Are my mother and father deceased?


How many caregivers get this question? How do you answer it? My mom with Alzheimer's asks this question all the time. She thinks she has been a bad daughter because she moved so far away from them and forgets the visits from them and our family visiting them. She gets depressed when she thinks she hasn't called them for a long time.

I have tried to distract, but when she gets stuck on this, she is really stuck. I have tried to assure her that she was a good daughter, attended their funerals, and talked frequently on the phone. Also, tell her that they were wonderful parents because they wanted her to have her own life as she wanted it. So, she moved nearly 1,000 miles away as a young bride. My dad passed tragically 45 years ago, which also causes similar anxiety with my mom.

Any suggestions?

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I have to agree, go with the flow. I would correct my own mother on the death of her parents until she could no longer "get it". Just today this happened. My own mother is 86, her father passed away when she was 32. Now when she asks about her father and where he is, I will immediately ask her "where does your father work?". She will go on about his work and what he does for a living. While she is telling me the story, I try to engage her in something else so that by the time her story is completed, we have moved onto something else. If she brings it up again, I ask her "what was the name of the beach you went to when you were younger"?...etc...and the list is long. Maybe try something like that.

Have you heard of the game Quirkle? It is terrific for Alzheimer's. When my mom begins speaking of her dad, while she is talking, I listen, and begin setting up the game. She does not play the game, but it has many colorful tiles with shapes that can be added to. I have found the "Dover" coloring books to be very helpful as well. They have adult themed coloring books, not the general dog and cat books. You can order them with many different themes. My mom likes the books where the characters are in Victorian dress, or antique.

My mother's mom passed, when my mother was only seventeen years old. My mom never mentions her at all. Sometimes in the middle of the night she will call out "mom", and I just go in, but she never speaks of her other than that. My father passed away in 1993, and my mom never mentions him any longer. She only talks of her father, so I assume that is where her mind is stuck. It is difficult I know, but try to go to that time with her, if that makes sense.

I am not sure what stage your mom is in, but I try to do things that keep her busy. I bought some casino chips from a party place, for example. I bought them in five different colors. I have five glass bowls (because they make a clinking sound) I ask her if she can help me sort them.. I start out and show her what to do and then she takes it from there. I do this at least three times a day. I know she may not always be into it, but it has helped tremendously with her anxiety and bringing up people that are no longer living. Maybe try having a separate set of small towels at the ready. When she speaks of her parents pull out the towels to be folded. Clothes pins of a different color work well too. If you try to distract her and she is not compliant with it, or still continues to talk about her parents, then she may not yet be in a place where she is ready to let that go yet. You may have to continue explaining for some time. If that is the case, try one to two word answers without an explanation. You may have to say " you spoke on Sunday, or something to that effect.
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Go with the flo. You are NOT going to convince her that her parents are dead. No amount of seeing the graves will make any difference tomorrow. Mom and Dad haven't visited lately because they are on a business trip/church retreat/fishing camp ... anything that would have been plausible at the period she is currently living. They called last night to ask about her. They were telling you just the other day how proud they are of her. Etc.
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I agree this is so hard. My mom has dementia which is worsening and she to is stuck on a couple things. It's a loop I can't dissuade her from. I used to try to explain, set her straight -- and it would just frustrate me. I finally had to get over it. Now I just let her talk and "I get into her demented mind"and just go with it. If she wants to call my uncle -- imaginary, I let her and then let her have the imaginary my moms case she literally will hold a defunct phone or even just her hand and carry on a two way conversation with herself then hand over the phone to me to talk. I was freaked out at first but then just played along had the conversation and would even sometimes get an agenda across --for example, "uncle Tom says you should take your medicine, Uncle Tom said you should walk once a day, etc.". She would then be satisfied and move on.

It is so hard. But their reality is so distorted. Sometimes it helps if you just ask her, what year is it? If she is talking about her parents, ask her about her sibs, what were they doing? Might reboot the memory onto another topic.

Hope this helps, no good pat answers with this disease and it just gets worse and the episodes more frequent. I fought it with mom for so long thinking I could get her back on track, and for the most part, we can have some sense of normal in conversations and then she reverts back to 2-3 life events that are all confused and convoluted and I just can't change.

For your own sanity, my suggestion is just go with the flow, especially if it isn't hurting anyone.
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Do they have nearby gravesites or memorials? If far off, is it feasible to make a trip there?

Maybe showing her those would help?
I don't know mom often thinks she is not in her own home so I point out things and tell the associated story to jar her memory. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. If it helps, it is just temporary, anyway. That is the nature of hard to deal with.
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Show her pictures of her parents/childhood/young married life. Tell stories. Affirm her as a mother/wife. Distract her.
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