My mom wants to feed my deceased dad. What should I do?

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My mom has hallucinations and she talks with my dad and even gets mad at him or cries because he is in jail. Tonight she wanted to fix him a plate at dinner. I convinced her not to, but it was not easy. What can I do if she insists on doing this?

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Jeanne, you always have great answers for people. Should be a therapist.
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My mom is just more into the hallucinations. She cries at the ones that are disturbing to her and this is new. She is more hunched over than before and used to go to the store with me but doesn't seem to want to get out. She has a PT appt. tomorrow and will see her neurologist next monday. I'm expecting them to just increase her meds, which will probably increase her falls. She has a walker but does not always use it.
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battathiri, thanks for the details of Hindu custom, it turns out many cultures have rituals of offering food to the deceased, and it surely brigns the living comfort to do anything that can help their loved one, when death leaves them feeling helpless. We Catholics have a tradtion of praying and offering Masses for the dead, believing we can help them in their journey through Purgatory (cleansing that prepares for Heaven) and also if I understand correctly, it is a tradition to prepare a place for Elijah with an empty chair at a Jewish seder table and even open the door for him to come in though they do not actualy put food on the plate. Maybe there is some meaningful way to adapt some of these things in a way that would help Leisa's mom too.
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Leisa1, Over the course of 3 months my mom slowly lost her appetite. Oct. 5th she was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. The dr. told us one of the symptoms could be problems with swallowing and chewing could become difficult because of the muscles in the jaw/mouth. Mom often told me she had to eat slow because her jaws hurt her, but she still had a good appitite. Around November we noticed she was eating less and less. About 2 weeks before she died (Jan. 1st), she was not eating much. She would tell me not to force her, so I wouldn't. She would drink her liquids though, but eventually she just wanted only a few spoonfuls of food. She would say she was full. The day before she lost consciousness, she ate most of her cream of wheats and had alot of juice. I guess having alot to drink is what sustained her for more than a week. I miss her so much.
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Leisa1, several times over the course of his dementia my husband's appetite decreased. Sometimes this followed an illness or infection. He lost weight. His appetite would come back and he would regain some weight, but not all he had lost. In the very end stage some days he ate almost nothing and other days he ate almost normally. The day he died he had a nice breakfast.

So your sister is right that not wanting to eat much can be a sign of the end stage, but it isn't always. What are the other changes you are noticing?
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I cal it, being in their world. They have no control over the fact that they are in a different world than they were once in. Join them, comfort them. I know with my mom, I wouldn't make an issue of it. Then I would divert her attention to something else and it would work, but she had Lewy Body Dementia, so it was easier to change her train of thought. If she was afraid of something (like they kidnapped me) I would assure her they let me go and everything was taken care of. When she would wonder how I got into the nursing home (apparently there were guards she thought were stopping me from entering), I told her they figured out I was actually a "helper" and everything was ok. Simple answers seemed to work better than trying to convince her that what she was thinking wasn't true. In that horrible world they are now in, these things are happening, so all we can do is help comfort them.
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Thanks everyone for the answers. It's strange but for the last two days it seems my mom is declining faster. Now she is not wanting to eat as much as she used to and my sister said this could be a sign she is toward the end. Is this true for dementia patients?
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My mother is always insisting to feed her imaginary "children." I just tell her that I will be more than happy to feed anyone who comes to the table; as soon as they come to the table I'll prepare a plate for them. That seems to satisfy her and helps keep her from trying to fill plates of food for them.
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I agree with diversionary tactics, 'substitutions' (such as a baby doll to care for and hold, rock, express affection to, even a visit from someone's pet), and going with the flow even if there are some white lies involved. What do we do with little kids at times? Was just talking to a guy from church this morning about his 3 and a half year old grandson asking so many questions. I have heard the average four year old asks 400 questions a day. My son used to ask "Who is that man walking down the street? Who is his mommy? Does he have a dog? Etc". I used to make simple, kind answers up for him, like, "His mommy's name is Jane". "He has a Golden Retreiver". Once when the string of questions became unending I sort of lost my patience and told him "I don't know". He got upset and said "Yes you do!". I realized that once I satisfied the question we were on to something else.
I am not advocating lying; I just think the pick your battles approach is best. Your mom will be 'on to something else' and will not be upset that you didn't hit her with the unvarnished - and unwanted - reality of her husband being dead. I think there is a reason there is a saying that people have their second childhood. If everything you do for your mom is motivated out of love and compassion you will do ok.
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I call it 'loving lies'.... maybe lie is a strong word, but we do it every day in one form or another to our folks with Alz/dementia...... as was said, pick your battles.. if it brings her comfort, then allow it.... we have no idea how lonely it is in thier world, because they do not live in ours any longer... it is hard to watch, but we can't tell them over and over that thier spouse is gone... we accomodate the world they live in and thier reality...thank you for posting this question... I feel many have the same issue... sending you hugs of gratitude for trying to make her journey as smooth as possible....
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