her by phone? Should I try again and see if she reacts differently? That last visit really freaked me and the girls out and I don't know if I'm up for that kind of confrontation again.

I don't know how many times in the last few years I've said to myself, "Trust that you won't be asked to face something you can't face." You know you'll go visit her regularly, as you should. Now to work on your coping mechanism.

I highly recommend a support group. I suggest getting in touch with the Alzheimer's Association, which sponsors a number of programs. Even if your SM's dementia isn't Alzheimer's related, there are a lot of similarities in approach. It's important to have a safe place (other than here) where you can say, "I love her to death and I'd do anything for her, but she makes me crazy!" You'll find kindred spirits (and probably some good advice) in such a group.

I have a layman's suggestion about "take me home," but it requires some planning before you visit. Make sure you announce your departure an hour before you actually must be on your way somewhere else. If she's OK with it, all's well, and you can stop for a celebratory drinkie-poo. OTOH, if she wants you to take her home, bundle her up and go for a 30 minute ride. Head back to her true residence, see her in, give her a kiss, and you're on your way. (Just don't go anywhere near where she used to live.) There's a lot at her new residence that's familiar to her, but seeing you jogs muddled memories of the past. I really think it's that as much as wanting to go "home" that's causing the problem.

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