I have a family member with Alzheimer's who went into an assisted living home eight days ago. He was still able to recognize us by face, not necessarily by name (though sometimes he did by name, too). His wife was told that they would recommend no-one in the family see him for a few days to give him a chance to settle in, and not continue to go through the anxiety of us leaving (he did not want to stay with strangers and tried to chase his wife and other family member down the hallway as they left). No-one has been to see him for eight days now, and they continue to recommend we not see him. They are playing it by ear, and will let us know when it is time. I am not sure I agree with this. His wife talked with them at length and 'seems' to agree, though she is concerned about him, too. Please help me understand, if anyone has experience with this. It is breaking my heart, as I am worried he will think he has been abandoned, and won't understand why all of the sudden his wife, nor anyone he knows, is no longer around him! And how is he going to communicate his needs to them, if they don't know him that well??? I suppose if I insisted on seeing him, they would let me. But I want to do what's best for him and everyone concerned, as hard as it is.
*Update* 12/15/11 ~ I called the head nurse at the facility this morning and am so glad I did!!! There seems to be a bit of confusion about what his wife was told, but the bottom line is that the nurse said it was okay for me to come visit him. So I did, and he was doing fine, though he did look a bit forlorn when I first walked in. He perked up when he saw me and said, "I'm so glad you're here," and we hugged tightly. I sat and talked with him for awhile, then we walked out into the courtyard and sat out there for awhile, too. When I left to go pick up my DD from school, he did want to walk out with me (not acting like he wanted to escape, but just that he wanted to walk with me), and when the nurse re-directed him, he didn't put up a fight, he just turned to look at me as I was leaving. Hopefully, he did okay after I was gone.
And by the way, the next time you see an elderly person at a nursing home or other facility, whether they have dementia, or Alzheimer's, or other mind-altering disease, don't be afraid to look them in the eyes, smile, and talk to them. Even if they don't respond, or respond inappropriately, or don't seem to understand at all, do it anyway. They'll appreciate it. Trust me.