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He has had several concussions as well as chemo brain. He continually asks where she is and we are afraid to tell him that she is dead because we don't want him to be upset. She actually committed suicide and he is the one that found her. Every time he falls and hits his head, it scrambles his brain a little more. In his mind she was there with him a few minutes ago. What should we tell him? His reality takes him back about 20 years.

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It heart breaking and i am in tears when i am reading your question. Just tell him that she is ok. It doesn't matter anymore.
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Hey Raven, Don't feel bad. It was your daddy you were talking about, and the question must have been a shock to you. I don't think that she experienced the full grief again, did she? Just the realization of the fact that had slipped her mind.
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My Mom for the first time, asked where my Dad was when she was hospitalized two weeks ago. I wish I had heard all of your answers before she asked me. I was taken aback and told her the truth, "Daddy died 7 years ago." I makes me cringe now that I told her. Your answers would have been so much better. She did not get upset or angry but she shook her head like she could not believe she had forgotten. I will keep your advice in my heart and head for the next time she asks.

Thank you all for your incredible answers, I learn so much from all of you!
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Thank God my mom is cheerful for the most part but for alot of short term memory things she is lost, It is simple stuff I just remind her and that is that. Thank God she still has her long term memory. But she gets mad of things like I put a new lock on the hallway door for her protection because she lost the key and kept the door opened. She gets mad at simple things like me removing furniture that can be a fall risk to her. I do remind her that all we have is each other and that the road is long and we need to be kind to each other and she reflects a moment and then apologizes and I pray to God for patience. I also have an adult autistic son so my patience is challenged from all ends.
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My Father did not get that mom was in the hospital, then in rehab. He remembered we had to go visit her. But now that she has been home with us for 4 weeks he dosen't remember her stay at all. we remind him she was sick and let it go at that. But lots of creative fibbing on other things.. Distraction is my friend
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My approach would be to try and step back into their reality and taking their lead discuss every day events as they remember them. At the time of the death of a close family member I believe your loved one should be told and involved in the funeral. After a few days though if they have forgotten don't remind them
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There is much agreement on what to tell an Alz. loved one when the questions are going to relive a painful memory or...not even believe you when you tell the real truth. That happened to me early on with my husband about his parents. One finally comes to the decision that to continue to inflict pain with the truth is not good for anyone who has memory loss. I never once felt guilty about sparing him the truth - his brain could not compute; he knew I loved him and was caring for him, even when he did not know who I was; many silent tears on my part, but I also knew he loved me in his own way and was able to express that even the morning before he died. I hold on to that precious memory and the sound of his voice and the smile on his face - too precious to ever forget.
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My dad had Alzheimer's. My mom took care of him full time. I was there half the time. Sometimes she would get away when I was there. Then he would wonder where she was and I could always tell him she went to the store and was coming home soon. That didn't stop him from asking multiple times of course.

But then he got into a phase where he started asking why his Mom and Pop "weren't here". My mom dug into her keepsakes and found their memorial service announcements from decades before. She would tell him they died and show him the papers. Each time, he would cry, re-experiencing their deaths over and over again.

After about 3 weeks of this, following my dad going to bed one night, I brought it up with my mom and it nearly turned into a knock down drag out fight. She was determined to "tell him the truth" and I was just as determined that she should accept he had a form of mental illness and couldn't understand on any long term basis what she was telling him, so he would keep asking and keep suffering.

It's difficult to have to tell your mom that she is abusing your dad by continuing to be stubborn about something so obvious. Of course, I'm not perfect, I had the hairs bristling on the back of my neck. Finally I said look, when he asks tomorrow, could you at least agree to do it my way and see what happens. She agreed. He asked the next morning after breakfast. I said well, Pop has a cold and they can't come till tomorrow. He said oh, okay, and went out in the backyard. My mom never told him about his folks death again. At least in that case, her need to be honest took a backseat to her desire not to make him miserable.
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Beware! Moral Pronouncement ahead!

It's wrong to hit people. Would you "sin" by hitting someone to stop them from hurting your mom? I would. It's wrong to lie. Would you "sin" by telling a lie to your mom to avoid breaking her heart over and over again? I would.

