How do I respond to my mother with dementia when she's agitated and wants something I can't possibly give her and she doesn't understand?

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One of the best books I read on Alzheimer's "Learning to Speak Alzheimer's" by Joanne Koenig Coste addresses issues like this quite nicely.

My experience with my own mother was to VALIDATE her request. I am sure that you want to ............, can it wait for a few minutes while I ............

That way she knows that you 'heard her request' and you understand that it is important to her.

You didn't mention what she wanted, but for example, if it was "I WANT TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW!!" Calmly I would tell her that I understand her need to get home, but it is 'raining outside' right now, (or dark) or too hot, can we plan on going a bit later? Then if the topic of 'going home' comes up again (and it will) I would try to redirect her to help me with something. Or explain that its almost time for dinner, or we have to wait for the bus, or something creative.

Usually when my Mother made these requests or go agitated, it was because she was hungry, tired, or just bored! I tried to anticipitate the times of day when she would get most agitated (sundown, dinner time, bedtime) and try to be one step ahead.

It took me quite a while to stop REACTING to her requests, and just calmly RESPOND to whatever her concern was.

I saw this quite a bit in the nursing home with others that resided there too. One woman HAD to get home to prepare dinner for her children, another woman KNEW that her husband was going to be mad if she wasnt' there when he got home, and still another could not figure out HOW to get the back door (there wasn't one) open so she could leave!

Perhaps if you posted just what her concern is, we can all be more creative for you.

p.s. The 'therapeutic lies' I had to tell were for my mothers safety and peace of mind (for both of us). God rest her soul!
I would try to kindly explain to her why you can not. If indeed she doesn't understand, at least you know you tried. You may have to tell her several times. If you tell her the same thing, it will help her to imprint it in her memory. take care and God Bless, J
Be patient and know that she is not doing this on purpose. Then smile, take a deep breath, hold her hand or give some other positive touch she can respond to, often with dementia they are not really sure of our "words" when we answer a question anyway. However she still remembers smiles laughs and positive touches. Use those to communicate as much as possible. Another example, dont frown and point or push trying to get her to go. She will naturally resist. Smile stand infront and wave for her to come. she will see you are happy and helpful and respond. God bless
I agree Angela. They do not understand, they really don't but I find that touch is great, it calms and soothes them. When my mom keeps trying to tell me something, and I really don't understand it, I just sit with her on her bed, and hold onto her hand. She calms down and stops fussing and fuming. That's what it's all about especially if they're dry, fed, and comfortable. Hope this helps.
MY friend who went thru this already told me "you can Not reason with them when they are in this mode." She was right, dont even try and talk to her, let her walk it out and off and on start to ask if she wants tea with you, or offer treats, anything, or just leave her alone. She will walk it out, sit, sleep 5 minutes or so, then wake up forgetting the entire episode. I go thru it too, I cant stand it either and am medicating her to help, as she was getting violent to get OUT of the house. Remember to treat them as if "The Customer is Always Right!" and you will be okay.
luvmom what medications are you using?
I use Depakote 125 sprinkle capsules am and pm. The neuro wanted her on 4 a day but I am very cautious on medications. Its been good until recently, so I just increased 1/2 more capsule more in the am . She is also on 20mg paxil and wakes up singing most days. Afternoons are always an issue but I dont want to miss out on the good times we still have. I am afraid of the psychotic medications and the neuro says they die earlier from them so not to, unless we have to.
I agree! My mother always asks to go home to her parents, who of course died 40/50 years ago. When she was better, until some months ago, I tried to explain to her that they were dead and she did not believe me, so I kept telling every 10 minutes. I did so because I tried to keep her in the reality. I understand now that it's useless and painful for her, so I invent every kind of lies and try to shift her attention on something else. Sooner or later, she stops asking...
It was the HARDEST thing I ever had to do , but I had to learn and I learned from the daycare, and trial and error. Lie to your mother? Never, we just didnt do that, but now we must, to keep them happy and satisfied. I like how someone wrote "theraputic lies." They lie all day at the daycare and I thought it was awful until I tried telling my Mom that Dad died, she screamed and cried until she forgot it, never again. Whatever makes them happy. Its all about them.
I'm the one that always refers to it as therapeutic lying. I would rival Pinnochio without the growing probiscus to save my mother from any stress. My brothers thought me deceitful, but I remember Mom lying to me about the "Easter Bunny" and Santa and just how very CUTE I looked with my missing front teeth.

When our loved ones are confused I feel it is a CARING THING to do to help them adjust as best we can. Most who try to 'tell the truth' to help them stay in the 'here and now' hopefully learn quickly that it won't work. Rosella, you said yourself that this is pointless because their reality is VERY different from ours.

It is better to 'live' in the their reality and have them happy(ier) than to force them to live in ours and BOTH be miserable!

When my mother asked me who I was, I just asked her who she THOUGHT I was (with a big smile on my face). On a very good day, she thought I was her sister. I knew it was going to be a VERY good day when she thought me to be her older sister. They got along famously, and she respected anything "Marie" would say to her.

Of course as her daughter, I had to walk softly. After all SHE was the mother, and "who was "I" to tell her what to do!" I respected that and walked softly. After all my relationship with her was a very good one ALL our lives.

So some of the 'lies' I told were really for her own good. If she had moments of reality and realized that her 'Daddy was dead" I would just remind her that she still had ME and we could sit and remember something GOOD about Daddy to keep him alive in our hearts!

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