I certainly understand the discomfort it can cause to lie. Shouldn't you endure some discomfort to keep mom from hearing sad news she won't remember over and over again? Is your soul that free of sin? Mine certainly isn't! I think that if Jesus were here, Jesus would tell that kind of lie, because he would not want to cause someone pain for no good reason.
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I agree with some of the advice given, telling him the truth is only going to relive losing her everyday, right now his well being is all that matters and that his days are peaceful.
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My mom has vascular dementia secondary to two strokes she had. It kind of sneaked up on me. My mom was always the rock and I am in health care.I was probably in denial. My mom is 85 with metastatic cancer of the stomach and for one thing the dementia is helping not realize what is going on. She looks good despite what she has. A relative was able to come live with her and instead of paying a stranger. For now all is doing fairly well, one day at a time is all we can do. I lost my mother in law to Alzheimer's in July and some days she couldn't remember my husband and it took a toll on him because of how close they were.What can we do?
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I don't believe that it's "lying" where Alzheimer's is concerned. Why intentionally inflict pain upon someone whose brain is diseased? The redirection is the best way to go. Mom's at church, mom's at her bridge club, etc. I think that when we're dealing with dementia and Alzheimer's we need to do anything and everything we can to keep the peace and make things easier on everyone. There is no value whatsoever in driving home the point to someone with Alzheimer's that their spouse is dead. Sleep, do whatever you can to distract your dad when he asks about your mom. It's not lying. All conventions and rules are out the window with Alzheimer's. Bless your heart for wanting to do right by your dad.
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I do understand how you feel about therapeutic fiblet but it is so hard sometimes to see their face where you tell them something they don't remember... I was taught NOT to lie too buy precept and example! I think the Lord understands when we are actually trying to help someone, it is NOT a malicious lie to hurt someonei
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What akdaughter said.

Tell your dad that your mom is out and will be back later. That's what I used to do when my mom would ask when my dad was coming home. It worked. He won't remember that he asked 5 minutes ago, so just keep giving vague answers. *hugs*
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I am still struggling with the therapeutic fibbing (I guess my parents did too good of a job raising me to be honest), but giving a non-specific answer works for my mom. I say things like "I'll find out and let you know", or Didn't he say something about going to the lumber yard?" and then change the subject. As others have said, they forget about the conversation in minutes, and it does no good to make them sad about a death all over again.
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I think this is SO hard... Keep in mind if you can make him understand she is gone, you are just going to make him sad, and 5 minutes later he won't remember! I would encourage you to use distraction and a therapeutic fiblet... You could say something like "where do you suppose she is?" Or if there was something she did regularly such as circle at church or shopping, getting her hair done, use those things... I know this is not easy, My Mom has dementia and I keep waiting for her to ask me where Daddy is... take care, J
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Thank you blannie. Your post is much appreciated. There are many stories and every one is related to the Alz. but no two cases are the same. All we can do is continue to share our experiences with the hope that it helps those who are in the midst of their struggles. God bless us, Everyone...Tiny Tim from "The Christmas Carol".
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The first time he asked, I would have told him the truth. Since he keeps on asking, there is no point in repeating the bad news. A comforting lie is the way to go.
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I am so touched by the love you caregivers living with Alzheimers show to your loved ones. I'm sitting here crying at the stories that Butterfly Kisses and Geewiz have shared about how they dealt with their loved ones' Alzheimers. My heart goes out to all of you, you're living with so much loss and pain yet show such love and compassion. {{{{{Hugs to all of you.}}}}}}} As my 93 year old mom says, there's a star in your crown for what you're doing.
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I know exactly what you're going through. My husband wanted his folks, wanted to see them, also was wondering where his wife was (I'm sitting right beside him); Alz. is a horrible disease - one minute you think they are lucid and the next minute they are talking about something that happened years ago. When he asked where I was, I would say, "Oh, I think she is in the bathroom. I'll go find her" and he would say, "O.K.". I would go in another room, change my cobbler apron and come back out and say, "Were you looking for me?" He said, "Yes, am I ever glad to see you, I thought you had left me." That is one of many scenarios that we went through. I would tell him his parents were asleep and we should not wake them (they died in 1968). Changing the subject worked the best. They won't remember it in 10 minutes or less. As my Alz. support group agreed, "we all become accomplished liars" and that is about the truth of it. You are to be commended and blessed for taking care of him. It won't get easier, but remember he is your Dad and he will remember the kindness you showed him, even if he doesn't remember anything else. xxxooo
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Keep it simple. Think back to what your Mom did years ago on her own. Tell him that is where she is, playing cards, at a church meeting, shopping, visiting her sister or whatever would have been real back then. It is generally easy to distract dementia patients we just have to understand that their reality is not our reality. For example, my Mom was annoyed one day that my Dad wasn't there. (He'd been gone close to 30 years at that point!) I 'reminded' her of the important committee that he was leading for his organization and said there was a big meeting for it. Oh yeah she said, I hope it goes well! LOL Go with the flow and never try to correct your Dad or 'bring him to your reality'. Keep him calm and things will go more smoothly. good luck.
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